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Re-Entry Draft Stage Two: Electric Boogaloo

Six MLS teams selected players during the two rounds of the Re-Entry Draft. The Philadelphia Union were not among them. Was this an opportunity missed, or was this a calculated gamble by Union's front office? The selections made involved two players who spent some time in the blue-and-gold, and no members of their 2014 roster were taken.

Marvell Wynne and Sanna Nyassi both now have new teams.
Marvell Wynne and Sanna Nyassi both now have new teams.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Re-Entry Draft had it's second and final round this afternoon. For those of you unfamiliar with what players are eligible for this process, or don't fully understand why there are two rounds to it, I've taken the section from MLS' roster rules and pasted it here:

Re-Entry Draft Rules

Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft generally is where teams identify a player that fills an immediate need. MLS clubs are bound to salary rules, and many teams - the Union included - are not free-spenders. Paying an impact veteran at their previous rate signifies either an underpaid player or a team in immediate need. Stage One, which happened on December 12th, saw the first two teams select goalkeepers. The Montreal Impact and San Jose Earthquakes grabbed Sporting Kansas City's net minders, with the Impact taking Eric Kronberg while Earthquakes selected Andy Gruenebaum. Montreal lacks experience at the position, and San Jose's starting goalkeeper Jon Busch is out of contract, so they picked up someone with a bit more league experience to take the reins. The other selection from that stage was Robbie Findley, who is an example of taking a flyer on someone. Findley's contract with English side Nottingham Forest was declined, and he returned to MLS. His rights were acquired from  the Portland Timbers by Real Salt Lake, but he didn't play this past season for RSL. Toronto FC likely saw an opportunity (though not at a discount from the $245K he made last year) to get a 29-year-old player whose upside once had him playing for the United States in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Stage Two of the Re-Entry Draft is about selecting players that can't be readily found, but are not worth what they were making previously. Montreal and San Jose were active again and focused on defense, selecting Bakary Soumare and Marvell Wynne, respectively.  Former 2012 Union draft pick Chandler Hoffman was selected next at number five by the Houston Dynamo, followed by FC Dallas taking Atiba Harris at twelve, the New England Revolution taking Tristen Bowen at seventeen, and Orlando City SC taking Josh Ford at twenty. Those teams who selected someone in Stage Two's first round were allowed a second round.  San Jose and Houston were the only two of the six who took advantage, nabbing a couple of midfielders in Sanna Nyassi and Nathan Sturgis, respectively. These Stage Two selectees will have their salaries negotiated, and all other players who were available (Wikipedia has a nicely organized list available) but not re-drafted are able to negotiate with any team in the league.

The Philadelphia Union took nobody, and had no additional players lost. There were rumors that Conor Casey and Brian Carroll will be brought back to the team in some capacity next season, but while both were retracted from the draft, nothing is finalized yet. How is it that a team that didn't make the playoffs last season and struggled to find squad depth did not find even one player to pluck that could improve the team in some way?  I think the answer is in the process itself. The available players are ones whose contracts expired or whose contract options were declined by the team. The cynic see this, and discerns that these players are without a team for a reason. The optimist peruses for players from the Island of Misfit Toys, so to speak. They'll look for a player whose lack of production was due to being a poor fit in his team's system. There is a chance that even if a player is exposed to the Re-Entry Draft, his last team can sign him again. It's the closest thing the league currently has to free agency.

Philadelphia's inactivity in this process suggests that they feel they can find better value through either the SuperDraft or a transfer from outside of the league. There also exists the possibility that they'd try to scoop up an undrafted, out-of-contract player at a severe discount. The salary cap and the Union's front office's frugality make it unlikely that they'll sign 6-figure-plus salary players unless they are can't-miss type players. However, if a serviceable MLS player were to sign well below value due to Union having available minutes at that player's position, I'm sure they'd do it.

The SuperDraft option does not seem likely, since Union didn't protect their 2014 first round pick, Pedro Ribeiro, in the Expansion Draft and he is now with Orlando City SC. 2011 first round pick Zac MacMath was also not protected in the Expansion Draft. A player from outside the league could be in the works, as they did with acquiring Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana last year, for example. They proved to be dynamic and valuable additions to the squad. The least likely is that they'll negotiate with one of these out-of-contract players. Many are near or over the age of 30, where Union need players who still have undeveloped upside. I'd be surprised if Philadelphia brought in any of these players over the age of 26 for a look next season. I'd expect that those players are better suited to provide roster depth to teams that are in contention for the league title.