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What the Zac MacMath loan means for the Philadelphia Union

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With Zac MacMath heading to the Colorado Rapids on loan for the 2015 season, it's worth looking into what that will mean for the Philadelphia Union in 2015 - and beyond.

Still nothing rhymes with orange.
Still nothing rhymes with orange.
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The times, they are a-changin.

Zac MacMath, the goalkeeper who holds every single goalkeeping record for the Philadelphia Union, is heading to the Colorado Rapids on loan for the 2015 season. What exactly does that mean for the Union though? Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • The Union are all in on Rais M'Bolhi. Sending out MacMath basically eliminated all competition for the Algerian goalkeeper. It makes sense - they didn't bring him in at a Designated Player's salary to have him sit behind MacMath. And no disrespect to Andre Blake, but he's not ready yet. He still needs time to mature and grow into the starting goalkeeper role for a professional club.
  • Zac MacMath will probably get starts in Colorado - but not against the Union. MacMath's main competition will be Clint Irwin, who went 7-15-4 with a 1.89 goals against average in 2014 (for comparison, MacMath went 9-10-10 with a 1.55 goals against average). And while MacMath will most likely win a head-to-head competition with Irwin, it's never an easy task to unseat a team's starting goalkeeper - just ask Rais M'Bolhi. that being said, MLS rules stipulate that:
    Players may not compete against their former Team during the MLS Season while on loan (includes MLS games and all other competitions).
    So MacMath will not face the Union on March 7 - or any other date during 2015.
  • The Union will need an American goalkeeper for international competitions - or not. While M'Bolhi and Blake will most likely miss time in 2015 to be with their national teams, there's no guarantee they'd both miss the same dates. The African Cup of Nations tournament is January 17 through February 8, so M'Bolhi will miss some of the preseason. That's the only (non-friendly) international competition M'Bolhi will participate in. For Blake, there's the Gold Cup from July 7 through July 26 which is during the MLS calendar, however M'Bolhi will be with the Union. If he's injured, the club could pick up a goalkeeper using an Extreme Hardship Call-Up or from the Goalkeeping Pool (Danny Cepero, anyone?) to have someone in net. The only other dates of concern would be March 23 through March 31, June 8 through 16, August 31 through September 8, and October 5 through October 13 - the FIFA international friendly match windows during the season. Now there's no guarantee that both M'Bolhi and Blake will get selected at the same time, however if they are the Union would be able to call up a goalkeeper from Harrisburg to be the warm body between the pipes.
  • The Union are getting a second-round draft pick in the 2015 SuperDraft just for letting Colorado have MacMath for a year. The Union get the Rapids' "lowest 2015 MLS SuperDraft second round pick", which is currently pick number 41. Last year - the only year pick 41 fell in the second round - Sporting Kansas City picked Peter Schmetz, whose MLS bio's first words are "I don't rate him ... Not quick enough on the turn, not quick enough to deal with the kind of players he'll face in MLS"
  • If MacMath is signed by Colorado after the 2015 season, the Union will also get Colorado's first-round pick in the 2016 SuperDraft. Not just any first rounder, but the "highest first round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft to Philadelphia." Feel free to make your own marijuana joke here.

All in all this isn't a bad piece of business by the Union, who are getting something for someone for whom they were expected to get nothing. True, it's a good piece of business that was the result of many bad pieces of business, but at this juncture in time you have to work with what you have.