By the time the Philadelphia Union pick for the first time at Friday’s MLS SuperDraft, the pool of players will have already shrunk by 32 players.
That’s not great news in a draft restricted to mostly 21 to 23-year-old college seniors.
That the Union will still have four additional picks after No. 33 will largely be a future opportunity for fans to show off their knowledge of team trivia. Still, as Earnie Stewart and the front office have shown in recent weeks, fans can’t completely rule out a potential find in the later rounds of the draft when everyone has long since stopped paying attention.
Currently, the Union staff are in southern California evaluating the 74 players who received invites to the Combine but there are a host of other college seniors not on the field who could potentially have a chance to fight their way into the Bethlehem Steel FC roster this season.
Draft picks even in the first two rounds are already long shots so if the Union are able to find any value in the 55th, 77th and 82nd picks it will be worth noting.
For the Union’s part, head coach Jim Curtin noted in a news conference last week that the staff has done their homework on various options from the college ranks, particularly locally.
“Obviously, players right in our backyard whether it’s a Temple, a Penn State, a Penn, a Drexel or a La Salle, some we’ve had in for training sessions with us and some we’ve kept an eye on,” Curtin said.
Just four players from area teams are at the Combine - Penn State’s Connor Maloney and Robby Sagel, Temple forward Jorge Gomez Sanchez and Delaware forward Guillermo Delgado.
Other players eligible for the draft from area colleges include Villanova forward Padraic McCullaugh, Temple defender Carlos Moros Gracia, Delaware midfielder Thomas DeVillardi and Rider midfielder Christian Flath.
Some additional players with ties to the area include Wallingford native and former Union Academy forward Brett Campbell (Georgetown), former Villanova defender Liam Callahan (Syracuse), UMBC goalkeeper Billy Heavner (Lancaster, Pa.), Reading United goalkeeper Steffan Krauss (George Mason), Reading United defender Charlie Reymann (Kentucky) and Princeton forward/defender Greg Seifert.
Click here to see the complete list of eligible players. Here’s a closer look at some options worth considering:
Oyvind Alseth, MF/D, Syracuse
The Norwegian has been a steady presence in the midfield in one of the nation’s top programs the past two seasons. Though he doesn’t have big numbers, he did lead the team in assists this season and provides both creativity on the ball and cover for the back line, where he is also able to play as an outside back.
Carlos Moros Gracia, D, Temple
The first-team all-conference defender was passed over for the Combine most likely because he’s smaller than many of the other center backs in the pool (which includes giants like 6-foot-5 Walker Hume and 6-foot-3 Robby Sagel), but the Spaniard was every bit as important to the Owls this season as star forward Jorge Gomez Sanchez. His composure on the ball and skill one-v-one could make him a good fit at the next level as a holding midfielder.
Brett Campbell, F, Georgetown
The two-time Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year had mixed results over his four years in D.C., fighting for playing time behind the school’s all-time leading scorer Brandon Allen for three years before finally getting a chance to start up top on a team that struggled mightily after last year’s SuperDraft/Homegrown raid. The former FC Delco and Union Academy striker tied for the team lead with four goals and had ten for his career, but could still be worth a look at Bethlehem or elsewhere in the USL.
Pgoy Ngatcha, F, Wright State
New England Revolution have already passed on signing him as a homegrown, but the 5-foot-11, 200 pound forward did score 39 career goals in Dayton. A fun bit of trivia on Ngatcha is that he once had an assist against the Union playing for New England in an MLS Reserve match.
Romilio Hernandez, MF, Louisville
Romilio has been the unsung hero in Louisville’s squad over the past three seasons, doing a lot of the dirty work to protect the back line and clean up messes in the middle of the park. A past El Salvador youth international who represented his country at the 2015 U20 CONCACAF Championships, Hernandez has ties to the Baltimore area.
Bernard Yeboah, F, Vermont
Brian Wright got the bulk of the attention, deservedly, for his standout play up in Vermont this year but part of the reason the Catamounts were a player on the national stage was his strike partner. The Italian had 11 goals and 4 assists on the year and 20 and 9 for his career.
Alejandro Penzini, D, Adelphi
The 6-foot-2 Venezuelan center back was a Division II All-American and conference defender of the year for Division II Adelphi. He’s been around a while (he started out at St. John’s five years ago) but did anchor a back line that conceded only 11 times in 22 games.
Aleksi Pahkasalo, MF, Lindsey Wilson
Dzenan Catic proved goal-scoring totals at the NAIA are to be taken lightly, but the Finland native did bag 59 of them in his career at Lindsey Wilson, 49 of those in the last two seasons alone while adding 22 career assists. He also led Derby City Rovers with 11 goals in the PDL last season.
Alex Neff, D, Utah Valley
Neff has helped lead the Wolverines to national prominence over his three-year career, appearing in 57 career matches after spending a season with BYU’s PDL team. He was a first-team All-WAC selection and second-team senior class All-American.
Alex Kapp, GK, Creighton
Kapp finished his college career as a grad student at Creighton after spending the bulk of his career at Boston College and had his finest season with seven shutouts and a .84 goals against average.