It’s not surprising that most people have forgotten the brief period in 2016 when Kevin Kratz was a member of the Philadelphia Union. Signed late in the season just before the MLS roster freeze, Kratz was on the roster for all of six matches. He never even made an appearance for the team, so it wasn’t big news when he was flipped to Atlanta for a 4th round draft pick that December.
The only reason this is still relevant in 2019 is that the pick the Union received wasn’t for the then upcoming 2017 Superdraft, but for the 2020 Superdraft. So December 11, 2019 marks the three year anniversary of the Union’s ownership of this draft pick.
That’s the Leather Anniversary for those of you who pay attention to that sort of thing.
It’s hard to imagine now, but a 4th round draft pick actually had a little more value back in 2016. The Union had just made a major splash in the 2016 draft by acquiring the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th overall picks and spending them on Josh Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry and Fabian Herbers. The Union and new Sporting Director Earnie Stewart were clearly all in on acquiring their major talent during the draft going forward.
The Union even showed a knack for snagging talent late in the draft with their 2017 picks. They managed to find future starting center back Jack Elliot with the 77th overall pick and they snagged Santi Moar with the 82nd. While he never made it to the Union roster, he was a fan favorite with Bethlehem Steel before moving to New Mexico United and just recently signing with Phoenix Rising for 2020.
But the Union’s relationship with the MLS Superdraft cooled off quickly in the coming seasons. The 4th Round in 2018 only produced Matt Danilack, who never signed for the team or played soccer professionally. Then, under new Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, the Union opted out of the draft entirely in 2019 by selling all of their picks to FC Cincinnati.
So while it’s interesting that the Union acquired some draft capital in 2016 for a player who never really played for the team, the honest truth is that now that the 2020 draft is almost upon us, a 4th round pick is basically worthless. There’s just not much talent at that point in the draft, and the Union are already set to add youngsters Cole Turner and Jack de Vries as homegrown players in 2020.
Atlanta’s pick ends up being the 101st pick of the draft, which makes it one of the lowest picks in Superdraft history. The 2019 draft only had 96 picks in total and even then the majority of the picks in the 4th round were passed rather than utilized. That includes FC Cincinnati’s pick that they purchased from the Union (they passed with the Union’s 3rd round pick as well) and Orlando City’s pick which they had acquired from Atlanta in a trade in 2016. Sound familiar?
So while lovers of obscure Union trivia have been waiting three years to find out who the Union will finally get with the Kevin Kratz draft pick, the chances that the Union will actually use the pick are slim. The pick could end up being packaged and sold just like the 2019 draft picks were. Or if Ernst Tanner can’t get a sufficient quantity of xAM for the picks then it will probably just get passed and thrown away.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to stop and appreciate the Kevin Kratz draft pick while the team still has it. After all, this draft pick has been a part of the Union organization for longer than every player on the active roster with the exception of Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Warren Creavalle, Alejandro Bedoya and Ilsinho.