The MLS offseason is in full swing, and the Philadelphia Union are making moves. Back on Wednesday (January, 9 2019) The Union resigned veteran defender Ray Gaddis, and traded away all of their 2019 MLS SuperDraft picks to Cincinnati FC.
Philadelphia Union supporters are used to a long off-season, usually filled with angst over getting booted early from the MLS Playoffs, or not making the dance at all. One of the few days they get to look forward to each winter is the MLS SuperDraft, taking place this Friday. The Union held the 13th overall pick and a total of five picks across the four rounds of the draft. The key word there being “held”. On Thursday, Union Sporting Director, Ernst Tanner, traded all five draft picks (picks number 13, 29, 37, 61 and 85) to MLS newcomers, FC Cincinnati, in exchange for $150,000 guaranteed general allocation money, as well as an additional incentive-based $50,000 of general allocation money. Those incentives will depend upon the performance of certain players selected by FC Cincinnati this weekend.
Tanner’s thinking here is the Union already have a strong core of young players currently with the big club, as well as those still developing in the academy and with Bethlehem Steel FC. Eight of the twenty-two players currently on the Union roster are age 21 or younger. This move makes it evident that Tanner isn’t at all intimidated by the way things are usually done by the Union and in MLS in general. He feels they are young enough and can use that additional cash to sign a player who can help them win immediately. And he won’t be waiting around. In response to unloading all of the Union’s draft picks, Tanner said “…we believe that this sum of money will help us complete crucial signings ahead of the upcoming campaign.”
Sergio Santos will likely be part of a two-striker attack in 2019
Too often in the past, signings of international players have come very late in the off-season. Examples being Borek Dockal last season (less than a week before the season opener), and Fernando Aristeguieta in 2015, when the preseason was more than half over. Tanner’s approach seems more direct than sporting directors of Union past, and my gut tells me he realizes the importance of players generating chemistry. A familiarity formed between newly signed players and Union veterans before they head north to Chester can only benefit them in the early portion of the regular season. This is evident in the signing of Brazilian forward, Sergio Santos, who at 24 is just entering his prime. After remarking on Santos’s development in the Chilean Premiere Division and his potential in MLS, Tanner stated, “We next look forward to integrating him as quickly as possible with the team at the start of preseason.”
Gaddis Returns for 2019
Also on Wednesday, veteran defender, Ray Gaddis, re-signed with the Union. Gaddis, who will turn 29 this weekend, is the club’s all-time leader in minutes played and games started. He trails only the great Sebastien LeToux by three in total games played. He’s been a solid citizen regardless of his playing time, a respected veteran presence in the locker room, and has done yeoman’s work in surrounding Philadelphia area communities. Look for his playing time to be limited to a bench role/spot –starter in 2019, as I mentioned back in November.
A veteran sub like Oguchi “Gooch” Onyewu would benefit the young Union back line
If he sticks to his current M.O., I can see a veteran center back, as well as a midfield signing by the end of the month, to help fill the void of the departed Dockal. Other than Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie and Jack Elliot, there isn’t another center back on the roster. An Oguchi Onyewu type would be ideal. Ernst Tanner doesn’t have a three-year plan or a five-year plan. The Union faithful are done hearing those timelines from management and it appears he plans to do everything he can to win right now.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: MLS.com