It’s that time of year again! The MLS Superdraft is the unofficial start to the new season every year. However, for the past three years, the Union has skipped the draft altogether by trading their picks away for allocation money. The year before that, the club made a splash by making a trade for attacker David Accam. Could we see the Union make another blockbuster trade, or will they stick to trading their available draft picks at the 2022 MLS Superdraft?
Could Union make another trade at 2022 Superdraft?
It’s been clear that in the Ernst Tanner era, the Union don’t value the draft much at all. Tanner sees the majority of players coming out of the college soccer system to be too old to be just starting their pro careers. He’s traded all eight draft picks the Union has had in his tenure without little thought of the players they could get with those picks.
The Union always likes to be draft day players making trades, and sending picks to the highest bidder. Could the Union be players again by trading a draft pick for money, or possibly making a bigger splash with a possible trade during the draft?
A possible big splash
What if the Union wanted to make a splash today during the MLS Superdraft? They’ve done this before when Earnie Stewart was in charge by trading allocation money for David Accam back in 2018. Could Tanner take a page out of that book and trade for a top striker in the league that is recently on the trade block?
What if Tanner were to trade the Union’s only remaining draft pick and up to $1.5 million in allocation money for DC United’s Ola Kamara? Kamara’s valuation is around $1.65 million dollars, would they be willing to sell to the Union if the money they got in return is under that valuation, but had a draft pick attached with it? It wouldn’t be an Ernst Tanner deal if the Union didn’t get a player without breaking the bank, but Kamara could be worth “breaking the bank” for.
The Union was a lethal striker away from making, and possibly winning MLS Cup in 2021. Ola Kamara is a lethal striker in MLS. Regardless of his age (32-years-old,) and how many goals he scored from the penalty spot in 2021, Kamara still was tied for top scorer in MLS last season. On top of that, looking at his MLS stats shows why he’d be perfect for Philly. Kamara has played 143 MLS matches; in those matches, he’s scored 74 goals and notched 16 assists. That’s a goal contribution about every 75 minutes he’s on the pitch in MLS.
Will Tanner consider making this type of move, and using the leverage of it being MLS Superdraft day to negotiate? It would make sense for him to do so if he and the Union rate Ola Kamara. If they don’t rate him, then expect the Union to do something a bit more expected today.
The more likely outcome
As everyone knows by now, Tanner looks to trade every Union draft pick for allocation money. The Union has one more draft pick left to deal on draft day, and some club in MLS will want it. I’d expect the Union to deal the remaining draft pick regardless of what kind of return they actually get for it. Some may be wondering why the Union does this rather than taking a flyer on a player coming out of college, regardless of Tanner’s feelings toward college soccer.
The answer to this question can be found by what those draft picks have done in the past three years that the Union has traded their picks. Brotherly Game’s Matt Ralph did some digging to find out and the number is fascinating. Philly has traded traded 10 of their 13 of their draft picks over the last three seasons. Those picks have gone on to only play 256 minutes, and the worth of them has been seen to be $200k in allocation money.
Tanner isn’t missing out on anything as these players, especially in late rounds of the draft have not been hitting the way they used to five years ago. Look for the Union to deal their final draft pick to the highest bidder. Could they use that pick and allocation money to make a big splash type of trade, or will the Union just look to move the draft pick for more money to go after other targets outside of MLS?
The draft goes live at 2:30 pm EST. Keep an eye on the Union to see what kind of business Tanner and the front office can do!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire