Philadelphia Union Expansion Draft Primer

Jun 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis (28) greets fans prior to action against the Columbus Crew at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis (28) greets fans prior to action against the Columbus Crew at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second time since the Philadelphia Union joined Major League Soccer, they are at risk of losing a player in the upcoming Expansion draft for the 2016 season.

With three possible players up for grabs in previous iterations of the draft the Philadelphia Union have only lost two players to the draft, Justin Mapp to Montreal in 2011, and Pedro Ribeiro to Orlando City SC in 2014. With this possibly being the last such draft the Union are at risk once again of losing a player, and with the team actually being competitive this may be a big part of what next year’s team looks like.

Before we look at who the Philadelphia Union may protect in the draft, and who may be up to be grabbed by Atlanta United and Minnesota United we must first look at the rules and the new rules of the draft. Notably, the Union can protect 11 players, and do not have to protect any Designated Players.

Also, any Generation Adidas players are automatically protected and do not count towards this total. As such, Fabian Herbers and Joshua Yaro are protected regardless, but Andre Blake will not be as his contract ends this year, meaning due to the Expansion draft rules he would have to be protected. Any Homegrown players such as Auston Trusty and Derrick Jones will be on the protected list as well, no need to protect them as part of the 11.

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The most important thing to look at when deciding who to protect is who is most important for the team’s future, and who will have an impact on the team directly in the upcoming year and years. The first person that should be on that list is Keegan Rosenberry, followed by the previously mentioned Blake. Whether or not Blake is added to that list should, however, be decided after discussing if he will sign a new contract and if he will be staying around for at least the full season. I would also add Richie Marquez to the list of players most necessary to protect, as he is a huge part of the team.

After that you start to get to a place where most of who you protect is dependent on who is staying around, and who you think will have an impact. Alejandro Bedoya is likely the next most important player to keep, and as such he is protected player number four. I would then add Maurice Edu because he is an impact player, and although he has been injured for much of his tenure in Philadelphia, he is a better trade asset than a lost asset through a draft if you do want to get rid of him.

The sixth person that should be protected is Chris Pontius. When he was traded here there was a lot of worry on whether he could stay fit, and he has, and he is leading the team in scoring for the most part. In that same vein, you must also protect Roland Alberg, or Tranquillo Barnetta if he is planning on signing a new contract. If not you keep Roland, and if Tranquillo is going home to St Gallen or would like to go elsewhere you let him. Tranquillo is the eighth protected pick if he also plans on staying.

C.J. Sapong is also an important person to protect, but there have been many rumors that he would like to move abroad. That said you either protect him or Charlie Davies. Best case scenario is Sapong because Davies may or may not be full match fit, and although yes you have Herbers as a viable striking option unless you are already in talks with a Designated Player type striker you leave open the door for Sapong or Davies. Most likely you protect Sapong as your number nine protected player.

Finally, you would need to take a look at all the other players left. At this point, there are two or three players left if Tranquillo leaves. The first move should be to lock up a second wing option, deciding between Eric Ayuk, Walter Restrepo, Leo Fernandes, and Ilsinho. The most promising one really is Ayuk, and as such protecting him keeps him. We have seen the ability that he has in a full MLS season, and surely he will be much better given more time to grow, and not being forced to play a massive amount of minutes as a young 18-year-old.

Finally, it is important to select one last player that is key to the team, and while Fabinho and Ray Gaddis scream out to be kept, they both are getting older and have at times shown a lack of skill. Also worst case scenario you only lose one of these players. Also players like Warren Creavalle, Leo Fernandes, and Walter Restrepo while playing many positions are not full-fledged starters and are viable options to lose. As such the final protected player should be Ken Tribbett. While many fans say that he has cost the team goals and points in the last few weeks he has been a strong starter for much of the year, and he shows an ability to score from headers and defend well in the air.

This list of players Keegan Rosenberry, Andre Blake, Richie Marquez, Alejandro Bedoya, Maurice Edu, Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg, Tranquillo Barnetta, C.J. Sapong, Erik Ayuk, and Ken Tribbett protects the core of the team and the future of the team.

It does also, that being said, leave a lot of quality players like Fabinho, Ray Gaddis, Ilsinho, Warren Creavalle, Walter Restrepo, and Leo Fernadesavailable for Minnesota or Atlanta to pick up. That being said only one person can be picked from each team, and with only 10 total players being picked the chances of the Union having a person selected are slim, and they only lose one player.

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The most likely pick is probably Fernandes, Restrepo or Gaddis as they are all relatively young players, and have been delegated to a bench position, and likely for a newer team could start and be an impact player. With the continued regime change under Earnie Stewart, this seems to be the best idea on who to protect, and who to leave open. That said depending on contracts, and who might be traded or who may be sold abroad, this could definitely change by the Expansion Draft on December 13th.