MLS- Philadelphia Union

A closer look at Philadelphia's expansion draft

Alejandro Moreno (ISIphotos.com) 

Photo by ISIphotos.com

There were no superstars taken, no former league MVPs. No players with U.S. national team caps, or players with multiple all-star appearances, or even players with ties to the Philadelphia area. When the final list of players chosen by the Philadelphia Union was announced, we were treated to a group of MLS players who could make up the type of tough and tenacious team that Nowak likes, and Philadelphia fans will want to root for.

The Union still sit several impact players away from being able to compete in MLS, but Nowak now has some tools to start building a team capable of not only competing, but capable of making a first-year impact like the Sounders. That may be a high bar to aim for, but considering Nowak has already won an MLS Cup before (in his first year as a head coach no less) it's tough to write him and the Union off just yet.

So who did the Union wind up with in the Expansion Draft? Here is a closer look at the selections:


Talented young netminder who looked solid playing six matches in place of an injured Matt Reis earlier in the season. His goals-against average might seem awful (and 2.33 certainly is), but it should be remembered that six of those goals came in a 6-0 drubbing by Real Salt Lake. Will battle Chris Seitz for starting job.


A young and athletic defender who can play fullback while providing cover at centerback. Didn't play a minute for the Fire, but could wind up being a good long-term project for Peter Nowak.


A tower of a centerback who lost his starting job late in the year for Chivas USA, but who still boasts great size and a mean streak. He boasts 142 career starts and should be penciled in as a starter from day one.


Nowak needed to get a left back and selected one who enjoyed a strong season as a starter. Harvey was solid for Colorado in 2009 and should also be considered a good bet to start on opening day.


A young winger with potential but who can certainly use some coaching and sharpening of his skills, Salinas provided glimpses of being an exciting prospect during his time with San Jose, which made his exposure in this draft surprising.


A bit of a forgotten man in the LA Galaxy's late season playoff run due to injury, Miglioranzi was actually a key force in the Galaxy's early success, starting 20 games for the Western Conference champions. He's 32, but looks to still have something left in the tank.


After a brief spell in France, Jacobsen returned to MLS and failed to make the impact expected of him despite showing some good early promise. He's got good size-skill combination in central midfield and is still relatively young at 24.


One of the more exciting prospects on this list, Zimmerman is a fast and determined midfielder with an underrated shot and the drive to potentially develop into an impact player. He showed great promise in the middle of a terrible season for New York, but eventually fell out of favor later in the year. He's definitely one to watch.


Could be the steal of the draft after struggling to live up to expectations in 2009. He made just 15 starts for the Sounders as he battled a deep crop of attackers in Seattle, but LeToux's tenacity and skill could make him a fan favorite in Philadelphia the way he was one in Seattle.


Yes, he may dive a little (or a lot) but Moreno is a handful up top and can finish chances as well as set them up. He's just a year removed from scoring a goal and playing well in an MLS Cup Final and could be a double-digit goal-scorer (he tallied nine in 2008).


Some other thoughts:

How did Philadelphia pass on:

Anthony Wallace– A very talented young left back. Philly went with a more experienced option in Jordan Harvey, but Wallace could wind up an all-star. Ultimately, concerns about his ability to stay healthy could have been an issue.

Matt Besler– A left back/centerback with good feet, Besler had his share of struggles at centerback, but could prove to be a much better option than Myrie.

Amado Guevara– He's expensive and he has a reputation as a locker-room problem, but he's still one of the league's most talented midfielders and would certainly have garnered something in a trade.

Eddie Robinson- Concerns about Robinson's surgically-repaired knee have to be the reason why Philly would pass on a player who was one of the better defenders in MLS in 2008.

Bobby Convey– His strained relationship with Peter Nowak is well documented, so maybe it was a reach to believe they would kiss and make up. Convey's still only 26 though, so there's still time for him to join the Philly down the road (like when Nowak leaves).

Frankie Hejduk– You would have figured that Nowak would want Hejduk's leadership on his expansion team, but Nowak had to notice the number of injuries and dips in form Hejduk endured in 2008. That said, Nowak's chance to grab a starter-caliber forward in Moreno probably proved too difficult to pass on. 


What do you think of Philly's expansion list? Who do you see being the biggest impact player among the ten chosen? Which player would you replace on the list, and who would you replace them with?

Share your thoughts below.

  • J mann

    Does anyone think Vincenzo Bernardo might be coming back to the states to play in the MLS. I heard news a while back but nothing lately so far. You think Nowak would take him. VB10


  • Gunnar

    Le Toux should be a forward, whether he starts depends on who else they bring in. He will log lots of minutes for Philly, he is a great effort guy. His ball skill is not strong, but his work rate and opportunistic nature will serve him well. He will be a fan favorite.


  • Austin

    thats the USL buddy….this is MLS, notice how Levesque started over Le Toux up top? thats a decision made by one of the best managers in the league and if that is a decision he makes then that tells me Le Toux is better out wide in MLS, ofcourse i know he played forward in USL thats how he got his recognition


  • Luis F

    I think the consensus is accurate that Le Toux will be a fan favorite in Philly. And it will be based on his effort. They won’t be throwing snowballs at him because he doesn’t run enough. But they will throw snow balls at him because he has no idea how to play soccer unless he’s in space and facing the goal. If only soccer were so easy. His first touch is generally awful and his ability to finish at the MLS level is subpar. With his technical ability, he isn’t good enough to contribute on a regular basis.

    I loved the guy coming off the bench, and you can’t argue that he was a vital part of SSFC bringing home the US Open Cup. But he shouldn’t be anything more than a role player in the MLS. If he does end up logging lots of minutes at forward for PU, they will probably end up near the bottom of the league in goals scored.


  • Goose

    I can’t believe they spent an allocation on Seitz, when they could’ve had Onstad or Hartman for nothing.


  • kfly

    Damn, I was hoping we wouldn’t lose one of the young talents from midfield that we left unprotected (Jacobsen, McTavish, Boyzzz, and Barklage). We lose a cannon of a shot, and a player who still has loads of potential and will probably develop better in a place where he can find more PT.

    Oh well. I guess we need to start rebuilding the team anyway. However, I fail to see why they protected Fred, though..


  • Ossington Mental Youth

    Previously when seattle was in hte USL he was a forward, they converted him this year


  • Tom

    Nick Zimmerman is huge loss for Red Bulls. One of the few players who looked like he knew what he was doing and played with confidence.


  • Peter C

    I think Onstad would have retired rather than move.
    They get Knighton and Seitz, combined base salaries in ’09:109,000.
    Hartman’s ’09 salary: 165,000.
    With Seitz being touted as a potential star and future USMNT keeper, I’m OK with the Union keepers.


  • Goose

    League rules required protecting three internationals. After Jakovic and James, take your pick of Fred, Gomez, Emilio or Boyzzz.


  • Shmenge

    Guevara would’ve been good in one sense–he can take the set pieces that Moreno’s flopping will earn.

    Philly has to get a good set piece taker like GBS to take advantage of flopmeister Ale.

    The Crew scored dozens of goals off of Ale’s drawn fouls.


  • Martin Funkhauser

    Ives, will you be doing another post which explains why the rest of your proposed pickes didn’t happen?

    (SBI-Right, my mistake, didn’t realize the rest of the world was spot on in predicting Philly’s expansion draft.)


  • Joe Walsh

    Wait, where’s Jesse Marsch? Ives seemingly led the campaign for a washed up defensive midfielder but he didn’t even make the list of guys Philly passed on? Some explanation is needed.

    (SBI-Led the campaign? I mentioned him as a possible selection and he wasn’t taken. That’s pretty much it so settle down.)


  • pendulum

    where can we watch these games with jozy & clint? I have fox sports package and they only show matches of the big 4 :-(


  • pendulum

    yeah no crap. losing letoux stings. he’ll do very well for you guys. as sammysounder said, if you don’t want him, we’ll gladly take him back :-)


  • Coz

    Two things worth noting: Nowak’s picks cost less than half of what Ives’ cost. A whopping $615K in 2009 base salary. Yes, Philly could have renegotiated, but certainly not by that much.

    Second, only three players over age 25. Peter went consistently young, fast (Salinas and Zimmerman, in particular) and cheap.


  • Bradley Sampson

    Don’t worry PU fans, Lil Mikey is on his way back from Germany for a DP slot and his Dad will be right behind him after another WC debacle to “co-coach” with Nowak.


  • Kevin

    If you went to the link he provided he said that there will be more signings to come and is excited about joining the team ect ect.


  • Matt In Detroit.

    Can’t say I’m impressed. There are what? Three full starters here? Miglio/Harvey/Moreno

    Knighton/Latoux have yet to become starters.

    Shavar Thomas is a good pickup.

    Salinas/Jacobson/Myrie(Who?)/and Zipperman are projects – no guarantee they’d pan out.

    Phili needed to accomplish 2 things:

    1. To get six or seven contenders for starting positions. I don’t see it here.

    2. They needed to avoid using too many foreign slots. Remember, there’s a vast amount of foreign players out there and your foreign slot is effectively a free agent.

    Why waste picks on foreign players?

    Use them all on americans.

    Don’t really care about Phili, per se. And I accept Nowak can coach but this is unimprressive.


  • Kevin

    They couldn’t take Grabavoy because of the trade agreement for Seitz, and why pay a 28 year old backup in Saunders instead of training a possibly very talented Knighton, pay him less and is 4 years younger. I do wish they had taken Wallace and Chabala


  • Matt in Detroit

    Let me recap:

    The good:

    Moreno – Solid MLS starter, not too expensive and has a US passport (I think?).

    Thomas – Solid MLS starter, key to the good Chivas teams over the past few years. Not too expensive. Foreign slot taken.

    Harvey – a little non-descript but solid.


    Migglio – Foreign slot. Solid but unspectacular. Not bad.

    Salinas – talented athelete. Still raw but definite prospect.

    Jacobson – I’ll go “OK over “Huh???”. Good prospect. Looked solid MLS material in limited time in DC but Phili could have done better with a more experienced and proven MLS Player. Incidentally, I’m not cumming in my pants at the significance of his four month unpaid internship at a French division II side.


    Zimmerman – OK, let’s get real. Not a great athelete. No real position. Was mediocre in three or four games with NY, one of the worst teams in history but the NY fans grasped to him like he was the second coming. Does that make him a great prospect? Not yet.

    Knighton – A career backup? Was this a priority? Were they really planning on using a pick on a backup? Not to knock the guy, really, but so far Phili has three or four proven players. They can’t afford this.

    Latoux – Foreign slot. He was good in USL but why use a expansion pick on a player similar to a thousand others Phili could get as a free agent?

    Myrie – Foreign slot. Same as Latoux but I’d never actually heard of him.

    Overall grade – D

    Naturally I accept that I am not the expert but this doesn’t look promising. They’ve used up three of their foreign slots and all they have to show for it is perhaps four proven MLS players.

    You need 18 proven players to compete.

    They can get another four foreign free agents. Assuming they’re not development guys. But remember NY’s latest signings in 2009. Hardly world beaters.

    They’d get the top draft pick which may or may not be ready to play in MLS. Usually not. Last year’s draft was good, the one before horrible in that regards.

    They’ll get the top allocation spot (significant american players in Europe) which should be a good player but maybe not.

    They might be able to get a few secondary american players as free agents coming back from Europe ala a conner casey or nat borchers but that’s iffy.

    Sorry, Phili, I think you are screwed.

    Good luck though.


  • Mario in QT

    This draft is unimpressive. They picked a number of young guys who might pan out so I assume Peter’s plan is to take a beating for a year or two while the team gels. Well, as an expansion team what did we expect!

    (except for Seattle).

    By the way, am I misinformed or have we been stuck on 8000 season tickets for a number of months?


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