The Philadelphia Union made their final roster moves before the start of the regular season on Wednesday, signing draft picks Pedro Ribeiro and Richard Marquez and waiving defender Matt Kassel.
Ribeiro, a creative midfielder out of Coastal Carolina, was a late first-round pick. Marquez, a central defender out of the University of Redlands, was a third-round selection.
Coastal Carolina and Redlands are not what most of us would call college soccer powerhouses. At least Coastal Carolina is a Division I school, and the Chanticleers have had players drafted into MLS before. Redlands is really an otupost, though: it's a Division III school located between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Calif.
But the Bulldogs have a secret weapon that helped Marquez get the attention of pro scouts: head coach Ralph Perez. He's one of the longest-serving coaches in the American soccer community, and he has an extraordinary resume.
Perez first broke onto the big stage in 1978, when he started working in a range of coaching roles with the U.S. national team. After many years of toil, Perez was on the staff when the Americans finally broke through and qualified for the 1990 World Cup. He joined the New York/New Jersey MetroStars' bench for Major League Soccer's inaugural season in 1996, then moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1998. In 2005, he rejoined the U.S. Soccer Federation in a technical advisor role, and in 2006 he took over the Redlands program.
Perez has also held other college soccer jobs along the way, including head coaching roles at (disclaimer: this isn't in chronological order) Old Dominion, Santa Clara, Cal State-Fullerton, Whittier College, Cal State-San Bernardino and Cal State-Los Anglees. He helped found the men's soccer programs at the last two of those schools.
It is quite a career resume. And itt's fitting that In 2012, Perez received the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Walt Chyzowych award.
With all that said, let's return to the news of the day. The Union's roster stands at 29 players as the team prepares to head to Portland. While I don't have specific details as to which players are the 20 who count against the salary cap, here's my best guess as to the breakdown:
20-Player Main Roster
1. Zac MacMath
2. Austin Berry
4. Ray Gaddis
5. Amobi Okugo
6. Sheanon Williams
7. Ethan White
8. Corben Bone
9. Brian Carroll
10. Danny Cruz
11. Fred da Silva
12. Keon Daniel
13. Maurice Edu (Designated Player)
14. Michael Lahoud
15. Sébastien Le Toux
16. Cristian Maidana (Designated Player)
17. Vincent Nogueira
18. Conor Casey
19. Antoine Hoppenot
20. Jack McInerney
High salary class (at least $46,500 by 2013 roster rules)
21. D Aaron Wheeler (The Union are legitimiately trying to convert him to this position, so I'll give them credit for it)
22. M Leo Fernandes
23. M Cristhian Hernández (Homegrown)
24. M Pedro Ribeiro
Low salary class (at least $35,125 by 2013 roster rules)
25. GK Brian Holt
26. D Richard Marquez
Exempt from salary cap
28. GK Andre Blake (Generation Adidas)
29. M Jimmy McLaughlin (Homegrown)
30. M Zach Pfeffer (Homegrown)