Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A look at the Union's roster as the preseason heats up

The Union start this week settled in Deltona, Fla., for their latest phase of preseason training. When the plane took off Saturday, a total of 34 players were on board with the Union's coaching staff.

A look at the Union's roster as the preseason heats up

Keon Daniel is part of a potential logjam of players in the Union´s midfield that the team may have to deal with in preseason training. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP file photo)
Keon Daniel is part of a potential logjam of players in the Union's midfield that the team may have to deal with in preseason training. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP file photo)

Updated Thursday afternoon after the Union signed goalkeeper Brian Holt to a full contract.

The Union start this week settled in Deltona, Fla., for their latest phase of preseason training.

When the plane took off Saturday, a total of 34 players were on board with the Union's coaching staff. Of that group, 24 were signed players, six were draft picks and four were trialists:

Goalkeepers (3): Andre Blake (draft pick), Brian Holt, Zac MacMath 

Defenders (9): Kevin Cope (draft pick), Robbie Derschang (draft pick), Fabinho, Ray Gaddis, Matt Kassel, Richie Marquez (draft pick), Amobi Okugo, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams 

Midfielders (16): Corben Bone, Brian Carroll, Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel, Maurice Edu, Leo Fernandes, Fred (trialist), Cristhian Hernández, Michael Lahoud, Sébastien Le Toux, Cristian Maidana, Jimmy McLaughlin, Vincent Nogueira*, Zach Pfeffer, Aodhan Quinn (draft pick), Pedro Ribeiro (draft pick) 

Forwards (6): Clésio Bauque (trialist), Conor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot, Jack McInerney, Michael Seamon (trialist), Aaron Wheeler 

* - Nogueira's visa and ITC haven't cleared yet. Once that happens and he passes a physical, he'll join the squad.

Two of the Union's late-round SuperDraft picks, midfielders Luca Gimenez and Alex Sweetin, did not make it past the first week of camp. Also, forward Yann Ekra - a late-season signing last year from the Harrisburg City Islanders - is no longer with the team.

As regards the trialists, you already know about Fred and Seamon. Bauque is a 19-year-old forward with some experience for Mozambique's national team. He was most recently with Portuguese giant Benfica's reserves.

If we play by last year's roster rules, the squad has to be at 30 players by March 1, the official roster compliance deadline.

But it's not as simple as signing all the trialists and draft picks and then adding one trialist. Because Major League Soccer classifies players, the Union have to decide which of the 30 players will be the 20 that count against the salary cap.

The 10 remaining spots are first given to any Generation Adidas players in the team, and up to two Homegrown players. After that, four players come in at a certain salary level and the rest at a lower level. Last year, those numbers were $46,500 and $35,125. Players earning the former figure are classified as being in spots 21 to 24, and players earning the latter figure are classified as being in spots 25 to 30. 

(Again, this all presumes we're playing by last year's roster rules. That might not be a fair assumption, but it's all we've got until MLS headquarters publishes this year's edition. And as we know too well, that hasn't happened yet.)

Right now, if the Union sign all of their draft picks, they wouldn't have room to sign any of their trialists - or anybody else for that matter. It is certainly an assumption to conclude that because all of the draft picks are in Deltona, they're all going to be signed. But as of today - and for all we know, it might change tomorrow - here's a breakdown of a theoretical 30-man squad.

20-Player Main Roster

1. GK Zac MacMath

2. D Fabinho
3. D Ray Gaddis 
4. D Amobi Okugo
5. D Sheanon Williams
6. D Ethan White

7. M Corben Bone
8. M Brian Carroll
9. M Danny Cruz
10. M Keon Daniel
11. M Maurice Edu (Designated Player)
12. M Michael Lahoud
13. M Sébastien Le Toux
14. M Cristian Maidana (Designated Player)
15. M Cristhian Hernández (Homegrown)
16. M Vincent Nogueira

17. F Conor Casey
18. F Antoine Hoppenot
19. F Jack McInerney 
20. F Aaron Wheeler

Off-Budget Players

21. D Kevin Cope
22. D Matt Kassel
23. M Leo Fernandes
24. M Pedro Ribeiro

25. GK Brian Holt
26. D Robbie Derschang
27. D Richard Marquez or M Aodhan Quinn

28. GK Andre Blake (Generation Adidas)
29. M Jimmy McLaughlin (Homegrown)
30. M Zach Pfeffer (Homegrown)

You can see from this that the Union have some really tough decisions to make this month. Just by signing Brian Holt, the team has to either not sign one of its draft picks or get rid of a player who was on the team last year.

And there's no room to make any moves beyond that right now. That includes signing a veteran centerback if necessary, or adding attacking depth like Michael Seamon.

You can see that the Union have a bit of a logjam in midfield, with the big new signings and Zach Pfeffer being back on the team. That could be an area of the roster to watch as cuts loom.

And since you might ask about how the Homegrown Players fit in: Hernández had a lower salary last year ($64,375.00 guaranteed) than McLaughlin ($69,000.00) or Pfeffer ($75,000). Though we don't know what any of the three will make in 2014, it would make sense if the two highest numbers are kept outside of the cap.

Thoughts?

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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