Union waive three players, pass on Major League Soccer waiver draft

The Philadelphia Union announced Monday afternoon that they have waived defender Porfirio Lopez, midfielder Gabriel Gómez and forward Krystian Witkowski.

Lopez's departure is no surprise. The Costa Rican defender was signed last offseason, and was heralded as the solution to the team's weakness at left back. But he ended up as a complete bust, playing just five league games while earning over $125,000 in guaranteed salary.

Gómez's departure isn't surprising either, though it will be disappointing to a lot of people. I'm one of them - I think he was played out of a lot of position a lot and could have done much better here under different circumstances.

To be fair, no one within the Union I've talked to has ever disputed Gómez's talent or work ethic. He just doesn't fit into manager John Hackworth's tactical vision, and that's the way it is.

The stalwart of Panama's national team appeared in 24 games for the Union this year, starting 18. For a while he was the team's leading scorer, and finished the season with six goals. His departure frees nearly $300,000 in guaranteed salary from the Union's payroll.

Witkowski was a Supplemental Draft pick this year. He suffered a concussion in March and hever fully recovered.

I talked this afternoon with Witkowski's agent, who told me that the Rochester, N.Y., native generally enjoyed his time with the Union. Witkowski may look at opportunities in Poland if he can't find anything else in MLS. He has played in the past with Poland's under-18 national team, so he has some connections there.

Lopez, Gómez and Witkowski were three of 42 players across Major League Soccer who were eligible for a Waiver Draft held Monday afternoon. The Union passed on making any selections, as did a number of other teams across the league.

Below you'll find the full list of players available for selection in the Waiver Draft. The only player actually selected was Columbus Crew midfielder Cole Grossman, who was picked up by Real Salt Lake.

As far as I understand any player not selected in the waiver draft becomes available on a first-come, first-serve basis. I've highlighted in bold a few of those players who may be of interest to the Union.

Goalkeepers (3)

Bill Gaudette (New York Red Bulls)
Bryan Sylvestre (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Jeremy Vuolo (New York Red Bulls)

Defenders (11)

Jonathan Borrajo (New York Red Bulls)
Cyprian Hedrick (Sporting Kansas City)
Ian Hogg (Portland Timbers)
Flo Lechner (New England Revolution)

Alex Lee (FC Dallas)
Porfirio Lopez (Philadelphia Union)
Neven Markovic (Sporting Kansas City)
Carlos Rodriguez (FC Dallas)

Tyler Ruthven (New York Red Bulls)
Nemanja Vukovic (Columbus Crew)
Dicoy Williams (Toronto FC)
Luis Zapata (Colorado Rapids)

Midfielders (14):

Cole Grossman (Columbus Crew) - selected by Real Salt Lake

Freddie Braun (Portland Timbers)
Júlio César (Sporting Kansas City)
Oscar Cordon (Toronto FC)
Edu (Colorado Rapids)

Gabriel Gómez (Philadelphia Union)
Evan James (Montréal Impact)
Bryan Leyva (FC Dallas)
Nico Muniz (Real Salt Lake)

Alec Purdie (New England)
Jan Gunnar Solli (New York Red Bulls)
Teemu Tainio (New York Red Bulls)
Tiago Ulisses (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Konrad Warzycha (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards (14)

Jose Angulo (New York Red Bulls)
Jhonny Arteaga (New York Red Bulls)
Etienne Barbara (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Blake Brettschneider (New England)

Sercan Güvenışık (San Jose)
Corey Hertzog (New York Red Bulls)
Matias Jara (FC Dallas)
Nicholas Lindsay (Toronto FC)

Ruben Luna (FC Dallas)
Keith Makabuya (Toronto FC)
Charles Renken (Portland Timbers)
Michael Roach (New England)

Olman Vargas (Columbus Crew)
Krystian Witkowski (Philadelphia Union)

Hertzog in particular could be a prize if he lands somewhere, and I suspect some Union fans would like to see him at PPL Park. The Reading native and Penn State product very much wanted to come to Philadelphia when he turned pro in 2011, but was drafted by New York instead.

Here is an explanation from MLS as to how the Waiver Draft worked, and what comes next. I realize it's a lot of jargon, so I've added my own emphasis in bold to highlight a few key points:

Available in today’s draft are players whom (1) are not in a club’s plans for 2013, and (2) are NOT re-entry draft eligible*. Such players will be available to clubs in the Waiver Draft via the waiver draft order. As with all players that clear waivers, any players not selected in the Waiver Draft will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Re-Entry Process Player Eligibility 

The Re-Entry Process will consist of the following players:

(1) Players at least 23 years old with a minimum of 3 years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised (“Option Decline Players”), and

(2) out of contract players who have not received a Bona Fide Offerand who are (a) at least 25 years old with a minimum of 4 years of MLS experience and/or (b) at least 30 years old with a minimum of 8 years of MLS experience (“Out of Contract Players”). 

Please note, players may choose to opt out of the Re-Entry Process (Stage 1 and/or Stage 2) and have their rights remain with their current Club by notifying the League Office at any time prior to the applicable time ((a) December 6 at 5:00 pm and/or (b) December 13 at 9:00 am). 

With respect to the draft, please note the following: 

There will be no trades allowed during the draft.

If a team selects a player, it will go to the bottom of the next player waiver per the Competition Guidelines Manual.

We do not know the health status of many of the players on the list. Therefore, if you [i.e. a team] intend on selecting a player from the list, please contact us prior to the draft and we will give you whatever information we have (which may be limited). You should also contact his exiting team to get a current health update.

For players claimed during the Waiver Draft, their options will be automatically exercised (a team may not claim a player’s rights). Teams may not re-negotiate a claimed player’s contract until after roster compliance date (March 1).