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Philly draft pick analysis
by Ridge Mahoney, November 27th, 2009 7AM
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[MLS]No need to "grade" the Philadelphia Union for its expansion picks: not until SuperDraft selections, discovery signings, allocations, and perhaps a Designated Player, can what President Nick Sakiewicz and Coach Peter Nowak have wrought be judged. Most coaches build a team position by position, and so that's how we'll run down the selections announced by the team and MLS on Monday, mindful that trades may be pending:

GOALKEEPER: Brad Knighton (New England Revs) conceded 14 goals in the six games he played this year, which is a deceptively poor record for a goalkeeper who has some good tools. But if Nowak grabbed him to trade him back for somebody else on New England's roster, he didn't get much in trade value. (Various media reports indicated that Real Salt Lake goalie Chris Seitz's move to Philadelphia was a done deal.)

DEFENDERS:Nowak obtained an experienced, if somewhat well-traveled, defender in Shavar Thomas (Chivas USA), a seven-year veteran who has also played in Kansas City and Dallas. Strong tackler, relatively fast, and pretty tough, Thomas, 28, isn't ranked among the MLS elite but has played for Jamaica and is a reasonably solid player, if somewhat moody.

Andy Iro of Columbus was passed over in favor of Crew forward Alejandro Moreno, and Nowak's other two defenders are Jordan Harvey, 25, who has played 45 games for the Rapids since they drafted him in 2006, and David Myrie, a 21-year-old Costa Rican signed by the Fire in mid-September who didn't play in a match.

MIDFIELDERS:Shea Salinas, 23, has been a darling of the San Jose fans, who love his slashing runs up the flanks. He's not been consistent, nor all that productive (two goals, five assists in 46 games), but likes to go at people. He's got trade props, too. In very rare appearances for the Red Bulls, Nick Zimmerman, 22, showed some great promise, but he's hard to gauge off just 11 regular-season games (seven starts) and 757 minutes of play.

Stefani Miglioranzi's injury absence (groin strain) during the playoffs affected the Galaxy; if healthy, he would have seen some time in central midfield, especially with Dema Kovalenko sidelined with illness. The native of Brazil and product of St. John's University played 23 games for LA  after two seasons with the Crew. Andrew Jacobson went to France and then came back after completing his college career at Cal. In 2009, he played 28 games total, and in MLS, his stats were 17 games (eight starts) and 845 minutes.

FORWARDS:Nowak did go for experience up top in Alejandro Moreno, 30, an eight-year veteran who has scored 44 goals in 218 games and won titles with three different teams: Los Angeles, Houston and Columbus. The other forward taken, Sebastian LeToux, won league USL-1 MVP honors and the USL-1 championship with Seattle in 2007 and was the first player to sign an MLS contract with the club. He scored just one goal in 28 games last year yet at age 25 can still be expected to improve.

 

This is a framework, nothing more, for the future, a mostly young mix of abilities with some experience in Moreno and Miglioranzi, who is 32. Le Toux and Salinas have done enough that their former fans will gnash their teeth in frustration if they blossom in Philly, but most fans around the league are relieved Nowak didn't take one of their regulars, many of which were available.

At first glance, it doesn't appear that Philly drafted as strongly as did Seattle, which claimed starters Nate Jaqua, James Riley and Brad Evans in its expansion draft. At the other extreme, Toronto FC eventually traded all 10 of its picks in the 2007 draft, and nobody is expecting Nowak to match that, either. Union expansion selections:
Brad Knighton (New England)
Dave Myrie (Chicago-Costa Rica)
Shavar Thomas (Chivas USA-Jamaica)
Jordan Harvey (Colorado)
Shea Salinas (San Jose)
Stefani Miglioranzi (Los Angeles)
Andrew Jacobson (D.C. United)
Nick Zimmerman (Real Salt Lake)
Alejandro Moreno (Columbus-Venezuela)
Sebastian Le Toux (Seattle-France)



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