Thursday, January 10, 2019

Philly dumping picks is good

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Union sold all their college "SuperDraft" picks to FC Cincinnati for $150k in General Allocation (+$50k in performance). Those picks were number 13, 29, 37, 61 and 85 overall.

Ernst Tanner, the Union's Sporting Director (and a German) had this to say; “We would not have benefited very well from the 13th pick,” Tanner said. "I think it was a good decision we took in order to get a little bit more money for other players and increase our flexibility in the future.”

In recent years the college draft has slipped in MLS player acquisition importance. If you look at the last four drafts (2015-2018) you see that only 10 players of the 86 selected in the first round were regular starters and a measly two were sold abroad.

Here are the 10 regular starters.

2015 : Cristian Roldan - Seattle
2017 : Julian Gressel - Atlanta
2016 : Brandon Vincent - Chicago
2016 : Keegan Rosenberry - Philadelphia
2016 : Andrew Tarbell - San Jose
2015 : Tim Parker - New York
2015 : Alex Bono - Toronto FC
2017 : Jake Nerwinski - Vancouver
2018 : Christopher Mueller - Orlando City SC
2017 : Lalas Abubakar - Columbus

About 10 years ago the soccer 1st community started sounding the alarm on the byzantine system that the draft had become. It appears to have finally made it to MLS offices. At first glance it might look like a hair-brained strategy, but digging into it a little bit it does make sense.

In fact, it makes sense just when you consider MLS has a dozen ways to acquire players. There's almost no need to spend the time, effort, travel and new contracts on players when over half of them don't pan out and less than 15% of them become starters.

Not only did Philly save money, but they also added $200k in allocation. It's a smart move that I'm sure the league does not particularly care for, so don't be surprised if new rules are put into place next year to prevent it.


The Union have not been good on or off the pitch in recent years. The team has only made the playoffs 6 of the 9 years they have been in existence. Only one of those three have been at home. Poor play (and stadium location) has led to empty stadiums during the regular season as well which means they have to spend smartly to improve. If they do not, MLS might give them the Chicago treatment and pull them back to the mothership in regards to who is in the front office.

To compound their problems, Philly has 22 bodies listed on the roster right now, only 11 of which are under contract. It's a hodgepodge of players of wildly different skill levels (7 coming up and down from their USL affiliate and academy).

Ernst Tanner joined Philly last summer after 25 years of experience in Germany and Austria and has made it a priority to grow talent instead of buy/acquire it through MLS mechanisms. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. I've wanted a MLS team to take this path for years.


Who knows where this will leave our friends down in southern Ohio. Their roster is what you would expect an expansion side to be. A bunch of USL system players and spare parts from other MLS teams. They, also, have a roster of 22 currently. With 10 draft picks coming up it looks like they will be over the roster limit going into training camp. It'll be interesting to see who they keep around.

No comments: