A closer look at Philadelphia’s expansion draft

Alejandro Moreno (ISIphotos.com) 

Photo by ISIphotos.com

There were no superstars taken, no former league MVPs. No players with U.S. national team caps, or players with multiple all-star appearances, or even players with ties to the Philadelphia area. When the final list of players chosen by the Philadelphia Union was announced, we were treated to a group of MLS players who could make up the type of tough and tenacious team that Nowak likes, and Philadelphia fans will want to root for.

The Union still sit several impact players away from being able to compete in MLS, but Nowak now has some tools to start building a team capable of not only competing, but capable of making a first-year impact like the Sounders. That may be a high bar to aim for, but considering Nowak has already won an MLS Cup before (in his first year as a head coach no less) it's tough to write him and the Union off just yet.

So who did the Union wind up with in the Expansion Draft? Here is a closer look at the selections:

BRAD KNIGHTON

Talented young netminder who looked solid playing six matches in place of an injured Matt Reis earlier in the season. His goals-against average might seem awful (and 2.33 certainly is), but it should be remembered that six of those goals came in a 6-0 drubbing by Real Salt Lake. Will battle Chris Seitz for starting job.

DAVID MYRIE

A young and athletic defender who can play fullback while providing cover at centerback. Didn't play a minute for the Fire, but could wind up being a good long-term project for Peter Nowak.

SHAVAR THOMAS

A tower of a centerback who lost his starting job late in the year for Chivas USA, but who still boasts great size and a mean streak. He boasts 142 career starts and should be penciled in as a starter from day one.

JORDAN HARVEY

Nowak needed to get a left back and selected one who enjoyed a strong season as a starter. Harvey was solid for Colorado in 2009 and should also be considered a good bet to start on opening day.

SHEA SALINAS

A young winger with potential but who can certainly use some coaching and sharpening of his skills, Salinas provided glimpses of being an exciting prospect during his time with San Jose, which made his exposure in this draft surprising.

STEFANI MIGLIORANZI

A bit of a forgotten man in the LA Galaxy's late season playoff run due to injury, Miglioranzi was actually a key force in the Galaxy's early success, starting 20 games for the Western Conference champions. He's 32, but looks to still have something left in the tank.

ANDREW JACOBSEN

After a brief spell in France, Jacobsen returned to MLS and failed to make the impact expected of him despite showing some good early promise. He's got good size-skill combination in central midfield and is still relatively young at 24.

NICK ZIMMERMAN

One of the more exciting prospects on this list, Zimmerman is a fast and determined midfielder with an underrated shot and the drive to potentially develop into an impact player. He showed great promise in the middle of a terrible season for New York, but eventually fell out of favor later in the year. He's definitely one to watch.

SEBASTIEN LETOUX

Could be the steal of the draft after struggling to live up to expectations in 2009. He made just 15 starts for the Sounders as he battled a deep crop of attackers in Seattle, but LeToux's tenacity and skill could make him a fan favorite in Philadelphia the way he was one in Seattle.

ALEJANDRO MORENO

Yes, he may dive a little (or a lot) but Moreno is a handful up top and can finish chances as well as set them up. He's just a year removed from scoring a goal and playing well in an MLS Cup Final and could be a double-digit goal-scorer (he tallied nine in 2008).

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Some other thoughts:

How did Philadelphia pass on:

Anthony Wallace- A very talented young left back. Philly went with a more experienced option in Jordan Harvey, but Wallace could wind up an all-star. Ultimately, concerns about his ability to stay healthy could have been an issue.

Matt Besler- A left back/centerback with good feet, Besler had his share of struggles at centerback, but could prove to be a much better option than Myrie.

Amado Guevara- He's expensive and he has a reputation as a locker-room problem, but he's still one of the league's most talented midfielders and would certainly have garnered something in a trade.

Eddie Robinson- Concerns about Robinson's surgically-repaired knee have to be the reason why Philly would pass on a player who was one of the better defenders in MLS in 2008.

Bobby Convey- His strained relationship with Peter Nowak is well documented, so maybe it was a reach to believe they would kiss and make up. Convey's still only 26 though, so there's still time for him to join the Philly down the road (like when Nowak leaves).

Frankie Hejduk- You would have figured that Nowak would want Hejduk's leadership on his expansion team, but Nowak had to notice the number of injuries and dips in form Hejduk endured in 2008. That said, Nowak's chance to grab a starter-caliber forward in Moreno probably proved too difficult to pass on. 

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What do you think of Philly's expansion list? Who do you see being the biggest impact player among the ten chosen? Which player would you replace on the list, and who would you replace them with?

Share your thoughts below.

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78 Responses to A closer look at Philadelphia’s expansion draft

  1. “More Signing to come” – Andrew Jacobson after speaking to BerkeleySportsBlog.com

  2. JGIB says:

    What’s the word on Seitz?

  3. JavaLavaJoe says:

    The only pick I would have changed was Wallace. Nowak has some good pieces, but will have to look outside USA for the players that will make a difference.

    Any word on DP for Union?

  4. Matt says:

    Good luck. Not impressed at all with the list of guys Nowak picked. Maybe he has a few tricks up his sleeve. For PU’s sake I sure hope so.

  5. Austin says:

    somebody said on the other expansion piece Ives wrote that salinas stayed with SJ…..whats up with that?

    i cant see Nowak still signin g Colombian Roger Torres since this expansion draft is full of youth and he needs experience….its possible, but boy this team needs to get the international signings crankin

  6. madmax says:

    I was 0 for 10 in predictions so stand confused. Good look with that group Peter.

  7. Tim says:

    Could you elaborate on this quote a little bit? Do you mean More Signings to come?

  8. brokejumper says:

    I am disappointed to see Le Toux go but you are wrong Ives on commending his level of skill at this level. In fact, his technique is about the only thing missing from his game and if he develops that he will be a star.

    Granted, he was learning a new position this year on the wing and if he comes into form he will be a great pick, but right now he is more of an effort guy who can run all day. A great player to have and I am sure he will be a fan favorite in Philly as he was in Seattle.

  9. Jody says:

    Dempsey’s going nizzutz today!!

  10. I was really disappointed that the Red Bulls left Zimmerman unprotected. He’ll be a starter in this league for another 8-10 years.

  11. BrooklynFC says:

    2 Goals for Demps……

    If he is not starting next to jozy next game my head will explode

    Jozy started again today…..

    He isnt scoring but you know what he is getting minutes and occupying the centerbacks enough for his teammates to score, I’m sorry but that is what bob has wanted Ching to do and jozy is doing in the premier league

    Jozy Demps up top….

  12. Brian says:

    I hope Ives does a little Tuesday rewind today. Dempsey scored 2, and it sounds like Jozy had a pretty solid game against Tim Howard’s Everton.

  13. BrooklynFC says:

    Im so heated right now….. The red bulls better get Dilly Duka and trade for Schelloto or at least get a playmaker to play next to Duka or my head will explode

  14. BrooklynFC says:

    I would really love to see philly make a play for one of our many young americans that can not get burn in Europe… Sal Zizzo, Preston Zimmerman, Freddy Adu….

  15. Jacopo Belbo says:

    i am honestly surprised they did not select Holbein? A really good young defensive player … odd selections IMHO. Le Toux? Really? Hmpf.

  16. bf says:

    yo… dempsey had an amazing game, but he is not a striker. He provided a sweet pass that set up his first goal. Before his input the match was ping-pong with nobody settling the ball and playing it to players.

    No, the best formation is Donovan and Dempsey in midfield. Keep Cunningham up top with Dempsey.

    btw…to keep with current article… Good luck, Philly. You’ll need it after these picks.

  17. cfig says:

    I’m amazed they didn’t take ERob or Chabala, but as a Dynamo supporter I’m thrilled they didn’t.

  18. Sean M says:

    I predicted one right…Zimmerman lol. So many talented players who arent worth much money not selected,Im pretty shocked to be honest. Riley?Chabala?Josh Saunders?Grabavoy?

  19. bf says:

    k… I was wrong… Dempsey was moved up to striker after Gera came in. He played striker against Birmingham last week as well.

  20. Tony in Quakeland says:

    I don’t see how they could have passed up on Wallace or Robinson – but more so Wallace.

  21. BrooklynFC says:

    I know that Our best formation would have dempsey and donovan in the midfield but with davies injured id rather have dempsey up top…. the man has five goals in the premier league… with more to come…. ideally he and donovan would be able to roam…..

    I would love to see the us play a 4321

  22. BrooklynFC says:

    Why would they not take Convoy…. he would have played the way he did at reading when they were in the championship

  23. BrooklynFC says:

    wallace is def a shocker as well

  24. Tim From Texas says:

    I’d surely would of hoped so, but hes yet to prove he’s capable since

  25. CSD says:

    He passed on Amado Guevara because he would have not fit in for a team in Phili. No whiny punks with highlights in their hair in the midfield in South Phili.

    Le Toux and Moreno is a pretty respectable starting forward tandem for an expansion side. Maybe pickup a young attacking prospect or two in the draft.

    I am thinking he will look to bring in some imports in the midfield and a defender and that should get him a decent 1st year team. I think he got maybe 4 or 5 starters out of this expansion draft.

  26. BrooklynFC says:

    I just hope that they do actually sign Roger Torres….. and that MLS as a whole continues the signing of columbian players… as well as other south americans… they are what is going to drive the MLS to great heights…. they are cheap and skilled…

  27. CSD says:

    I am thinking he is well below the cap with this picks also. Maybe Moreno is making some decent money but other than that everyone is pretty economical.

  28. timmyu says:

    I see a youthful team forming but not in a bad way. There are a lot of prospects on this team I like, Harvey, Zimmerman, Jacobsen, Seitz (via trade), and Salinas. Myrie from my perspective is the only ‘project’ of a player and he’s consistently on the Costa Rican radar. Thomas, Moreno, Miglioranzi, and LeToux need to get in shape and stay healthy for this team to succeed.

    I agree with the move to be a team to be reckoned with 2-3 years down the line, I just hope through some signings that we will have a competitive team to put on the field this Spring.

  29. CSD says:

    Convey would have been to much of a hit on the cap with no guaranteed return. Nowak could spend that kind of cash for a midfielder south of the border and get more bang for his buck.

  30. gihilaehgi says:

    i wouldn’t call moreno tough

  31. Austin says:

    i guarantee you Le Toux and Moreno wont be your starting strikers….

    what we know is that Nowak likes 3-5-2

    Le Toux is a left mid anyways and is better serving the ball, he is comparable to craig bellamy of city when you talk about styles, bellamy is a striker for some teams but is a wing for city because of his crossing and speed abilities, however Le Toux showed he couldnt finish very well last year in MLS as i remember a few times so if he starts at all he will be at left mid and i dont think he will start anyways b/c they will have salinas and may even bring in other wings and strikers

    Moreno however will start

    one thing is also for certain is that A LOT of things are going to happen to this squad b4 next season, you might not even see some of these names on Philly

  32. aristotle says:

    I like Nowak and think he is an excellent coach, but this is one of the worst examples of player selection I have ever seen. Is he trying to assemble a B team first? Yes, he has a lot more players coming, but this is a major part of his team. Based on this group Philadelphia would be a laughing stock.

  33. peterjh says:

    Le Toux was a forward in USL. He got played at mid a lot this past season more because Schmidt tried to find a way to work him into the line up than that’s his natural position (it’s not).

  34. Michael Vann says:

    Must be a TFC fan. Because that’s just a crazy statement. The dude week in and week out does the dirty work for others. He gets punched, kicked, and pushed all game long. His game doesn’t always show up in the stat book. He does milk a few fouls here and there which is annoying but saying he ain’t tough is laughable.

  35. sammysounder says:

    We’d be plenty happy to have him back.

  36. Zack says:

    Au revoir mon ami! Sebastien Le Toux was my fave USL Sounder. Oh well! We’ve still got Levesque.

  37. sciroccer says:

    I would’ve preferred he took Horst, or Campos, or Cox from RSL rather then take Seitz. I knew one day soon RSL would trade Seitz to someone, we just better get something really get for him. No picks, and draft picks arent worth him. But, if the trade does truly happen, good for Chris. He deserves to get playing time. As an RSL fan, I just wish we could keep him as the best back up keeper in the league.

  38. DC Josh says:

    It’s Wednesday haha.

  39. DC Josh says:

    Pretty upset United let Jacobson go. I thought he was VERY promising when on the pitch and certainly had more technical ability than Simms and Berklage. Just doesn’t make any sense…

  40. Carl says:

    if they were smart they would have just took grabavoy

  41. Tim From Texas says:

    why when you can have SEITZ

  42. brad says:

    Wheres Chris Albright!!

  43. Brian says:

    Point taken

  44. Sean M says:

    Shame on you Philly….Why not pick Jovan Kirovski :]

  45. hendrix says:

    Guevara wouldn’t fit into the Philly style but Moreno will? Since when did Philly fans like diving, whiny cheats? Moreno does it at least once a game.

  46. hendrix says:

    Open your eyes. Moreno cheats, dives, and whines like a baby. His thing is to lean on defenders, and then when the defender moves out of the way, he falls like he’s been hit. Then he looks up at the ref in dismay.

  47. madmax says:

    Austin, “Le Toux showed he couldnt finish very well last year”
    Exactly right. Le 2 could run up down and sideways all day then not hit goal for his life.

  48. Popa says:

    Philly – thank you so so much for taking Moreno off our hands in Columbus! I was going to personally start an effort to “pass the hat” to combo a Moreno deal to secure him never playing for the Crew again…

  49. madmax says:

    I agree. When Seattle made their picks there were only two or three I disagreed with, Vagenas for example was one. Here I have know idea where Nowak is heading.

  50. martha says:

    Woo Hoo what a crap team looking forward to the Fire beating this USL team 6-0

  51. J mann says:

    Does anyone think Vincenzo Bernardo might be coming back to the states to play in the MLS. I heard news a while back but nothing lately so far. You think Nowak would take him. VB10

  52. Gunnar says:

    Le Toux should be a forward, whether he starts depends on who else they bring in. He will log lots of minutes for Philly, he is a great effort guy. His ball skill is not strong, but his work rate and opportunistic nature will serve him well. He will be a fan favorite.

  53. Austin says:

    thats the USL buddy….this is MLS, notice how Levesque started over Le Toux up top? thats a decision made by one of the best managers in the league and if that is a decision he makes then that tells me Le Toux is better out wide in MLS, ofcourse i know he played forward in USL thats how he got his recognition

  54. Joamiq says:

    Looks like Philly’s well on its way to finishing in last place next year – this should be fun

  55. Luis F says:

    I think the consensus is accurate that Le Toux will be a fan favorite in Philly. And it will be based on his effort. They won’t be throwing snowballs at him because he doesn’t run enough. But they will throw snow balls at him because he has no idea how to play soccer unless he’s in space and facing the goal. If only soccer were so easy. His first touch is generally awful and his ability to finish at the MLS level is subpar. With his technical ability, he isn’t good enough to contribute on a regular basis.

    I loved the guy coming off the bench, and you can’t argue that he was a vital part of SSFC bringing home the US Open Cup. But he shouldn’t be anything more than a role player in the MLS. If he does end up logging lots of minutes at forward for PU, they will probably end up near the bottom of the league in goals scored.

  56. Bradley Sampson says:

    PU

  57. Goose says:

    I can’t believe they spent an allocation on Seitz, when they could’ve had Onstad or Hartman for nothing.

  58. kfly says:

    Damn, I was hoping we wouldn’t lose one of the young talents from midfield that we left unprotected (Jacobsen, McTavish, Boyzzz, and Barklage). We lose a cannon of a shot, and a player who still has loads of potential and will probably develop better in a place where he can find more PT.

    Oh well. I guess we need to start rebuilding the team anyway. However, I fail to see why they protected Fred, though..

  59. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    Previously when seattle was in hte USL he was a forward, they converted him this year

  60. Tom says:

    Nick Zimmerman is huge loss for Red Bulls. One of the few players who looked like he knew what he was doing and played with confidence.

  61. Peter C says:

    I think Onstad would have retired rather than move.
    They get Knighton and Seitz, combined base salaries in ’09:109,000.
    Hartman’s ’09 salary: 165,000.
    With Seitz being touted as a potential star and future USMNT keeper, I’m OK with the Union keepers.

  62. skinnyj says:

    Seitz traded from RSL for allocation $.

  63. Goose says:

    As soon as Seitz shows his quality, he’s off to Europe.

  64. Goose says:

    League rules required protecting three internationals. After Jakovic and James, take your pick of Fred, Gomez, Emilio or Boyzzz.

  65. Shmenge says:

    Guevara would’ve been good in one sense–he can take the set pieces that Moreno’s flopping will earn.

    Philly has to get a good set piece taker like GBS to take advantage of flopmeister Ale.

    The Crew scored dozens of goals off of Ale’s drawn fouls.

  66. OJ says:

    knighton can really save..New England will not be happy he was snagged

  67. Martin Funkhauser says:

    Ives, will you be doing another post which explains why the rest of your proposed pickes didn’t happen?

    (SBI-Right, my mistake, didn’t realize the rest of the world was spot on in predicting Philly’s expansion draft.)

  68. Joe Walsh says:

    Wait, where’s Jesse Marsch? Ives seemingly led the campaign for a washed up defensive midfielder but he didn’t even make the list of guys Philly passed on? Some explanation is needed.

    (SBI-Led the campaign? I mentioned him as a possible selection and he wasn’t taken. That’s pretty much it so settle down.)

  69. pendulum says:

    where can we watch these games with jozy & clint? I have fox sports package and they only show matches of the big 4 :-(

  70. pendulum says:

    yeah no crap. losing letoux stings. he’ll do very well for you guys. as sammysounder said, if you don’t want him, we’ll gladly take him back :-)

  71. Coz says:

    Two things worth noting: Nowak’s picks cost less than half of what Ives’ cost. A whopping $615K in 2009 base salary. Yes, Philly could have renegotiated, but certainly not by that much.

    Second, only three players over age 25. Peter went consistently young, fast (Salinas and Zimmerman, in particular) and cheap.

  72. Bradley Sampson says:

    Don’t worry PU fans, Lil Mikey is on his way back from Germany for a DP slot and his Dad will be right behind him after another WC debacle to “co-coach” with Nowak.

  73. Kevin says:

    If you went to the link he provided he said that there will be more signings to come and is excited about joining the team ect ect.

  74. Matt In Detroit. says:

    Can’t say I’m impressed. There are what? Three full starters here? Miglio/Harvey/Moreno

    Knighton/Latoux have yet to become starters.

    Shavar Thomas is a good pickup.

    Salinas/Jacobson/Myrie(Who?)/and Zipperman are projects – no guarantee they’d pan out.

    Phili needed to accomplish 2 things:

    1. To get six or seven contenders for starting positions. I don’t see it here.

    2. They needed to avoid using too many foreign slots. Remember, there’s a vast amount of foreign players out there and your foreign slot is effectively a free agent.

    Why waste picks on foreign players?

    Use them all on americans.

    Don’t really care about Phili, per se. And I accept Nowak can coach but this is unimprressive.

  75. Kevin says:

    They couldn’t take Grabavoy because of the trade agreement for Seitz, and why pay a 28 year old backup in Saunders instead of training a possibly very talented Knighton, pay him less and is 4 years younger. I do wish they had taken Wallace and Chabala

  76. Matt in Detroit says:

    Let me recap:

    The good:

    Moreno – Solid MLS starter, not too expensive and has a US passport (I think?).

    Thomas – Solid MLS starter, key to the good Chivas teams over the past few years. Not too expensive. Foreign slot taken.

    Harvey – a little non-descript but solid.

    OK.

    Migglio – Foreign slot. Solid but unspectacular. Not bad.

    Salinas – talented athelete. Still raw but definite prospect.

    Jacobson – I’ll go “OK over “Huh???”. Good prospect. Looked solid MLS material in limited time in DC but Phili could have done better with a more experienced and proven MLS Player. Incidentally, I’m not cumming in my pants at the significance of his four month unpaid internship at a French division II side.

    Huh????

    Zimmerman – OK, let’s get real. Not a great athelete. No real position. Was mediocre in three or four games with NY, one of the worst teams in history but the NY fans grasped to him like he was the second coming. Does that make him a great prospect? Not yet.

    Knighton – A career backup? Was this a priority? Were they really planning on using a pick on a backup? Not to knock the guy, really, but so far Phili has three or four proven players. They can’t afford this.

    Latoux – Foreign slot. He was good in USL but why use a expansion pick on a player similar to a thousand others Phili could get as a free agent?

    Myrie – Foreign slot. Same as Latoux but I’d never actually heard of him.

    Overall grade – D

    Naturally I accept that I am not the expert but this doesn’t look promising. They’ve used up three of their foreign slots and all they have to show for it is perhaps four proven MLS players.

    You need 18 proven players to compete.

    They can get another four foreign free agents. Assuming they’re not development guys. But remember NY’s latest signings in 2009. Hardly world beaters.

    They’d get the top draft pick which may or may not be ready to play in MLS. Usually not. Last year’s draft was good, the one before horrible in that regards.

    They’ll get the top allocation spot (significant american players in Europe) which should be a good player but maybe not.

    They might be able to get a few secondary american players as free agents coming back from Europe ala a conner casey or nat borchers but that’s iffy.

    Sorry, Phili, I think you are screwed.

    Good luck though.

  77. Mario in QT says:

    This draft is unimpressive. They picked a number of young guys who might pan out so I assume Peter’s plan is to take a beating for a year or two while the team gels. Well, as an expansion team what did we expect!

    (except for Seattle).

    By the way, am I misinformed or have we been stuck on 8000 season tickets for a number of months?

  78. art says:

    novak and adu reunited in philly….yeah right.