So, any news out there on the Union front?
It's been a weird 24 hours for the Union, what with trading their best center back for another center back and trying to sign a high-priced star only to have the league say they can't.
The Maurice Edu saga is not complete as of this writing, and may not be over by Thursday at noon when the 2014 Major League Soccer SuperDraft kicks off at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. That, in and of itself, is a shame. A shame because of course it would be nice to unveil Edu in front of what should be a throng of Union fans, but mostly because the Edu situation will impact what the Union do with their eight (EIGHT!) draft picks.
However, while WE may not know the conclusion of the Edu situation, I have to think Nick Sakiewicz and John Hackworth will at least have an idea how it will shake out before the draft. So from that standpoint, we'll just have to wait and see.
With that in mind, a few quick-hitters on Thursday's draft as well as one or two other rumors making the rounds:
- The draft begins at noon at the Pa. Convention Center. If you're a Union fan who wants an excuse to day drink and have a great time, join the Sons of Ben at the Field House (inside the Convention Center and Market East Station) at 8:30 a.m. Admission to the draft is free. You can also meet the Union draft picks after the draft at the team's post-party at BRU, a few blocks from the Convention Center.
- If you can't make it, the draft will air live at noon on ESPNNews or on the WatchESPN app.
- As of right now, the Union will pick second and sixth in the first round, followed by picks at No. 25, 27, 44, 46, 52 and 63. I don't expect the Union to end the day with eight new players, however. Trades will happen.
- Our friend Dave Zeitlin broke down a few names to look for in the first round. Since college soccer players are not household names, we'll save your time and really break it down tomorrow after we know for sure who's coming to town.
- That being said, if you want to sound like you know your stuff and impress your friends: After trading Jeff Parke Tuesday, I'd expect the Union to take one of the two California center backs -- Steve Birnbaum or Christian Dean -- with the No. 2 pick. However, if they feel like one of them -- or another defender they like -- might fall to No. 6, maybe they take a chance on Maryland forward Patrick Mullins at No. 2. Mullins is a two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner (soccer's Heisman) and, as Jay Bilas would say, likely has the greatest "upside" in the draft. He'd also be the 643rd Maryland grad on the roster.
An interesting name on the board is midfielder Steve Neumann from Georgetown. Neumann is a Council Rock North graduate whose family has Union season tickets. He has said he would love to play for the Union, and that is not a factor I would take lightly if I were John Hackworth. A desire to play here and a comfort level here are not unimportant. Also: His mustache game is absolutely on point (see right).
- A phrase you might hear a lot is "Generation adidas." This year, there are seven Generation adidas players in the draft. These are promising young players who have already agreed to contracts with the league. Why does this matter? If you draft one of these guys, his salary DOES NOT COUNT toward your salary cap for at least a year or two, until a player "graduates" from the program by playing enough minutes, etc. Christian Dean and Patrick Mullins ARE Generation adidas players. Birnbaum and Neumann are not. Just keep that in mind.
If the league's apparent "blocking" of the Edu deal turns out to be true, MLS Commissioner Don Garber shouldn't count on an especially warm welcome from the Sons of Ben on Thursday. We've included a handy picture of Mr. Garber, in case you wish to boo him on the Broad Street Line.
In non-draft and non-Edu news:
- The Union have been linked heavily with two players who would likely be designated players. One is french midfielder Vincent Nogueira. The 25-year-old plays for Sochaux, where he's been the captain. One sticking point appears to be Sochaux's desire to keep him until his contract ends in June, while the Union (understandably) want him to go through training camp with the team. I don't pretend to know much about Nogueira, but Philly Soccer Page has a great summary.
- The Union are apparently closer to a deal with 26-year-old Argentine winger Cristian Maidana. Also from the guys over at Philly Soccer Page, we learn that Maidana has all but confirmed the deal himself, and it's a matter of paperwork at this point.