A Look Ahead to SuperDraft 2012
For the first time in the short history of the Philadelphia Union, Peter Nowak and his coaching staff will be forced to watch more than half of the league take a pick at the goods before it is the Blue and Gold’s turn to add to their roster. Have no fear, this is thought to be a rather deep draft and there should be some decent skill left at not only the 13th pick, but also the Union’s selections at the 32 and 35 spots the Union also hold. And don’t sleep on Nowak to make some moves and climb up the pecking order if there is a player he really has his sights set on.
After reading through a collection of Mock Drafts, some insightful, some questionably ignorant, here are 10 players you should keep an eye out to possibly be wearing the Blue and Gold next year. It is a collection of players that may be available at all three picks. It’s hard to account for the wild and crazy happenings of a draft day so here is my best attempt:
Austin Berry – Def. – Louisville – not only to fill a depth in the back, but to help the Union in the air
Chris Estridge – Def. – Indiana – can play either outside back, a huge need for the U
Aaron Maund – Def. – Notre Dame – would join the army of USMNT youth internationals, can play CB or RB
Hunter Jumper – Def. – Virginia – adds depth at LB and one of the best names in the draft
Tyler Polak – Def. – Creighton – adds depth at LB (sense a trend)
Ethan Finlay – Fwd. – Creighton – a goal scoring winger, great combine, could bring about the 4-3-3
Andrew Duran – Def. – Creighton – another back who can play multiple positions
Dom Dwyer – Fwd. – So. Florida – speedy and is on a Generation Adidas contract
Lucky Mkosana – Fwd. – Dartmouth – adds speed, a great passer up top, and the second best name in the draft
If I’m sitting in Nowak’s chair tomorrow there are a couple things going through my head. The first and most pressing need is for depth at the back. The 13th pick should be for the best available defender, especially if it is an outside back. Berry, Estridge, or Polak may be the names called in that space. If all works out with the first pick, the second round should be about adding more depth. Keep in mind that the Union are expecting for Williams, Okugo, Adu, McInerney, and possibly MacMath to miss time this season with the US Olympic squad and Martinez could miss time with the Costa Rican qualifying games. Addition help across the back along with adding another forward/winger would be of great help as the Union look to be competitive in not only the league, but the Open Cup as well.
Having said that, should Ethan Finlay be available I would break my first rule. He is the type of player who could set the Union up for a change of formation that would better suit their roster. With the additions of Finlay and Martinez to go along with JackMack, Mwanga, and LeToux, Nowak will have the players available to play the 4-3-3. Trying this formation with Mwanga, LeToux, and Ruiz was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, but the correct pieces may be on hand now.
Just to remind readers the Union’s history with the SuperDraft, 7 current players on the roster were picked up via the SuperDraft. Of course, Danny Mwanga was the #1 pick in 2010, followed closely by JackMack at #5 and Okugo at #6. Nakazawa was also a product of the 2010 draft, being picked at the #33 spot. In 2011 MacMath was grabbed at #5 while the Union coaching staff was pleasantly surprised to find Michael Farfan waiting for them at #23, well below where he was predicted to go. Levi Houapeu was picked at #41, but there will only be 2 rounds in the 2012 SuperDraft. And of course don’t forget Toni Stahl and Brian Perk who were also picked in 2010, but are no longer with the team.
Michael Farfan is a perfect example of what can happen in the SuperDraft. Should teams put too much stock in a bad combine, or be scared off by something at the end of the draftpicks college career, there could be a player no one is expecting to be available fall to the Union. Some other themes of the past Union drafts: 1. Nowak loves his youth internationals, they have an added level of experience and can have loftier goals than other players. 2. The Union have selected a majority of players from the UCLA system/California and the Northwest. 3. Don’t rule out Nowak picking a keeper late in the draft to give depth should he feel MacMath is primed for an Olympic selection. The Union have selected a keeper in both SuperDrafts they were involved in.
The Union have added more than it’s share of good talent to the roster through the SuperDraft. In both playoff games last year 6 of the 18 players who dressed for the games came to the Union through the SuperDraft, 7 if you count Garfan, who the Union brought in after he went undrafted and signed following training camp. If there is anything that Nowak does well, it’s judging young talent. It will be interesting to see where he heads with his picks seeing as the Union do not have the holes in the starting lineup that have be so blarring in past SuperDrafts.
No matter what the outcome, tomorrow is sure to be a wild ride. Enjoy.