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Bon voyage, Shea Salinas & Alejandro Moreno

Philadelphia Union just lost their most exciting player.

They then turned around and protected Chris Seitz.

The whole “In Nowak We Trust” thing could take a hit after today.

Few teams have shown the skill in personnel moves that the Union have shown in this, their first season. The pre-draft trades to collect picks to nab Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo were brilliant. The deal for Justin Mapp turned out nicely. Getting Sheanon Williams to Harrisburg collected the team a potential future star. Sebastien Le Toux’s emergence made the team’s expansion draft a massive success, even if the other nine guys suddenly retired tomorrow. So you generally give Union manager Peter Nowak and his team the benefit of the doubt.

But this one is pretty strange.

Winger Shea Salinas and forward Alejandro Moreno both went to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the draft.

Losing Moreno hurts in the locker room, but he can be replaced on the field, where his tough hold-up play is prized but his (lack of) goal-scoring prowess resulted in just two goals this year.

Losing Salinas was brutal but expected. Some say we (I?) overvalue him here at PSP, but apparently, Vancouver doesn’t think so. He’s young, explosively fast, and creative. When he played, he was terrific, and the Union attack got a shot in the arm. If not for injuries, he might have been one of the team’s best players. Between him and Sanna Nyassi, Vancouver picked up some serious speed on the wings.

What does it mean for the Union next year?

This leaves the Union with no speed at midfield.

Roger Torres, welcome back to the starting lineup?(Photo by Nicolae Stoian.)

With Moreno also departing, it means Le Toux probably plays forward next season and not outside midfield, barring future acquisitions or Nowak trying the youngest striker tandem (Mwanga-McInerney) in league history. Justin Mapp slots in as an outside midfielder, and while he’s creative, he’s not fast. Who’s the other one? Fred again, if he stays? If not, your options are Roger Torres, Nick Zimmerman or someone not yet on the roster. The Union played a 4-2-2-2 most of the year, and they lacked width throughout, save when Le Toux or Salinas played outside midfield. Mapp and Torres are both guys who like to head inwards toward the field’s center, so Jordan Harvey could once again be asked to play the role of attacking wingback when he’s best suited as a stay-at-home defender.

Nowak and his No. 2 man, John Hackworth, are both smart soccer guys. Maybe they’re really wedded to the 4-2-2-2, and Salinas just didn’t fit into that system. He’s a winger. The 4-2-2-2 formation doesn’t have wingers. Width comes from the fullbacks. Maybe Salinas also just wasn’t the kind of guy they wanted in Philadelphia.

Early feedback on protecting Seitz

Chris Seitz had a long season. (Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

As disheartening as the Salinas departure was, the move on Seitz was probably like a kick in the groin to many Union fans. In the end, it didn’t hurt the Union much. There’s no way the Union would’ve pulled back Moreno. But if Brad Knighton or Andrew Jacobson went instead of Moreno, the Twitter-verse might have imploded.

Here’s some of the early reaction to the Seitz move on PSP’s Twitter feed:

Goal.com writer Kyle McCarthy: “Philadelphia’s insistence on retaining Chris Seitz is approaching mindboggling status at this point.”

@Eugene_R: Know what’s fucked up? What kind of message does protecting Seitz send to everyone else who wasn’t protected? Wow.

(That was a follow-up to this: @Eugene_R: Chris Seitz is protected by the @PhilaUnion, but who is going to protect the @PhilaUnion from Chris Seitz?

@Jersha: @philaunion please let coach know it was an insult to those of us who pay money for tickets to pull seitz back and not @bbknighton

@MattMedici: Agreed, don’t know wtf they were thinking about pulling back Seitz, I would pay them to take him!

@PSUMattDE: My objective POV..we barely saw much of Salinas. Alot of interest was built on hype. Perhaps Peter knows best. But protecting Seitz??

@kbmcclay: i still think seitz is better than knighton

@soundofphilly: Prtotecting Seitz, but not Salinas. Great idea.

@zolotrustbuster: Seitz is a good GK for @PhilaUnion. Hate to see anyone from season ending inaugural roster go, like Salinas.

@bcap11: protect Seitz after they lose Salinas! i am not cool with that. we better not lose Fred too

A mixed response, but mostly shock that Seitz was the guy pulled back.

I’m one of those people who thinks the Union shouldn’t give up on Seitz and that he could blossom into a good goalkeeper if he regains his confidence. If so, the move looks smart.

Right now, it has just pissed people off after losing Salinas. (I could list Twitter responses to the loss of Salinas, but they’d all be the same and you already know what they’d say.) In particular, Knighton just learned where he stands in the pecking order.

Building a good team isn’t just about making friends though.

Nowak picked up Seitz for the long haul, and what we’re seeing here is that he’s not even close to giving up on him. So don’t hold your breath on a veteran goalkeeper coming in next year to start.

More memorable will be the loss of Salinas. Last month, I predicted Salinas would be the next Le Toux, a superstar for an expansion team. Let’s see if I’m right. He was damn fun to watch. Between him and Moreno, now we have a reason to follow Vancouver.

Other expansion draft observations
  • Portland drafts Robbie Findley … AND Jonathan Bornstein?

I get the idea here. By selecting these two, who are both looking to go overseas, Portland gets to hold their rights in the event of their returns to MLS. Findley has talked about going overseas, but he could play for Portland this season if he stays. He has Oregon ties, having gone to college at Oregon State. And he hasn’t ruled out a return to MLS. But if he does go overseas, then Portland spent two picks on players who won’t play a minute for them. Bornstein is headed to Tigres in Mexico, and that much is not in doubt. Unless there’s a quiet handshake deal with Findley already in place — and that’s very possible — this is really questionable.

  • Vancouver had the better overall draft.

John Thorrington is a great pickup if healthy. Sanna Nyassi is a 21-year-old speedster. Between him and Salinas, they could have more speed on the wings than any other MLS club. Joe Cannon is a legitimate MLS starting goalkeeper on day one. They got a trio of legitimate forwards — two workhorse journeymen (Moreno and Alan Gordon) and one fast, young Canadian (O’Brian White). Nate Sturgis was quality this year for Seattle. (Update: Moreno and Gordon were later traded to Chivas USA. White was traded to Seattle, and Nyassi was traded to Colorado. )

  • How did Dallas leave Dax McCarty unprotected?

Everyone’s asking this question. The guy is a 23-year-old fringe U.S. international. Was rookie Eric Alexander really that good that you give up on McCarty because he had an injury? Just crazy. A no-brainer as the draft’s top pick. Now he’s the foundation of the Portland Timbers D.C. United. (Update: Portland traded him to D.C. right after the draft.)

  • Vancouver could make the playoffs.

They’re still missing some pieces, but this looks like a good team in the making. If Thorrington is healthy, they have three great pieces of a strong spine — U.S. international center back Jay DeMerit, Thorrington and Cannon. Sturgis can play holding midfield or as a defender. They need another center back, of course, and if Thorrington isn’t healthy, they’re weak down the middle. But combined with the speed on the wings and from White and Atiba Harris, this looks like a real interesting team.

  • Shea Salinas could play fullback or outside midfield for Vancouver. Or he could get traded.

Vancouver chose three forwards, two wingers, and one guy (Atiba Harris) who slides between the two. (They also chose right back Jonathan Leathers, who you and I have probably never heard of.) Where does Salinas fit in? Who knows? Look for Vancouver to trade Salinas, Harris, or Nyassi. (Update: After Vancouver traded Nyassi and three forwards, Salinas and Harris are the only ones of those six attackers remaining, increasing the likelihood that Salinas plays at midfield if he remains with Vancouver.)

(For the initial expansion draft post, complete with all picks, click here.)

8 Comments

  1. I am lost after today. Next year looks bleak to me at this point because we have no width what so ever. If we are not active on the transfer market bottom of the table looks likely. Not only did we protect our weakest links in Seitz and Harvey, but we have potentially doomed Harvey to playing the position that makes him weak. When Harvey stays back and doesn’t get forward he is consistent and typically mistake free. When he moves forward everything goes wrong. If Nowak is committed to this crazy 4-2-2-2 we need a Sheanon Williams on the left or were screwed.

  2. Wow, that didn’t take long, Dax McCarty trade to DC United for Rodney Wallace(???) and a fourth round pick. Sucks to be you, Dax!

    • Wow. That’s an interesting trade. Makes it clear that Portland picked McCarty for value, not because they wanted him. Wallace is a nice player, but he plays the same position as left back Anthony Wallace, Portland’s 4th pick in the draft. Maybe they’re moving Rodney Wallace up to left wing. Or maybe they just want to confuse other teams with two Wallaces at the same position.

  3. Update: Moreno has been traded to Chivas USA. Vancouver traded 3 other attackers too.

  4. You all need to chill with Salinas.

    Yes, he showed flashes, but the reaction here is like we lost LeToux or Mwanga. He was not a consistent performer and couldn’t consistently stay on the field.

    If he was half as good as this site says, and I’ve seen possible USMNT RB, he would have gone a lot higher than the 5th round in the expansion draft and wouldn’t have been exposed 2 years in a row.

    Breathe people.

  5. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » Seattle and Houston outflank Union in draft

  6. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » 2010: The best and worst of Philly soccer

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