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Reading is the new Akron

Much has been made of the record breaking selection of seven players from the University of Akron in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft.

Rightly so. After all, five of them were among the first eight picks in the draft.

That coach Caleb Porter and his staff have gotten it right when it comes to player development is only underscored when you recall that five of this year’s Generation adidas class of nine also played at Akron.

But if you turn your eyes closer to home you will notice another organization that is doing things the right way.

Reading United.

Under the leadership of coach Brendan Burke, the Union’s Premier Development League affiliate saw four of its alumni selected in the SuperDraft.

Zarek Valentin, the Akron defender and Generation adidas member, was the fourth pick, going to Chivas USA.

CJ Sapong, the James Madison University forward, was the tenth pick of the draft, going to Sporting Kansas City.

Penn State forward and Generation adidas member Corey Hertzog went to the New York Red Bulls as the 13th pick of the draft.

Finally, forward Levi Houapeu from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was selected by the Union, the 43rd pick of the draft.

With a relatively short college season in the fall, players need a place to hone their skills in the spring and summer. Reading, regular season champions in 2009, is an attractive club at which to do so. Since Burke was named head coach in 2008  the club has compiled a 26–4–4 regular season record. And the success of Reading alumni in the 2011 SuperDraft can only make it an even more attractive destination.

All of which bodes well for Union supporters.

The Union tried to protect Corey Hertzog before the draft as a Homegrown Player but the affiliate relationship between Reading and the first year Union was simply too short for such status to be approved by MLS. As the affiliation lengthens with time, the Union will find greater success in protecting local talent. This will benefit performance on the field and further the relationship between the Union and its supporters.

After all, there’s nothing better than seeing the local guy kick ass on the pitch.

So, whatever it is that they’re putting in the water in Akron, they’re doing much the same in Reading. And Reading, like Philadelphia, lies on the Schuylkill.

4 Comments

  1. I wonder if there’s any substance to the NYRB-trade-Hertzog-to-Philly murmurs that I’ve heard. Probably just some post-draft wishful thinking …

  2. I wonder why they drafted Farfan in the 2nd round. Do they anticipate not being able to get Torres back on loan, or that he won’t be here for more than another year?

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