Featured / Union

A wasted asset?

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Yes, Benny Feilhaber is a big name in the U.S.

Bigger than Eric Hassli.

Bigger than Diego Chara.

Have you ever heard of Fabian Castillo?

They’re all newly signed designated players, and whether they’re big names or not doesn’t matter nearly as much as their on-field quality. Their clubs think they’ll fill holes and significantly improve the their teams, much like many thought Feilhaber could have done for the Union as a center attacking midfielder, the lack of which is the Union’s biggest weakness.

Twenty-six year-old American CAMs with World Cup and European club experience don’t come along very often.

Neither does the chance to trade them.

How to waste your assets

Philadelphia Union manager passed on Feilhaber in Tuesday’s allocation draft. But his reasoning was, at least in part, flawed.

“We didn’t want to pick him up and try to trade him because we have to show some decency,” Nowak said. “If you don’t need the player then let another team pick him and let them deal with the financials.”


How would it be any different from when the Union traded the first allocation slot — and the right to take Troy Perkins — to D.C. United last year?

It wouldn’t. Under the American professional sports model, it’s called smart player personnel management. They make these trades here all the time, because they recognize draft picks are assets.

The Houston Dynamo want Feilhaber but rejected New England’s trade demand because it was ridiculous. Did the Union entertain a Houston trade offer? They could have demanded any combination of draft picks and players include Houston’s own slot, now third in the allocation order.

Maybe the Union know something we don’t, such as Jozy Altidore, Jose Francisco Torres or another U.S. international attacker coming to MLS this summer and prompting one more allocation draft. Otherwise, the decision to pass on Feilhaber and not trade the allocation slot is a waste. The allocation draft is reordered before each season based on the prior year’s standings, so if the Union don’t use the No. 2 allocation spot this season, it’s gone.

A spotlight on the summer transfer window

All this puts a brighter spotlight on the summer transfer window. Good summer moves by the Union would better justify the Feilhaber decision.

In defending it, Nowak said, “I’m not against [signing high price tag players]. I’m against the artificial, salary cap-crazy stuff that at the end of the day would work for today and tomorrow, but by the end of the year, when we have to make the roster compliance, we’ll say, ‘We have to trade Amobi Okugo or Danny Mwanga or Roger Torres because financially we’re not going to make it.’”

Good point. Those three made about $450,000 last year. Mwanga and Okugo should graduate Generation Adidas by then, so their salaries will count against the 2012 budget.

But why must they be the ones to go to clear salary room?

After all, there’s this guy named Carlos Ruiz, and he’s got three young, talented strikers riding pine behind him.


  1. those 3 talented young strikers have how many goals?

    • Those 3 talented young strikers have how many minutes?

      • ruiz has 415 minutes in the mls season with 2 goals. mawanga has 220 minutes with only a single shot on goal.
        le toux has 450 minutes with only 2 shots on goal.
        mcinerney has 40 minutes and 1 shot on goal.

        ruiz 1 goal/208 minutes
        other fowards 0 goals, 1 shot/177 minutes
        if you include the open cup game
        ruiz 1 goal/177 mins
        others 0 goals, 1 shot on goal/183 mins

        if you wanna talk agorsor or houapeu you’ll hafta take it up with the coaches. i couldn’t tell you enough about either to say if they’re worth the time. i’ll trust the coaches on that though.

  2. Nowak & Co. need to get away from their stubbornness before it’s too late. Last season it was the constant, perpetual Seitz starts, this season it’s the double-CDMs. Instead of the “empty bucket” crap, a diamond midfield could/should help spark the offense … whether that CAM is Le Toux or a returning USMNT player (Torres, Adu, Rolfe), something needs to change. Feilhaber could have filled that void, but I don’t think he is/was worth the price tag. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it … but our offense is broke.

  3. As far as the salary cap is concerned, Feilhaber would cost exactly as much as a Donovan, Henry, or Beckham would cost a team, and is he that big of a name?

    As I understand it, picking him up would also use most of our allocation money on the transfer fee, which, I believe, could seriously hamper our ability to pick other needs up (say, a defender, should one of our back 4 get a serious injury… knock on wood)

    As far as not entertaining trades go:
    1). Chivas seemingly entertained trades for as long as possible and didn’t find a suitable deal. It’s possible we could want different enough players/picks than them, but doubtful.

    2). We’re a 7th of the way through the season and DeMerit, Cooper, Davies, and Feilhaber have already come back and be claimed through the allocation process. Is it so hard to believe that there might be 2 players who come back for the remainder of the season? Or maybe even 1 that Chivas takes a pass on?

    • All good points, Chris.

      Still — if you’re the Union and you hold the 2nd allocation slot, and the team that wants Feilhaber has the 4th (which becomes the 3rd in the next draft after they use the allocation spot you give to them), a trade with them could net players/amateur picks AND their current allocation spot. In the end, the Union would move down one net spot in the next allocation draft in exchange for whatever else Houston was offering.

      All that aside — if a Jose Francisco Torres becomes available in the summer, the Feilhaber move doesn’t look bad. There aren’t many other prospective returning U.S. internationals at Feilhaber’s level.

  4. Instead of Y.S.A.
    Cheer “Eat More Bimbo” !

    How could they argue ?



  5. The 4-2-2-2 empty bucket is the same formation that the Union used last season with Miglioranzi teaming at DM with Coudet, Jacobson and Nakazawa all geting starts opposite him. The team did not use a CAM last season and is not doing it again this season – the RM and LM are avle to drift to the middle and essentially fill CAM duties but it will seemingkly be a while before Philly goes with a diamond midfield with a playmaking CAM and a single DM behind him.

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