A View from Afar / Commentary

Five thoughts on Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Five thoughts about Philadelphia Union in the aftermath of the first half of the MLS amateur draft. Ready? Go.

Matt Polster is available

With Chicago acquiring Juninho and Dax McCarty, third year center midfielder Matt Polster just became expendable. Polster, 23, is a defensive midfielder who can also play box to box and deputize at right back. He had an excellent rookie year in 2015, but last year, he dealt with some minor injuries and struggled a bit. His salary last year was under $100,000. He could be a good fit for the Union’s need for a No. 6: Young, hard-nosed, affordable, experienced within MLS, and not requiring an international roster spot.

Allocation money figures now public

At long last, MLS has begun revealing allocation money figures to the public. Finally, we can evaluate trades on their merits rather than speculation.

For example, now we know it will cost you $50,000 in allocation money to move up 17 spots in the MLS amateur draft’s second round, or that, for $400,000, your team can have Dax McCarty.

Epps and Jones

There are few college soccer experts that don’t already work in college soccer, so I pay very little attention to the outside assessments on MLS amateur drafts. Sure, they make entertaining reading at times, but so do all sorts of other things that aren’t worth putting much stock in. So most of what you read on Philadelphia Union’s second round draft picks, midfielder Marcus Epps and right back Aaron Jones, really isn’t worth a whole heck of a lot. Nobody watches college soccer. We’ll know what the Union got in these two once they actually play some games.

With Keegan Rosenberry seemingly locked in at starting right back, Jones looks like he’ll be seeing his playing time in Bethlehem. Epps looks interesting on paper, but with the logjam on the Union’s wings, Bethlehem could be in his future as well.

When will the Union trade Ray Gaddis?

The Union need to put Gaddis out of his misery already. Surely there is some team out there that wants him. With Rosenberry ahead of him, Jones available as a backup, and Giliano Wijnaldum signed as a second left back, Gaddis is even more of an excess asset than he was last year.

Gaddis went from being briefly viewed by some as one of the league’s best right backs to being buried on the Union depth chart. His problem is probably that his defensive tendencies vastly outweigh his demonstrated offensive capability in a league where coaches like to send fullbacks flying up the sidelines. But there’s another problem: Gaddis spent so much time at left back that he had less than a full season to settle in at right back and show what he could do offensively when playing on his strong side.

The Union are probably waiting for the right offer or engaging in trade negotiations as we speak. By adding two fullbacks this off-season, they haven’t exactly left much room for Gaddis.

Holes remain with preseason camp just around the corner

The Union have 25 players on the roster, including Epps and Jones, but they still have some major holes to fill with training camp soon to open.

  1. Box to box center midfielder: This is undoubtedly the biggest hole, unless they’ve decided that Alejandro Bedoya will play this role once again this year.
  2. Center back: The Union could use a fourth center back, preferably a veteran. Technically, Auston Trusty is the fourth center back, but most expect him to be a regular starter on loan with Bethlehem Steel FC.
  3. Defensive midfielder: This is the position of need the Union are least likely to fill. Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle will probably hold down the fort until the Union evaluate more clearly whether Maurice Edu can be a factor.
  4. Goalkeeper: The Union have two goalkeepers on the roster. They could — and probably should — add a third, as backup John McCarthy has a way of making people nervous.


  1. Polster is interesting, if for no other reason than he’s young and inexpensive. He doesn’t seem like a natural #8 and I don’t know if he has the passing chops to be #6. Hard to judge a guy’s performance when he’s played with the Fire, too. Whole team was just miserable. Union should have the money to buy him.

    • When a team’s online DM options are Carrol, Craevelle and a very injured and out of match fitness for over a year Edu, signing Polster seems like such a simple and smart move.

      It’s cheap, young, proven starter domestic depth at an important position for us.

    • I’d honestly like to see him get picked up by us. He’s really cheap and he’s a proven commodity. Perhaps he’s not an elite no 8, but there is still some development he could go through too

    • What about a trade of Polster for Gaddis?

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I doubt Aaron Jones will be the Steel FC right back.
    I suspect strongly that the slot will be used to evaluate whether an Academy senior is ready for a homegrown signing in 2017.
    Remember as you think about this issue, that effectively, entering an NCAA program retards your development as a soccer player. You may not continue playing and practicing at the USL level in the summer. And your minutes, both game and practice, may well be less. College develops you positively in other ways tht are important to your overall personal ability to be a professional. BUT.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Keegan would be a counterpoint.

    • I don’t think this is true. The school Epps came from plays soccer year round, and sent three players into the draft. Retard would mean to slow down, and while I agree its not the best method, it is a way to progress.
      One problem with the club development academies as how few spots they have, if you look at it a national level. The ways that players develop is not science but human narrative. One priority for development is not the best possible learning environment, but that as many players are possible are continuing to grow with a possibility of progressing to the next level. By that criteria, college programs are the best thing for that level of player.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    What is our competition for Polster? Good and cheap would seem to attract other bargain hunters besides us.

    • I’d imagine the expansion clubs would both be interested. Union should have money to spend. It will beinteresting to see what his fee is. It should be considerably less than McCarty, but then again, demand might be high. It’s nice that we’re going to finally see how much these deals are worth.

  4. So all we’re missing is a goalie, two center mids, and a centerback. And, it’s not on that list, but we still need an actual striker, League Two backups notwithstanding.
    “General managers typically build teams “up the middle”; that is, with strong defense in mind at catcher, second base, shortstop, and center field.”
    I guess Stewart was never much for baseball.

    • yeah–I mean… we don’t have the best young goalie in MLS, a coming off his rookie season very handy CB in Yaro, hopefully a Maurice Edu as holding mid (comeback player of year as I called it already), likely Alejandro Bedoya at CAM, “the stated by SD ball controlling midfielder” and a new “League Two Back Up” at striker who could turn out to be a very shrewd signing.
      You’re more cynical than me….. and that’s saying something.
      I’ve made “up the middle arguments” before going back to last off season… once again…the team lost two of its best midfielders…..yet it’s being solved for… parents call it patience.

      • I mean, how much patience do I need to have before I can reasonably complain about Carroll still being penciled in to play a major role on this team? I’ve been beating this drum for literally a half-decade now. We’re well past the point of patience.

      • My point — all you do IS complain- like listening to Ted Westervelt after awhile.

      • ….still find it interesting you ragged on the team for an entire off season last year— then disappear for an entire season only to magically pop up the day after the final game asking questions we’ve all been discussing for 6 months then start right in again about inadequacy and how its all the Sporting Directors fault…
        …not much credibility from my seat.

      • I mean, all the Union do is lose, punctuated by an occasional one game playoff appearance where we prove that we’re not a threat.
        I didn’t come back last season when the Union were flying high. I didn’t come back when they self-destructed. I practiced some of that patience you preach. I didn’t spend the first half of the season shouting “unsustainable”, and I didn’t spend the second half shouting “told ya”.
        Major positive changes happen in the offseason. It’s when I have hope. When we go into the year with another hopeless roster, I’ll disappear for another year until I can have hope once again.

    • Yes, we are missing our 3rd string goalie, 4th string CB, starting #8, and maybe we need another backup midfielder. Getting that starting midfielder is the only really important thing.

      • I’d say we’re missing a starting CB and both of our starting defensive mids, but you may like Yaro and Creavalle/Carroll more than I do.

      • Well because you are assuming that Creavalle/Carroll are starter but I am not. I think they are solid MLS depth. And yes, the point of last year on D was getting Yaro ready for this year. I think he’s going to be much better.

  5. “backup John McCarthy has a way of making people nervous”. LOL. Love the kid, but for us older fans it’s like getting our Cardiology Stress Test when he plays.

    • This is why I keep ringing the bell for Sylvestre. He was such a calming presence in the back.
      JM is a great kid, and he is a fantastic part of the community…but if they can’t get him some valium before he steps on the field, he’s going to cause heart attacks in the stands.

  6. Lets stop with the sob story for Gaddis. He seems like a good dude and I like him, but don’t pretend playing on the left stunted his development in any meaningful way. He was never going to have a good offensive game and honestly his defense was pretty overrated too.

    • Gaddis was/is fast, end of story. That is his only skill but I’m confident he could still get minutes on a USL squad somewhere.

      • I disagree with both this comments Gaddis was stunted playing on the left. He was not a two footed player he never had an opportunity on the right for very long. His skills were yes in his speed but also his ability to read the game. While he was not the most amazing OB he at least didn’t get beat to the interior of the field as much as Rosenberry did last season. Yes at this point he is probably expendable but his development was stunted same as how many Union players were being put in situations that they shouldn’t have been in.

      • But he is terrible going forward. Gets beat by speed players when he’s against them. Can’t read the ball in the air. He’s constantly in poor support positions for both the Cbs and his Rmid, I think he reads the game terribly. His one skill is being able to mark slower players and then recover well after the beat him with the first move.

      • I don’t disagree with you, Dr., but I do question the premise (conventional wisdom) that playing outside back on the other side is really something that would “stunt” a player’s development. I know it’s a different look, a different foot, etc, but it’s still fundamentally doing the same thing, just a different part of the pitch. I would think spending time on your “un-natural” side might make you better on your natural foot. I’m not a coach, so, who knows?

      • He was the best defensive OB we had on the team last year IMO. Agreed he didn’t get a real opportunity to develop his offensive game on the right. I gotta think Union will trade him since everyone is so high on Keegan. Especially if this Aaron kid is a good as his highlight reel reflects.

        I think Gaddis could have a nice career at right back in this league on a team that doesn’t require an offensive style OB. His speed alone can shut down the fastest wingers in this league.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Call Chicago. Gaddis + whatever to get Polster. It can’t be that high a price

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