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Philadelphia Union 2014 MLS SuperDraft Review

There have been a lot of mixed reviews about the Philadelphia Union’s draft picks following the first two rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft held in the Philadelphia Convention Center.

The Union introduce their 1st-round pick, Andre Blake (via CDN)

A lot of the criticism revolves around the Union trading up to the number one overall pick to select goalkeeper Andre Blake from the University of Connecticut. Philadelphia made Blake the first ever goalkeeper to be drafted first overall, but already has a young keeper in 22-year old Zac MacMath, who they selected with their fifth overall pick in 2011. With MacMath seemingly hitting his stride towards the end of the season last year it comes to the surprise of many to see Union head coach John Hackworth so determined to acquire Blake’s services. However, given the lack of talent in this year’s draft class according to scouts and Blake’s limitless potential, Hackworth felt he had to make a move. At 6-foot-4, Blake is considered by many scouts as the best goalkeeping prospect to come through the draft since U.S. international Brad Guzan back in 2005. Blake’s athleticism and size make him game changer between the posts and while MacMath has started to find his form, the current Union starter has rarely had competition and is often plagued by inconsistency, especially in crucial moments of the game.

Some Union fans are quick to point out that a center back to partner Amobi Okugo in defense following veteran Jeff Parke’s departure would have been a better use of the pick. But given the inexperience available, perhaps Hackworth’s pick of Blake is a sign that the Union will look abroad for a more seasoned defender. With the high amount of allocation money the Union received from trading their number six pick all the way down to number 15, it certainly is a possibility.

Let’s also not forget that the Union also made some very good draft picks after taking Blake at number one. Pedro Ribeiro, a 6-foot-4 attacking midfielder from Coastal Carolina was a steal at number 15. The Brazilian’s giant frame is complemented by quick feet and the ability to pick a pass making him a perfect player to put in the Union’s attacking midfield slot. The recent addition of Argentina playmaker Cristian Maidana as their new Designated Player is another impact player and turns one of the team’s biggest weaknesses into their biggest strength. The Union also got good value in the second round taking center back Kevin Cope out of Michigan State with the 25th pick and outside back Robbie Derschang from Akron with the 27th pick. The two selections add depth to positions that needed them and both are high quality players. Cope was considered by many scouts as a first round talent, but slipped to the second round and Derschang is a converted forward meaning that he can play outside back our outside midfield.

So yes, questions will remain about whom will start between Blake and MacMath, but today is a proud day to be a Union fan. A front office often criticized for not making enough moves, never stopped making them today and should be applauded for their efforts in bringing four promising talents to this team.

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Categories: Editorials, Union

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