This first post-season off-season for Union was also a particularly chaotic one. Union were going to be in the process of evaluating their players after their first season together, while building towards the lofty expectations of coach Peter Nowak, the front office, and the fanbase. The additional complications came from that there were 2 expansion teams in a draft, as well as the league-first re-entry draft. The aftermath was the Union losing 4 players, the most that a team could lose through that process.
The lost players: Union lost Alejandro Moreno and Shea Salinas in the expansion draft, while Chris Seitz and Fred were taken in the re-entry draft. I’m fine with losing Moreno, Seitz, and Fred, and the evidence can be found in my match day running diaries. Alejandro Moreno, while a good professional, seemed to fit better in theory than in practice. The initial opinions of the Union side was that they were positioned to be a stalwart defensive team, who would bunker down defensively and counter-attack to score. A holding attacker is a good thing to have in such a system. The reality is that Union played a very open end-to-end style, where Moreno was more of an impement than he was an attacker. The plethora of holding central midfielders on this roster only furthers his obsolescence. In shorter words; no big loss. Fred is very much in the same boat as Ale. He is also a true professional, evidenced by the stories of his work in the lockerroom in building unity. He is obsolete on this team because he is one of the surplus central middies. He played out of position a lot in the right midfield position, which truly limited his effectiveness. He will still have a lot of success wherever he plays, if played in the right position. No big loss for Union in the end, however. And then there’s Mr. Seitz. He’s gone now. And that’s good enough for me. The truth is he will likely end up being an accomplished professional goal keeper. Another truth is that he is not at, nor is he remotely near, that level now. Rumors have Union bringing in Faryd Mondragon, a 39-year-old Colombian playing in Germany, which would push Seitz to 3rd keeper, which would stunt his development even further. No tears will be shed over the departure of young Christopher.
However, there might not have been a need to leave Shea Salinas unprotected. I know there are requirements for a certain number of foreign players being protected, but there’s no reason that Salinas should not be in the starting XI for Union in the 2011 season. Nowak and John Hackworth really had better know what they’re doing. The only other reason I can think that he wasn’t protected is that they know something we don’t about his injuries, and how frequently they may occur down the road. Maybe they pulled a fast one on Vancouver. Right now, I don’t like how this played out at all.
Still to come: Last I heard, there was no concrete deal in place to keep Roger Torres here. He was on a 1-year loan from his Colombian club team. I like certain things about the midfielders on this team, but none of them has the vision or creativity of Roger Torres. They also have the January 13th MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore to look to in filling roster holes. Union have picks #5, 23, 28, 41, and 59 in the 4-round draft. I don’t follow college soccer, so I have no clue as to the depth of the talent available, but I have confidence that Nowak & Company do. Nowak was also quoted saying that they would be looking into Europe for players not getting minutes for their clubs there whom might benefit from playing time in MLS.
While I don’t like the departure of Shea Salinas, it is the reality that MLS is an inferior league and the young players are developed to be transferred to bigger leagues. The same will soon happen for Danny Mwanga, Amobi Okugo, and Jack McInerney, so while I enjoy watching them play now, they soon will be playing abroad, so I guess I can’t get that upset. We soldier on, and learn the names of the new guys.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union