The Philadelphia Union are currently undergoing a serious rebuilding phase. The 2016 MLS Superdraft gave them the perfect opportunity to start it. With the Union owning the No. 3 and No. 6 pick, it seemed like the fans were witnessing the future in front of their own eyes. This excitement only grew larger as the Union made a trade with the Colorado Rapids for the No. 2 overall pick. In return, Colorado acquired General Allocation Money and a player to be named later. So with owning picks 2, 3 and 6, the team was set for the draft.
Philadelphia Union Draft Review
Coming into the draft, the team needed defense and a forward. The midfield is already set with players such as Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, newly acquired Chris Pontius and Maurice Edu. Defense was the chief need for the team and the one area that needed the most attention.
With the No. 1 pick, the Chicago Fire drafted Jack Harrison from Wake Forest. This opened the doors for the best case scenario for the Union. Center back Joshua Yaro and fullback Brandon Vincent were theirs for the taking. With the No. 2 pick, the Union selected Joshua Yaro from Georgetown. The safest, smartest, and best pick they could have made in that position. That pick bolsters and affirms the CB position for the Union. With the No. 3 pick, the Union selected Keegan Rosenberry. Rosenberry is a fullback also from Georgetown and played with Yaro. He was part of the Union’s academy system as a teenager and was claimed as a homegrown player by the team, but the claim was denied by MLS. Many MLS fans questioned this pick, including I. With the Union also owning the No. 6 pick, they selected Fabian Hebers from Creighton. Fabian is a forward, which the team desperately needs, and is touted as the best forward in the draft. The Union had one pick in the 2nd round and used that pick to select Taylor Washington from George Washington University. He is also a fullback.
So with the first two rounds of the draft being completed, the Union selected three defenseman and one forward. This was the result that manager Jim Curtin, technical director Chris Albright and sporting director Earnie Stewart set out to achieve. Let’s take a closer look at the first round selections.
Joshua Yaro: Joshua Yaro is arguably the best player in the draft in 2016. Yaro is a 5’11, 163 lb center back from Georgetown. He was named NSCAA 1st team All-American and was predicted to be the No. 1 pick by many MLS experts. The Union must have gotten a tip that midfielder Jack Harrison was going to be the first pick because the trade up to the No. 2 pick has greatly improved the defensive condition of the team. Yaro is one of the fastest players in the draft. He possesses great speed, good technical ability, good field vision, and is versatile enough to move to LB or RB if need be. This versatility could come in handy because the Union acquired CB Anderson Conceição on loan for the year. The Union also have Richie Marquez and Maurice Edu who can play center back. Edu will probably move up to defensive mid. Yaro may be a starter on opening day.
Keegan Rosenberry: Rosenberry will never not be compared to Brandon Vincent for the time he is in Philadelphia. The controversial decision to take Rosenberry over Vincent will be monitored for years to come. Keegan Rosenberry is a 5’8, 160 lb fullback(plays RB) from Georgetown. His experience and chemistry with Yaro is something to be excited about. He is from Ronks, Pennsylvania and was in the Union’s system before. The Union tried to place a homegrown claim on him but the request was denied. They felt strongly enough of Rosenberry that they used their No. 3 pick on him after he had an outstanding MLS Combine. Keegan is a phenomenal player and the Union needed that. He is a fast RB who makes smart runs and can press up. His passing and crossing ability along with his abnormal field vision will be a major attacking threat for years to come. He is an outstanding defender with aerial abilities and will read passes and pounce on them. Even with these abilities, the Vincent/Rosenberry debate will still be apparent. I believe that Rosenberry will battle with Fabinho for a starting spot on opening day.
Fabian Hebers: Fabian Hebers is a 6’0, 165 lb forward from Creighton. Fabian is arguably the best forward available in the MLS Superdraft. He was a NSCAA 1st team All-American and scored 15 goals and 17 assists in 23 games. Those are lethal stats. Fabian is an unselfish player who is more then willing to provide assists. He posses great positioning and will pounce on an open ball in the attacking third. He’s quick on the ball and has decent dribbling skills. He has the ability to start opening day.
With these three players in mind, let’s see where they will fit in the system. This year we may see the Dutch 4-3-3 formation, thanks to Earnie Stewart joining the team. As of the team right now, here is what I think will be the starting line up on opening day.
GK: Andre Blake
RB: Ray Gaddis
CB: Joshua Yaro
CDM: Maurice Edu
CM: Vincent Nogueira
CM: Tranquillo Barnetta
RW: CJ Sapong
ST: DP striker/Hebers
LW: Chris Pontius
Main Photo: Mitchell Leff, Getty Images