The Sons of Ben were out in full force at the Baltimore Convention Center for the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft on Thursday January 13th. At some points during the event, they even drowned out some of ESPN’s commentary. All of the hype lead to, for the Union, what was both a successful, and yet still a little disappointing draft.
As a little background for people who don’t know, the Generation Adidas project is a joint effort between the organizations of US Soccer, MLS and Adidas, to give young players the opportunity to play at higher levels with some amount of security. If selected for the G.A. team, the player will not affect the team salary cap and they are protected from any expansion drafts.
This make very tempting incentives for teams to pick up the players. To help the player even more, if their professional career does not pan out, they are given scholarship money to go back and finish school. (By signing a professional contract, a person is no longer eligible to play in the NCAA, and therefore can be awarded no athletic scholarships.)
With the fifth overall pick, there were a lot of options for the team, though none discussed by the fan base quite as much as the talented Penn State striker, Corey Hertzog (G.A.). A local product, growing up in Reading, PA and also playing for the Reading Rage soccer club, Hertzog had expressed his desire to play for the Philadelphia Union.
Though he was not selected to the Union, much to the disappointment of many of the fans, he still managed to stay relatively local. With the 13th overall pick, the Philadelphia Union’s biggest Rival, the New York Red Bull selected Hertzog to play along side and to be mentored by French International (and legend) Thierry Henry.
Though they lost out on a sure fan favorite, they chose to look to the future instead. The Union already has two solid young strikers in Jack McInerny (G.A.) and last year’s No. 1 overall pick Danny Mwanga (G.A.). Philadelphia also has one of the best offensive talents in the league with Sebastian LeToux. They chose instead to work from the opposite end of the pitch.
With their first draft pick, fifth overall, the Union selected University of Maryland’s goaltender Zac MacMath (G.A.). MacMath is the second top prospect Terrapin goaltender for Philly in two years. Chris Seitz’s contract was opted out after he struggled in the team’s inaugural season.
Before Union fans get nervous, you need to know that Zac MacMath has an advantage that Seitz didn’t. MacMath will have the advantage of learning from a solid veteran goaltender Faryd Mondragon who is only days away from being signed by the team.
This will allow him to adjust to the play of the league, so that when the veteran keeper is ready to retire, there is an equally talented youthful keeper to take the mantle. Chris Seitz had played on Real Salt Lake, but never saw any real playing time before coming to the Philadelphia Union.
MacMath is also just a downright better goaltender. While at the University of Maryland, Chris Seitz only played one season with the team and had a .89 goals against average, with 6 shutouts. MacMath played for three seasons, with a goals against average of .65 and 34 career shutouts. In each of his seasons, he had more than Seitz, with his final year amassing an astonishing 15 clean sheets.
Notes: (G.A.) next to a player name denotes they are a member of generation adidas.
Check Back Next Week for Updates on the two other picks of the Union as well as the supplemental Draft Picks on Tuesday! DOOP!