Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth says retooled midfield led to Keon Daniel's departure

Keon Daniel

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CHESTER, Pa. – Keon Daniel was an important part of the Philadelphia Union’s midfield last season, starting 20 games while often being deployed in a central attacking role.

But Daniel didn’t score any goals and recorded just one assist through 1,721 minutes, leading to the team overhauling the midfield in the offseason with the acquisitions of Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana.

Those moves promptly made Daniel expendable, and after the Trinidadian didn’t even crack the 18-man gameday roster through five games this season – let alone get into a game – the Union cut ties with him Tuesday, calling it a “contract termination by mutual consent.”

“Keon is still a player that probably has a lot more potential than what he showed here,” Union manager John Hackworth said during his weekly press conference Wednesday. “With us making the acquisitions in the midfield that we did, it kind of left Keon on the outside.”

Throughout the 2013 season, Hackworth seemed to be constantly on the defensive about his reliance on Daniel and how he often played him ahead of seemingly more creative players like Kléberson and Michael Farfan, who are both also now playing elsewhere.

The Union manager used to say that Daniel was one of the team’s most technical players, but he also realized that the Trinidadian didn’t bring enough to the attack and would often drop back too deep.

After signing with the Union before the 2011 season, Daniel had just two goals and four assists in 4,126 minutes, before his playing time dried up this season.

“He was understandably upset that he wasn’t going to get the opportunities, so it was a mutual agreement that if he wasn’t going to be in our plans that we were going to try to find a way to put him in a place where he could play and where it could be beneficial for us too,” Hackworth said. “And we were able to work that out.”

Considering he has been an MLS starter for much of the last two seasons and seemingly has some value, the Union did shop him around to other teams in the league.

But, in the end, trading him was not something that worked out.

“It’s complicated,” Hackworth said. “I wouldn’t say there was absolutely no trade [market]. But the situation had to be good for both parties. And we didn’t find that situation.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.