PHILADELPHIA – While the Philadelphia Union’s surprising trade and subsequent selection of goalkeeper Andre Blake with the top overall pick stole most of the headlines during Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, Philly manager John Hackworth believes his other three picks could turn out to be impact players, too.
After trading up to get Blake, the Union then traded down a couple of times to the 15th slot, where they happily gobbled up Coastal Carolina midfielder Pedro Ribeiro, one of their main targets.
“Overall, I think it was a really good day for us,” Hackworth said. “We got the best guy in the whole draft and that, I think, is really important. We also got Pedro Ribeiro, who was a target of ours and who we thought might go as high as six. And we recouped some allocation money, so our first round alone was great.”
Hackworth said selecting Cope and Derschang addressed positional needs and said both players have “a legitimate shot at making the roster.”
“We filled all of our needs and probably got more than expected coming out of this,” he said.
A 6-foot-4 creative attacking midfielder originally from Brazil, Ribeiro immediately fits a need for a Union team looking to revamp their midfield this offseason.
The Union certainly gambled a little bit by trading down but thought the Brazilian might still be available in the middle of the first round. And the Union coaches feel like they know him better than other teams after watching him play for their USL Premier Development League affiliate Reading United AC.
“He’s got serious tools,” Hackworth said. “We saw that two years ago when he trained with us in Reading and he was fit and healthy. He had a sports hernia and a groin problem and he was never healthy in this college season. But clearly people took note. And at the combine, he had some moments that nobody else had. So we felt that we got a little bit of a steal at 15.”
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Hackworth also believes Cope could be a second-round steal. With so many people focusing on the top center backs in the draft like California’s Steve Birnbaum and Christian Dean, the Union manager said that some teams may have overlooked Cope.
“For me, he was one of the most solid and consistent center backs we saw all year long,” Hackworth said.
Derschang might not be as MLS-ready as the other three players the Union selected. But coming to a club with hardly any left-footed players, the attacking left back should have a good chance to make the roster.
“I’ve known Robbie from his youth national team days,” Hackworth said. “He’s an attacking player who has moved back a little bit, and I think he’s got a lot of upside. He was our favorite left back. There weren’t that many options at left back but he was our favorite guy. And we were pretty surprised we were able to pick him up in the second round.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.