What do Sebastien Le Toux, Stefani Miglioranzi and Jordan Harvey have in common?
They’re the only three holdovers from the Philadelphia Union’s 2010 expansion class.
With this week’s release of Nick Zimmerman, the seven other “Union originals” – goalkeeper Brad Knighton, defenders David Myrie and Shavar Thomas, midfielders Shea Salinas and Andrew Jacobson, and forwards Zimmerman and Alejandro Moreno – are currently with other teams or looking for work.
“It’s certainly not fun when we spend a year with these guys and then you’re sitting in the offseason chopping their heads,” Union manager Peter Nowak admitted during a conference call Wednesday.
“This is not the feeling you want to have. This is not fun for anybody – the coaching staff especially – when you’re emotionally attached to these players. We chose them very carefully last year, but we felt like if we want to move forward, we have to improve the roster. And these decisions have to be made.”
In what has been an extremely busy offseason, the Union also parted ways with other members of their 2010 squad, including 'keeper Chris Seitz, defenders Michael Orozco Fiscal, Cristian Arrieta and Toni Stahl, and midfielders Fred, Eduardo Coudet and J.T. Noone.
If you take a close look at all of those ex-players, however, only Orozco Fiscal, Moreno, Fred and the Seitz/Knighton goalkeeping tandem were steady contributors throughout the season.
And in return, the Union acquired some big-name players they expect to significantly improve the squad, including goalie Faryd Mondragón, defender Carlos Valdés, midfielder Brian Carroll and striker Carlos Ruiz.
The Philly coaches also hope Zach Pfeffer and Chris Agorsor, 2011 draft picks Zac MacMath and Michael Farfan, and recent signees Thorne Holder and Ryan Richter add depth and promise to a club that is still in the building stage.
“It is always a process,” Nowak said. “There were some very good guys that we had last year and we wanted to keep the core group together and that is why we protected the players we protected. We tried to get the right new pieces as well, and in my opinion, we did.”
While the Union were pretty busy leading up to the league’s roster compliance deadline, signing Holder and Richter while waiving Zimmerman and Noone, they are not done tinkering yet.
Third-round draft pick Levi Houapeu, a striker out of UMBC, continues to train with the Union, who can add up to eight players to their current 22-man roster. Other trialists are working toward contracts, as well.
“We’ve worked with Levi at the last couple of camps, and the work has been very good,” Nowak said. “His mentality has been good. So it might be that at the end of the day, before our first game, we make this happen.”