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Set Pieces: Planning for 2011

There’s time for brief reflection now that the Union’s inaugural season is officially in the books, but the main offseason objective is looking for ways to improve heading into 2011.

While the MLS Expansion Draft is less than a month away, first come postseason awards. The Goalkeeper blog makes an argument for Sebastien Le Toux as MVP, while Danny Mwanga is unsurprisingly included among Fox Soccer’s top rookies. Only time will tell whether either, or both, walk away with hardware.

Even if Le Toux falls short in the MVP race, he’s a strong bet to be included on the MLS Best XI squad, especially because he’s listed as a midfielder.

Mwanga stated in a recent live chat on philadelphiaunion.com that he’ll be in Philadelphia next year, but that isn’t stopping a local Oregon paper from speculating about a move overseas.

Looking ahead to the expansion draft, here’s a comprehensive explanation of the rules along with one guess at the Union’s protected list. Here’s another projected list. The actual lists will be revealed on November 22, two days before the draft.

A player many Union fans would like to see protected, Kyle Nakazawa, was interviewed by a member of the Sons of Ben.

One rookie who didn’t feature in any league matches for Philadelphia, JT Noone, still gained valuable experience this year. One situation he didn’t feel comfortable in, however, was playing for both the Union and the Harrisburg City Islanders in the same friendly.

Year two could be the time for Amobi Okugo to make a jump from occasional role player to a fixture in the starting XI.

To wrap up Union news, a Goal.com writer thinks the newfound rivalry between Peter Nowak’s side and the Red Bulls is just what MLS needs.

The big news of the day on Tuesday was the passing of 2 ½ year old Paul the Octopus, who emerged as a global phenomenon after showcasing his predictive powers during the World Cup. Next in line? A French successor.

With the MLS Cup Playoffs kicking off on Thursday, it’s that time of year for arguments over the fairness of the current playoff structure.

Philadelphia will have to wait until 2011 for their chance to play past the regular season, while suitors for clubs in Las Vegas and Orlando have stepped up efforts to enter the running down the road.

To leave you with a bit of humor, check out this hilarious video of Ellen Degeneres and David Beckham collaborating in a massage parlor.

Must-Reads on philadelphiaunion.com

Le Toux MLS Breaks Record

Play by Play Plus: Wrapping Up the Regular Season

Union Dues: Despite Record, First Season a Success

Union Shed Expansion Label

Union Hire Rowan as EVP, CRO

Top 10 in 2010 Series:

#10: The 95th Minute PK

#9: Two to Win It