It was a crazy Monday around Union HQ as the only word to describe today's player movement is feverish.
This was great for us...considering we hate dull moments.
Earlier today, the technical staff waived forward Krystian Witkowski, midfielder Gabriel Gomez and defender Porfirio Lopez which put them into the mix for MLS’ waiver draft, which took place at 3:30 this afternoon via teleconference among the 19 league coaches from MLS’ offices in Manhattan. Teams were free to select their desired player in the waiver draft, but had to pick up their current salaries.
The Union, with the No. 5 pick in the draft, passed on a pool of 42 players from around the league.
While the Union will pay the salaries of Witkowski, Gomez and Lopez through the end of the year, it should be noted that the exodus frees close to a half million in guaranteed salary compensation – $459,790.04 to be exact, according to MLS' players’ union website.
Gomez, the Union's third highest paid player appeared in 24 matches since being acquired just before Christmas last year, and was second on the club this season in goals with six goals.
As for Lopez and Witkowski…
Lopez, heralded as defensive stalwart, failed to impress after winning back to back league titles with Costa Rican side LD Alajuelense. And in Witkowski’s case, a former Polish youth international picked up in January’s MLS supplemental draft, the 22-year-old labored with concussion symptoms for the bulk of the season.
We also announced three more players set to depart – but for different reasons. Defender Amobi Okugo, midfielder-forward Freddy Adu and All-Star midfielder Michael Farfan all head to Europe for two week training stints; Adu in a return to Turkey to train with powerhouse Galatasaray while both Farfan and Okugo are headed to Germany to work out with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg.
Adu, who did this this series of slideshow shorts for Goal.com, reportedly told writer Scott Johnson that playing in Turkey “where I found love for the game again:”
“It was a hard decision for me to go down to Turkey, but I loved my time there. That’s where I found love for the game again. I had lost it somewhere along the way and once I went there it just woke me back up. It was just different. I lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The field that we played on wasn’t great, neither was the stadium, but it was just pure football. It was like grassroots football, it was amazing and I really loved it.”
Here’s hoping Adu’s latest Turkish excursion continues to build his confidence and really aid in finding the kid some renewed vigor heading into 2013…
This is also a return to Germany for Okugo, who trained with Freiburg during last offseason. Okugo, who undoubtedly had his best year in Philadelphia at the wrong position, makes his second straight trip to Freiburg for training, while Marfan, who spent time in Sunderland last year, will join Okugo in Deutschland.
Couple things before we let you go…
Kudos to rookie defender Raymon Gaddis who recently picked up the NAACP Image Award for male athlete of the year…check www.philadelphiaunion.com out tomorrow for a breakdown on how open tryouts at YSC Sports in Wayne went this past Saturday, as Union assistant coach Rob Vartughian noted that “a handful of players” will be invited back to join the first team in some involuntary scrimmage sessions...lastly, we just wanted to thank you, our supporters. Philadelphia Union ranks sixth in the league with followers on social media in both Twitter and Facebook according to sporteconomy.it. With 138,106 combined followers and growing by the minute, the U also finished third best behind Chicago (149,695) and Red Bull New York (272,170) in the Eastern Conference. Los Angeles Galaxy with its 627,751 combined followers tops MLS.
Catch you all tomorrow…
Contact Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kerith on Twitter @sprtswtr