INDIANAPOLIS – That’s him. That’s the guy.
The guy that shocked Union fans across the social mediasphere when the Union selected Don Anding with the No. 26 pick in the draft. It wasn’t a sexy selection, but it was one that has the potential to bring a lot of upside if Anding can quickly adapt to being ubiquitous for manager John Hackworth.
Think you can challenge Gabriel Farfan for his spot at left fullback, rook?
“I think [the fact that I am versatile] it’s an advantage for me in this draft and I think it’s a reason that I went higher than I expected I would,” Anding told philadelphiaunion.com. “I was always a forward but I just recently started playing left back in college and I really like the position. I think I could do very well there.”
Scouts laud Anding for his speed a trait he felt “always put him up a step ahead of the competition,” throughout his career and especially during his four years at Northeastern University where his finished this past season a semifinalist for the MAC Herrmann Trophy given to the collegiate player of the year. But for Hack, it’s not so much his athleticism, but Anding’s personality that made him a sought out acquisition.
“Athletically he is very gifted but it was his character that won us over,” said Hackworth. “When you are looking for a guy to work in a couple of different positions, his personality and the fact that he’ll work hard along with the natural tools and gifts that he has he was a guy that we wanted and we feel fortunate to grab him.”
As for Stephen Okai, a player already well known by the Union coaching staff, his selection was one of shock – for Okai. Despite spending time with developmental affiliate Reading United, Okai said he was never contacted by the Union and had no idea he was even on Philly’s radar.
“At the combine we had some time to talk to the coaches who were interested, but Philadelphia Union didn’t call me,” Okai said. “The Seattle Sounders called me, Real Salt Lake called me but Philadelphia didn’t. I was in shock because I played at Reading United; they knew me so I was like what was going on? But I left everything in the hands of the Lord and just prayed and it turned out great for me in the end. I have a long way to go and I still have to make the team, but today is a great day.”
The Union traded its No. 29 pick to Real Salt Lake for RSL’s pick at No. 31 in addition to getting a pair of first round picks in the upcoming Supplemental Draft. Hackworth said the move was deliberate as there are still more moves to come.
“It was an opportunity for us to gain another pick in the third round,” said Hackworth. “We only had one going into it, now we have two and we still have a couple of guys out there we like that we hope will be around then.”
Hackworth described his first time in coaches’ seat at SuperDraft was “no problem,” and called the festivities “a pretty tranquil day.”
By now, you’ve probably seen the news regarding Freddy Adu. MLSSoccer.com’s Nick Firchau reported that Adu won’t be attending Monday’s open training session at YSC Sports in Wayne. It’s unknown if this is the end of Adu’s time in Philadelphia. Hackworth didn’t want to elaborate, telling philadelphiaunion.com that discussions about Freddy’s future are ongoing, but he did state:
“Freddy and I continue to talk, we talked yesterday [Wednesday] morning and…he’s not coming into preseason with us.”
Some snippets from draft…
Houston Dynamo’s first round pick Virginia Commonwealth forward Jason Johnson was one of 16 players in the house for the draft, and his podium speech was the best of the day. Johnson, who hails from Happy News, Jamaica (come on, you’ve been to Happy News before) thanked “Dynamo Houston,” and his coaches and teammates at the “University of VCU.”…Stephen Okai rolled up to the podium with acid washed jeans littered with holes. We’ve already decided that the first order of business for our newest member is point him in the direction of a good tailor…a feature on the Sons of Ben made the giant video board in between selections during the first round. The featurette prominently displayed SoB vice president Corey Furlan showing off smoke bomb grenades used during DOOP sessions and walkouts at PPL Park.
That is all, check back tomorrow for more good stuff…
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org