The Philadelphia Union came away from MLS' Supplemental Draft with a big haul.
But for the five players that were selected – defenders Eric Schoenle (West Virginia), Uriah Bentick (Liberty) and Mark Linnville (Princeton), forward Jake Keegan (Binghamton) and midfielder Leo Fernandes (Stony Brook) – it’s going to be a very difficult road to make the club.
With new acquisitions like Aaron Wheeler, Damani Richards and Alex Mendoza having joined an already deep roster – and with other trialists also vying for spots – Union manager John Hackworth was brutally honest when asked this week about the draft picks’ prospects.
“It’s going to be tough for them to make the team,” Hackworth said. “The number of spots available is few and far between. But, to their credit, the guys who have come in have done very well and it’s exciting to see them try to battle and make a case for themselves to make this roster. But the reality is there are only a couple of spots available, so we’re not going to be keep everyone.”
Hackworth and Co. already trimmed the roster prior to the clubs' trip to Florida Monday for the next phase of its training camp. One player that appears to have a leg up in making it to the Sunshine State is Schoenle, who the Union selected in the first round of the Supplemental Draft and is headed to Orlando with the team.
Schoenle, a 6-foot-2 center back out of West Virginia, fills two needs Hackworth has looked for this offseason: height and defensive depth. It also helps that he hails from nearby Bucks County and spent time with Union affiliate Reading United A.C. of the USL-PDL.
“He’s somebody we’ve been interested in the last couple of years,” Hackworth said. “He came in and trained with us a couple of times with the first team in the summer...He’s really comfortable with the ball. With the way we try to play with good technical execution, he fits well into that.”
Schoenle was actually projected to get taken in the SuperDraft in some mock drafts but Hackworth decided to try to wait it out, making a trade with Real Salt Lake to acquire two first-round picks in the Supplemental Draft.
In the end, it paid off and he got his man.
“We gambled,” the Union manager admitted. “We do our research and try to figure out who the other clubs want, so we thought we had a really good chance of getting Eric in the supplemental draft. We’re thankful that it worked out.”