With names like David Ferreira and Dwayne De Rosario on the list, consensus is that some very gifted players are available in this year's MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Union manager John Hackworth agrees with that.
Sixty-eight players are available for selection in the two-part process that allows teams to acquire guys who will not be returning to their 2013 clubs.
December 12 is round No. 1 of the draft, when clubs can “claim players by exercising their current options or extending them a bona fide offer as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement”.
December 18 is round No. 2 of the draft, when most of the action happens. In this phase, teams will have seven days to make an offer to selected players. If a deal can't be reached, the club will “hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS.”
"I think the pool is talented and there are some players that have a lot of experience," Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com. "Re-Entry is an interesting process. We were able to acquire Conor Casey last year and that was obviously a great pickup for us. This pool is interesting and talented, but there are a lot of different factors that go into it. You've got to factor in salary, and (contract) options, and things like that. If we can acquire one of those guys that we want, that we're targeting, then that would be great."
Casey is a great example of draft success.
The Union striker was picked up in round two last year. He was offered a new contract, overcame injury issues, and contributed 10 goals and 5 assists in his first year with the team.
"I think at a very minimum we know this process and the reward you can get from acquiring a player that, literally, you don't have to spend anything to acquire their rights," Hackworth said. "That's extremely valuable. If there's a player that we feel fits our needs, like Conor did last year, we'll certainly look to exercise that."
And despite the gambles that come with injury concerns and contract negotiations, the players in the MLS Re-Entry draft usually have critical MLS experience.
"I think that's a good recipe for success," Hackworth added. "Probably the best place to start looking is to look at other teams that have guys that you know very well and have proven themselves playing in our league. Our team's a little different. I think we bring back our young core, but now we also have a core of veteran leadership in our locker room. So really our goal is to bring in players that will make our entire roster better and increase the quality of our team."
Also consider the flexibility the team has in 2013, as opposed to last season.
"It's a much different offseason for us this year. That said, (we did) acquire the likes of Conor and Sebastien and Jeff last season. We hope this offseason can be as fruitful as the last one."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org