Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth was as exhilarated as he was exhausted.
With four total picks in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, the Union’s Technical staff was incredibly busy. They had been incredibly busy for weeks in preparation leading up to the SuperDraft.
Four picks later, Hackworth was extremely pleased.
The Union selected Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake with the No. 1 overall pick and then took Coastal Carolina midfielder Pedro Ribeiro at No. 15. In the second round, they grabbed Michigan state defender Kevin Cope at No. 25 and followed at No. 27 with Akron defender Robert Derschang.
“Overall, I think it was a really good day for us,” Hackworth said. “We got the best guy in the whole draft and I thought that was really important. We also got Pedro Ribeiro, who was a target of ours and someone we thought might go as high as six. And we recouped some allocation money, so in the first round alone, and then getting Robbie and Cope, we’ve taken care of some positional needs, guys who have a legitimate shot of making our roster and given a competitive chance.
“We kind of filled all our needs and probably got a little bit more than we thought coming into this.”
Adding Blake was a major coup, according to Hackworth.
“He can do stuff now that nobody in our league can do,” Hackworth said. “I would just tell you that he’s got a ways to go … He has got to come in here and really learn but he’s the type of person and it’s a great opportunity and chance for him. He wants it. He’s phenomenal. He’s already a Jamaican international. You’re talking about a college player that already has international experience. His upside is tremendous. We feel like him working with Robbie (Technical Director Rob Vartughian) and competition between he and Zac (MacMath) is going to be great in all ways.”
Hackworth said that Blake was simply too good to pass up.
“This is a guy who has tools and plays the game in a way who is going to challenge Zac,” Hackworth said. “Competition is going to help Zac. It’s going to push him. Andre is going to learn so much from Zac. It’s going to be interesting.”
How about Ribeiro?
“He’s got serious tools and we saw that a couple years ago in Reading when he trained with us on the first team,” Hackworth said. “He was fit and healthy. He’s coming off a hernia surgery and a groin problem. He was never healthy in this college season. … In the combine, he had some moments that no one else had. Feel like we got a little bit of a steal with him at 15.”
The same goes for their two second round picks.
“Cope is a centerback and that clearly was a positional need,” Hackworth said. “For me, he was one of the most solid and consistent centerbacks. With Robbie, I’ve known Robbie from my youth national team days. He’s an attacking player who has moved back a little bit. I think he’s got a lot of upside. He was our favorite left back. He was our favorite guy. Pretty surprised we were able to pick him up so late.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org