The Philadelphia Union opted not to make a move during Stage II of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Wednesday and have been mostly silent during the offseason to this point.
Nevertheless, the club believes last week's pickup of Corben Bone in Stage I of the Re-Entry Draft, however minor it may seem, could turn out to be a steal.
“We’ve known Corben for a long time,” Union technical director Rob Vartughian told MLSSoccer.com. “Corben is a very explosive, creative attacking player. And if you followed his career before he went to Chicago, he showed some of those qualities both on the international level as well as with his college team.”
Both Vartughian and Union manager John Hackworth have known Bone since he was a teenager, when the midfielder was a part of the US youth national team system and, according to Vartughian, was “one of the most recruited athletes coming out of high school.”
The midfielder then played three seasons at Wake Forest (Hackworth’s alma mater), winning a national championship as a freshman in 2007 and getting named ACC Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2009, before getting selected by the Chicago Fire in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
Since then, however, Bone’s career has sputtered as he played just 18 total games in four years in Chicago, with zero goals to show for it.
Can he get it back on track in Philly?
“At the end of the day, Chicago had a veteran midfield and some really good players, so it was hard for him to break into that lineup,” said Vartughian, who coached against Bone while an assistant at Maryland. “Every team is different. Our hope is he comes in and recognizes the opportunity at hand and gives us his best. And hopefully this new environment is a restart for him.”
Considering Bone is a minimum-salary player, it was a low-risk move for the Union to pick up his option for next season. And Vartughian said that the 25-year-old midfielder is “excited for a new beginning.”
The Union are excited about the possibilities, too.
“I think the biggest thing I would say with regards to Corben is he’s still a young player,” Vartughian said. “It was really low risk on our part to give him an opportunity, and just based on what we know about him, we feel like it will make him better. And our hope is we can kind of relight that spark.”
Contact MLSSoccer.com writer Dave Zeitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.