The first couple rounds of the 2016 MLS Draft excited Union fans as the team not only completed a blockbuster trade, but also drafted players that fans believe will make an immediate impact at Talon Energy Stadium in March.
Chicago kicked off the draft by selecting Midfielder Jack Harrison who they promptly shipped to NYCFC in exchange for the fourth overall pick and allocation money.
The Colorado Rapids held the second overall pick. But not for long. The Union traded “future considerations” and allocation money to Colorado for that pick. The Union meanwhile were able to keep their third and sixth overall picks, a huge win. Speculation by Taylor Twellman reveals that Colorado might be going after USMNT’s Alejandro Bedoya, who the Union tried to acquire last summer but failed to do so after FC Nantes refused to part with him. Philadelphia still held Bedoya’s discovery rights, so Colorado needed to acquire them from the Union via a trade. Colorado later in the draft traded up to the number one spot in the allocation order to acquire Bedoya– if they can reach agreement with Nantes.
The Union could potentially win big in this trade if Bedoya does not transfer to Colorado. Even if he does, they utilized that number two pick very effectively:
2nd Overall pick: Union: Joshua Yaro, CB Georgetown
The consensus top player in the draft, Yaro fell into the Union’s lap. The Union had the worst defense in Major League Soccer last year and desperately needed to find a complement to Richie Marquez at center back. Yaro, even with the signing of the CB/LB Anderson Conceicao earlier in the week, can immediately step in as well as be the center back for the future. At Georgetown, Yaro started 57 games and was named an NSCAA First Team All-American and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2015. In 2014, he was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and was also selected as the College Player of the Year by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
- Position: Center back
- School: Georgetown
- Date of birth: March 24, 1994 (age 21)
- Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
- Citizenship: Ghana
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 163
- Twitter: @Josh_Yaro_5
3rd overall pick: Union: Keagan Rosenberry, RB Georgetown
The Union followed up the strong pick with their man, Keagan Rosenberry. The Union were not very happy when MLS turned down their homegrown claim on Rosenberry and so made sure to grab him in the draft even if he was taken a bit earlier than most people would have liked.
Nevertheless, Rosenberry is another solid addition to a horrendous Union line. Rosenberry started 90 games, scored four goals and added 13 assists. In 2015, he was a first team NSCAA Great Lake Region selection and a second team All-Big East selection. Rosenberry and Yaro also have chemistry from playing together for three years at Georgetown which can prove invaluable for young players entering Major League Soccer.
- Position: Right back
- School: Georgetown
- Date of birth: Dec. 11, 1993 (age 22)
- Place of birth: Harrisburg, Pa.
- Hometown: Ronks, Pa.
- Citizenship: USA
- Height: 5-8
- Weight: 160
- Twitter: @K_J_Rose
Many people wanted the Union to select Stanford LB, Brandon Vincent with the third pick and were in a perfect position to do so. But the team decided to go with its academy alumni over the new USMNT left back. After the USMNT call up, Vincent’s bargaining power increased with MLS teams. He had not signed a Generation Adias contract with MLS, so his price likely raised past the point the Union were willing to pay. Therefore, they opted for Rosenberry, their academy alum, who had voiced his desire to play for the Union. Overall, a smart decision by Earnie Stewart and the Union FO.
6th Overall pick: Union: Fabian Herbers, MF, Creighton
Many people had predicted the Union to take Rosenberry here but instead the Union turn to the offense to select Generation Adias signee, Herbers. At Creighton, he scored 28 goals while starting 57 games and was twice named an NSCAA First Team All-American. During his junior year in 2015, he scored 15 goals, registered 17 assists and was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. He was also a MAC Hermann trophy finalist. Herbers, a proven goal scorer and playmaker, likely will come off the bench for the Union, but he is fantastic depth and could be the starter in the future at multiple positions.
In addition, Herber’s Generation Adias contract, like Yaro’s, will keep him out of the Union’s salary cap for the next several seasons. This likely is the reason that the Union drafted in the order they did and passed on Brandon Vincent. Rosenberry was their guy from the beginning and will ask for less than Vincent would, while having the ability to be an impact starter for the Union. In general, the Union found three impact players in the first round of this year’s draft without breaking the bank.
- Position: Midfielder
- School: Creighton
- Date of birth: Aug. 17, 1993 (age 22)
- Place of birth: Ahuas, Germany
- Citizenship: Germany
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 170
- Twitter: @fherbers9393
23rd Overall pick: Union: Taylor Washington, Defender, George Mason
With the third pick of the second round, the Union selected defender Taylor Washington from George Mason. Washington, 22, attended George Mason University and in 2015 was named to NSCAA Third Team All-Midwest Region. During his three seasons at George Mason, Washington started 52 games and scored one goal and gave two assists. In 2013, Washington was named to First Team All-Atlantic 10 Conference. Washington also played for D.C. United’s U-23 team. Washington played left back at George Mason, but can provide quality depth at any defensive position, something the Union desperately need in a player.
- Position: Defender
- School: George Mason
- Date of birth: Aug. 16, 1993 (age 22)
- Place of birth: Somers, N.Y.
- Hometown: Somers, N.Y.
- Citizenship: USA
- Height: 5-10
- Weight: 170
- Twitter: @TaylorW311
Overall, the Union came away with several key players in the first day of the 2016 MLS Draft. The Union also hold the No. 44 and the No. 64 overall picks in the third and fourth rounds. Those rounds will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 19, via conference call at 2 p.m.
Photo: Rafael Suanes-Washington Post