Wed, Oct


KeonPhiladelphia Union manager Peter Nowak is of the view Soca Warriors winger Keon Daniel can be one of four players to fill the shoes of Justin Mapp in next season US Major League Soccer.

This after Mapp was was snapped up by Montreal Impact in Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft. Speaking on the decision to let go of Mapp Nowak said, “I thinks Justin Mapp is a great guy in the locker room who brings speed, a strong shot and an important veteran presence every time he steps on the field.

However, Nowak also knows one more thing—that the Union have a plethora of younger midfielders that have shown the ability to fill his role.

As such, it was with a sense of pragmatism that the Union left Mapp exposed for the draft. “It’s a big loss,” Nowak said on a conference call shortly after Montreal made their selections.

“In the year-and-a-half we had him, he was pretty good. But we have options. And we’ll also look domestically and abroad to strengthen the position.”

Asked for reasons why he left him exposed, Nowak cited Mapp’s “significant” salary, as well as the fact that he’s entering the last year of his contract and is eligible for next month’s Re-Entry Draft.

The Union manager also pointed to Michael Farfan, Gabriel Farfan, Roger Torres and Keon Daniel—all of whom are younger than the 27-year-old Mapp – as attacking midfielders that can step into more prominent roles next season in Mapp’s place.

Shortly after losing Mapp, the Union also acquired 23-year-old Tanzanian winger Nizar Khalfan in the Waiver Draft after he was released by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Union announced the move in conjunction with the release of defender Juan Diego Gonzalez and former T&T national youth team goalkeeper Thorne Holder, neither of whom logged any minutes last season. Another young midfielder who can do big things for the Union next season is Freddy Adu.

Nowak was also asked about his decision to protect the 24-year-old Daniel over some more established players.

The T&T international made only 18 appearances in 2011 before reporting for international duty in August for a Concacaf Group B World Cup qualifier away to Barbados. After that, he never returned to the Union because of problems with his visa. “We’re still working on the visa issue,” Nowak said.

We have good feedback from people trying to help us in this case. Keon makes a low salary, is still a very young player and played very good up until he left.

He’s still a guy, at the end of the day, that we need. And I can tell you we’re doing everything in our power to get him back as soon as we can.”

With Adu, Daniel and many others still on the roster, the Union certainly have plenty of solid midfield options going into next season.