LOS ANGELES –
For many observers, it came as a surprise when Philadelphia Union selected Georgetown right back Keegan Rosenberry with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Many expected his compeer, Brandon Vincent, to be the next name called to the podium. Vincent, a player on the fringes of Jurgen Klinsmann’s US National team at the time, was pegged by pundits to make an immediate impact in Major League Soccer.
Yet, regardless of who went where, and who took who, it was always inevitable: Brandon Vincent and Keegan Rosenberry would be compared throughout the duration of their MLS careers. It was the nature of the beast.
Still, the consensus surrounding the pick was simplified calling the SuperDraft, and the league itself as highly unpredictable.
It was if to say Rosenberry was not the perfect fit for Philadelphia Union; he was. If you ask the Club’s Sporting Director, Earnie Stewart, or manager Jim Curtin, the Ronks, PA native was always their guy. He was Philly’s guy.
Rosenberry was never meant to live in Vincent’s shadows.
The same can be said for the 2017 edition of the MLS SuperDraft. While it had much to live up to, after last year’s chaotic first round and a slew of fruitful draftees, including Fabian Herbers and Joshua Yaro, it was not overshadowed.
By the day’s end, the Club had their guys.
For a second year running, Philadelphia Union traded up to make a selection. After shipping the 42nd overall pick and $50K to Minnesota United, the Club drafted Marcus Epps, a forward from the University of South Florida, at No. 25.
Epps, 22, is an adept dribbler who looks to take on his defenders. He is a player that Stewart believes has the right qualities and capabilities to flourish in Philadelphia.
“He has speed, he has agility, he’s a big boy,” said Stewart. “The combination of those factors and the philosophy that we have at the Philadelphia Union, we believe we can develop this kid to be something very special.”
The Jackson, Mississippi native scored eight goals and contributed nine assists in his four campaigns with USF leaving many pundits to call his production into question.
Stewart wished to remind that Philadelphia Union brings in players to develop further. It is also important to note that Epps was on the mend for the majority of his senior season, after suffering from an iliotibial band injury.
With their last pick, Philadelphia plucked Clemson right back Aaron Jones at 33rd overall. Jones drew rave reviews from Curtin who praised the Englishman’s tenacity and understanding of the game.
“He [Jones] really impressed us,” said Curtin. “He has a Philadelphia mentality. He will be a guy our fans will be high on.”
Jones expressed his excitement to join the Club as it continues to progress under the guidance of Stewart. He was inspired by the rapid ascension of one of his new teammates in particular.
“I’m extremely proud of what Keegan was able to do last year. It’s [what] I want to emulate in my own career,” said Jones.
Curtin noted that Jones will compete with Rosenberry and Ray Gaddis for playing time. There is no indication that Jones or Epps will live in the shadows of Philadelphia’s current and budding stars.
“We got two players today that we want to be with the Philadelphia Union for a long time,” said Jim Curtin.
Philadelphia Union will take part in the third and fourth rounds of the Draft on Jan. 17. The Club currently owns the 55th, 77th and 82nd pick respectively.