A look at Union's new players
TALK ABOUT making the most of the offseason. The Union did exactly that, acquiring 13 fresh faces on a 27-man roster, looking to push past the first round of the MLS playoffs. Of the 13, however, only two, veteran defender Chris Albright and goalkeeper Chris Konopka, have prior MLS experience. However, within this lot is the co-captain of Panama's national team, a veteran at right back fans were hoping for, Brian Carroll's clone and four players competing on various national teams.
TALK ABOUT making the most of the offseason.
The Union did exactly that, acquiring 13 fresh faces on a 27-man roster, looking to push past the first round of the MLS playoffs. Of the 13, however, only two, veteran defender Chris Albright and goalkeeper Chris Konopka, have prior MLS experience. However, within this lot is the co-captain of Panama's national team, a veteran at right back fans were hoping for, Brian Carroll's clone and four players competing on various national teams.
With so many newbies in the mix, the Daily News decided to provide a closer look.
Position: Defender; Age: 33; Height: 6-1; Weight: 180;
Kit number: 3.
About: A Philly native who played youth soccer locally at Penn Charter and club ball under the FC Delco organization, Albright is an experienced journeyman who will play for his fifth MLS team (DC United, 1999-2001; Los Angeles 2002-07; New England 2008-09 and New York 2010-11). Albright also made 22 appearances for the U.S. national team (1999-2007).
Position: Defender; Age: 22; Height: 5-9; Weight: 151;
Kit number: 28.
About: Gaddis is a prospect the Union had its eye on last year. If not for a knee injury, he might have been one of the top defenders in January's MLS SuperDraft, according to Union assistant John Hackworth. Gaddis will fight for time at right back.
Position: Midfielder; Age: 27; Height: 6-0; Weight: 178;
Kit number: 6.
About: Gomez doesn't have MLS experience, but he does have a vast knowledge of the game. He was instrumental in Panama making it to the knockout stages in last summer's Gold Cup and has captained the Panamanians in a few matches. He is expected to be the attacking midfielder presence, given the loss of Veljko Paunovic.
Position: Forward; Age: 18; Height: 5-11; Weight: 160;
Kit number: 31
About: Hernandez is the Union's third-ever homegrown player. He debuted last summer and scored in the Union's 1-0 win against Everton. U.S. Soccer's 2011 youth developmental player of the year, Hernandez' vision and nose for the goal is "far beyond his years," Hackworth said.
Position: Forward; Age: 21; Height: 6-0; Weight: 160;
Kit number: 12.
About: Slipping to the Union at lucky number 13 in the draft, the Union considers this first-round draft pick a steal. Hoffman was an All-America forward at UCLA, but he played in the shadows of Bruins teammate Kelyn Rowe. Hoffman's awareness makes him a threat, and he will challenge seasoned forward Danny Mwanga - the Union's first-ever SuperDraft pick - for minutes.
Position: Forward; Age: 21; Height: 5-8; Weight: 155;
Kit number: 29.
About: Described by Union boss Peter Nowak as "surprisingly effective," Hoppenot is another attacking threat. An All-America from Princeton, Hoppenot is a player with a lot of upside, but it's cloudy whether he'll see much of the pitch in league matches.
Position: Midfielder; Age: 21; Height: 6-0; Weight: 165;
Kit number: 5.
About: Not only is Jordan, a rookie out of Creighton, being groomed to be the next Brian Carroll, he even bears a resemblance to the veteran defensive back. Jordan, like Carroll, isn't flashy by design, but he is effective; a major reason why Nowak picked Jordan as Carroll's understudy. Jordan told MLSSoccer.com: "[Carroll] is a great example of someone who I can kind of follow . . . we have similar styles. We're not the most athletic players or flashiest players. But we're team guys."
Position: Goalkeeper; Age: 26; Height: 6-5; Weight: 210;
Kit number: 1.
About: Konopka is an added sense of security in the back. But Konopka doesn't have much in-game experience, even though he's been in the league since 2007. He's played just one game in that span while a member of New York last season, a 2-2 tie against Chicago. He is expected to challenge Chase Harrison for the backup goalkeeper spot.
Position: Defender; Age: 26; Height: 5-11; Weight: 172;
Kit number: 24.
About: The first thing you will notice about Porfirio Lopez is his supersized afro - followed by his skill on the ball. A Costa Rican international, Lopez led Costa Rican club power Alajuelense to a pair of titles last season, before going to China on loan. Lopez will be the starter at left fullback.
Position: Forward; Age: 21; Height: 5-10; Weight: 159;
Kit number: 17.
About: Martinez, another Costa Rican international, arrived as part of the new partnership the Union made with Costa Rican club CD Saprissa in the offseason. A young, crafty forward, Martinez with be in the mix up top and should receive plenty of minutes. Nowak said of Martinez: "He has a good attitude and comes prepared and ready to work everyday."
Position: Midfielder; Age: 18; Height: 5-8; Weight: 135;
Kit number: 20.
About: He's still in his teens, but McLaughlin doesn't play like it. His maturity on the ball last season in the friendly against Everton was surprising. A local who excelled at Great Valley High School and spent a year at Colgate, McLaughlin is the Union's second-ever homegrown player.
Position: Forward; Age: 30; Height: 6-1; Weight: 185;
Kit number: 23.
About: With all the work it took to get Pajoy in blue and gold, he must be important. The Colombian native has arrived after a lengthy visa process, and the Union hopes he brought with him that knack that saw him score 10 league goals in 18 matches last season. Look for Pajoy to use his size to shield off defenders and quick turns to get shots on goal.
Position: Midfielder; Age: 21; Height: 5-11; Weight: 165;
Kit number: 30.
About: Witkowski was certainly a player on Nowak's radar. While starring at Marist, Witkowski also spent time on Poland's under-18 national team. Another player with upside, but doubtful he'll garner major minutes with the full team this season.