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Union shakes up roster with trades, cuts

Longest serving player, Amobi Okugo, is dealt to Orlando, while the Union acquirs C.J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City.

The Union's Conor Casey celebrates his goal with teammates in the first half. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Union's Conor Casey celebrates his goal with teammates in the first half. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

IN A BUSY day as far as roster moves go, the Union parted ways with its lone 2010 original and also added a forward.

The club yesterday traded midfielder Amobi Okugo to Orlando City SC for an undisclosed amount of allocation money and the expansion team's 2016 second-round draft pick. It also acquired C.J. Sapong, Major League Soccer's 2011 rookie of the year, from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for Philadelphia's best pick in next month's MLS SuperDraft.

Sapong, who formerly played for Reading United, a Union developmental affiliate, will be 26 come the season. He appeared in 110 games (69 starts) over four seasons with Kansas City, scoring 20 goals and tallying nine assists. He was the 10th overall pick in 2011 out of James Madison University.

"I think he gives our attack a real dynamic element with his versatility, athleticism and ability to score goals," Union technical director Chris Albright said. "One of the things we talked about was to try to get bigger, faster and strong in the offseason, and he certainly checks all those boxes."

Okugo, 23, had been a fixture on the team since its inaugural season. Out of contract after his fifth MLS season, he was expected to give playing in Europe a try. If not for the trade, the Union would have risked getting nothing in return for its talented, young midfielder. That said, Albright said that "without getting into too many specifics on the deal, our deal with Orlando was contingent upon Amobi agreeing with Major League Soccer and Orlando, so I don't believe Europe is an option anymore."

"Amobi has been a valuable member to this club on and off the field," Albright said. "He's a guy that was a competitor that played multiple positions when asked. That being said, I think that [head coach] Jim [Curtin] and I want to put players in positions that they are happy in going forward, as well. We want to do right by players, and we feel that this is a move that does right by Amobi and puts him in a position to be successful going forward."

The Union also yesterday announced it will decline the contract options of veteran forward Conor Casey, veteran midfielder Fred, Jamaican striker Brian Brown, seldom-used midfielder Corben Bone and 21-year-old forward Cristhian Hernandez, who was signed in 2012 as the club's third homegrown player but who appeared in two MLS games in 3 years, none in the past two seasons.

Casey, the most prominent of the five, scored 18 goals and started 43 games over his two seasons with the Union. In the same news release in which it announced these moves, the Union also noted that midfielder Brian Carroll is out of a contract.

Albright also announced the team has come to agreements with homegrown players Zach Pfeffer and Jimmy McLaughlin.

MLS later yesterday announced the list of protected and available players for the expansion draft between Orlando and New York City. Among the notable Union players left unprotected were two of the club's three goalkeepers, Rais M'Bohli and Zac MacMath, as well as Casey, Carroll, midfielders Michael Lahoud and Danny Cruz and forward Pedro Ribeiro. Each club got to protect 11 players.