On the eve of the MLS SuperDraft, the Philadelphia Union have pulled off a big deal for an attacking player whose name you'll want to keep in mind.
The Union acquired Fred, a Brazilian attacking midfielder, from D.C. United as well as D.C.'s seventh pick in the draft and some cash. In exchange, the Union gave up the top ranking in Major League Soccer's player allocation table. United used that slot to acquire goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who used to play for D.C. and decided he wanted to move back to the U.S. after two years with Norwegian club Valerenega.
Sound confusing? Here's a better way to look at it. United had goalkeeping problems for much of last seaseon. When Perkins played in DC from 2004 to 2007, he was really good, winning Goalkeeper of the Year in 2006. He then left for Norway, and recently decided he wanted to come home.
D.C. really wanted Perkins back. But because he has played for the U.S. national team, Perkins' return had to be subject to the MLS allocation process - sort of like a waiver wire. Each team in the league has an allocation ranking by which it can claim dibs on a player. Because they're an expansion team, the Union was first in line. D.C. was sixth.
The Union could therefore basically hold its spot in the rankings hostage, and that's what it looks like they've done. Fred came to DC in 2007 from Australian club Melbourne Victory, where he was popular and well-regarded. His best season in DC was his first, when he scored seven goals and tallied seven assists. But he never really quite fit in United's system to the degree fans hoped he would.
Now Fred gets a fresh start. Meanwhile, D.C. gets the guy it wants, and the Union get a player who adds some quality in attack to what had thus far been a roster with a lot of defense-oriented players.