Union Announce Two Roster Cuts
- Updated: February 20, 2013
The Philadelphia Union today announced two roster cuts prior to their final pre-season matches in Orlando. Left back Damani Richards & midfielder Alex Mendoza will not be making the trip North with the club at the end of the week, confirming rumors that began floating this past weekend.
Of the two, Richards’ fate is the more puzzling. A Trinidadian youth international, the eighteen year old was seen as a bit of a project by the Union’s coaching staff, but one with a great amount of promise, so much so that the the Union passed over several promising left back prospects in the MLS Superdraft. On January 21st, Head Coach John Hackworth was quoted as saying that, “Damani is a true left back and we feel as though he had more potential to be developed than any left back we saw in the draft.” Richards would have been the first true left back on the Union’s roster since the 2011 trade that sent Jordan Harvey to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Richards was reportedly having trouble adjusting, though whether to MLS or to life in the United States in unclear. His removal from the roster marks Gabe Farfan, who had spent some time in the pre-season playing in the midfield, as the unchallenged starter on the left side of the defense, backed up by supplemental draft pick Don Anding, whose impressive showing in the pre-season may have made the move easier for the Union’s technical staff, and a wrong-footed Ray Gaddis.
Alex Mendoza, a US/Mexican dual national and Harrisburg native who formerly played for Pumas UNAM of the Mexican Primera, seems to have been a victim of the numbers game. Trying to break into a crowded midfield, his loss would seem to be Jordi Vidal’s gain. The Real Madrid academy product is now virtually assured of a ticket to Philadelphia. Mendoza is likely to return to the Harrisburg City Islanders, whose academy he spent several seasons with before moving to Mexico Given that team’s MLS reserve affiliation with the Union, its far from improbable that Mendoza will get another shot with the blue and gold.
The Union will return to Philadelphia this weekend for a final week of training before the March 2nd season opener. Stick with Philly Sports live for continuing coverage as they kick off the season.