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May 17, 2016

Union notes: Discovery drama, D.C. United, and interpreting three straight draws

Today the Chicago Fire announced the signing of Dutch forward Michael de Leeuw, which resulted in a payment of $50,000 in general allocation money to the Philadelphia Union.

De Leeuw was on the Union's "discovery list," so the Fire had to compensate Philly in order to acquire the right to sign the FC Groningen player.

Also appearing on the Union discovery list is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been linked to the LA Galaxy. The Union technical staff didn't go on the record today regarding that situation, but I'd expect a comment sometime this week.

Should Philly expect $50k if Zlatan signs with MLS? Not exactly, according to former Union color commentator and current ESPN broadcaster, Taylor Twellman.

Today Twellman clarified comments he made this weekend, explaining that the Union won't receive compensation for Zlatan's rights because they cannot meet his market value. De Leeuw, on the other hand, reportedly entered the league at a salary threshold that the Union were able to match.

"It was more of a tongue in cheek comment, saying, quote/unquote, how do you "discover" Ronaldo, Messi, or Zlatan?" Twellman explained on's 'Extra Time Radio' podcast. "The discovery rights process, it's so convoluted, but the reality is that Zlatan would go through the discovery process. But what we know from the (Didier) Drogba situation, is that if there are two teams seriously in that discussion of signing the player to his market value, which Chicago was, then you have to go through this discovery rights issue.

"Everyone is talking about the Philadelphia Union, so let's use the Union for an example. If the Union cannot even have a discussion about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, about his contract, and about his market value, then they lose that quote/unquote, "discovery right" priority. Does that make any sense?"

(Twellman continues)

"It matters if the team wants that player. If the Union talk to Zlatan, and Zlatan says, 'I want 40 million dollars a year for three years', and Philly says, 'well, we'll offer you 30 to 35', they're in that discussion and they've entered that process of discovery rights. That's why this thing is so crazy, because, you can't just write a name on a piece of paper and not be interested. The Revolution got money for Sebastian Lletget last year because they were willing to pay his contract. Lletget said he wanted to go to LA, but New England does get something for him because they were in that discussion. That's the way I can describe this.

"What I said on the (broadcast) is that Philadelphia is not getting any compensation. You can read into that how you want, but that's the way I have heard it from league sources and people (close to the situation)."

This, of course, begs the question – what constitutes a legitimate contract offer? Is 20 million dollars fair? Is 10 million dollars fair? Can't the Union just claim that they're interested in paying Zlatan 35 million dollars? He doesn't want to come here anyway, so what's to keep Earnie Stewart from bluffing?

Besides, these are still arbitrary salary numbers chosen by league executives.

Of course, Zlatan will probably go to China instead.

'It wasn't a foul'

Moving on then, this is "rivalry week," as described by Major League Soccer.

The Union return home for a Friday night matchup against D.C. United, and winger Chris Pontius will play against his former team for the first time in the regular season.

Pontius was asked Monday if he considered Philadelphia a rival during his time in Washington.

"Yea," Pontius said. "Obviously, the Red Bulls are a rival as well, but the Philly games, there were some real chippy games that we had. Even in the U.S. Open Cup there were a few. It was something where it usually came down to one goal, and down to the end (of the game), sometimes a missed penalty. I remember back in 2012 we missed a PK to win it at the end. The dramatics were definitely there."

Reporters: Was that the Dwayne De Rosario situation, with the retaken penalty that he missed?

"Yea, I think there was a red card. We had one and they had one, also late. I think (Emiliano) Dudar had one, and then Sheanon Williams got one later for a (tackle) on me. It wasn't a foul."

Positive feelings

The Union are coming off back-to-back draws against two of the better teams in the league.

After last week's 2-2 home draw with the Galaxy, the club went up to Montreal on short-turnaround and pulled off a 1-1 result against Didier Drogba and company.

Following training, manager Jim Curtin was asked if he was satisfied with two out of six points.

"You know, it's a strange one because obviously you want all six points," Curtin explained. "I think the way the games went, we probably could have had six when you really break it down. But at the same time, you see a different group. You see a group that doesn't concede a lot of goals.

"The goals we gave up, all three of them were pretty darn good goals, where you have to tip your cap to the other team. You look at LA, who I believe is the strongest team in the league, and I feel that Montreal is a top eastern conference team. So, to go there, in a tough environment, I don't want to say that I'm happy, but it's that fine line between being unbeaten and winless. We're in that little trend right now where we're three games unbeaten you could say. Or you could say we're winless in three. I think it has a little more positive feel to it, these last three games. I think we've played pretty well. We've shown that we can not just survive games like that, but also take it to good teams for spells of the game."

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