Few players on the Union's roster generates as much consternation among observers of the team as Keon Daniel. The Trinidadian midfielder has never lived up to expectations at PPL Park, whether playing in the center of the park or on the left wing.
Now, as Major League Soccer's March 1 roster compliance deadline looms, it looks like Daniel's job is under real threat.
He has made just one appearance in the Union's three Disney Pro Soccer Classic games, playing 21 minutes in a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. In the team's two other exhibitions against MLS teams, Daniel played 30 minutes against the New England Revolution and 45 minutes against the New York Red Bulls.
During John Hackworth's weekly conference call with reporters Thursday. I asked the Union's manager to address why Daniel hasn't played much so far this year. Hackworth asnwered:
There’s been a lot of competition for those spots. We think we’ve upgraded our midfield, and there has been a lot of competition in training for those positions. Right now he's behind those guys that are being featured. It doesn’t mean Keon has done anything wrong, it just means that his role on this team has changed from what it was last year.
You don't have to be much of a politician to see a message between the lines there. So I asked Hackworth whether Daniel could be left out when the Union trim their roster to 30 players at the end of the week. Hackworth answered:
It’s a good question, but it’s also a really hard question to put in the context of Keon. We are going to have to make some really tough decisions in the next two days. Some of those are already made for us because of contractual obligations, and our salary cap affects that equally as much.
Also, how many guys can we have on the senior roster versus the supplemental roster? All of these [factors] are going into those decisions, and one way or another we are going to have to release guys that are really valuable. We don’t want to lose those guys, but it’s part of the business.
It will be very interesting to see whether Daniel survives.