"What the draft is for us now is to see if we can reinforce and add some depth to our roster," Union assistant coach John Hackworth said Wednesday. "We have done such a good job in the offseason and built our team up in a way that we're not in the same situation we were in the last two years."
The draft starts at noon, with the first two hours televised on ESPN2. There will be two rounds on Thursday, with a four-round supplemental draft to follow on Tuesday.
Regarding positions the Union might target, Hackworth admitted that "we probably need to add some depth in the back."
That could lead the Union to select Virginia's Hunter Jumper or Creighton's Tyler Polak. Both are left backs, a position the Union struggled to fill last season after trading away Jordan Harvey.
Newly signed Costa Rican Porfirio Lopez is likely to be the Union's starting left back this year, but Jumper or Polak would help provide depth at that position.
If the Union draft Jumper, he won't have to look far for advice on adjusting to life in Philadelphia. His brother Derrick played for Penn from 2003 to 2005.
Polak comes with the bonus of being part of the Generation Adidas player development program, which means that his salary would not count against the cap.
With its second-round picks, Hackworth said the Union will be looking for diamonds in the rough. The Union have a good track record in that regard, with selections such as Kyle Nakazawa in 2010 and Michael Farfan in 2011, both midfielders.
Players available in the second round this year could include Creighton forward Ethan Finlay, who made headlines with a hat trick at this year's MLS combine, and Delaware forward Evans Frimpong, the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association player of the year.
Hackworth did not rule out making a trade on draft day.
"Trades are certainly possible," he said. "We can be a little patient in that regard."
One motive for a trade could be to help the Union come into compliance with MLS rules on international players on rosters. Right now, the team has 11 international players, but must reduce that number to eight by March 1.
From Hackworth's perspective, that date is still a ways off. He said the Union's coaching staff is "certainly not worried about being roster-compliant at this point."