Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Union go Colombian to shore up the back
by Ridge Mahoney, January 20th, 2011 11:52PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, philadelphia union

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] Rather than operate through agents and intermediaries to find and sign South American talent, the Philadelphia Union has brought that facet of team operations in-house. The hiring of former Fire and Kansas City defender Diego Gutierrez (a native of Bogota, Colombia) as head of scouting and player development aided the Union in the signing of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and defender Carlos Valdes.

Those acquisitions were announced yesterday at a pub in Philadelphia -- where else? -- and Coach Peter Nowakbluntly explained which needs they address.

“We conceded too many goals,” he said of the Union’s 49 goals allowed, which tied for second worst in the league. “We acknowledge that. We don’t hide the problems. We tried to stabilize during the season the backline - we tried to make it better. I believe at the end of the season the group finally found a rhythm.”

Mondragon, 39, a veteran of more than two decades of club play in Europe and South America, and Valdes, 25, will be expected to stabilize a defense that lacked cohesion until late in the season. Left exposed by a porous midfield, a central pairing of defenders Michael Orozco and Danny Califf failed to click. Keeper Chris Seitzstruggled mightily and has moved onto FC Dallas.

While Gutierrez is pleased the club has added two more of his countrymen, he stressed the quality of the players, not their origin, is what drove the club to acquire them. Defender Juan Diego Gonzalez and midfielder Roger Torres are the other Colombians who played for Philly last year; both are expected back, though the loan deal for Torres has to be reworked or extended.


 “Look, I’d like to think that I bring a little more to the table than just bringing in Colombian players,” said Guiterrez. “But having known Faryd and having known Carlos was a big factor. At the end of the day, it’s not just about getting Colombian players. Our view of the market is very, very large. As we narrowed down prospects and candidates to bring in, they just happened to be Colombian.”

Brad Knighton stepped in for Seitz last season but is not expected to challenge Mondragon for the starting job. The Union also picked up U.S. U-20 goalkeeper Zac MacMath with its first-round selection in the SuperDraft, and he will have an able mentor in Mondragon, who played 50 games for Colombia and performed impressively at the 1998 World Cup. He left German club Cologne to sign with MLS.

“[Mondragon] is an idol to me,” said Valdes, who comes to MLS from Independiente Santa Fe in his native country. “Not just for me, but for Colombian soccer, he’s an icon. He’s a very important acquisition for us and by having players like Faryd, we’re going to really be able to make history.”

Nowak would settle for leadership and dependable goalkeeping as he attempts to build on the team’s expansion season with a strong push for the playoffs. “Faryd, right now, is such an experienced guy who can command the backline from his goal, a position that is crucial,” Nowak said.

“I am a very strong personality in the goal,” Mondragon said. “I know when to shout a little bit, and I know when to keep calm. That comes from playing competitively all these years. It’s very important to have the trust of all the players in front of you, so you can build a team with 11 guys. It takes all of us working together to win. But no, I’m not shy of raising my voice if needed.

“I play this game and this sport with all heart and I put everything into it. My teammates will see that on the field. I’m very happy to be a part of this great organization and to be competing with my new teammates together as one.”

The arrival of Valdes increases competition for the starting centerback slots, though Orozco also played on the outside and at defensive midfield. Califf, the team captain last year, committed some clumsy fouls and was red-carded in the fourth week of the season while readjusting to the ways of MLS in his return from a three-year stint in Denmark. He settled in toward the end of the season yet Nowak expects both of his new players to make an immediate impact.

“Valdes is a very skilled player,” Nowak said. “He is a technically sound player who can mix it up. I think he will be a very valuable addition on the backline. He’ll get acquainted with his new teammates and we’ll all learn each other in preseason training. I think with his international experience, he will be a big help. He makes our team better.”



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: Brazilian 14-year-old scores with scorpion kick    
Very likely the most amazing goal you'll see this week is a scorpion kick golazo by ...
Hall of Fame: Chastain, MacMillan and Garber elected    
U.S. Women's World Cup champions and Olympic gold-medalists Brandi Chastain and Shannon MacMillan and MLS commissioner ...
Copa Centenario: Brazil overhaul is complete    
Brazil coach Dunga announced his 23-player squad for the Copa Centenario, which represents an almost complete ...
Video Pick: Doin' the Yaya Toure Hustle    
Embarrassing video of Yaya Toure lollygagging around the Bernabeau on Wednesday embodied Manchester City's listless Champions ...
MLS's best player moves of 2016 (Part 1)    
How complicated are MLS rules for a team seeking to sign a player? The league lists ...
MLS: Rolfe and Manneh handed bans    
The MLS Disciplinary Committee has suspended D.C. United forward Chris Rolfe and Vancouver's Kekuta Manneh for ...
No U.S. refs picked for Olympic Games    
The FIFA Referees Committee named 32 referees and 56 assistant refs for men's and women's Olympic ...
What They're Saying: Jamie Vardy lookalike Lee Chapman    
"Ranieri spotted me. The rest of the players were banging on the window for me to ...
NASL: Rowdies sign former England international Joe Cole    
The Tampa Bay Rowdies have signed former England international Joe Cole on a contract through the ...
TV Report: Wambach joins ESPN    
ESPN has hired retired women's star Abby Wambach to serve as an analyst and contributor, beginning ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives