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
Philly acquisition of Mbolhi 'no-brainer'
by Paul Kennedy, July 30th, 2014 6:22PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, philadelphia union

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The Philadelphia Union already has Zac MacMath, who at the age of 22 is starting his third season in goal and played 95 games. It traded up to select Jamaican Andre Blake as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 SuperDraft. But not satisfied with the two goalies, it signed two-time Algerian World Cup goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi to take over in the nets.

M'Bohli, who most recently played in Bulgaria, won't start Friday against Sporting Kansas City and he could be unavailable for several games while on national team duty in the fall, but he will take over as the Union's No. 1 keeper.

Why sign Mbolhi when the Union already had two keepers? Philly interim coach Jim Curtin said the 28-year-old Mbolhi picked the Union over UEFA Champions League teams, calling it a "no-brainer" to sign him when he could also help MacMath and Blake.

"[It] puts us in a position now to make a run at the playoffs," he said. "You think about our next 13 games are playoff games, that’s how we’re going to treat them -- there’s no room for error, there’s no margin for error."

The Union was 5-8-8 and tied for sixth place, heading into action on Wednesday night. It is 2-1-2 under Curtin after going 3-7-6 to start the season under John Hackworth, who was fired at the World Cup break. Curtin said the move to sign Mbolhi, born in Paris to a Congolese father and Algerian mother, was not taken without a lot of consideration.



"I had a good talk with Zac," he said. "It’s a hard discussion, but Zac’s a professional. He’s a young goalkeeper -- he’s still only 23 years old [next Wednesday], people forget that. He’s played a lot of games, but, we felt, as a staff and as a club, that this was a move that Zac and Andre could both learn from a player like Rais, who can pass down a litany of experience."

Blake's only experience has been in the Open Cup and in a friendly against Crystal Palace.

"I told Andre, listen, he’s played in two Open Cup games, he’s performed well," said Curtin. "He hasn’t been perfect. He understands that, he knows he has room to improve, he has room to grow. He’s a good kid."

Curtin, who wasn't the head coach when the Union picked Blake in the 2014 SuperDraft has no regrets about the selection, saying he was the best asset in the draft.

"And it wasn’t close at the time," he added. "When you speak to people in the know, every coach, every GM, and that was kind of our direction. He still has a bright future, it doesn’t mean it’s the end for Andre Blake by any means."

Curtin said either keeper could be shipped to the Union's USL PRO affiliate, Harrisburg or to the NASL on loan to get seasoning. "There’s 50 different ways you can get young goalkeepers games," he said.

He said the Union wasn't finished with looking to make moves before the transfer window closes next week. The No. 1 priority is a central defender, though Curtin said technical director Chris Albright was also looking for a striker.

Philadelphia came into the week first in the Eastern Conference in scoring but eighth out of 10 teams in goals allowed.

American fans will know Mbolhi as the goalkeeper from the 2010 World Cup match between the USA and Algeria in which Landon Donovan's stoppage-time goal sent the USA into the second round. Mbolhi was one of the stars on the Fennecs, who reached the second round for the first time at Brazil 2014. In particular, his game against Germany -- a 2-1 loss in overtime -- earned him a lot of suitors.

"I was really impressed because even in Bulgaria it’s not like this," he said. "They don’t have these kinds of stadiums, these kinds of facilities. I think a lot of clubs in Europe don’t have these kinds of facilities. That’s why I chose the Union."


No comments yet.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: John Molinaro    
"Going to games and trekking up to the team's training facility in north Toronto to cover ...
U.S. Awards: Nominees set in five categories    
U.S. Soccer has announced the nominees for its 2016 U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards ...
What They're Saying: Bob Bradley    
"I'm still confident. I think we have made progress, but it's up to us to prove ...
MLS Awards: Giovinco and Hedges repeat Best XI picks    
Three teams each landed two players on the MLS Best XI. Supporters Shield winner FC Dallas ...
MLS Moves: Atlanta United signs Almiron as its No. 10     
Another vital piece has been added as Atlanta United prepares for its first season in MLS ...
MLS Moves: USL MVP Okoli signs with NYCFC    
Though it is well-stocked with attacking firepower, New York City FC has signed a goalscorer to ...
NASL: Decision day arrives for ailing Division 2 league    
Players and staff of clubs in the six-year-old North American Soccer League should learn their fate ...
Video Pick: Ridiculous red-card meltdown     
MSV Duisburg's Baris Ozbek took swings at half the players on Sportfreunde Lotte and stamped on ...
MLS Cup: Remaining tickets sell out in three minutes    
Major League Soccer announced that tickets for Saturday's MLS Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle ...
What They're Saying: Chapecoense mourner Claudiane Penegalli     
"It creates indignation because it was a human failure. It wasn't a problem with nature, with ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives