Tag Archive | "Carlos Valdes"

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Carlos Valdes’ stay now permanent, the other Carlos gone

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Breton Bonnette

One here to stay. One gone for good.

The Philadelphia Union haven’t added anybody – although that should come in the next several days – but they made it a point to outright secure the full contract rights of the best loan acquisition made in their short history. Carlos Valdes is now permanently a Zolo. Between Valdes, Faryd Mondragon, former captain Danny Califf, and the emergence of Sheanon Williams, the Union have formed one of the best defensive set-ups in the league after a disappointing expansion year campaign. The long-term capture of Valdes from Independiente Santa Fe ensures some stability for the rest of the season but hopefully it welcomes in several seasons of defensive superiority in Philadelphia.

In other news, Carlos Ruiz has completed his transfer out to Veracruz of the Mexican Liga de Ascenso (Second Division). This obviously hurts the offense but we’ve discussed this all too much. Good riddance and, hopefully, we can find an able-bodied striker to help shore up the attack. Word is a “young, international striker” could be on the way. Also buried in the news was the word that a Union approach of Italian national team and Juventus veteran fullback Fabio Grosso was met with failure.  We’re confident we’ll hear word on new additions over the next several days but regardless, the waiting can be painful.

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Union take sole possession of first in the East with convincing 3-0 win

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

For joint Union and US Women’s National Team fans, there was only one thing that was going to wash the bad taste out of their mouths after that heart-breaking loss in the World Cup final: a Union win. If it was convincing, all the better but three points were hoped for. With Shalrie Joseph suspended for the Revolution, it’s safe to say that three points – World Cup final loss or not – were actually expected.

The Revs came into this game without a win in 8 games and having endured a midweek run-around with Manchester United. The Union, almost completely the opposite. Without a Major League Soccer match until July 29th, the Union were looking to throw everything into this game with an 11 day competitive rest coming up and two friendlies against Everton and Real Madrid scheduled for the coming week. They didn’t disappoint.

Carlos Ruiz, fresh off his re-confirmation that he will not be going anywhere anytime soon, got the Union started off on the right foot in the 12th minute.  His headed through ball started the offensive drive that eventually wound up full circle. Justin Mapp ran on to the pass and hit ball far post to a charging Keon Daniel. The winger, instead of opting for an off balance shot on net, nodded the ball in front of the net, wrong-footing the Revolution’s Matt Reis in the process,  to an onrushing  El Pescadito. The poacher did the rest, putting it home for an early 1-0 lead and his 6th goal of the season. That goal pretty much set the tempo and feel for the rest of the game. The Union dominated, much like their play against San Jose the week prior, but they finished their chances in this one. The Revs looked wounded without their talisman Joseph and their only other real playmaker on paper Benny Feilhaber did nothing but hurt New England in this one. It was his sending off midway through the second half that sealed the loss for New England.

Carlos Valdes poked one home only 10 minutes after Ruiz’s opener, his first of the year, and Sheanon Williams got his first, as well, late in the game as the Union built on their hot streak. Philadelphia will now have a little fun this week facing up against European powerhouses Everton (July 20th) and Real Madrid (July 23rd) before returning to Major League Soccer regular season play after the MLS All-Star break on Friday, July 29th against the defending champs, Colorado, at PPL Park.

For the FULL game story, head to the Revolution ASN site here.

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Carlos Ruiz 6 (Keon Daniel 1, Justin Mapp 2) 12

PHI — Carlos Valdes 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 7, Kyle Nakazawa 3) 24

PHI — Sheanon Williams 1 (Danny Mwanga 3) 93+

New England Revolution — Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Franco Coria (Darrius Barnes 46), A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney, Sainey Nyassi (Zak Boggs 46), Pat Phelan, Benny Feilhaber, Stephen McCarthy, Kenny Mansally (Zack Schilawski 79), Rajko Lekic.

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 63), Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa, Keon Daniel (Stefani Miglioranzi 79), Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Michael Farfan 74).

Misconduct Summary:

NE — Benny Feilhaber (caution; Reckless Foul) 49

NE — Benny Feilhaber (caution; Reckless Foul) 66

NE — Benny Feilhaber (ejection; Second Caution) 66

PHI — Keon Daniel (caution; Dissent) 72

Referee: Chris Penso

Referee’s Assistants: Hector Vergara; Eric Boria

4th Official: Mark Geiger

Attendance: 13,414

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Clear-and-85-degrees

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Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls: Player Ratings

Posted on 11 April 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (6.5)- Faced with rebounding following the first goal conceded and first loss of his MLS career then a PK loss in the Open Cup on Wednesday, the captain was a little more fired up than usual against New York.  Given that his default setting is “uber intense”, referee Alex Prus and his assistants were in for a long night.  All in all, a solid outing for Mondragon, as he caught a couple of breaks but did what was asked of him throughout.  Neither of Juan Agudelo’s near misses, the shot in transition in the 21st minute that hit the left post and the strike in alone against Faryd that struck the crossbar in the 31st minute, would have been soft by any stretch had they found the back of the net.  Other than those, there was not a whole lot of action for Mondragon, who only faced 1 shot on goal and recorded 1 save and was never seriously tested once the Union went up.

LB Jordan Harvey (7)- Not a lot of opportunity for Harvey to get forward in this match, but for good reason: Harvey was tasked with handling the blazingly fast Dane Richards, which he did with excellent results.  Richards never even sniffed the goal and rare was the occasion where Harvey needed help in keeping him covered, which could have created openings elsewhere.  Jordan was given one job against New York, and he performed it successfully.

CB Danny Califf (6.5)- Another solid game for the former captain.  Nothing spectacular, but he did his job with little drama.  It is becoming apparent that, paired with the quicker, flashier Valdes, Danny will play the role of stabilizer in front of goal, which certainly seems to suit him well.  Califf did have the only major defensive lapse of the night, allowing Juan Agudelo to shrug him off and then lose his mark before seeing his strike hit the crossbar in the 31st minute.  No points off for missing on a scoring opportunity in the 17th minute when Justin Mapp’s free kick found its way through to his feet, although it was comical.  Perhaps Danny thought that since he had scored in the opener off of his left foot, that was his strong side.  Our humble advice is to use the right boot next time, sir.

CB Carlos Valdes (8 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- The gatekeeper to the penalty area was stingy with entry against New York, as Valdes played ballhawk in the Union’s final third, refusing to let anything get over his head.  Further, when tested directly, Carlos dispossessed his man straight up several times.  Some may say that Thierry Henry had a down game, but that is downplaying the job Carlos did to make that the case. Valdes was the most important factor in ensuring that the Union’s goal remained untouched for a 3rd time in 4 games.

RB Sheanon Williams (6.5)- A complete effort from Sheanon on Saturday, as he contributed in his usual manner by pushing forward effectively and also helped to put the clamps down on Dwayne DeRosario defensively.  Sent several crosses in that created scoring opportunities, most notably in the 17th minute when his cross resulted in the Roy Miller handball that led to Justin Mapp’s dangerous free kick and in the 81st minute when the ball he sent in was deflected out to Stefani Miglioranzi, who one-timed the ball high over the bar.  His performance against New York proved what a weapon he can be when firing on all cylinders.

MID Justin Mapp (5.5)- A welcome sight back in the first XI, Mapp provided the stability that the team has come to depend upon on the wing, linking as well as joining the attack on a consistent basis.  His timing may have been a touch off, as he missed Le Toux on an easy through ball to send Seba in alone against the keeper in the 34th minute.   Still, a good first game back and a relief for Union supporters to see him getting after it and not showing any obvious effects of a lingering injury. Came off for Danny Mwanga in the 59th minute.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (4.5)- For the 2nd straight game, Migs took something off the table.  Coupled with a couple of questionable angles at tackle attempts was Stefani’s inability to avoid telegraphing every single pass he made.  Compared to last season, when Miglioranzi received mostly high marks, the problem is most likely not that he has become any worse himself, just that everyone around him has flourished and improved while he has remained the same.  We wondered here if Eduardo Coudet was redundant playing in the same midfield as Migs; now the question is whether Migs is redundant in a midfield that already has Brian Carroll.

MID Brian Carroll (N/A)- Strained his right hamstring trying to explode for the ball early and had to come off for Amobi Okugo in just the 6th minute.  According to Carroll post-match, the injury is not expected to be an issue going forward.

MID Keon Daniel (6)- Having earned a start in regular season play after his excellent showing in the 2nd half against Los Angeles, Daniel had another effective outing, if not as visibly stellar as his debut.  However, in addition to playing up the wing, Keon proved valuable in tracking back to help out defensively on the vast speed of New York’s attack, particularly Dane Richards and Jan Gunnar Solli, who was perpetually pushing forward.

FWD Sebastien Le Toux (6)- The return of Justin Mapp and Keon Daniel’s inclusion in the starting XI allowed Le Toux to start the match up front.  And this would have worked wonders, as Seba was able to receive the ball in dangerous positions numerous times.  However, there was one problem: Le Toux had apparently managed to leave his first touch on the training ground.  Time after time, Sebastien was left with one man to take on between him and the goalkeeper, but he could never find his way around.  Still, it is clear that Seba needs to play up front in order to maximize his impact on the game and, not to sound like a broken record, but the effort he puts forth every single game is, in most cases, going to overcome any deficiencies in his game on a particular night.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (6.5)- Began the match with a keen sense of the team’s need for offense (or at least offensive opportunities), and tested Bouna Coundoul from distance twice, catching him off his line the first time and seriously challenging him the second.  When the team sputtered in the midfield in the middle of the match, Ruiz went out and got himself the touches he wasn’t getting through the normal run of play.  He even managed to intercept a pass and would have found himself on a one-man breakaway but for an unlucky bounce of the ball backward and over his head.  As has been the case throughout this young season, Carlos also did his job getting under the skin of the New York defense, drawing a yellow card on speedster Dane Richards for a reckless challenge in the 29th minute.   Came off for Roger Torres in the 67th minute.

MID Amobi Okugo (6.5)- Came on for an injured Brian Carroll in the 6th minute and was able to assert himself into the action.  Perhaps it was an uptick in confidence following his highly positive campaign with the national team U-20’s, perhaps just a continuation of the development Amobi had already begun to exhibit during the preseason, but we anticipate Okugo will make a real push for inclusion in the first XI going forward this season.  He showed that he has the ability to be the engine in the middle and more than hold his own defensively.  Depending on what Piotr Nowak and the coaching staff want to do with the formation in the middle, look for Okugo to replace Miglioranzi on a regular basis if current trends continue.

FWD Danny Mwanga (6)– Came on for Justin Mapp in the 59th minute as part of a short-lived three-attacker look from the Union.  This match was tailor-made for Danny, with its wide-open spaces and room down the flanks to operate.  He used the space to draw fouls and keep possession in the New York defensive area.  Mwanga’s efforts to disrupt initiation of New York’s build from the back found the ultimate reward in the 68th minute when he deftly intercepted an attempted outlet by Tim Ream and fed Roger Torres for the match’s sole tally.

MID Roger Torres (7.5)- Came on for Carlos Ruiz in the 67th minute.  Waited all of 30 seconds to change the game (we were actually able to time it at 13 seconds from the time the restart occurred to the time the ball hit the back of the net), barely staying onside on a breakaway with Danny Mwanga off of a turnover, receiving the ball and calmly putting it past Bouna Coundoul into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.  For the rest of his time on the pitch, Torres was an unquestionably positive influence on the match for the Union.  Torres got into space, kept possession and switched fields effectively, all of which wasted precious seconds and served to prevent the Red Bulls from ever mounting a serious challenge to the Philadelphia goal in the waning moments.  Most importantly, he turned the atmosphere from a healthy buzz to simply electric, whipping the supporters into a frenzy with his goal and then keeping them on the edge of their seats every time he touched the ball.  Easily the performance of the year thus far for young Torres.

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Home Opener: Philadelphia Union vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Player Ratings

Posted on 27 March 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (6.5)- After an uneventful start to the game, with a lot of long balls attempted by both sides, the sleeping Dragon, so to speak, was awoken in the 27th minute when a ball bounced back and was collected easily by the captain.  However, Vancouver striker Eric Hassli got tangled up with Danny Califf and proceeded to throw the Union defender to the ground.  First, Faryd alertly signaled to referee Yader Reyes what had occurred.  Then, when it was not immediately clear that Reyes would discipline Hassli, the captain stomped 40 yards out to make sure he did.  Following the exchange, the tone of the game was set.  Sure, it got chippy at times, but the Union showed an edge they did not quite have in their inaugural season.   This set off a see-saw of bookings that did not end until Hassli eventually picked up his 2nd yellow, earning himself a trip to the locker room and allowing the Union to open it up and find their way to a second consecutive 1-0 win.  In terms of his actual play, Mondragon did not have to do as much as he did in the season opener, once again recording 3 saves, only one of which was of any difficulty: Gershon Koffie’s long strike around the 30th minute that caught Faryd off-guard, leading to an awkward lunge that send the ball off to the goal’s right.  Even then, however, Mondragon managed to prevent a rebound opportunity and faced little action in front of the net the rest of the way as he completed his 2nd clean sheet in as many opportunities in the MLS.

LB Jordan Harvey (6)- Another solid defensive effort from Harvey.  The 1st half was all about holding the fort against Vancouver’s attack in an ebb and flow that had no real order other than a steady diet of long balls and very little prolonged buildup that called for Jordan to venture forward.  But Harvey’s renewed commitment to marking continues to produce results.  Came off for Jack McInerney in the 66th minute as Philadelphia made their push for a winner, not to mention that Eric Hassli was no longer around to worry about at that point.

CB Carlos Valdes (7.5 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- Two things so far are clear regarding Valdes: (1) He is still not sure of his positioning with his new club; and (2) He is athletic, skilled and aware enough to more than hold his own regardless.  On at least three occasions, it appeared as though Carlos was out of place and sure to be beat, but in each instance he was able to recover, once by craning his neck to just nudge a ball in the air enough to change its path.  Valdes did take a couple of badly judged fouls, but nothing that hurt the team.  Ultimately, the defender made the necessary plays that kept danger away.  Through his first two games with the Union, he has shown that he is willing to make the high-risk, high-reward play that a team needs to win.  Mondragon has gotten the lion’s share of the attention and press, and deservedly so, but Valdes has been every inch as important a signing and, over the run of 90 minutes, has even more of an impact when he plays as he did against the Whitecaps.

CB Danny Califf (7)- Along with Valdes, the key to the Houston match in front of Mondragon, the center backs were tasked with keeping out the forward tandem of Eric Hassli and Atiba Harris, both large target men with a nose for the goal.  As typical for the defender, he decided to play as physically as possible within (most of the time) the confines of the rules.  This paid dividends in the 29th minute when Hassli took a cheap shot at Danny when he thought no one was looking, but the strategy threatened to backfire when Califf earned a caution of his own in the 31st minute, but the veteran was able to manage the burden of playing on a yellow well the rest of the way.  In addition, last year’s captain kept things calm in front of the Union’s goal, as it was never truly threatened.

RB Sheanon Williams (5.5)- Another instance of why Williams is a vexing talent: throughout the 1st half, the team asked him to stay back for the most part, but it just wasn’t in him.  Sheanon only really looks like he is completely into the game if he gets to freelance a bit and show his astounding physical ability on the attack.  One cannot doubt his ability, but his commitment to his defensive responsibilities still requires improvement.  Fortunately, despite his world tour of a career thus far, Williams is still 21 and is certain to improve. 

MID Kyle Nakazawa (4.5)- While he showed deficiencies defensively in the season opener, Nakazawa’s play was largely neutral.  Against Vancouver, however, the young midfielder can be fairly said to have detracted from the team’s performance, as his offensive contributions were nonexistent as well.  He started to find space down the right flank shortly after the red card, but his inability to take advantage in any meaningful way led to his substitution for Roger Torres in the 66th minute.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (6)- Provided the stability in the midfield that the team has come to expect.  Migs has arguably become the lost man in the Union’s rise.  When the defense was poor last season, it was Stefani as the lone bright spot for an underperforming team.  Now, with a defense that is thriving, Miglioranzi is just another face in the crowd.  Regardless, that does not detract from his play, which in this match was highlighted by his long shot that was deflected and ended up at the feet of Le Toux and ended up in the back of the net.

MID Brian Carroll (7)- With Justin Mapp out, the team looked to Carroll to maintain some possession and link the attack.  Unfortunately, Carroll did not answer the call in the 1st half, instead providing sloppy touches, tentative passes backwards and timing that was a beat slow.  In the 2nd half, however, the game changed, and Carroll was a big reason why.   Following the red card, he pressed up and played the point position on what amounted to a prolonged power play for the Union, with the ball in Whitecaps territory for the vast majority of the time.  He initiated several productive forays towards the goal and disrupted any attempt at counterattacks.

MID Sebastien Le Toux (7)- Early in the match, especially without the benefit of field marshal Justin Mapp (who

Le Toux

was out with an Injury), the team looked to send Seba forward into space often with no real results.   Of course, that never tells the story for Le Toux, whose now-legendary work rate demands that his game never be evaluated until it has ended.  Sebastien can plug away fruitlessly all day, only to find himself on the receiving end of an absolute gift, a lucky bounce that lands at his feet, and be ready to capitalize.  Le Toux took that chance and made a brilliantly clinical pass to Ruiz for a wide-open net.  What makes a player dangerous is the constant state of preparedness; Seba has that.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (6.5)- The Little Fish got to swim for the first time in a Union uniform.  Frankly, other than his goal, he did not do much else.  This is not to say Ruiz played poorly or hurt the side, just that he did not have or create many opportunities and did not take advantage of the precious few he did have other than his finish on an absolute sitter.  However, the bottom line is that this might be all the team gets from Ruiz and it may be unreasonable to ask anything else.  Philadelphia needed a game-changer, and such a player only needs to be relevant in the short stretch of a game where the result lies in the balance; he can disappear for the other 80-85 minutes and still do his job effectively.  That was Ruiz’s performance against Vancouver, and it proved to be all the Union required of him.

FWD Danny Mwanga (5.5)- Clearly more comfortable starting the game, Mwanga was able to work himself into the flow of the game as the pace picked up.  Unfortunately, he just never produced results.  Right now, Mwanga’s limitation is his reliance on his own freakish physical abilities.  He needs the ball to thrive and when he finds himself in a pinch, his instinct is to keep the ball.  Danny needs to realize that his ability to make the spectacular play cannot bail him out consistently enough to take the next step in this league.

MID Roger Torres (5)- Came on for Kyle Nakazawa in the 66th minute.  As was the case last season, the 19 year-old was clearly overmatched physically.  If Mapp’s injury persists, the ineffectiveness of Nakazawa and now Torres could prove to be problematic.  This team needs production on the wing.   

FWD Jack McInerney (5.5)- Came on for Jordan Harvey in the 66th minute as the third attacker.  Showed that his physical maturation and technical development continues to catch up to his abilities with several successful runs and, most importantly, some strong holding up in the corner as the Union worked to run out the clock up a goal at the end.

MID Gabriel Farfan (N/A)– Came on for Danny Mwanga in the 83rd minute for defensive purposes to help secure the win.

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The Union outlast Vancouver, starting first win streak in club history

Posted on 26 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

A long distance rivalry was born on the Delaware River as the Union beat the Vancouver Whitecaps in a physical, at times reckless encounter. A sell out of 18,591 witnessed the Union and the Whitecaps trade blows in a stalemate that was finally broken by new acquisition Carlos Ruiz in the 77th minute.

The Union were put on their back foot early on as Vancouver pushed forward to attack right out of the gates. The team that might have remained frazzled last year was able to keep shape, collect themselves, and push right back on Vancouver. With Justin Mapp out with injury, however, however, the Union attack didn’t have much of a conductor to spread the field and attack the wings. After the first 15 minutes, when things were cordial, the play became one of which team can be more physically dominant. Eric Hassli, Vancouver’s two goal hero from their debut, kept at it with marker Danny Califf and occasionally sparred with Sheanon Williams. Eventually, his aggression earned a yellow card which would eventually prove crucial and prompted a flurry of reckless challenges on both sides here and there. By the end of the half, three Union players (Califf, Nakazawa, and Mwanga) added cautions of their own and Vancouver’s Nizar Khalfan got in on the party.

The second half started off on the same foot with Vancouver defender Alain Rochat grabbing a yellow card of his own. The Union’s offense was starting to put things together for the most part after a nice run but it still wasn’t threatening much. The whole course of the game, however, changed dramatically after recklessness took over in the 57th minute. Vancouver’s first week hero Hassli hit zero after an errant tackle. The challenge sealed his exit leaving the Whitecaps in a tough spot. Eventual goalscorer Carlos Ruiz ramped up the pressure in the 65th and 66th minute with close-range chances off of corner kicks. One was parried nicely by Vancouver keeper Joe Cannon and the other blocked but it was a sign that the trifecta of Mwanga, Le Toux, and Ruiz were ready to wake up. The attack heated up but never broke through even with a perfectly positioned Le Toux set piece. One that looked exactly like the free kick that broke the 2-2 in 2010’s Home Opener vs. DC United. It wasn’t to be, however.

The breakthrough finally came  in the 76th minute after a deflected shot from Stefani Miglioranzi fell to the feet of LeToux. With only the goalkeeper in front of him, instead of rocketing on net, he laid a pass to a wide open Ruiz who couldn’t miss. After Ruiz opened his account, the Union remained in control the rest of the way distributing wide, testing the resolve of an undermanned Whitecaps side, and polishing off another sloppy win. Carlos Valdes and company continued to shut down any Vancouver advances as the Union fought to consecutive shutouts and a seat atop the Eastern Conference standings.

It was a huge win once again for the Philadelphia defense with Califf and Valdes starring yet again. These two victores are ones that would have escaped the Union the majority of time in 2010.  Even 2010’s captain Califf is aware of that (quotes to come). It’s a confidence brought on by the presence and experience of a Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll, and Faryd Mondragon. A minimization of the dramatics and defensive miscues that led to easily conceded goals. If it continues and the Union attack starts to gel as all are expecting, this could be a playoff bound team.

Player quotes, photos, and player ratings to come. Keep checking back!

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

—————————-Mondragon—————————

Williams———-Califf————Valdes————-Harvey

——————-Carroll———Miglioranzi——————-

Le Toux————————————————Nakazawa

———————-Mwanga——–Ruiz———————–

Substitutions: Roger Torres, Jack McInerney, Gabriel Farfan

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Michael Farfan, Levi Houapeu, Thorne Holder.

Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI

—————————-Cannon——————————-

Leathers——–Janicki————Rochat————Wagner

Khalfan———Dunfield———–Koffie————–Teibert

—————–Hassli—————A. Harris——————-

Substitutions: Wes Knight, Camilo Sanvezzo, Long Tan

Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Bilal Duckett, Brian Sylvestre, Kevin Harmse.

Scoring Summary:

PHI – Carlos Ruiz 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 1) 77’

Misconduct Summary:

VAN — Eric Hassli (caution; Reckless Foul) 25

PHI — Kyle Nakazawa (caution; Reckless Foul) 26

PHI — Danny Califf (caution; Dissent) 31

PHI — Danny Mwanga (caution; Reckless Foul) 35

VAN — Nizar Khalfan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 46+

VAN — Alain Rochat (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48

VAN — Eric Hassli (caution; Reckless Foul) 57

VAN — Eric Hassli (ejection; Second Caution) 57

Referee: Yader Reyes

Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry; Paul Scott
4th Official:
Chris Penso
Weather:
Clear and 45 degrees
Attendance:
18,591

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New Signings Introduced: “I Don’t Think We’re Done”

Posted on 20 January 2011 by stoma

Photo from PhiladelphiaUnion.com

As Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz sat with Manager Peter Nowak to formally announce the signings of two Colombian internationals, goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón and central defender Carlos Valdés, he also noted that, although “it seems like we’ve been making announcements every day for the last seven or eight days, I don’t think we’re done.”  Nowak added that the club is still looking to improve the roster, noting that the roster would likely be finalized within “a couple of weeks.”

However, today was about Mondragón and Valdés.  The two new additions, who will go a long ways towards bolstering a shaky defense, the team hopes, were introduced to approximately 100 Sons of Ben and other team fans as well as the assembled media today at noon in Fado Irish Pub in Center City Philadelphia.  After an inaugural season in which the team conceded 49 goals, which tied for 2nd highest in the league, solidifying the back line and installing a reliable keeper were high priorities.  Nowak acknowledged this, saying that “we don’t hide from our problems” and indicating that shoring up the defense was an obvious issue for the club to address during the offseason.

Mondragón, the starting keeper for Colombia when they visited PPL Park to play an international friendly against the U.S. Men’s National Team, remembered the visit to Philadelphia and Chester fondly, stating that “no one has to tell me about the atmosphere at PPL Park or the supporters, the Sons of Ben, because I lived it.”  He also noted that it would be a welcome change to have the crowd in his favor on a consistent basis and looked forward to having visiting opponents “really know they are on the road.”  In addition to a long and storied career with the Colombian national team, which included being the backup for the 1994 World Cup held in the U.S. and starting all 3 games for his nation in the 1998 World Cup, Faryd enjoyed success for the gem of the Turkish league, Galatasaray, as well as his most recent prior club, FC Koln in the German Bundesliga.

Valdés, also a native of Cali, Colombia, comes directly from Independiente Santa Fe of the Colombian league, where he has become known as a rising star at the central defensive position.  Along with Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal and fellow Colombian Juan Diego Gonzalez, Valdés will form a strong corps of central defenders that will allow Nowak and the rest of the coaching staff flexibility at the back.  In addition, Nowak hopes that the presence of several viable options will breed competition that will push each to an even higher level.  “We [the coaches] have a very easy job,” said Nowak, “we just have to pick who is playing the best.”

These signings indicate quick and early success for the newest addition to the Union’s technical staff, Diego Gutiérrez.  Gutiérrez was hired late last year as the Head of Scouting and Player Development.   He began his playing career within the Independiente Santa Fe ranks, much like Valdés, but spent his days as a professional in the MLS, playing for the Chicago Fire (as Nowak’s teammate) and the Kansas City Wizards.  Gutiérrez’ Colombian connections have paid early returns and supporters of the Union hope to see continued success in luring players from all around the world to come to Philadelphia.  If, as Sakiewicz intimated, there are more player signings to come in the following weeks, and if they are of the caliber of Mondragón and Valdés, the work of Gutiérrez and the entire technical staff this offseason will have been a smashing success.

For now, the long grind of the preseason has begun, with almost two months remaining before the Union’s first match of the season, March 19 in Houston.  Nowak invites all fans to come out to the YSC Sports facility in Wayne, Pennsylvania to watch the team go through its preseason workouts, which will be open to the public.

UPDATE: The team has confirmed that practices from Monday, January 24-Friday, January 28 from 11 am-1 pm each day will be open to the public.

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Two new Colombians for the Union’s defense

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union, on paper, have strengthened their defensive set-up with the addition of Colombians Faryd Mondragón and Carlos Valdés. Pending complications receiving their P-1 Visas and International Transfer Certificates, both should be ready to go once preseason starts. No word on compensation, contract length, or salaries as of yet.  

Mondragón, a goalkeeper of world-class pedigree, moves after several successful seasons in the German Bundesliga with FC Koln. Before that, the 39 year old won two Turkish Championships with giants Galatasaray and was a fixture in net for them for roughly 7 seasons largely considered the best goalkeeper in Turkey over that span. Even at his age, the Cali, Colombia native provides World Cup experience (1998 in France) and years under his belt in some of the world’s most prestigious leagues (Turkey, Germany, Spain, France). The vet should give that sense of stability that was missing last season in the net while allowing for back-ups Zac MacMath and Brad Knighton to progress naturally over the next couple years.

Valdés is also a Cali native almost 15 years Mondragón’s junior and a defender on the rise in the Colombian ranks. He only recently received his first senior national team cap but has been a defensive stalwart for Club Independiente de Santa Fe for several seasons now. Decent in the air, Valdés will also provide a target along with Califf and Orozco Fiscal on set pieces. A central defender (but can feature on the right if need be), the 25 year old looks to fight Gonzalez for a starting position next to Califf in the middle which would inevitably push Orozco Fiscal out to the wing.

Remember to head on over to FADO in Center City at 11:30AM to help welcome these guys to the Union family. ASN Philly’s Sam Toma will be over there and should return with some good quotes and reactions on the Union’s newest additions.

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Player Profile: Carlos Valdes

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Full Name: Carlos Enrique Valdés Parra

Position: Defender

Number: 5

Born: May 22, 1985

Birthplace: Cali, Colombia

Height : 6’0″

Weight: 176

Previous Teams: Club Independiente Santa Fe, America de Cali

Status: Senior International

Salary: N/A

How acquired (Union): Signed for the Union on January 20, 2011 from Club Santa Fe in Colombia.

International Career: Scored 1 goal in 4 caps so far for the Colombian national team.

Stats

2009-2010 with Club Santa Fe: 54 appearances, 1 goal

2006-2009 with America de Cali: 97 appearances, 4 goals

Did you know?

Debuted November 18, 2010 with the Colombian national team in a friendly vs. Peru that ended 1-1, Valdes started.

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POLL: Player announcements tomorrow. Who will it be?

Posted on 19 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

See below for details or head to Philadelphia Union.com:

Join Philadelphia Union as TWO new team members are officially introduced to the public on Thursday, January 20 at Fado Irish Pub in Center City, Philadelphia. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., the program will begin at Noon, and there will be autograph opportunities. We hope to see you there!

WHAT: Philadelphia Union will introduce their newest team members

WHO: Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, Team Manager Peter Nowak and the new team member will all be in attendance

WHEN: Thursday, January 20th, 12:00 p.m. EST

WHERE: Fado Irish Pub, 1500 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

VOTE FOR TWO BELOW!

[polldaddy poll=4413248]

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