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.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Jasonpede Says:

    When does the preseason workouts in Wayne begin?

  2. Sam Toma Says:

    See the update above: practices at YSC in Wayne will be open to the public from 11 am-1 pm from Monday to Friday of next week.

  3. Sam Toma Says:

    Nowak said that it would be a stretch of 10 days, did not specify dates. We will follow up with the team and get that information to you so that everybody who wants to can get out there!

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. “I Don’t Think We’re Done”-Peter Nowak « Broad Street Hooligans Says:

    […] an interview today at the announcement for the signing of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón and central defender Carlos Valdés, Peter Nowak […]

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