Tag Archive | "Transactions"

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Trialist Agorsor acquired by Union via lottery

Posted on 15 February 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Courtesy: PhiladelphiaUnion.com

The Union beat both expansion squads, Portland and Vancouver, to former Gatorade High School Player of the Year (2007-2008) Chris Agorsor. The one time Virginia Cavalier just recently turned 21 and as a belated birthday present, signed with the Union as he looks to put back on track a career that was briefly derailed by injuries. First, a horrific tackle vs. Central Connecticut State left him with damaged cruciate ligaments and an extended stay on the sideline.

A quote from the Potomoc Soccer Wire gives us brief insight into what he went through his freshman year at Virginia:

“That was the first serious, serious injury I had, which almost took me out of the game completely,” explained Agorsor in an exclusive interview with Potomac Soccer Wire on Friday. “Just to be playing now after that injury, for me it’s a real blessing because I know I was this close to not being able to play ever again. The first words that came out of the doctor’s mouth about my condition was, ‘Do we amputate at the knee? So for me to be here running and playing, let alone getting ready to sign with MLS – everything else is a plus.”

He came back, ahead of schedule, for his sophomore season only to be oft-injured yet again and sidelined as the Cavs worked their way to an impressive College Cup victory. When healthy, he’s immensely talented – pacy, skilled – as was praised during training stints abroad after leaving Virginia to pursue a professional contract. Regardless, Agorsor has a limited body of work to pull from. That small sample is impressive, however, but will he be able to take the physical nature of Major League Soccer? The forward is fully healthy again and had been showing well in the Union’s camp at the YSC so he’s taking the first step. A quote from a recent interview with his hometown Baltimore Sun:

“I’m a big believer that if I take care of what I need to take care of — which first and foremost is playing and doing well — that National Team and my future goals, which are distant ones that I don’t think about all the time. But if I play well and showcase my game, then who knows what can happen.”

So will he take the opportunity handed to him by Nowak and Hackworth and run with it?

Something tells us he will…

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Eduardo Coudet waived, former player list swells

Posted on 14 February 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Eduardo ‘Chacho’ Coudet is the next casualty as Nowak continues to reconfigure his roster ahead of the 2011 Major League Soccer season. The veteran journeyman worked nine games for the Union before becoming a victim of expendability with the acquisition of US international Brian Carroll from Columbus. The  36-year old originally arrived as a trialist, seen in the locker room almost a month before his actual signing. He was signed after decent appearances in friendlies vs. Celtic FC and Manchester United and another club was added to his impressive resume.

Coudet’s departure brings the Union’s former player list (which we aim to track this year) to eleven total and eight this offseason. Of the eleven, only five have teams as of now. Shea Salinas and Ale Moreno were taken in the expansion draft with Salinas staying in Vancouver and Moreno promptly shipped to Chivas USA. Last year’s cast off Shavar Thomas still has a part to play in Kansas City while Chris Seitz (re-entry draft) will continue his battle behind Kevin Hartman in Dallas. The likes of Fred (re-entry draft), Knighton (waived), Stahl (waived), Arrieta (waived) and now Coudet are still searching with Stahl probably the closest to finding employment with reported nibbles from IFK Norrkoping of the Swedish Allsvenskan. It would be surprising to find Knighton without a Major League Soccer back-up job come March but NASL/USL could be the way to go for maximum playing time. Fred is rumored to be looking at a possible return to the A-League in Australia or to his native Brazil while Arrieta should certainly find his way back into NASL/USL very shortly.

Expect a flurry of movement over the next couple weeks, something Nowak alluded to in last week’s conference call with Philadelphia Union media.

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POLL: Knighton waived, is it a good move?

Posted on 26 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Photo credit, Terry McLaughlin, ASN Philly

Another move from the Philadelphia Union technical staff that came to no surprise for some but certainly baffled others. The answer to why Brad Knighton had not reported to training camp, which started Monday, was now clear. The owner of the Union’s first ever clean sheet is not in Piotr Nowak’s cards as the turnover of last season’s goalkeeping core is now complete. Brian Perk waived mid to late last season, Chris Seitz lost in the first ever Re-Entry Draft, and now Brad Knighton. Enter Faryd Mondragon, 39-year old Bundesliga vet, and his newly appointed protege, rookie Zac MacMath.

A 25-year old keeper making peanuts in Major League Soccer and with a little bit of first-team experience should have no trouble finding a job. In fact, there is word he already has interest. The attention, however, now turns to whether or not Mondragon and MacMath can carry the load this season. With a 30-player roster, many wonder why he couldn’t have been placated and kept on the roster. Did he want out?

As for further paring of last year’s roster, another training camp absentee is Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet. The journeyman has reportedly been garnering interest in his home country of Argentina and there’s a good chance we won’t see him returning to the Zolos for 2011.

The former Union players list is starting to get relatively long…(see our Profiles section).

Union fans, as always, please share your thoughts below!

[polldaddy poll=4450404]

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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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RUMOR: Former Bundesliga scoring champion to Union [UPDATED]?

Posted on 05 January 2011 by Breton Bonnette

UPDATE: Head to a translated Slovakian news outlet saying that Marek Mintal is on his way to Philadelphia to potentially secure a three-year deal worth roughly $1 million. Well below Designated Player status, with all of the youth on the squad, the deal – if the coaching staff still believes he has some steam left – could actually be a reasonable one. The club is apparently set to secure him a house and car as well if he signs. He’ll be heading back to Germany on Saturday.

The rumor is picking up steam after a Slovakian news outlet yesterday put 2005 Bundesliga scoring champion Marek Mintal on his way to the Philadelphia Union. It has since been snapped up and elaborated upon by Kicker Online in Germany.

A legend in Nuremberg, the Slovak “Phantom”‘s playing days look to be numbered but the club longs for him to return as a coach of sort. Mintal is not ready to hang up the boots just yet. After several years plagued by injury, he has back to full health but age is still a concern.

At 33, Mintal could have a few good years left in him but unlike Faryd Mondragon, 39 and with plenty of playing time under his belt recently, the Nuremberg forward has little playing time to his name in the last two seasons. His history, however, speaks for itself. Since 2003, Mintal has amassed an impressive 66 goals with Nuremberg between the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga. It was only in 2009, that he graced the top of the scoring charts as well – scoring 16+ goals in 2.Bundesliga play to see Nuremberg back to the top league in Germany. He is equally productive in the attacking midfeld and as a striker and having adapted to the physical Bundesliga style of play, possesses the size (6’0”) to transition into a Major League Soccer set-up.

What’s your verdict? Is Mintal past his prime? Would he provide the experience needed in the midfield, sitting behind Mwanga and Le Toux up front?

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Union sign first Homegrown player

Posted on 22 December 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Zach Pfeffer, the 15-year old whose dream came true in a short 10-minute friendly appearance vs. Chivas de Guadalajara, will get a great chance to make that appearance one of many after today. Call it an early birthday present for the midfielder (January 6th) as the Union make him the first player to join the club under the Homegrown initiative. The Dresher, PA native showed a lot of promise in his first abbreviated appearance in a Union jersey but it’s clear there’s a lot of potential – so much so, he earned praise after a recent two-week training stint with Hoffenheim 1899 of the German Bundesliga.

Pfeffer, a product of the FC Delco system, is also a veteran of the various youth US national teams and now grabs the title of fourth youngest ever to sign a professional contract in Major League Soccer (behind Adu, Convey, and recently signed Diego Fagundez). However, the soon-to-be 16 year old is the youngest player to have a twin ever to sign a professional contract in MLS.

Back in 2008, when Top Drawer Soccer did the aforementioned quick feature on them, his goal was to play for either Maryland or Wake Forest in the near future. Instead, he’ll now eventually don the Blue and Gold. Quite the change in two years…

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Union Ink Another Youngster

Posted on 01 September 2010 by stoma

Sheanon Williams signed with the Philadelphia Union after a short trial period.  The signing was announced yesterday, making Williams the 26th player on the roster.  This is possible because Williams is considered a home-grown player.  This means that the team can navigate around the MLS 24-man roster cap and gain some experience for young talent in the process.  They wasted no time with Sheanon, the defender/midfielder hybrid, announcing that he would suit up for the friendly tonight against Chivas De Guadalajara.

Oddly enough, despite the relationship between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Williams first tried to hook on with the New York Red Bulls before signing with the Union.  The move continues a commitment to youth the nascent MLS franchise has been displaying as they try and gain a foothold in the league.  Indeed, assistant John Hackworth coached Williams when he was head coach of the US U-17 squad prior to joining the Union’s staff.   Now 20, Sheanon looks to make a name for himself as a full fledged professional.

Pursuant to the policies of both the MLS and the Philadelphia Union, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Union ink Colombian for defensive depth

Posted on 05 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Juan Diego Gonzalez making the tackle, with La Equidad in 2008

The Union announced the signing – relatively out of the blue I must say – of 29-year old defender Juan Diego González Alzate, a veteran of several Mexican, Argentinian, and Colombian squads. From PhiladelphiaUnion.com:

Born in Medellín, Colombia, González brings a wealth of experience to the Union, playing for clubs in Colombia, Argentina and Mexico. Praised throughout his professional career for leadership along the back line and heading ability, Gonzalez won a Colombian Cup with La Equidad in 2008 and an International Mercosur Cup with Argentinean San Lorenzo in 2001.

Name:  Juan Diego González Alzate
Central Defender
Height:  6-0
Weight: 160
Born: September 22, 1980
Birthplace: Medellín, Colombia
Citizenship: Colombia
Last Club: Deportivo Pereira
Number: #3
Pronunciationwahn  de-A-go  gon-SAH-les

Defensive depth is much-needed so let’s see how this turns out…

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One Up, One Down: Noone Signed, Perk Waived

Posted on 31 July 2010 by stoma

J.T. Noone officially joins the team as of yesterday, confirming what most around the team already knew.  Fans, of course, saw Noone appear for the Union in the Celtic FC friendly just over two weeks ago.  But he has been training with the Union for the better part of four months and had seen extensive action with the Union’s USL-2 affiliate, the Harrisburg City Islanders.

Noone now stands alone as the only local product to be a part of the big club.  The 22-year old may find the speed of the MLS game to be a bit quicker than he’s accustomed to, but his youth will not stick out on this Philadelphia squad, which is littered with teens and those in their early twenties.

Pursuant to the policies of both the MLS and the Philadelphia Union, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In other news, although Brian Perk was fast becoming a fan favorite, the Sons of Ben and other Union supporters will now have to follow him from afar or, worse, fear him coming back to haunt the team.  Perk was released yesterday in a move surrounded by zero fanfare, almost as if the club did not want to face the backlash from the passionate fan base.  Sure, cutting the 3rd keeper is not a particularly unusual move, but this one came out of nowhere.  After electrifying the crowd in the 2nd half of the Celtic FC friendly, Perk played a bit unevenly and gave up the sole goal against Manchester United.  He also got into a tiff with captain Danny Califf over a ball that lingered around the edge of the box, but it’s hard to imagine that was anything more than two players in the heat of battle making sure nothing went unnecessarily wrong.

The just-turned 21-year old seemed to be on the rise, but his star will have to shine elsewhere.  For the time being, no other goalkeeper signing has been announced, so we’ll see if there is a veteran in the wings or the team is just comfortable with two keepers, which is a bit unorthodox.  For now, though, all we have is speculation, so stay tuned.

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