Finally some good news to help compensate for all the questions left unanswered about the M’Bolhi signing last week. He’s home! Former captain, Carlos Valdes is officially back and back to stay. Today at noon it was officially announced that the World Cup veteran will be returning to PPL Park to rep the mighty blue and gold once again in a multi-year deal.
In the Union’s short history, Valdes had easily become one of the most beloved players. It was unfortunate news to hear in January of 2013 that he would be leaving the Union to be loaned out to Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia and later on to San Lorenzo in Argentina. The decision for Valdes to leave was the best option for him as a player to pursue his dream of making the 2014 World Cup roster for his nation, Colombia. As we all know by now, this transfer was successful in that it allowed Valdes to reach his goal as he was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to play for his country in the World’s most popular sporting event.
“When I left Philly, I always was thinking to come back one day. This is my second family. I love the fans. I love the team.” Valdes said in today’s presser. The arrival of a player of such experience and professionalism could not have come at a better moment for the Union as they begin their playoff push. As I have mentioned in my previous article the Union desperately needed someone to lead and make a difference in the backline.
So what does Valdes bring to the team? He will most definitely provide strength and guidance to the defense, which is likely to result in a consistent starting back four. From here on out expect to see Valdes and Amobi Okugo in your central defender roles. To the left and right of them will most likely be Raymon Gaddis and Sheanon Williams, both players who Valdes is familiar with. This will allow Maurice Edu to return to a defensive midfield role, his preferable position and also let Fabinho explore the midfield where he has had success for the Union before.
Sakiewicz mentioned today that this signing will “create stability in our core” something that so badly needs to be instituted. In the Union’s short history of 5 years, they have already had two coaches come and go and are now in the midst of their search for the third. It’s nearly impossible to have consistency in a team where the leadership so often changes. This is the exact reason why it is so crucial the Union find a dependable coach that can carry out a plan for the team that will ultimately lead to not just success for the rest of this season but for many seasons to come.
With the goal now being to build a strong core, what more can be done? The club’s goalkeeping is stable, with three keepers of impeccable skill; defense has been solidified by the signing of Valdes; midfield has never been so talented, consisting of players like Christian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. The pressure all falls on offense now. The Union’s front line is what’s going to make or break the club’s hopes of making it into the postseason.
In the press conference held last week Curtin exclaimed that the they are not in the market for a striker because it is just not what the club needs at the moment. I don’t know how much I can agree with that statement however. Yes, the defensive situation was the Union’s top priority but I also think finding a reliable striker is of great importance. Curtin said “this club does not need a forward right now, we have Conor Casey.” I, personally, do not find Conor Casey to be a dependable striker. He has been in form recently and he has been meeting the standards of a starting striker but just a couple weeks ago he was struggling to score goals. The Union can’t afford to have him perform like he was in the beginning of the season. Every single game, from now to October, counts.
After the game against Sporting Kansas City, the big question that has been raised is can Brian Brown continue to perform like he did in the previous game? It is too early to tell considering he only played 21 minutes but he will be an important role going forward. The Union are going to be left with no choice but to rely on him if Conor Casey’s scoring streak ends. Regardless, Brown is surely someone to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the season.
(image courtesy of Philadelphia Union)