Roster News

Union sign Olivier Mbaizo

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union have signed fullback Olivier Mbaizo to an MLS contract.

Mbaizo, a 20-year-old Cameroonian youth international, had originally joined the Union in preseason camp, where he impressed observers before suffering an injury. Before securing his MLS contract, he had been under contract with Bethlehem Steel since January. Mbaizo started three matches in last year’s U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.

“Olivier trained with the Union first team throughout our preseason, and it became clear that he has the potential to immediately contribute at the MLS level,” Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said in a statement released by the club. “He has earned this quick ascension to our first team through his play in preseason, and we look forward to further integrating him and assisting with his development.”

Mbaizo is the Union’s second import from Cameroon side Rainbow FC, following Eric Ayuk. Unlike Ayuk, he actually played a game for Rainbow, reportedly appearing in 10 last year, registering four assists. Previously, he played with Union Doula in Cameroon’s top league, even starting two matches in the CAF Champions League, before dropping to a lower division to play with Rainbow in 2017.

Rainbow FC’s role as an exporter of West African players to MLS and Europe has been controversial, drawing attention from multiple agents and West African clubs seeking training compensation for player sales, as well as raising questions about whether the club has circumvented FIFA’s prohibition on third-party ownership of players’ rights.

Mbaizo brings the Union’s roster to 29 players, one short of the league maximum. He will occupy an international spot.

Mbaizo is one of five Union players to hail from the West African countries of Cameroon and Ghana, along with Ayuk, David Accam, Derrick Jones, and Josh Yaro. Additionally, U.S. international C.J. Sapong’s family hails from Ghana.

10 Comments

  1. First choice backline: Real – Trusty – Elliot – Rosenberry
    First choice back ups: Mbaizo – Mckenzie – ? – Gaddis

    That leaves Fabinho left to ride into the sunset, and one of Yaro/Marquez to becomes trade bait.

    I can live with this.

    • I think it’s more that Mbaizo is replacing Gaddis than Fabinho. He can play both sides and is not a complete black hole going forward. I also think that Fabinho is going to be starting most games when he gets back.

      • I hope not. I dont want a 33yr journeyman to take minutes away from an 18 year old.

      • While I kinda agree Real will still be getting minutes on Steel, and I think that was the plan all along. Fabinho was supposed to be the starter. Accam looked a lot better when he was out there.

  2. I dunno. Signing Mbaizo to the first team straight away might indicate some buyers remorse with Real.

    Unpopular opinion but competition between two rookies might not be the best. You either commit to one or the other and live with the learning curve.

    • Hope this isn’t true. Real has raw talent, he was rushed into his spot bc of Fabi’s injury. You can’t deny he’s got the tools. He’s made some bad decisions but normally they would have been made in USL. How many starts did Trusty get in Bethlehem? Know what I mean?

  3. Nick Fishman says:

    Mbaizo is primarily a right back. He can play on the left, but not his natural position.

  4. If you step back from the current first team carnage that we’re living amidst, this is a fine depth move.

    I do wonder, where are the attackers in our academy?

    • Fontana/Aronson.

      Though I agree there is a lack of wingers and strikers, but I think thats a general thing throughout american soccer youth

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