Soumare could start vs. Chicago

(Author’s note: This post has been updated to add quotes from Bakary Soumare.)

Photo: Earl Gardner

Bakary Soumare looks set to start Saturday against Chicago, potentially his first appearance in a regular season game all year.

Center back Jeff Parke will sit out the Chicago game after leaving last weekend’s match against Seattle with a hamstring injury, Union manager John Hackworth said Wednesday during his weekly press conference. Right back Sheanon Williams, who moved to center back after Parke left the Seattle game, will miss the match due to suspension after receiving a red card later in the match.

Hackworth stopped just short of definitively confirming Soumare would start, but everything he said, including noting Soumare’s good form and hard work in practice, indicated Soumare would see the field against his former team unless something goes very awry.

“Now Baky has that opportunity with us, and we hope he makes the most of it,” Hackworth said.  “It certainly puts any talk of him being traded on the back burner for the foreseeable future. And you never know what’s going to happen out of that.”

Soumare, the Union’s second highest paid player, requested a trade earlier this year after he was left out of the opening day starting lineup. Since the former all-star center back joined the Union last June, he has played just one regular season game — against Chicago, ironically, much as he will Saturday. The two clubs have engaged in trade talks but been unable to strike a deal.

For his part, Soumare was circumspect about the opportunity.

“At the end of the day, lets all be honest with each other: I’m just filling in because we are missing a bunch of guys,” Soumare told PSP via email. “I have really missed playing so its going to be really good to be back on the field playing a competitive game with the guys, and more exciting that I get to do so at home (Chicago is my home) against my former team and several former teammates and a coach I’m very close to. Does it put a trade in the back burner, that’s a huge question mark. At this point I just want to enjoy doing something I have not been able to do in months which is play in a real game.”

The Mali international joined the Union with a preexisting knee injury and setbacks in his recovery forced him to miss nearly all of last season. He first began talks with the Union when Peter Nowak was still the club’s manager, but Nowak was fired two weeks before Soumare’s signing was announced. Soumare went into training camp expecting to win a starting job, but Hackworth chose to start Amobi Okugo next to Parke at center back rather than defensive midfield. Soumare proved the odd man out and requested a trade after the match.

The match will serve as a unique opportunity for Soumare to put himself in the shop window before potential suitors, provided he starts Saturday ahead of Chris Albright, his probable competition for the role. Chicago is a logical trade destination for Soumare, given their need for a replacement for injured center back Arne Friedrich, Soumare’s excellent past performance with the club, and the fact that he maintains a home in Chicago. He has said he will join any team that gives him a chance to start, and there may be other suitors.

Soumare said previously that he was not inclined to remain with Philadelphia. On Wednesday, he sounded more open-minded and interested in focusing on Saturday’s game, and he praised Union management for trying to accommodate his trade request.

“It’s really hard to go and just say ‘I still want to get traded’ a few days before the game,” Soumare said via email. “There has been a lot of talks about me surrounding this game for reasons that we all know, but I don’t want this game to be about me. I’m very exciting about it and I really want/need to enjoy this game and help the team get the points. We will reassess my situation as a whole in 10 days or so. This is a great opportunity for me at many level[s].”


  1. All parties involved must be hating this. I cannot believe the relationship can be repaired between the Union and Baky and Parke’s injury seems to be prolonging the inevitable.

  2. I’d actually prefer if Soumare plays poorly.
    Cause if he plays great, we’d have to suffer through him going back to the bench and getting traded.
    Atleast if he has a bad game that won’t hurt as much.

  3. He has every reason in the world to play well:
    Big FU to Union for not playing him
    A stage to get a better trade deal if he leaves Union
    Gets Union fans on “his” side and to call for more time
    I don’t care… whatever.. juts freakin win for gods sake… I would consider this game against Chicago to be a season breaker if we don’t come away with three points…
    I saw Soumare play in Florida against DC… he we HORRIBLE, hoping it was just a bad game..

    • s/we/was

    • Sure, _IF_ he plays well the fans will clamor for more playing time for the big man. But then it begs the question, who of Parke/Okugo is then pushed to the bench. And saying that Amobi gets pushed back up to the midfield will open another can of worms.

      • No way he stays that ship has sailed. but the question is almost moot after a year and half layoff how could he possibly play great in his first time back. competent, yes. professional, yes. But anything less that Okugo at his best(and we haven’t seen Okugo at his best for a while)Hack will feel justified in benching/trading him.

        But on the off chance it happens. screw it open that can of worms and put Okugo in the midfield.

  4. this is absolutely a blessing in disguise for the union. no matter how he plays, the team is better off. if he plays terribly (on fitness or form), the front office is justified for not giving him minutes. if he excels, then there’s no reason to rush parke back, soumare becomes a commodity that has tangible value (for trades or for pushing okugo to be better than competent, which is as good as he’s been thus far), and the union have legitimate options (that were tested without anyone “losing” a starting spot) on a back line that has let in the most goals in the league (it’s true, look it up).

  5. JediLos117 says:

    This all but assure us that Soumare gets the start at the weekend.
    Lets hope he does us the favor.
    We need 3 from this one…

  6. Unless they get an offer they can’t refuse or the situation is more toxic than we have been lead to believe, I expect that the Union will hold onto Soumare through the summer regardless of how he performs before Parke returns. There is a high probability that Okugo will be called up for either the Gold Cup or U20 World Cup this summer, and they will need Soumare to fill in. Plus, the events of this week show we aren’t deep at CB and Soumare is a proven veteran should Parke or Okugo get hurt later in the season.

  7. The rampant mismanagement of players over the past 3+ seasons from this team is mind-blowing. Le Toux, Califf, Mondragon, Jordan Harvey, Mwanga were all traded (for basically nothing) or left. The Diego Gonzalez, Roger Torres & Soumare situations (lots of money, very little/no playing time), the Freddy Adu/Kleberson situation. The team has only played 3 full seasons! I was so happy to have a team in 2010 I almost didn’t care what they did. In 2011 I could excuse the shenanigans since we made the playoffs. But since then we have taken multiple steps backward and have only arguably started moving forward again. Considering the poor play exhibited at times on the field one would think some sort of change would be made, whether it be short term or long term, yet the status quo remains. The front office’s view towards DPs is very concerning, and while their effort and approach to building through the academy is not a bad thing, the 3 homegrown players we have signed are all currently away on loan – and playing well. Overall I feel the last 3 years were a waste in terms of building a team and this season has more and more of a building – not RE-building – project.

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