Kleberson’s time

Photo: Paul Rudderow

As the minutes ticked away in the second half at Toyota Park on Saturday, a now familiar question began to form in the minds of Philadelphia Union fans following the game on TV: When will we see Kleberson?

It’s a question that has been repeatedly asked ever since the Brazilian arrived in Philadelphia as part of the deal that saw Freddy Adu off on his latest international adventure. More often than not, the answer has been “Not in this game.” In the seven games in which he could have entered since joining the Union, Kleberson has just two appearances for a total of 29 minutes.

Union head coach John Hackworth has repeatedly said that Kleberson needs time to adjust to life in the US and the style of play in MLS. Perhaps more importantly, Hackworth has also reminded fans that the midfielder has not played 90 minutes of soccer in a long time and is working toward match fitness.

So, how long has it been since Kleberson played 90 minutes? What did Kleberson’s playing time in 2012 look like?

  • The last time he played a full 90 minutes was on Oct. 14, 2012 in the 2-1 loss to Coritiba.
  • The last time he played a full 90 minutes before that game was on July 15, 2012 in Bahia’s 2-1 loss to his former club Flamengo. That’s a gap of 21 games. He scored Bahia’s lone goal in the loss, his first of 2 goals in 2012.
  • The last time he started was in the 1-1 draw with Corinthians on Oct. 20, 2012, a game in which he subbed out in the 67th minute (and, incidentally, spent the next three games on the bench).
  • The last time he played in a match before joining the Union was on Dec. 12, 2012 in Bahia’s 1-0 road win over Atlético Goianiense, a game in which he came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute.
  • From the Coritiba game on Oct. 14 until the end of 2012, Kleberson played a total of 320 out of a possible 810 minutes. In other words, he played 39.5 percent of available minutes.
  • In 2012, he made the game day roster 26 times. He started 11 games, came on as a sub in 11 others, and remained on the bench 4 times. In 12 other league games in 2012 he did not make the gameday roster.
  • Between the start on July 26 against Palmeiras (45 minutes played) and coming on as a sub in the game against Atletico-MG on Sept 5 (13 minutes played), Kleberson was left off of the gameday roster for 9 straight games.
  • In the 11 starts in 2012, he played on the right wing 5 times, was an attacking midfielder 3 times, and a defensive midfielder 3 times.
  • All in all in 2012, Kleberson played a total of 1,111 minutes over the 22 games in which he appeared, an average of 50.5 minutes per game.
  • This is after a 2011 loan to Atletico Paranaense in which he failed to make the game day roster 17 times, including the final 12 games of the season. In 2011 he played 1,125 minutes over 18 matches with 12 starts, including 6 complete games, being subbed on 6 times.

How many of the gaps between making the gameday roster over the past two years were due to injury rather than form I do not know, but the last significant injury he received was a dislocated shoulder in August of 2009 when he was with Flamengo. He came back from surgery for that injury sooner than expected, returning to play at the end of November, 2009.

Just how much time is needed to adjust and regain match fitness is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain: Calls will continue for Kleberson to get on the field from Union fans who are growing increasingly frustrated by the team’s underperforming midfield.

Who knows, maybe we’ll see him on Wednesday against the Galaxy.


  1. I’d be willing to go a step farther. It’s not just the underperforming midfield that has people calling for him to play. It’s the fan base tired of huge portions of the salary cap sitting on the bench week after week…

    • I don’t care what a player gets payed, if someone better than them is on the field instead. Right now, nobody can be worse than who we put in midfield.

      • If there is a better player than Kleberson they should paid as such. I agree that the best XI should be starting, but this is the 4th consecutive year we’ve had a large chunk of salary on the bench, going back to Gonzalez. If they front office doesn’t want a DP than stop paying players DP money and reward the players who are here.

  2. I think the guy who mentioned ‘expiring contract’ in the comments of another article nailed it. I don’t think Kleberson was brought in to contribute on the field at all. The Union just exchanged Adu’s two-year contract for a one-year contract, just to get out of the hole a little faster.

    • Jaap Staam says:

      Yep. That is now the ONLY explanation!

    • My “off-the-wall” further theory on this is that a possible complication of playing Kleberson would be if the fans became endeared to the guy. Then the calls for resigning or extending the loan would end up costing the team even more. It might be easier to use him in emergencies only at this point, especially if the whole plan is to only have him at the club for 2013.

      • Interesting point. My first reaction, is “no way,” but then think about it. He performs really well and then FO cuts him at the end of the season like they have always planned and the fans go bat-sh*t crazy. Makes sense, but I still doubt (hope?) that is not the case.

  3. Ok, so why not make him your first sub off the bench? Or at least for 20-30 minutes?
    This isn’t an excuse! No one is asking us to run Kleb into the ground. But when your midfield is so terrible, so so lacking vision and offensive capability, it doesn’t speak well off the coach to leave someone who can fix that on the bench.
    It’s one thing to want to ease him into playing time, it’s a whole other to be blind to the flaws of the players you DO trot out.

    • Sean Doyle says:

      What makes you so certain Kleberson can fix what ails the midfield? If he was so lights out better than everyone else on the bench, why would you not play him?

      Keep in mind, many clamored for Soumare’s inclusions in the Starting XI as a way to push Amobi into the midfield. Now that we’ve seen the big Malian in the backline, most have come to see that the Parke-Okugo partnership is the one that is best for the Union.

      There are reasons why Hackworth, Vartughian and Burke are the coaches of this team and we all sit in the stands and comment on local soccer blogs.

      Trust the coaching staff! Despite what we all believe, they know what the hell they are doing.

      • I’m not certain of that, what I AM certain of is that Daniel isn’t getting it done. So we need to try someone else, and it just so happens next on the bench is a big name DP who just so happens to have the skill set we are missing.
        Also, only crazy people think that about Somare, this was his first competitive game in 8 months, and his second in like 1+ year? Now we are going to hate because he was rusty!?
        The issue with Soumare is that he was pushed out right away. Hackworth fell in love with Okugo at CB during his honeymoon period (like almost everyone else) and was too short sighted to work both of these very good players into the fold.
        Because of that we have a out of form former all star we are trying to unload. Its such a waste.

      • Can he do worse? Why can’t we try?

        And I am still for Saomare back there. He has to work back up to game speed.

      • The problem is that Hackworth had an offseason to put together a competent midfield, and the only midfielder the team added was Kleberson. It’s obvious that Keon Daniel and Danny Cruz are not good enough. Even if we spot Hackworth Cruz, Keon Daniel has been completely inefective.
        Us fans in the stands may be just that, but it’s telling when we’re hearing criticism regularly from Ale Moreno and Kyle Martino, two guys who do know the game.
        Also, while the Parke – Okugo partnership may be the best for the Union, the Union still have one of the worse GAA in the league. And that comes back to Hackworth…the guy who’s starting Ray Gaddis at LB, who has been absolutely terrible in that position.
        I think the fans have every right to question Hackworth’s decisions, and if it weren’t for the contributions of Jack Mac and Casey and a soft early schedule, this team would be one of the worst in the league.

      • If you’re saying Cruz and Daniel aren’t good enough, you have to include Marfan in that list as well. Cruz and Keon at least have points, and the team has done better with these 2 on the field in terms of goals 4 and goals against, and Keon has passing and possession that Marfan can only dream of. If you don’t believe me, look at last month’s stat graphic.
        People really need to stop living in the past, Mike has had an awful season despite picking up his play the last 2 games(barely). He is on the list of players that aren’t good enough this year. It’s a long list.

      • The difference is that we know Farfan has skill and talent and vision and soccer ability. It’s there, its just in hiding.
        Whereas we all know Cruz has zero and Daniel has very little.
        Farfan is the kind of starter you ride with, give a rest if he is out of form and try again. Those other two are bums who shouldnt even bet starting.

      • Surely you don’t think Daniel with his lone assist has been better than Michael Farfan?

      • Jim Presti says:

        There hasn’t been a single midfield player who has played “well” this entire season. We are arguing nonsensically at this point. Cruz has been the most productive offensively, but has left Williams out to dry more often than not. Marfan has a lot of upside potential, but has yet to be the “spark” the Union need. Daniel has regressed the last few games, and maybe a CAM role is not in the team’s best interest [I’d suggest swapping him and Marfan], Carroll has been very disappointing, but I can’t tell if that’s just his individual play or overall effect of poor midfield play. Garfan had, what I considered a strong start against Columbus, but then road the bench. Lahoud is quick and can cover a lot of ground, but at the end of the day isn’t exactly special. Kleberson has played barely 30 minutes, so I can’t make a reasonable call on his play. Torres is in the same boat. Le Toux, aside from the restart assist against CHI, is a detriment in the MID. Not just in Philly, but on teams past.
        Who are the other options? ZP is in Germany, Okugo is slotted for CB, JM is on loan to HCI and probably needs the experience. I say give Leo a shot at this point.

      • It’s not so much what Kleberson can do right now. It has all to do with Keon Daniel sucking balls game in and game out. He is devoid of any ability to be an attacking midfielder, and unfortunately, your trusted coaching staff keeps playing him there every game. Asking to trust that decision making ability blindly, when we can see with our own eyes that Keon Daniel is an atrocious player is out of the question in my book. He needs to sit and put either Torres, Kleberson or even Hernadez get a run out.

  4. I don’t care if Kleberson isn’t match fit. If he stands in the middle of the park and doesn’t move the whole match. He has to be better than Daniel running around aimlessly doing nothing.

  5. he can’t be worse than keon. it’s that simple.

  6. I’ll second the Keon comment. He’s looks sluggish this year and seems to have gotten comfortable. Time for a kick in the ass. I wanna see Kleb’s and Torres in the midfield. I ran into Kleberson last week before the seattle game while I was at brunch. The dude looked fit to me.

    • Out of curiosity, where does an international football star with a World Cup to his name eat brunch?

      • and what does he eat…..

      • a guy who I work with opened a cafe/deli in landsdown. The Avenue Deli.. Kleberson was in there with his wife or girlfriend, they were already sitting at the bar when I walked in apparently they had a lot of food.. I saw him eat a stack of pancakes, a bagel w cream cheese, a knish with hot dogs, and a few latke’s and a side of fruit. This was all after he ate his meal. I assumed he wasn’t even going to make the game day roster the way he was eating.

      • this is the funniest comment of the week – hey PSP we need a new feature “what’re yer favourite footballers eating?”

      • Answer: Everything on the menu.

        Should I now mention how I ran into bruce arena yesterday at RTM?

      • Only if he was unhurt. Otherwise I advise you to remain silent on the matter until you have a chance to consult with an attorney.

  7. How often does conor play all 90? Get his ass on the field or trade him. Enough with this nonsense?

    While you’re at it, tell Marfan he’s a winger and not another cm. we already have 35 people all trying to play that position at the same time.

  8. “working toward match fitness” sounds like bullshit to me. Conor Casey had a big fat gut to start the season, but he played well and he’s doing well and no one’s complaining. Yes, I know, the gut is going away, but fat is fat and fit is fit and there’s something that the coach doesn’t like about Kleberson and he’s not telling and it looks like a big waste of money to me. Hack gets to name the starting XI and Nick gets to run the club how he wants but it seems like a waste to pay a talented guy a lot of money to sit around. How’s about no DP in 2014, just cut the beer prices in half with the money you save?

  9. Did anyone else hear the commentator say Now would be a good time for Kleberson to enter the game seconds before letoux serve the ball to jac mac and the one and only goal was scored! Wonder how far he would have gone if he was not distracted by the goal

  10. The Black Hand says:

    Adios Garfan. Good luck at Chivas!

  11. From the few minutes Kleberson played he did well. So, play him and then the fans can see whether he can add anything to the team. At this point, I don’t believe he can make things worse.

  12. Me and this article, sitting in a tree, L-E—RAN-I-N-G!

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