Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Kléberson

Photo: Earl Gardner

This will come as no surprise: José Kléberson Pereira is this week’s PSP Player of the Week. His 95th-minute free-kick game-winner was the one moment of real quality in an otherwise uninspired game between Philly and Toronto. That he was a 79th-minute substitute, just as the Union had been reduced to ten men, only highlights further the dramatic value of his contribution.

To be clear: anything but three points against Toronto FC on Saturday would have been a huge failure for Philadelphia. While it would not have mathematically eliminated the team from the playoffs, it would have made winning the final two games a requirement, away to Montreal and home to Kansas City. Considering the Union’s struggles of late, that is a very tall order.

So, after more than ninety minutes, in a game enlivened more by excellent defensive work by Ray Gaddis and big misses by Antoine Hoppenot, the Union were left with one final chance, a free kick just twenty-four yards out.

It was an ideal location, really, but the Union had given no indications through the previous 30 MLS games that they were likely to take advantage. Sébastien Le Toux, whose dead ball skills have improved greatly this season, but which have regressed considerably recently, stood over the ball with Kléberson, whose time with the Union still seems unwritten. His short flashes of skill have made him seem a tantalizing possibility, but his lack of playing time has made that possibility ever unrealized.

Kléberson confidently shooed Le Toux away, strode up to the ball and stroked a perfect free kick. The ball lifted over the wall, starting its flight path outside the frame of the goal, then bent swiftly inside the upper 90, leaving Joe Bendik rooted to the ground. Bendik had been his usual competent self all game, but he didn’t even bother trying to save Kléberson’s shot. He knew he had no chance.

And so the Union’s season was saved, for another game, at least. The celebrations by Kléberson and his teammates were wild. They knew how big a moment they had just witnessed.

John Hackworth knows it, too, surely. The question is: Will that result in a start for the Union’s latest hero? Only Hack knows, but whatever he does for the rest of the season, and whether or not he remains with the team after it, Kléberson has written a new and indelible line in the story of the Philadelphia Union. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week,


  1. That’s a wonderful picture Earl. I can almost hear Sac saying – SHOW ME THE MONEY. Great win for the boys in blue.

  2. “He responded similarly when asked about Kleberson. “I think every guy on our roster has a very important role to play, but similar to the way I talked about Roger earlier, I wouldn’t expect us to go to desperate lengths and play guys that hadn’t been a part of what we did all year.”

    Asked what kind of message he was sending to the fan base by not fielding a player whose arrival was greeted with great fanfare and who takes up a big chunk of the Union’s salary, Hackworth answered, “I’m not trying to send any message to the fan base. I’m trying to put 11 players on the field that, game-in and game-out, give us the best chance to win. And Kleberson has been important to that. But I would go back to the real reasons why he is here and what he has done for the club. And those are different for our coaching staff and for the players in the locker room than they are, for sure, to the people out there.”

    What a difference 11 days make…

    The limbo some fans are doing to contort the narrative into how good a coach Hack is when the guy he buried saved his bacon is denial on a big river in Africa scale.

  3. That kick was siiiiick

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    I’m not saying Kleberson should have been starting all summer, but there is no doubt he should have been playing… when he was healthy of course. To me there is no justification for not playing him. He has skill. He’s played in World Cups and for Man. Utd. You’re paying him 6 figures. It’s clearly worth putting him out there. May as well get some use out of him cause you know he’s gone at the end of the year.

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