Transfer window opens today — whither Valdes, Farfan?

Photo: Kevin Kinkead

Major League Soccer’s summer transfer window opens today and runs through Aug. 6. Over the next month, look for a flurry of player moves around the league.

The question is whether Philadelphia Union will be in on the action absent a permanent head coach. Jim Curtin has the interim label, and while Curtin and Union may joke that that all coaches are interim, the truth is that some coaches are more interim than others. Curtin is as interim as they come right now.

So we have no idea if the team will make any moves this session, but if they do, here are some on the table.

Carlos Valdes: Returning to Philadelphia or not? 

Here’s what we know:

  • Carlos Valdes remains under contract with the Union.
  • The Union hold an option to renew his contract for 2015.
  • Valdes is on loan with San Lorenzo.
  • San Lorenzo has an option to buy.
  • At least one third party holds part of Valdes’ rights.

So, will the Union bring Valdes back, sell him, or extend his loan?

Curtin says they want to bring him back and would do so at a designated player level. They desperately need a center back.

However, there are complications.

For example, MLS and the Union hold only 60 percent of his rights, which complicates any transfer negotiations. An unknown entity holds 40 percent. That is not likely a scenario the league or the Union would like to continue. Another former Union man from Colombia, Roger Torres, also had complications with his contract typical of the South American transfer market. Valdes has the last international contract remaining from the Peter Nowak-Diego Gutierrez years, and if Torres was any indication, the Union and MLS likely want to be free of it.

Finally, there is the much discussed prospect of Valdes’ transfer value rising significantly because of his performance in the World Cup. That seems unlikely. Valdes played in just one game, and while he played well enough, he didn’t stand out like Kansas City’s Matt Besler, for example. Transfermarkt values Valdes at about $718,000, and at 29 years old with a history of knee problems (however distant or irrelevant they may be), potential bidders will probably try to drive down that price by noting that, as they did in January. He will draw the same interest on the open market that any quality center back would, but the Union are unlikely to reap a transfer fee inflated by his World Cup appearance.

Don’t be surprised if the Union can’t get a deal done for him and are forced to let him walk eventually via free transfer after his loan expires. That’s not the most likely scenario, but it’s as possible as the others. The Union don’t have as much negotiating leverage as most teams would, as they have already allowed Valdes to go on loan and don’t even hold his full rights. If he doesn’t want to come back, he probably won’t.

Wait, that was Michael Farfan at Union practice? 

Yes, that was Michael Farfan at PPL Park on Monday, practicing with the team. Supposedly, he is just keeping in shape, and this does not herald a move to the Union.

But, since you asked, Kevin …

Hell yeah! The Union should absolutely get him if they can, provided they don’t need to give up much. Some of you might be Farfan haters, but I remember the former all-star who may have struggled when moved all around midfield but always played well when deployed on the right side.

Farfan is apparently available after Cruz Azul made it clear he wasn’t in their plans moving forward.

If he returns to MLS, Farfan would likely have to go through the league’s allocation process, because the Union received a transfer fee when they sold him to Cruz Azul this past winter. League rules state: “The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee.”

The Union currently hold the 18th spot in the allocation order, having gone to the bottom after acquiring Maurice Edu through this means. So that means 17 other teams must pass on Farfan for the Union to get a crack at him, unless the Union traded up in the allocation order. While that’s possible from a MLS-league-office-orders-them-to-do-so perspective, it’s unlikely from a neutral standpoint. Montreal, Los Angeles, Chivas USA, Colorado, Chicago and probably a few other teams could use a right-sided midfielder like Farfan.

Other prospective moves

While we wait for confirmation that the club is receiving 21-year-old forward Brian Brown on loan from Jamaica National Premier League side Harbour View FC, let’s be honest: Nobody outside Union headquarters knows what this team will do in this transfer window. They probably don’t know either. And it’s difficult to make a major move when you have no idea what the team philosophy, formation, and direction will be in six months.

The Union need a lot right now, but their biggest needs are on the back line. Fabinho is not the solution at left back, and Austin Berry has disappointed since joining the team earlier this year.

If they make moves, expect them to be on the back line. You don’t have to worry about your team’s philosophy when signing a center back. Either a guy can defend, or he can’t. The same goes for left back, as whoever the next Union manager is will likely want a left-footed player who can both defend and add to the attack.

Yes, they need a reliable scorer up top now that Jack McInerney is gone, but they need defensive help even more. Sebastien Le Toux will probably score another 10 goals anyway just to remind people that’s he a forward.

Final note: Casa Soccer League final at PPL Park!

If you’re going to the Union-Colorado match this weekend, stick around after the game. The Casa Soccer League will be playing the final match of the annual Kelly Cup at PPL Park. More on this later in the week, but this could be the best match of the night.


  1. “Yes, they need a reliable scorer up top now that Jack McInerney”

    Silly PSP, we got Wenger!!! His grit, hustle, determination, and um……… one second here…..

    decidedness, decision, decisiveness, determinedness, firmness, granite, purposefulness, resoluteness, resolution, resolve, stick-to-itiveness, doggedness, obduracy, obdurateness, obstinacy, obstinateness, perseverance, persistence, persistency, stubbornness, tenaciousness, tenacity; certainty, certitude, confidence, sureness; alacrity, eagerness, gameness, readiness; backbone, fortitude, grit, iron, pluck, sand…

    will lead him to the top of the scoring charts in no time!

  2. kingkowboys says:

    I’m still optimistic Valdes will return but every article I read about it makes the situation sound so complicated that I begin to doubt it will happen. I still hope it does, and better yet someone is getting cut out so we hold more rights.
    Anyone know anything about Brian Brown? I did a quick google search and found he was invited to Aston Villa in 2012 for a trial and got called up to the Jamaican senior team in 2013. Plus the golden boot winner in the Jamacian league. I’m assuming he’s fast? And has decent dribbling/ball skills, and can finish? He’s ~5′ 10″ so I doubt he’s an aerial threat. Since it’s a loan I wonder if he’s opportunities to get time will be pushed to the front of the line. What’s the point if he’s going to ride the bench for the remainder of our season.

    • What I really want to know about Brown is if he came here, in the words of the legendary former Harbour View FC loanee forward Fabian Taylor, because “that’s where the bucks is.”

  3. George H says:

    So the Casa Final will take place after the fireworks at PPL on Sat? That’s pretty cool.

  4. Unionized says:

    I get it that you dont like Wenger. I am just surprised that people have such short memories of Jack Mac when he was here. Seems many have forgotten the extended scoring droughts , the sulking and lazy play, and the locker room situation. All people can remember from his entire time in Philly was an outlying lights out scoring streak, that ended abruptly. Comparing him to Wenger on a purely goals scored criteria is a little bit of apples and oranges. Just because the trade was Mac for Wenger does not mean they are to play the same role on the team. If we had traded MacMath for Wenger, would you be crying that Wenger doesnt have as many saves as MacMath had? Bottom line for me is that losing Mac allowed us to move LeToux up top to his natural position. LeToux has 6 goals this year knocking in all those loose balls that Mac used to knock in. Jack Mac has 7 goals this season. Based on numbers, I call it a wash. After 18 games we have scored 26 goals, compared to 28 last season at the same time. We have not had a drop off in scoring. Our problem lies solely in the back line. The poaching goals are still coming just with a different player. Wenger should be playing in the midfield on the right wing where he can make plays unlike the current starter, Cruz. He has several nice assists working the right wing and seems better suited there. Just because Hack decided he was a striker does not make him one. Just like Wheeler is not a center back and Fabinho is not a left back. IMHO, LeToux has produced at Mac-like levels so far (based on actual numbers) and Wenger is a better option at right wing than Cruz. So, I dont quite get all the hate and vitriol at Wenger. He is being played in the wrong position at striker and should be starting over Danny.If we never make the Mac for Wenger deal, I believe we are still sitting around 4-8-6, because our back line is poor. We didnt trade away our savior. If he was as great as everyone suddenly thinks he was, you would think we might have actually won something once.

  5. Brazilian Fred should be a free agent in about another 5 minutes or so!

  6. Wasn’t Mac’s contract up at the end of this season anyway? I know in at least 1 interview he wasn’t shy about saying he wasn’t going to re-sign with the U unless they offered significantly more dough. And we all know the U aren’t dropping loads of cash on anyone anytime soon. Probably wasn’t a bad move for the straight swap considering the years left on Wenger’s contract and the price. If i’m wrong i’m sure one of you gentleman can correct me.

    • This isn’t baseball and we’re not the Oakland A’s.

      It would have been one thing if we got great, young Homegrown prospects. No. We got hardworking mediocrity that you can find anywhere (plenty of it on the bench already).

      What’s the worst that would have happened? Jack didn’t sign and had a mediocre year? How about if he had a great year and didn’t sign? How about if he had a great year and did re-sign??
      I’d take all three over Wenger.

      • Even FO didn’t say Wenger = JMac. FO wasn’t going to pay him to stay & (1) didn’t want backlash if he had a great year, & (2) got a pretty good player instead of nothing to show. I say give Wenger more than 3 months before burying him.

      • The Black Hand says:


    • Southside Johnny says:

      Even Tim Howard couldn’t save the McInerney-Wenger trade from being the worst trade in Union history.

  7. Earl Reed says:

    Despite all the great oratories by the front office and the coaching staff, you have to wonder if the will to win is actually there on their end. It’s very easy to mention 4-1 under Curtin (not that you did in this piece, but others have) and don the rose-colored glasses. But two wins against Third Division sides and two against a team playing like a Third Division side isn’t exactly going out and taking it to Salt Lake or Seattle.
    I’m actually surprised that this quick run of success hasn’t afforded Curtin a removal of the Interim title. It seems like something this front office would latch onto in a heartbeat.

    • Agree, a bit, but don’t discount the improvement due to Curtin’s ability to organize a team tactically as opposed to a coach who can spell the word “tactics.”
      It’s a shame, b/c from the jump, mostly this squad just needed organization on both sides of the ball.

      But in the end, I still want a dynamic coach who wants to DOMINATE the game, not “press” the game or just be organized. I want defensive organization and offensive team-speed that is ruthless in the box.

  8. Magnus Roos says:

    Would it be possible for the Union to bring on the Costa Rican Celso Borges, currently with the swedish AIK from Stockholm (my club) but expected to move on during this summer window. He is an excellent box-to-box midfielder who, as you may have noticed, played all games for the Costa Rican side during this World Cup. As to the price range I don’t know but 5 to 7 million dollars would seem plausible. I think he would be a great addition to the Union.

    • He’s a good player, but the Union are unlikely to spend that kind of money on anyone this window.

      Also, CM isn’t exactly a position of need for the club at the moment.

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