Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Fred

Photo by Earl Gardner

They call him “grandpa.”

And it’s true. Fred is the oldest member of the Philadelphia Union playing staff, at 34 years of age. 34 may not be old for most of the world, but in footballing terms, 34 can be ancient.

Most 34-year-old soccer players play in rec leagues, not professional ones. But there are exceptions. Thierry Henry, arguably the best player in MLS, is 36, and I bet nobody calls him “grandpa.”

Maybe it’s just that Fred seems like he’s been around forever. Heck, he seemed old when he left the Union, in 2010.

Regardless, if you’d taken a poll immediately following Cristian Maidana’s injury withdrawal against New York, asking if anyone thought Fred was the best choice to replace him and keep the Union’s offense chugging, few would have answered “yes.” Everybody else? They would have been wrong.

Because against New York, Fred didn’t look like an old man. He looked like a player incredibly excited and grateful to be getting his chance to contribute. He ran almost as much as Sebastien Le Toux (but not as much; let’s not get crazy), he asked questions with his passing, and always was looking to get involved. In short, he picked up what Maidana put down and ran with it. Oh, and he scored what would turn out to be the game-winner, his first MLS goal since October of 2010 when he scored, oddly enough, against the Red Bulls.

He probably should have started versus Chicago. With no Maidana, the Union offense didn’t work like it has in the past few weeks. It took until he was brought on in the second half for things to really get moving. And no, he didn’t produce any magic moments to get the Union a goal. Geoff Gamble did that all on his own (with an ice-cool assist from the penalty spot by Mssr. Le Toux). But Fred made the wheels turn.

So, in the absence of Maidana, is Fred the answer in the attacking midfield spot? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is obvious: Fred is no old man, and he’s still got some fuel in the tank. More than that, he wants to use it up helping Philly win. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

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