Transfer News

Official: Union announce return of Carlos Valdes

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

On Monday, Philadelphia Union interim head coach Jim Curtin and club CEO Nick Sakiewicz announced the return of Carlos Valdes.

“It’s been quite a week for us, signing World Cup players,” Sakiewicz said. “This one’s kind of special because it’s welcoming one of our own back.”

“I’m very, very happy of being back,” Valdes said. “I want to come back to help my team, to make our team much better.

“When I left from Philly, I was always thinking to come back,” Valdes explained. “This is my second family, and I love the fans, I love the team, I love the people in Philadelphia, and I love my teammates.”

Curtin indicated that he would be in the Union’s starting lineup as soon has the defender says he’s ready.

“A guy that can slide right in and be a top center back in our league right away, right off the bat, and give us a push right down the stretch here,” Curtin said of Valdes. “He knows every game is a playoff game and he’s already itching and ready to go.”

Curtin also said that Valdes is with the team “on a long-term deal.”

Valdes first arrived at the Union in January of 2011 along with fellow Colombian Faryd Mondragon and would make 65 appearances with the club, scoring 3 goals, in 2011 and 2012, and also appeared in the 2012 All-Star game victory over Chelsea at PPL Park.

In January of 2013, Valdes left the Union on loan to Colombian club Santa Fe, the club from which the Union had secured his rights in August of 2011.The move came after Valdes asked for a loan at the end of the 2012 season following advice from Colombia national team coach Jose Pekerman that he would increase his chances of playing for the Colombian national team at the 2014 World Cup if he left MLS (Pekerman requested a leave of absence from his coaching duties at the end of July).

Ahead of the expiration of the Santa Fe loan at the end December of 2013, then Union head coach John Hackworth said in an interview with PSP in November that Valdes remained focused on continuing to play in South America in order to improve his national team prospects.

Weeks of rumors about possible destinations for the former Union captain accompanied the expiration of the loan. First, Santa Fe appeared poised to buy Valdes, but that deal soon fell through. Valdes was then linked to clubs in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Russia, and Argentina. San Lorenzo soon emerged as the frontrunner to secure Valdes with reports over several weeks indicating that a deal was near. Invariably, to the frustration of Union fans (and, no doubt, the Union coaching staff and front office), these reports were followed by new reports that any deal was now off.

On January 24, 2014, the Union announced it had agreed “to a deal in principle” to send Valdes to San Lorenzo only hours after tweets from the Argentine club that the defender would be playing there and of him being presented holding a San Lorenzo jersey.

In Argentina, Valdes would help San Lorenzo to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores. After being named to Colombia’s World Cup roster, he would make one appearance in the tournament, starting and going the full 90 minutes in the 4-1 win over Japan in the group stage. During the World Cup, Jim Curtin acknowledged that the Union were working on Valdes’ return to Philadelphia.

With the Copa Libertadores fixtures against Bolivian club Bolivar quickly approaching after the end of the World Cup, San Lorenzo awaited Valdes’ return to the club. Meanwhile, Curtin said in a press conference that the Union was “cautiously optimistic” about the defender’s return to Philadelphia.

Speculation in Argentina about whether Valdes would return to San Lorenzo soon turned acrimonious with the club vice president publicly questioning Valdes’ loyalty and commitment, and Valdes saying he hadn’t been paid by the Argentine club in months. On July 18, news came that San Lorenzo was terminating Valdes’ loan with the club.

While it seemed that Valdes’ return to the Union was imminent — saying only that “the saga continues.”

In the end, it was a question of two-and-a-half weeks.


  1. Can’t wait for PPL to announce his name at his first start. “At centerback, number two, Carlosssssss VALLLLLDESSSSSSSSSSS.” Stoked the transfer drama is over.

    • i am going to start a two or three day calming process to prepare myself for when this happens so i don’t have excitement problems

  2. Think he would be ready for Sat?

    • Montreal sounds like a good warm up game. And with Edu playing in Portland Wednesday I’d say that there is a good chance. Plus we play in Dallas a week from tomorrow.

    • I wouldn’t count on it. Who knows how out of shape he’s actually fallen since the WC. But I gotta say, I’d really like to see him get some refresher minutes before starting against Dallas in the Cup.
      Should be StroM’bolhi’s first start though.

    • I saw Valdes quoted as saying he’ll be ready in a week or 2 (probably fitness)… So probably not this weekend unfortunately.

    • The U message is clear: “CV plays as soon as he says so.” Apparently TBD. Subtext “And don’t kill us, Fanbase, if he’s not ready SA & we don’t get 3 points we desperately need if there’s a CB issue.”

  3. Can’t wait for Saturday! Should be a great moment, even if he’s not ready to start just yet. There’s a lot of positive momentum surrounding this team right now. Hopefully, it’s not too late to make a real impact.

  4. Between new keeper and Valdez and brown and Chaco getting healthy the Union are suddenly shiny and new.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    The Union have 3 more regular season games this month, all against teams below them in the standings. The question is do they take advantage of this and get 7 or 9 points or do they play down to the level of their opponents and squander a chance at the playoffs.
    They’re also now in a position where most of the conference have caught up with them in games played so they are back on a level playing field there.
    Hopefully Carlos will help drive the playoff push.

  6. Ted Cruz Border Patrol says:

    Not to make too big a deal about this, but where are all the international spots coming from?
    As I understand it, the following guys don’t need international spots even though they were born abroad: Lahoud (dual citizen), Hoppenot (same), LeToux (green card), Hernandez (inactive — Harrisburg).
    But that gives us ten internationals:
    Rais (1), Valdes (2), Nogs (3), Maidana (4), Brown (5), Blake (6), Fabinho (7), Fred (8), Ribeiro (9), and Fernandes (10)
    But we only have 8 slots. I’m confused.
    Now, Fernandes was raised in New York and probably is eligible for a green card. But that has never been announced.
    I’m guessing we will hear shortly that Pedro Ribeiro has been loaned to Harrisburg for the purpose of MLS games (but maybe not Open Cup games?)
    I guess we could make an argument that Fabinho should be allocated to the roster of whatever team we are playing that week. But I don’t think that’s how the roster rules work.
    Anyone have a better count/explanation?

    • Blake, Ribeiro, and Fernandes all went to college in the US so I would imagine at least one of them has a green card or dual citizenship. Also, has Fernandeas’ nationality listed as the US. Not sure if that means he is a dual citizen?

    • I think that CPfeif is right about Fernandes since he’s been in the US for quite some time.

    • All good questions. I would never say I know MLS rules on anything (they can change at any time). I do know in the past teams could trade for international spots from other teams. The couple I can remember were not at all costly- some allocation $ maybe? Curtin and Albright seem on the ball, I’m sure they have it covered.

    • Fred has a green card and does not count as an intl.

  7. Atomic spartan says:

    Hmmm…. Valdes first comes to the Union at the same time as a strong experienced GK. Now Valdes returns on the coattails of a strong, more experienced GK than we’ve had since Mondragon. Coincidence, or cause & effect? Conspiracy theorists, have your say.

  8. Bienvenido nuevamente Carlos!

  9. Great move by the FO. Can’t wait to see Valdes suit up.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    Very excited to see this team over this next month. They can easily play their way into the playoffs with 3 wins against (as someone above said) teams below them in the standings.
    This Saturday will be fantastic. And Montreal STINKS. 3 points is a must!!
    Any idea if Maidana will be available?

  11. If Valdes doesn’t start Saturday against Montreal, how will fans get to cheer him? Maybe a late sub? Or save him for next home game against San Jose? In any case what’s Union’s best starting lineup now?


    With Brown 1st sub?

    Still need a left back I guess?

    • There are a lot of things we need, but none of them were as urgent as Valdes (probably more urgent than Rais though, but let’s wait and see if we trade MacMath/Blake). We need a left back, an attacking midfielder (Maidana is the only quality one we have, and Nogs is a CDM who’s been playing out of position for a majority of the season), and we need to secure/replace our good loanees (Edu and Brown).
      Oh yeah, and a head coach to make these decisions. Curtin has seen Rais and Valdes come in under his watch, but both of those were moves that were initiated in the Hackworth era. I have no problem with Curtin being head manager, but that decision needs to be made, so that all the others may be made as well.

      • Nog is a box-to-box. We seem to be full at the CDM position with plenty of depth.
        Agreed about needing another CAM. It’s times like these when I would have liked so see Roger Torres given a chance in teh Curtin era, but alas, that ship has sailed….

      • people really need to remember that nogs is not a dm, he is the only player on our roster that plays the position he plays

    • I think the most likely lineup keeps Edu at CB with Valdes. Nogueira next to Okugo as the more advanced of the two CDM slots, with freedom to roam a bit. Cruz stays out on the left wing. I wouldn’t have said this a year ago, but with this steady of a spine, I think his style is a nice change of pace, and he should continue to start. White has looked good, but I think he’s the odd man out and can spell Edu/Okugo/Valdes when needed.

  12. Section 114 says:


    GK: M’bohli/McMath
    RB: Gaddis/Williams
    CB: Valdes-Edu/White-Berry
    LB: HELP ME!!!!!
    CDM: Okugo/LaHoud
    CM: Nogueira/(Edu/Okugo shift)/Fred
    CAM: Maidana/Pfeiffer
    Wings: LeToux-Brown/Cruz
    NT: Casey/Wheeler

    That’s a hell of a team, if we had a left back. Hoppenot and Carroll for Asche anyone?

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