Press Conference

Transcript and video: Carlos Valdes returns to the Union

Editor’s note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening remarks from Nick Sakiewicz

It’s been quite a week for us signing World Cup players. But this one’s real special cause it’s welcoming one of our own back, and it’s great to have you back, Carlos. On behalf of the club and all of us, we are just really excited to have you back. We always knew you would come back. We’re glad you fulfilled your World Cup dream, but welcome back to the Philadelphia Union, it’s great to have you, man.

Opening remarks from Jim Curtin

I just want to say a couple of quick things. Anytime you can add a central defender that’s a Best XI-type central defender in our league it’s very exciting for the club. Carlos had a great relationship with the guys, just even walking out here there’s lots of high-fives and laughing, and guys grabbing him in the locker room. So, easy transition in that regard, he’s a guy who’s familiar with the league. He’s coming off of a World Cup playing for what I thought, and I told you this before, was the best team in the World Cup in Colombia so, again, special experience there, we know he’s grown a ton as a player with that experience, and the leadership that he’ll bring to our locker room is invaluable. Again, 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 down the stretch here. He knows every game is a playoff game, and he’s already itching and ready to go, so we’re very, very excited.

Nick Sakiewicz continues

Before we flip it over to Carlos, I just want to thank again the hard work that Chris Albright did on this deal; I know talking to Carlos often, sometimes late at night, sometimes early in the morning. Well done, Chris, good job, way to bring our long lost son back to Philadelphia, so really proud of the work you did working with the league to get this complicated transaction to the point where he could come back now instead of in January.

Carlos, all yours, man, it’s your mic…

Carlos Valdes opening statement

First, I want to apologize for for my English, but I would like to keep practicing.

I’m very, very happy of being back and I want to say thanks Nick for everything you have done for me, and the same, Jimmy. And all the guys who are helping me out to reach my dream of playing the World Cup. I want to come back to help my team, to make our team much better, and play as much as I can to be in the good position of the high level in this league.

Question to Carlos Valdes: How has the past month been with the uncertainty of where you would be playing?

When I left from Philly, I always was thinking to come back one day because, as I told you before, I think this is my second family and I love the fans, I love the team, I love the people in Philadelphia, I love my teammates. As soon as the World Cup finished, I was starting thinking again to come back to Philadelphia.

Question to Jim Curtin: How soon until Valdes in the starting lineup?

I get excited thinking about that and I will obviously talk through that; he’ll be on the pitch whenever Carlos tells me he’s ready. He will be in our starting lineup, that is for sure.

Question to Carlos Valdes: What kind of shape are you in? Have you done much training since the World Cup?

After the World Cup I took two weeks off and then I start training like ten days, always thinking about to return, of playing in the lineup in Philadelphia. I guess we need to start training with the guys and I think I’ll be ready for the weekend, maybe for two weeks.

Curtin interjects

The good thing is that seamless transition. He’s familiar with all the guys; he’s played with Ray Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, he knows them very well so it makes the process a lot easier. He also knows the difficulties of our league; he knows what it’s like to fly 3,000 miles to play one game. A lot of new players, foreign players, struggle with that, getting adapted to that. So, again, he knows what it looks like in Houston when it’s 120 degrees and then you have to fly back to Philadelphia and then you’re on the road again to Dallas. All the challenges in the league, it’s very smooth for him becasue he’s familiar with, not only the locker room, but the way our league works and the competitive nature of our league where every game is kind of like a playoff game from here on out.

Question to Carlos Valdes: How much different do you think the locker room will be since you were last with the team?

I don’t know. I came this morning so I want to start living — I mean, I have great memories in Philadelphia in the locker room — but I want to start living a new experience. So, I think this is a other chapter of my life.

Question to Jim Curtin: What kind of flexibility does it give you being able to plug a player like Valdes into the lineup?

It’s huge for us. It’s a position that I obviously value a great deal as a center back. I’ve worked with Carlos before — people may not realize but when I was with the 18s in the Academy, I would come to first team trainings — so we’re familiar with each other. I know him as a player, I respect him a great deal as a player. Like I said, he’s a top center back in our league and obviously has experience overseas now and the experience of the World Cup, the game at the highest level he’s played in games in Brazil. He can bring that to some of our young guys, push them even more. It creates competition at every spot becasue Carlos is a starter for the Philadelphia Union. So, again, what happens there is maybe Mo slides into an already crowded midfield where we have a lot of talent and depth, maybe Mo plays next to him some games. It’ll be game-by-game and we’ll decide that as it goes, but you can see right now, and you can see it at training — Nick was just at training — and it’s a competitive as can be, in a good way, though. They’re getting after it an competing in the right way and pushing for spots. Carlos just increases the talent on our team and pushes us down the stretch here with 12 games left, eight at home, I might add, four on the road. So, very favorable in that regard. And he’s a guy, he knows our fans, he knows what they bring, and he’s one that wants this city to win a championship. That’s what this is about.

Question to Carlos Valdes: Do you still feel like, now that you’re back in Philadelphia, you can still be in the Colombia national team picture?

When they called me up for the first time to the national team I was playing here. So, I always think that if I play good, if I play in a good level, I will have the opportunity of playing for the national team. But, we don’t know if Jose Pekerman will is still being the coach of the Colombia national team, but for me, I want to play as best as I can and, as I say before, help my team to make better every day, and we will see what happens.

Question to Carlos Valdes: What was it like playing in the World Cup? What did that mean to you?

The World Cup for me has been one of the most beautiful things that I’ve lived in my life. I cannot say how good was being in Brazil, living every game, living every day in the concentration of all these things, but it’s something unbelievable. I will remember for all my life being in the World Cup from Brazil.

Question: Can anything be said to clear up some of the speculation about what was going on with San Lorenzo?

Nick Sakiewicz responds

I don’t know if there’s anything that can be said to clear it up becasue I don’t think anyone in this situation is clear on what actually happened, and what didn’t happen. It wa an extremely complicated legal matter. You know, Chris was a close to it as anyone and there were just a lot of question marks all over the place. It’s all water under the bridge and it really doesn’t matter because he’s sitting here right now, and that’s what the most important thing was. It was very frustrating for Carlos, very frustrating for us very frustrating for us, I’m sure for San Lorenzo in some respects frustrating as well. The folks at the league did a great job in figuring this out to make him happy. The most important thing was for the player to be happy and him getting what he wanted, and us getting what we wanted, which was him back here. Other than that, I don’t know what else to say about it, just a very complicated legal matter. Thankfully, it got resolved.

I will say this, one addition to dovetail with what Jim said, is that this was a massively important signing — or not signing, but, you know, really bringing him back from loan — Rais was an important signing. We’re not done. We’re an ambitious club. We want to win, and we want to lift trophies. And, if anyone thinks we’re going to kick our feet up on the table and relax? Certainly not for the rest of this year, but long term? We want more. We want to bring the very best players here, and we want to win the championship – as executives, as players, as an organization — and we expect to do that. So, we’re not done.

Question to Jim Curtin: Were you trying to get the deal done so Valdes would be back in time for the US Open Cup semifinal in Dallas?

We’ve been trying to get him here as soon as possible ever since the World Cup ended, again I cant stress how important it is to have a solid defense in the MLS. You see the direction some teams are going in spending money on good forwards, a Kaka, a David Villa. This is a man on my left that can handle those type of guys. Keeping balls out of the goal is important and, like Nick said, we’ll add more pieces in the attack as well. But we thought at the moment, the timing was to build from the back, and we’ve done that and we’re happy with how its gone. Like you said, Chris Albright did a great job getting him back here and now it’s time to do our talking on the field.

Question to Jim Curtin: Will Carlos Valdes be wearing the captain’s armband again?

Of course, he stepped into the door this morning so, again, we have some things to talk through. He’s a leader, he’s a winner, he has a lot of those characteristics. He’s a guy that’s been through battles with a lot of the guys on our team, he has the respect of everyone. Brian Carroll wears the armband now though and that’s the decision from the beginning of the year, so that’s how it’ll stay for the remainder. Those are decisions as time goes on; these guys are here for multiple years now too, let’s not forget, they’re not here on short term, one-year, or 12-game deals. Rais and Carlos are here on nice long-term deals, which is important.

Question: To clarify, is there a new deal in place with Carlos?

Nick Sakiewicz responds

There’s a new, multi-year deal in place, so we expect for Carlos to be here. Again, these deals were really important to do becasue we want to create stability in our core, and these are important players that need that stability in a club here. These are not short-term type of loan situations. In Carlos’ case, we always owned his rights so he is a loan player returning and in Rais’s case it was flat out transfer. We want to build a sustainably competitive team every year and this is part of the first steps of doing that.

(Audio cuts out)

Jim Curtin is responding

…other clubs, you know? So, it’s never going to be this instant, “Ok, I’m coming back.” There’s always a process: there’s multiple parties involved, you’re dealing with different clubs from different countries, and agents and little different situations that come up, so everybody has to be on the same page before a deal goes through. The bottom line is Carlos is happy to be here, he wants to be in Philadelphia and, again, the fact that he is sitting here should show that to our fans.

Question to Carlos Valdes: What was it like for you waiting for the deal to come back to Philadelphia be completed?

We were talking about this like a month — Chris?

Albright answers “Yes” from off camera and Curtin says, “A long month” to laughter from Valdes. Valdes then continues.

As Jimmy say, the most important thing is that I’m here. I’ve very excited and I’m really, really happy of being back. I can’t wait to see what’s going on, what’s going to happen the rest of the season.

4 Comments

  1. murphthesurf says:

    Welcome Back Carlos !
    The River End Loves You !

  2. I don’t think the team could possibly have done anything better than bringing Carlos back. I’m feeling optimistic about our playoff chances now. In a number of important respects, this is not the same team that started the year.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Ever since I noticed last January that Vincent Nogueira was NOT a designated player, I’ve suspected that bringing Carlos Valdes back has been a goal. I want to hear PPL Park welcome him home!

  4. James lockerbie says:

    Welcome home Mr. Valdes

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