Transfer News

Union acquire GK Brian Sylvestre on short term loan, Mbolhi not with team in Vancouver

Photo: Earl Gardner

Update (Friday, 7:45 pm): Jim Curtin tells’s Jonathan Tannenwald of Mbolhi: “He and I have a difference of philosophy right now. He’s not going to play any more games with us. He has a contract, so he’ll be training by himself, separate from the team. We’ll arrange for that at our facility, but it will be at a different time from when our team is training [and] he won’t have any interaction with the group…There’s no one incident to point to, it’s just a combination of performance on the field, interactions in the locker room with the rest of the group, the whole package.”

UPDATE (Friday, 6:31 pm): In a report from Marc Narducci at the Philadelphia Inquirer published Friday afternoon, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said of Rais Mbolhi, “He is earmarked for summer transfer. So due to potential injury, there is no reason for him to play.”

Directly before the Sakiewicz quote, Narducci writes, “According to a source, Mbolhi is earning between $450,000 and $500,000 this season.”

Ahead of Saturday’s road game in Vancouver, the Philadelphia Union announced on Friday morning the acquisition of goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre on short term loan from NASL side Carolina RailHawks.

The announcement also said, “Rais Mbolhi will not travel to Vancouver.”

With Sylvestre the starter for Saturday’s game, Mbolhi not traveling, and Andre Blake and John McCarthy both unavailable due to injury, the announcement also said MLS pool goalkeeper Trey Mitchell “will join the team in Vancouver to provide cover at the position.”

Chris Albright said in the announcement, “We have evaluated all of our options and feel that Brian gives us the best opportunity to get a result in Vancouver. We have confidence in the familiarity he has with both our players and staff.

What is Mbolhi’s status with the club? Albright said, “Rais remains a member of the Philadelphia Union and we will continue to evaluate all options in the best interest of the club.”

Sylvestre was with Harrisburg City Islanders before trialing with the Union in the preseason and eventually joining Carolina.

Sylvestre began his professional career with the Vancouver Whitecaps in March of 2011 after spending time in Vancouver’s residency program rather than attending college. He was released by the Whitecaps in November of 2012 having made reserve and U-23 appearances but none with the senior squad. He then signed with Harrisburg City Islanders in 2013, making his professional debut in the 3-1 loss to the Union in US Open Cup play on June 17, 2014.

Mbolhi returned to training with the Union on Tuesday after spending nearly a month off in Europe following his benching after the 3-2 road loss to Kansas City on April 5.


  1. Damn. We can say what we want about Curtin, but he’s definitely shown he’s not going to get pushed around by anybody. MBohli not even traveling with them.

    • yeah, I understand if there are some contract/negotiation issues that are being kept behind the scenes, but once this situation sees its end, we better get some explanation because from the outside, this looks a proper mess.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        Is there ANY explanation that could make sense?

      • John Ling says:

        I wonder if the players’ union is involved in MBohli’s return to the team. Curtin, as I recall, made some half-comments that might point to that sort of thing – stuff like the rules are that he’s allowed to train unless he violated team rules, which he hasn’t.
        So, the players’ union could require Curtin to bring MBohli back from France, but they can’t require Curtin to select him on game day.

      • Oh yeah- it’s a mess alright. But I don’t think we’ll get an explanation from this group. We’ll have to satisfy ourselves with : “Well, it’s the Union.”

    • Double damn on that 7:45 update! Earlier this week I accused the Union of always intending to bring MBohli back to play him. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one by the looks of it.

  2. So we had three of the best keepers in MLS last year according to Sak, and less than a year letter, we have none of those three (M’Bohli, MacMath, Blake) or their backup (McCarthy) and are going to start a keeper one day after signing him.

    Given Sylvestre’s lack of knowing the defense, and given that Ethan White is likely to start at CB again, we are in for a long day tomorrow. I predict we lose 3-1.

    What a mess….

  3. “A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY!”
    In our Reality TV show, M’Bohli is definitely The Situation.

  4. The pissing contest continues. They’re all children. It’s so dysfunctional as to be sickening.

  5. Who here thinks this is nick sakiewicz playing the long game in a bid to become the Unions starting goalkeeper?

  6. George H says:

    Never a dull moment with the Union.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the Union forced M’Bolhi to attend a local viewing party for the match? Someone in the FO – please make this happen.

  7. Now that I have officially given up on the season, I’m just excited to see what crazy event will happen next. Fabinho starting on the left in place of Wenger maybe?

    • The Black Hand says:

      That’s not that crazy, actually. Fabinho might be the only option on the left, if Wenger continues his disappearing act. Defending has been his major problem. Moving him to the midfield would limit that damage…a little.
      How the hell are we SO bad? I know…the Front Office is made up of the Muppet Band…and Curtin is a “coach”…but still…HOW THE FUCK ARE WE THIS BAD…again…and again…and again…???

      • Why are you the only one who consistently drops the F-Bomb in this comments section?

      • The Black Hand says:

        My bad, Jet. I get a little classless when I rant. My apologies. It’s not very becoming of me and makes me come off a bit ignorant.
        This team just gets me so fuc…err, i mean…this team frustrates me greatly.
        In all seriousness, I’m sorry for my language.

      • cursing is like pepper. just the right amount spices things nicely, too much and the meal is ruined.
        i’ve ruined plenty of meals.
        I as well will try and clean up my language.

      • John Ling says:

        I’ve dropped them. Two in one sentence earlier this week, even.

      • Consecutive words, even, if memory serves.

    • Maybe dropping Maidana to left back to sovle our left-back issue? I mean, the guy is left-footed, right?

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        That’s not Sak-worthy. Stefani Miglioranzi will be playing left back for the U on May 17.

  8. They can’t score a lick.
    This team couldn’t pin a tail on the donkey’s ass without a blindfold and half a dozen chances …..
    ….and here we are talking about our newly signed and called in NASL goalkeeping while the other excommunicated goalkeeper sits, while our #1 drafted goalkeeper prepares for rehab again, while the other goalkeeper rehabs another head injury, while our perfectly functioning old goalkeeper sits the bench in the Rockies.
    This is so Onion… so totally Onion… it makes me want to cry with a paring knife.
    Union Sense – so totally maddening as to render one…. well… with an edge so surly and bitter that it just wants to say, “Fuck Us……No Fuck You.”

  9. lopezzzz says:

    The Mbolhi signing has ruined two seasons. Yet, Sak still has a job.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    What if the Union were to play a 4-5-2 formation with no keeper?

    • And there’s the comment of the day. HAHAHAHA!!!

    • By writing that, someone in Unionland is now contemplating this happening. Good stuff,

      This site has taken on such a comedic route lately I find myself coming for the laughs. I swear. Thank you all!!!!!!

      • Absolutely. You are dead on.
        I find myself thinking and looking for the humor in this as it is the only way to process… kind of like an emergency room full of laughing RNs and doctors during a trauma code. There is nothing funny at all about it but…
        …it is how the overwhelming stress gets worked out for the individual and the group.

      • murphthesurf says:

        reminds me of BBC 4 ‘ s “Green Wing”…

    • The Black Hand says:

      What if we stack our entire XI IN the goal? We would have a shot at a draw, at least. The possession and passing numbers would remain about the same.

      • Dr. Union says:

        Forget that we have to many attackers now, right. Lets just start 11 strikers and call it a day still losing with no shots on goal.

      • pragmatist says:

        Makes me think of the Indirect kick that Marfan scored from about 8 yards out. Unfortunately, the 11 in the goal plan doesn’t work as well as we would like.
        But it looks funny as hell.

    • Awesome suggestion. That would be the way to get our best XI on the pitch, wouldn’t it?…

  11. The Black Hand says:

    Clarification: The previous reports were mistaken. The Union did not sign Brian Sylvestre, on a short term loan.
    The Philadelphia Union have signed Sylvester Stallone on a two-week loan. Nick Sakiewicz liked what he saw from the Stallion in the movie “Victory” and felt that the club could benefit from a veteran’s presence.

  12. I will keep saying this over and over again! All of the drama and problems with the Union directly or indirectly stem from the ownership and leadership of Jay Sugarman and Nick Sakiewicz. Until they and their dark karma are gone this team and fan base will continue to suffer. Cheap and incompetent ownership filtering down thru the feckless front office, the rented adviser in René Meulensteen and the weak management and coaching of Chris Albright and Jim Curtin and staff! This dog and pony show has ruined any type of cohesiveness on the pitch!

    Sell this franchise to a COMPETENT and financially competitive owner for the good of MLS in Philadelphia!


    • Dr. Union says:

      They never will time to make our own franchise.

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      Nick, I greatly appreciate everything you did to get the team here and I’m going to treasure having you as a co-owner, but it’s my money at play and I’m the majority owner so we are going to make a change at club president and chief decision-maker. — Jay Sugarman
      The fact that THAT conversation didn’t happen two years ago, or last year, or THIS offseason, or last week, is why Sugs has to go to.

  13. We can pick up another goalie when we have last in the league / 1st pick in the draft next year.

  14. OneManWolfpack says:

    Like a god damn car crash… you just can’t look away. It was said above but I agree: now that the season is lost, I kind of morbidly want to see just how bad / F’d up / ridiculous this whole thing can really get.

  15. I can see the announcement next week as the teams are warming up…
    “Congratulations to the lucky fan sitting in Section 138, Row H, Seat 11…you are the STARTING GOALKEEPER! Please see the attendant behind section 138 to claim your prize!”

  16. Dr. Union says:

    At this rate all the seats should be empty might as well go see free soccer games in a park somewhere the players might be better and care more.

  17. Not disagreeing that this whole situation is a train wreck. But I wonder if this isn’t a little F*** Y** to Mr. M’Bolhi. I mean maybe the thinking is hey, we are paying you a lot of money, you are not going to sit on your ass in France with your family collecting a paycheck. Get back here and be a training goalie, sit on the bench or what ever but your vacation is over until we can ship you off to someone else.

    • hobosocks says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the other way around. M’Bohi’s agent probably wants him training so facilitate getting a better deal at whatever his next club ends up being. That would fit with Curtin’s “we can’t physically stop him from training” line from the press conference.

    • Totally agree. It’s mind boggling that he is back training with the team yet they won’t even take him to Seattle as the backup goalkeeper. Mind boggling! Admittedly his play was horrible when he had the chance, but to take an MLS “pool” goalkeeper as your backup rather than take your “World Cup” goalkeeper, speaks volumes about how bad a cancer he must be.

  18. Amobi Ribeoro says:

    Ed, please hear me out. I think we can all agree that this is not an MLS franchise. Technically of course they do play in MLS. But they are not competitive in MLS to the point where most games this year have represented an exhibition for the other team. Until Nicky Sak and Sugarbear are out, I think PSP should allow it’s fans to vote on another MLS team we could adopt and follow throughout the season. We’ll look at the Union as our reserve team and focus our energy and real attention on our chosen franchise. This will cut down on excess drinking, this will keep families together and help preserve our sanity. I vote for The Revs. Thank you.

    • I can understand that sentiment, but no. The Union are our club by geography. We should never turn off the firehose of criticism so long as it is well deserved. The pressure starts here. I’d much prefer a daily weeping and gnashing of teeth at the cliff’s edge than a relocation of focus to some other team. We’ve (unfairly) inherited this mess of a club and we have to put in the effort to fix it — whatever that effort may be.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah we can’t give up. If we do, Sak and the boys win. We have to keep their feet to the fire in any and every way possible.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do. I know I can’t even convince my wife, but we need to fill as much of the stadium as possible. The river end needs to be overflowing! not to support Nick or Jay but to entice new Investors or better yet a whole new Ownership Group.

        The sons of Ben went to other stadiums, super drafts to get the attention of M.L.S well now we need to get the attention of new owners look we are still here there will be money to be had just give us a real competitive chance. I mean if the River end is half empty and there is gaping wholes of empty seats in the Stadium investors/new owner may think Damn NIck really did kill soccer in Phillie I can’t but my money in this. Just a thought as much as it my pain us, I think going to the games while soliciting new owners maybe the best way to steer us out of this mess.

      • J in Section 125 says:

        Absolutely spot on!

      • If all the fans went to Lowe’s before May 17th, picked up one of those black 8×10 For Sale signs, smuggled them into the stadium, and held them up at 20:10, that would be pretty cool.

      • pragmatist says:

        That is fantastic.
        Very big +1.

      • Good insight. I’ll feel a little more enthusiastic holding down my spot in the River End, though the ten-beer tailgate will remain a viable option for coping.

    • J in Section 125 says:

      That is why I follow the Barclay’s league and continue my support of the Union. Barclays to be a distraction to the train wreck of this Union season and to see the beautiful game at its best. But to follow and cheer for another MLS team is a violation. We must stay true to being Philly fans and continue to push for change within the organization.

  19. Dr. Union says:

    So when M’bohli goes his goalkeeping coach Grillo I assume goes as well right leaving us with no goalkeeper coach. So we should be looking for a coach and a goalkeeper apparently. Has there been talk of either of course not. We just pick people up on loan. So I guess its goalkeeper by loan this year and no coach to work with them.

    • James Lockerbie says:

      I don’t think so, coach Grillo stayed and worked with Blake and Mccarthy while M’bohli was in France. Maybe just maybe coach Grillo decided to stay with the Union steady job in the U.S.A or globe trotting around the world club bouncing with a crazy goal keeper!

  20. Dan Walsh says:

    Yup, these are our readers. 🙂

  21. Huey0328 says:

    Tours in Southwest Asia,Bosnia and Iraq. An its the UNION that cause me PTSD “PhillyUnion Traumatic Stress Disorder” FO is killing us in so many ways.

    • Huey0328.
      There are no words.
      That sir, speaks to the heart of this better than any us of have.
      If somehow, someway that reached those in most need of reading it.

  22. murphthesurf says:

    What is the current value of the Union?

    Perhaps we can pursue a municipally owned team, like they are talking about for, is it Minnesota?
    I would buy some shares. ..

    • I’d buy some shares also. I think though that the actual value of the team is much less than what Sak and Sugarman would ask for, considering the team’s biggest asset is actually already owned by the county.

  23. Dang. Now that Sakiewicz has said MBolhi is gone, I’m pretty sure it isn’t happening. If it does, this might be the first true statement I’ve heard from Sak.

  24. DarthLos117 says:

    I love the Philadelphia Union.

  25. The Little Fish says:

    How can you not play Rais under these circumstances? I was happy when Curtain benched him but now he should be in there. He is clearly better than the two guys in Vancouver. Curtain is shooting himself in the foot. As a fan I want our best option in there and right now it’s Rais M’Bolhi. Fact.

    • I think he’s a really bad locker room guy and the rest of team doesn’t want to play with him. I think Curtin keeps the locker room by not backing down or changing directions on the decision he made to remove a bad egg. It’s not like he was tearing it up out on the field either, despite his superior pedigree to Sylvestre and whoever Trey Mitchell may be.

  26. el pachyderm says:

    Not me.
    I appreciate the gumpshun of the manager on this one. I tend to think he is overmatched in this job but this is a 1v1 battle he has won and I give him credit.
    A logical conclusion is M’Bohli is unbearable.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      If you look carefully at everything Curtin said to Jonathan Tannenwald, in the update above posted at 7:45, it is possible to imagine that the rest of the team in some unknown fashion has made it clear that they want no contact of any kind with Mbohli.
      Certainly Curtin wants little to do with him. Contractually they must be required to provide a training opportunity, I would guess the player’s agent is pushing it. It is rare to see a team destroy the trade value of a player it wishes to move. Would you want him on your squad now, after all the inferences you would draw.

    • The Little Fish says:

      @el pachyderm How many of our guys have we grossly devalued just prior to trying to sell them? Makes little sense to me. We of all teams have to use our precious resources very wisely. As a frugal club devaluing our players hurts us more than the average club. Why couldn’t Curtain have simply benched Rais? Were all Jim’s Histrionics and the banishment really necessary? Just so he could feel better?

      • Good points all. It must be bad. I just appreciate that is further displays the stupidity of the decision to bring him in the first place.

  27. Old Soccer Coach says:

    No roster move necessary to add Sylvestre as they were carrying 27 active players, including the Algerian keeper, beforehand. As I calculate it, Sylvestre makes 28.

  28. I have been sending emails on my own volition to: or sending a tweet to @mls or @mlssupport.
    What good it does I don’t know. I just can’t keep living in a fools paradise with regards to this team. As long as Sugarman and Sakeiwicz are in charge I don’t believe anything good can come to this franchise. I support the players but I don’t expect anything from this organization that will make this the golden MLS franchise should and can be. I don’t even see them becoming a decent mid level team which by its very nature(mid-level) is a slap in the face to Philadelphia.

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