Press Conference / Signing News

Tranquillo Barnetta presser: Availability and expectations

Philadelphia Union officially introduced newly signed Swiss international midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta on Friday at a press conference at PPL Park.

Barnetta will be available for selection tomorrow when the Union welcome New York Red Bulls to town in what head coach Jim Curtin is calling a must-win game. Technical director Chris Albright would not reveal how the Union will open an international roster slot for Barnetta, but loaning the injured Vincent Nogueira to Harrisburg appears the most likely course of action.

Yesterday, Barnetta wrote on his Facebook page that he was signing a contract that runs until the end of 2016.

Although Barnetta made his name as a wide player, he appears set to slot into the center of the Philadelphia midfield. The player said he likes being in the middle because he likes to spend time on the ball, and Curtin argued that giving Barnetta a central role would help the Union keep possession and take pressure off of the defense.

“He can take pressure of defense by keeping the ball a little better,” Curtin said, “The defense doesn’t have to put out 8, 10, 12 fires… the best improvement for defense can be to be sharper on the ball.”

Curtin also noted that the Union will retain the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation they have used since the first half of the season opener and find the appropriate role for Barnetta within that shape.

Both player and coach were quite certain that Barnetta would begin tomorrow’s match on the bench. “Every player wants to play, and now the last few weeks were difficult for me because you don’t know what is going on,” Barnetta said. “Now it’s clear, it makes me happy, now it’s to be 100 percent fit to help the team. Maybe I need 1-2 weeks more but then I will be there. Not only helping on the field, but maybe I can talk to player and help them. We start tomorrow and then step by step we will see.”

Technical director Chris Albright revealed that the Union and Barnetta were brought together by former Union goalie Oka Nikolov. The former Frankfurt No. 1 was undefeated during his time with Philadelphia.

Both Albright and Curtin spoke of how Barnetta fit the culture they wanted to build in Philly. “He wants to be a part of it tomorrow,” Curtin said. “He’s a team-first guy. [The players] told me he bought them dinner in DC already. That goes a long way. That’s something our young guys have talked about, speaking and helping them in training already.”


  1. What team is Curtin watching? Our wingers can’t hold the ball for crap. If we slot Barnetta centrally than we will still have 2 USL quality wingers coughing up the ball constantly.

    Curtin out.

  2. Curious what his language skills are like as I think that’s always important for team chemistry. With Italian parents living in Switzerland, I imagine he could speak a few at least (Swiss-German, Italian, English).

    • His English was fairly good at the presser.
      I’ve often wondered how the French / Spanish / English / (and now) German midfield could communicate effectively.

  3. Everything about this player says class. If he is slotting inside, particularly in Nogs absence, the wingers better be active.
    The Union is bringing a more possession oriented midfield and the wingers are still a weak spot. Assuming The Calm slots outside when Nogs is fit then Le Toux or Wenger winger goes to bench. I still think Wenger should be an OB capable of playing high up the pitch.
    Andrew would be a great prototype of the high pressing OB. Half the time he stands on touch line anyway.

    I like white and Marquez as CB, Edu in holding role with Pfeffer and Ayuk or Let Toux on wings with abandon and Sapong up top.

  4. Dr. Union says:

    its pretty obvious the Barnetta need to play LM/LW to me since it is by far the weakest spot on the field. Plus Barnetta is skilled enough to cover back as well to help fabinho. To me its clear when all healthy this midfield should consist of
    Barnetta- Chaco – Ayuk
    It is overall just the best option we have at this point. And no I don’t think Edu should be anywhere near the midfield his touch is far to bad to play with these guys. Say what you want about Carroll and his lack of offense abilities, but right now he has been spot on and what this midfield needs not Edu.

    • Part of the reason Carroll’s been so sharp lately, in my opinion, is his relationship on the pitch with Nogs so… i have a bad feeling we’ll be seeing the “old” BC until Nogs gets back…

      • Dr. Union says:

        Might be true, but its still the strongest midfield we got at the moment. With Nogs out I prefer seeing this lineup

        Sapong Nando
        Barnetta Chaco Carroll Ayuk
        Fabi Marquez Edu Gaddis

        Like I said for this team to win Edu can’t be in the midfield. Also Edu can’t be on the left of the backline if you ask me. If Edu leaves the backline like he does all to often and he is on Fabi side with no cover he doesn’t get back quick enough and Fabi doesn’t have the skill to cover for him or the speed. On the right Gaddis covers way more ground with his speed and is a good one on one defender thus this locks Edu into RCB regardless of any game, IMO.

  5. I’m a little perplexed about wanting to play him centrally. Don’t we have Maidana for that?? I mean, this guy is liable to be even better than Chaco, but we still want them both out there at the same time. When Nogueira is healthy, how do we align them? I’m guessing this means that Maidana goes out to the left wing. This would give us an extremely creative midfield, but we will need Barnetta to get into the box sometimes, because Maidana and Nogueira rarely do.

  6. Mike Macheski says:

    So here’s my guess at Curtin’s 4-2-3-1 with all current roster players healthy, at least in the short term, from left to right:

    Wenger-Maidana-Le Toux

    If we stick to a 4-2-3-1, here is my preferred:

    Barnetta-Maidana-Le Toux

    Basically from the limited bits I’ve read and highlights I’ve watched, Tranquilo has the touch and speed to be dominant on the left wing.

    But I think a lot of us are hoping to see both CJ and Nando out there together, and CJ has clearly shown he’s better up top than on the wing so how about this 4-4-2:

    Barnetta-Maidana-Nogueira-Le Toux

    Or a slightly more defensive variation (4-1-3-2):

    Barnetta-Maidana-Le Toux

    • Yes. 4-4-2. This is a no brainer as I argued in my post. Flat 4-4-2. It also provides some decent sub options. Nando and Sapong on fields at same time with The Calm pulling 4 defenders wide and all over. I also think the flat 4-4-2 would shore up the defensive shape that looks whacked sometimes. The 4-4-2 is abut out of favor but still a solid option.
      No brainer.
      But what do I know.

      • 2nd. i meant your idea, not about whether you know anything. it seems like you do. or we both don’t…. now i’m confused.

      • Me and confusion are confidants.

      • Dr. Union says:

        I agree 4-4-2 is a great option for this team and has been for a long time running now only switch I would make is don’t start le toux start Ayuk. When Ayuk is wasted bring in Le toux for the defensive pressure and energy/ or bring him on up top if needed he works well with nando.

  7. for tomorrow, i went from tempered expectations (likely a loss, hopefully not as horrible as DC) to genuine excitement (likely a loss, hopefully not as horrible as DC). i want to see what he can do!

  8. I am really really really curious to see how this would of played out if Nogeria didn’t get hurt. At least they have a couple weeks to fix their mess up.

    I think Barnetta is a great aquisition. Excited that we got a player of his quality. Not excited about how we got him. Free, paid down with TAM, trading Williams,and Nikolov in his ear. Haha

  9. The Little Fish says:

    I can’t wait for the game! I love this acquisition. My biggest complaint was our lack of quality on the ball and our low percentage passing (that sh/t drives me crazy.) Slowly, but surely Jimbo and Chris Albright are improving the roster. If they can fix ‘Nick’s big mistake’ and move Rais they’ll have even more powder with which to work. THIS IS GETTING GOOD. I’m drinking the cool aid it it tastes sweeeeeeeeet. I have not been this excited since we signed Carlos Ruiz. He shoots he scores!

    • You are drinking the kool-aid. Carlos Ruiz? You mean the catcher right?

      • The Little Fish says:

        I’ll bet Carlos Ruiz has a better goals per game ratio than most guys who’ve worn the blue & gold. Dude was the antithesis of Andrew Wenger. All he could do was score. Fact!

    • I appreciate your optimism. I am a cynic and crush this club but this is a good move…hopefully he is deployed appropriately and they continue to build.
      I still have multiple misgivings with a host of things regarding the organization… but to jab.jab.jab.body blow.body blow body blow is inauthentic.
      We complain about getting talent here…well…this dude it talented. I’ve watched The Calm play..dude is good. Enough said.
      I still think JC should move AW to a L-OB role but hey…one thing at a time.

      • The Little Fish says:

        I totally agree Wenger would seem to have ALL the attributes to become a solid mls LB. I concur 100%.

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