Signing News

Union sign defender Giliano Wijnaldum

Photo via Philadelphia Union 

The Philadelphia Union announced on Thursday afternoon the signing of Giliano Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum joins the Union as a Discovery Signing and will occupy the sixth of the Union’s seven available international spots. An article at says he was a free agent, with Dutch outlet Voetbal International reporting he has been without a club since leaving German second division side VfL Bochum in May. gives his market value as €300,000, or $317,721.

The bulk of left back’s career has been in the Eredivisie, the top Dutch league. There he played for three teams, including AZ Alkmaar, where he played for three seasons while current Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart worked there as Director of Football Affairs. He is the brother of current Liverpool midfielder and Dutch International, Georginio Wijnaldum. His half brother, Rajiv van la Parra, plays for Huddersfield Town in England’s second division.

Stewart said in a statement, “We’re pleased to welcome Giliano to Philadelphia Union and are excited about the talent he adds to our defensive corps. As a young player who I have worked with before in the Netherlands, I know firsthand the potential he brings to our club. We are eager to integrate him within the squad and believe he has a bright future with the Union.”

Wijnaldum, 24, is a product of the Sparta Rotterdam and AZ Alkmaar academies, spending a year with the Union’s Roland Alberg at the AZ academy, making his first team debut for AZ at the age of 18 on April 16, 2011. After three seasons with AZ, where he helped win the 2012-13 Dutch Cup, the left back joined FC Groningen (2013-2014) before moving to Go Ahead Eagles (2014-2015) and VfL Bochum (2015-2016). He also has made appearances as a youth international for the Netherlands.

Here are some highlight reels:


  1. Not the most glamorous signing but I am ok with a real back up to Fabinho.

    • You don’t fly in a 24yo from the Netherlands to be a back up…. right?

      • At worse I guess so. But my first though was a challenger for starter too.

      • James Lockerbie says:


      • Fabinho’s contract is up at the end of the season. They may be thinking about bringing him in to compete/platoon at left back this season in the hopes that he shows he can take over as the starter going into next season.

      • pragmatist says:

        Exactly what I was thinking. On an inexpensive transfer and most likely a reasonable salary, he’s the next in line. Or, best case, outperforms Fabinho, giving us fantastic depth and flexibility.

      • Benjaminho says:


      • I think they expected more out of Alberg, talented….but he seems to fly to his own tune!

      • Does Ernie have to hit at a better rate here then in Europe to be successful?

        With the salary cap can you take less flyers? You can buy 10 guys and hope 2 of them return 10-20 fold as that would be half your roster on project players.

        Ernie made comments about how you needed a physical and athletic players to survive in MLS, I wonder if he has learned a bit about what types of Dutch players will make it in MLS.

      • +1


  3. Wow this is a shock I Fabhino played fantasti—OhmygodthankyouThankYouTHANKYOUwecanfinallymoveonfomFabhinothankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Competition for Fabinho in practice, and better depth at the position than Taylor Washington was likely to have given.
    They probably thought this signing was likely when they let Washington go in October.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Nice article about Steel FC new signing by Tom Via, the Steel Communications coordinator, that suggested to me without a single overt word indicating it, Hugh Roberts hopes to compete hard with Ken Tribbett and Josh Yaro at right center back.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Vfl Bochum currently lie 11th in the 18-team Vfl Bundesliga table.
      A change of venue may help Wijnaldum get more minutes and raise his profile.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      the Discovery signing point reinforces that impression that he has been on the union’s internal radar for a while.

  5. SHREWD. Quality work- quite pleased.
    highly technical… intelligent and fast…
    made first team debut at what age again?
    This is a day changer…I’m fucking stoked.

    • Hell yes it is. Truly unexpected.

    • Are you seeing that touch in traffic? Forget the fancy stuff, he simply appears to have the ablity to escape… with control…All by himself.
      I’m liking the look of this kid a whole lot.
      I don’t care if this is his “Greatest Hits” tape, he’s still showing better quality on the ball than 4/5 of the current squad here (and I think I’m being generous to our guys.)

  6. Zizouisgod says:

    It’s funny how many players who have come to MLS over the years that have a more accomplished brother playing elsewhere.

    Frederico Higuain
    John Rooney
    Kaka’s brother (can’t remember his name)
    Bradley Wright Phillips

    In all seriousness, I’m excited about this signing. A young left back with some pedigree.

    • Funny – thought about it too then shooed it away….
      we’ve been asking and the SD went out and signed- possibly the LB for the next 4-6 years or beyond…who is 24 years old and already has 6 years of major experience… which makes him not young ——–but seasoned.
      Let us watch and observe. Earnie has the com… “depth to sonar…. one ping please.”

  7. Positive first step to the off-season. I hope it’s just that. A first step. It’s also, for me, not in a position that was in that dire need of upgrading compared to other holes in this roster.
    So nice, but fill the spine. Won’t be truly pleased till that happens.

  8. Obviously subject to financial terms, but seems like a good signing. I hope he’s good enough to supplant Fabinho sooner rather than later.
    1 down, at least 3 more to go, I hope.

  9. Nice part. If anything, does this mean Ray Gaddis is now surplus to requirements and could be an intra-MLS trade chip?

    • pragmatist says:

      At his salary, I think that was Earnie’s goal all along. He’s not taking Rosenberry’s spot, and they don’t want him on the left, due to offensive limitations.
      I like Ray representing the Union. Great guy. But I get the feeling he’ll be somewhere else by March.

  10. Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

    I think this signing definitely leads to Fabinho or Gaddis or Both being flipped for TAM to help fund another signing. Is Trusty primarily a center or outside back? I believe they plan to have both Trusty and Jones in the 18 if they earn it. Remember Ernie is all about shrewed signings and allowing the youngsters plenty of playing time.

    • pretty sure trusty is a centerback

    • pragmatist says:

      Trusty is a CB. But I don’t think the plan is to move him up there yet. It sounds like they will go after a vet for that spot. And with Marquez and Yaro penciled in as starters at CB, which one are you shoving out of their spot? Assuming, of course, that Tribbett doesn’t make an amazing recovery in spring.
      That’s 4 young CB’s. Not enough minutes to go around.

    • I’m curious as to why they haven’t signed colton storm to a HG deal. Mock drafts have him going in the late 1st Rd.

  11. A……..freaking………..left………..back!

  12. Fabs had a good year, for Fabs mind you, last year. I still think it was an anomaly and was worried about that spot this upcoming season….as I usually always am. Is the sun rocket fueling up? Launchpad moving into position?

  13. Depth in the backline is always great, especially on the left. If this guy looks better than Fabinho, great. But honestly, Fabinho was not our biggest problem last year; in fact, he wasn’t in our top 5 problems. He actually had a good season, with much more consistency than he’s shown in the past. So, OK, this is a decent appetizer. Still waiting for the entree.

    • Not last year, but every year prior………..absolutely! Then why all the talk and t-shirts about sending him far……far away?

    • You could make a highlight reel, check that……documentary on “goals conceded by Fabinho”…….you would need snacks!

      • Ever since the Union figured out there was a communication problem with Fabi, i.e. he thought position and possession were the same thing, his defensive play has steadily improved. The need for a sun rocket has been quelled for over a year now. I can only imagine the plethora of mistakes that could come from believing possession and position were the same.
        Could the LB position be improved? Why sure. Every position can be improved ( there’s no Messi around). The big holes down the middle are a bit more of a problem.

      • I don’t buy that for a second……….you understand that 95% of what they leak to the public is complete BS, right? Footy is its own language……….

      • Really? Conspiracy theories now? Is that really something to lie about and make up? If he hadn’t subsequently improved defensively and make less plays where the sun was calling, ok then maybe. Does this club (still under Sak at that point when the story came out) strike you as that Machiavellian?
        Yeah I get there’s a lot of fluff pieces and misdirection when it comes to sport. But this was Sak we are talking about. He wasn’t the smoothest operator.

      • It’s not conspiracy theories grasshopper…’s a fact. Sorry to break it to you. I’ve heard Sir Alex say it himself with Curtin a row ahead of me……and we all got a laugh!

      • I would also argue that Fabs looked better because, tactically, they defended higher up the pitch. And that is a nod to Curtin trying to hide your vulnerabilities….

      • Well this grasshopper knows that sometimes a reed is just a reed and not a praying mantis. If you want to believe the Team would voluntarily make themselves look the fool for well I guess trying to take the heat off of Fabi, which wasn’t really necessary because he had already begun to improve by that point in time, hey, have at it. Tinfoil hats aren’t my thing so good luck with that.

      • We mock what we don’t understand son……..

      • And dude, this club has looked like fools plenty throughout its duration thus far……..again, hate to break it to you!

      • And everything became a triage situation after Nogs left………..

      • I Am Citizen Insane says:

        best explanation bar none… I’ve tried every way imaginable to define and am in healthcare but you just nailed it.
        Triage situation.

    • I agree Fab was better this year but wonder how much of Fab’s “defensive improvement” could be credited to the veteran Pontius’ staying home more to help since he was aware of Fab’s weakness.
      And if so, does Wijnaldum now free up Pontius to attack more?
      Seems like Pontius was always making the late run on attack. Maybe that’s because he was holding deeper to help?

      • Hard to say that Pontius was suffering from “staying home” since he, y’know, scored double-digit goals and led the team in that category…

  14. oh shit, a LB.

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