Fans' View

Fans’ View: Season for summer transfers

Photo by Earl Gardner

The summer transfer window can be an exciting time for your local MLS team. The European season is over, which means contracts are expired and more players are available for transfer. Just last season, signings like Raul Ruidiaz and Wayne Rooney helped transform their teams into legitimate contenders. Fans like me love to speculate about which players could come in to help push our already impressive Union team to the next level. In the past, the Union have splashed on exciting mid-season signings such as Joe Tait, Gilberto, and JT Noone. Remember them? Of course, summer has also seen the arrival of some of the most iconic players in Union history, both good and bad. I decided to take a trip down memory lane to find some of the Union’s best, and worst, midseason signings.

The Good

Tranquillo Barnetta- The esteemed Swiss international arrived in July of 2015 for a year and a half stint in Philadelphia. He manned the central attacking midfielder position for a season and a half, and while he didn’t always put up big numbers on the scoresheet, his work rate and leadership from the position were an important part of the 2016 playoff season.

Alejandro Bedoya- The team’s current captain arrived in August of 2016 as a replacement for the departed Vincent Nogueira. The everyman DP failed to stem the tide his first half-season in Philly, but has been stellar ever since. He provides consistency, technical quality, and fiery leadership for a team that has improved drastically since his signing.

Fabinho- I know! Can you believe it? But I’d argue that at this point, Fabinho is one of the most important players in Union history. Yes, he’s had many a rough game since signing way back in June of 2013. And yes, many people on this very site have detailed their plans to launch him into the sun. But Fabinho’s offensive ability, good nature, and infectious smile have stuck around for 6 years. He’s the second longest tenured player on the team, and has made 122 regular season appearances, the sixth most in team history. When the annals of Union history are written, Fabinho will have his place.

The Bad

Carlos Valdés- Valdés is a Union legend, and arguably one of the most talented players to don the uniform. His performances during his first stint with the team helped him play his way onto a very talented Colombia team for the 2014 World Cup — which is why his return after the World Cup was such a disappointment. Although he was simply returning from loan, he was heralded as a new signing that would help push the team into the playoffs. However, he didn’t show the same fire as he had while fighting his way into the Colombia team. After failing to make the playoffs in 2014, he once again forced his way out of Philadelphia over the offseason, quietly ending what could have been a legendary career.

Jorge Perlaza- What a strange signing. Fan favorite and promising youngster Danny Mwanga was traded to Portland in exchange for the Colombian striker in one of the terrible moves that defined the end of the Nowak era. Perlaza went on to make just two appearances before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in August. Hindsight is 20-20, as Mwanga fell off a cliff after this trade anyway, but I have to think he would have been more useful to the team than Perlaza.

Rais M’Bohli- The obvious choice for a list like this, M’Bolhi came to the Union fresh off an impressive performance in “a little tournament in Brazil.” Many questioned his signing at the time. Zach MacMath was finally rounding into form after several error-prone years, and promising rookie Andre Blake was waiting in the wings. M’Bolhi’s 9 games in net for the Union were an unmitigated disaster, as the team dropped out of the playoff spots in 2014, in part due to his error against Chicago, and struggled through the start of 2015. People still make goalkeeper jokes about the Union to this day. For what it’s worth, M’Bolhi put in yet another impressive performance for Algeria as they won the African Cup of Nations for the first time in their history this summer. M’Bolhi always was better for his country than his club teams. It’s just a shame that Nick Sakiewicz et al. didn’t realize that.


  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Excellent article. Barnetta doesn’t always receive the credit he deserves, so well done.

  2. The Good

    Barnetta in my opinion would be a close second to Letoux as far as my favorite Union player. If we had been able to keep him a few more years he would have been put in the ring of honor. He had the work ethic of Le Toux and I believe could see a play develop better then any other Union midfielder. He delivered the pass to the right player who often made the next pass to assist and score the goal,

    another good acquisition …Justin Mapp was acquired in late July 2010?from Chicago and was the most talented best pure left attacking midifielders the Union ever had. I think he was one of the leagues top 10 assists players in at least a few seasons of his career. In my opinion some the Union fans undervalued his potential importance to the Unions offense. He was an offensive player not a two way player. He had the reputation of not playing defense but the Union never had a good left fullback while he was on the team. If we had a decent left fullback during the time he player here we could have let him play 90 minutes and the Union would have scored several more goals and won several more games.

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