Analysis / Breaking News

The Union add a right back candidate

Photo published on Deportivo Orientale Petrolero’s official Twitter/X account

The Philadelphia Union announced the acquisition of Jamir Berdecio Thursday morning January 18. He is a 21.4 year-old right-footed right back, on loan with a permanent transfer option. He will be added to the Union’s active roster upon receipt of his international transfer certificate. Apparently, he does not need the corresponding P1 visa as one is not mentioned.

It may be that Berdecio’s arrival reflects Sporting Director Ernst Tanner comment during December’s end-of-season press conference that the Union is beginning a transition toward its next five-year cycle.

Reflecting that transition, Olivier Mbaizo is almost 26.5 years old. Uncertainty exists about his future in Philadelphia. When announced in August of 2021, the Cameroonian’s contract was not specified beyond being “multi-year.” This past December 4, the Union announced he was guaranteed for 2024. But since 2021 we have not found concrete longer-term information about future guaranteed years or options.

There were reports last season that Mbaizo’s family could not get visas to join him in the United States and that he had requested a trade. Were Berdecio to prove reliable as a first team right back, the Union would be much better positioned to allow Mbaizo to join his family.

Regarding a transition to a new cycle, there are two other right back names to consider. Nathan Harriel is still young enough to perhaps be sold on, especially if he earns starts this summer in Paris and does well. It remains unclear whether Tanner thinks academy senior Francis Westfield is a first-team right back now or in the future. College may also be an option. Mark McKenzie went to Wake Forest after graduating from the Academy. Westfield may follow a similar course.

Berdecio may also be versatile as Transfermarkt lists his secondary position as a midfielder. So far there is no concrete evidence that Alejandro Bedoya intends to return and Andres Perea has just been traded. It is never a bad idea to have extra midfielders.

Berdecio has been with Deportivo Orientale Petrolare of Bolivia’s first division since he was 19. He was on Bolivia’s 35-man preliminary roster for the 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic qualification tournament on January 5 but did not make the final squad list released on January 16. That fits soccer’s pattern concerning younger players trying to make new teams.

Whether the Bolivian must learn English is unknown. He certainly must learn the Union’s system of play. He might well begin his learning with Union II where assistant coach Anthony Flores is fluent in Spanish and has effectively communicated with new Latin players.


Since publication we have learned that the 2024 MLS Primary transfer window opens on Wednesday, January 31st. That is the first day the Union and MLS can formally request Berdecio’s International Transfer Certificate. Its absence does not affect his ability to play in preseason matches, we think, since they are unofficial. We do not know whether he is with the team in Florida yet.


  1. I like Mbaizo and I’d be sorry to see him go, but the Union should let him go back to Cameroon and be with his family.

  2. He has a green card, hence no visa needed and hopefully he speaks some English!

  3. He is definitely with the Union and played the first half against Flamengo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *