Union Solidify Defense with Colombian Duo

Mondragón, Valdés expected to strengthen Philadelphia's backline in 2011

With one dual
announcement, Philadelphia Union addressed their most glaring weakness in 2010.

After weeks of speculation, Colombian
internationals Faryd Mondragón and Carlos Valdés were formally introduced to
the public in Center City on Thursday. Manager Peter Nowak took the opportunity
to speak candidly about the club’s struggles on the defensive side of the ball
in their inaugural season.

“We conceded
too many goals,” he said. “We acknowledge that. We don’t hide the
problems. We tried to stabilize during the season the backline - we tried to
make it better. I believe at the end of the season the group finally found a
rhythm."

WATCH: Full Mondragón/Valdés Press Conference

The backline
did, in fact, improve significantly over the course of the 2010 season. Mondragón and 
Valdés are being brought on board to help the club take the next step: transforming Philadelphia's defensive unit into a veritable
strength.

Mondragón possesses
the commanding presence, veteran leadership and ability to organize
that the club lacked in net last season. Chris Seitz didn’t work out as a first
choice option and subsequently departed the club. Brad Knighton fared better as
a replacement starter, but by signing Mondragón and drafting Zac MacMath in the
first round of last week’s SuperDraft, Nowak is indicating that he’s more
inclined to revamp the club’s ‘keeper pool than test Knighton over a full
season.

“Faryd, right
now, is such an experienced guy who can command the backline from his goal, a
position that is crucial,” Nowak said.

Valdés – a
25-year-old central defender who captained his last two club sides 
 is also expected to
assume a starting role, but it won’t necessarily be handed to him
unconditionally. After all, the foursome of Sheanon Williams on the right,
Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal in the middle, and Jordan Harvey on the
left showed plenty of promise towards the end of the ’10 season. The technical
staff has hinted that Orozco Fiscal 
– who also played out wide and briefly as a holding midfielder last season  will be back in 2011, making for
some intriguing preseason battles.

WATCH: Mondragón Highlights

Regardless
of which foursome starts in the back come March 19, Philadelphia made a
statement by signing two players who have the ability to immediately step in as
frontline starters. Colombians have had a great deal of success in MLS – Carlos
Valderamma,
Juan Pablo Ángel, David Ferreira, Fredy Montero, Jamison Olave and Wilman Conde have all starred in America’s top flight,
among others – and the Union hope their new pair will be no different.

“I believe
these two signings not only will stabilize the backline but it’s going to
give us, in the case of Faryd, with a great professional career behind him and
great experience with the national team, and with Carlos, who is a current
member of the Colombian national team … we’re looking to solve these
(defensive) problems right now.”

Time will ultimately
tell, but on paper, mission accomplished.

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Related:

Gutiérrez Key in Union's Colombian Acquisitions

Valdés Impressed with MLS, Thrilled to Join Union

Well-Prepared Mondragón Ready to Go to Work for Union

MLSsoccer.com's The Daily on Mondragón, Valdés