Califf deal alters identity of Union defense

Increased speed enables Philadelphia to "keep the line a little bit higher"

Defense - NY

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

CHESTER, Pa. -- Philadelphia Union's defense will take on a new identity with the trade of Danny Califf to Chivas USA.

With Sheanon Williams expected to play center back, the club's starting backline will likely now consist of Williams and Carlos Valdes in the middle, with Raymon Gaddis and Gabriel Farfan out wide.

Standout rookie Gaddis appears to have earned the starting right back position and Farfan is set for a return at left back following a three-game suspension.

“There’s always a question of how we’re going to proceed," manager Peter Nowak said during his weekly press conference on Wednesday. “But I think during the last couple of weeks we already played with Sheanon (at center back), and the arrival of Ray Gaddis gave us the flexibility to keep the line a little bit higher. We have enough speed right now. The trade is going to give us another option as well.”

Valdes has been the lone constant on a fluid backline this season. The veteran has played centrally in both four-man and three-man defenses. Farfan started the season as a midfielder before winning the left back job from Porfirio Lopez.

Chris Albright earned minutes earlier this year, and Gaddis made his debut in surprise fashion against Vancouver. The West Virginia product now has five starts this year and has impressed the technical staff.

“(If we didn’t play Ray), we could never have found that he can manage games from the beginning, just like he did from the first game,” said Nowak. “I think we’ve given time to (other young guys). If we’re not going to try things that we believe in, then it’s going to be difficult to find out how they react. I think the way we played on Sunday, it shows that we’re progressing. We’re progressing in a good way. We’ve been talking about the offensive side, the defensive side, and the structure we’d like to keep.”

Due to injuries to Califf, Williams has actually spent more time in central defense than at fullback this season and has looked comfortable in the role.

“He said to me, ‘it’s an easy position to play,’” Nowak revealed.“He’s a great defender. He’s very good with the ball. He’s not afraid to go forward, even with the ball. (You can) even leave him with one forward. He’s very good one-on-one so he’ll embrace the position in a pretty good way.

"For us it’s still important to look at what the next couple of weeks and months bring, as the transfer window will open up soon. It’s a combination of things that we need to do to make sure that we’ll still be able to strengthen (the team).