Valdes loan stint opens door for Parke to own Union backline
Sometimes decisions made in the best interest of the club can have a dual purpose.
Such is the case regarding defender Carlos Valdes who requested and was granted a loan stint by the Union that will find him wearing the red and white of his former club, Colombia’s Independiente Santa Fe.
Valdes’ return to Colombia is well-calculated and one he believed necessary if there was any chance of gaining approval in the eyes of Colombian national team coach Jose Pekerman ahead of the final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. With Colombia’s first division kicking off preseason training on Monday, the move gives Pekerman an immediate look at Valdes – a lot closer to home.
"We will certainly miss Carlos for this season, but this is a unique situation, said Union manager John Hackworth. “We have done everything possible to make sure this move works for both the player and Union until Carlos returns. Our hope is that this allows Carlos the best chance of reaching his dream of playing in the 2014 World Cup."
And while reports have swirled that this deal was done weeks ago, the dust didn’t settle on this deal until this week as both sides still sought an amicable agreement in addition to signatures and league approval.
“Carlos and I talked about the possibility of this at the end of the season,” Hackworth told philadelphiaunion.com. “I and [Union director of international player development] Ricardo Ansaldi did speak on a conference call with Jose Pekerman and we all agreed that a move like this one gives Carlos the best possible opportunity to represent Colombia.”
However, it was the rumblings of this possibility that set the wheels of the Union’s technical staff in motion for a solid replacement. The club found that player on Dec. 7, when it announced the signing of former Seattle Sounders center back and Philadelphia native Jeff Parke.
Defense has never been the primary problem for the Union, and the inclusion of Parke affirms such a statement. Parke arrives after being named the Sounders’ Defender of the Year and was a major proponent of Seattle’s playoff run and back-to-back U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
In fact it’s Parke who received a recent call-up to the U.S. men’s national team ahead of a Jan. 26 friendly against Canada. A solid showing at the U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp also puts Parke in consideration for a permanent USMNT roster spot with the final phase of World Cup qualifying beginning Feb. 6 against Honduras.
The 2013 MLS season arrives in 45 days. There’s no time to dwell on the past. In three days, when the Union opens its preseason campaign it will do so with a clean slate – and fresh faces.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org