Union found a midfield spark in Kleberson
Since being acquired on loan from Esporte Clube Bahia, Kleberson has waited patiently.
The veteran Brazilian international has trained hard every single day while getting accustomed to his new Philadelphia Union teammates.
The wait was worth it.
Kleberson was rewarded with his second consecutive start in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire Saturday night at PPL Park. He received his first start in a Union uniform in a 4-1 loss to the two-time defending MLS Cup champion L.A. Galaxy last Wednesday at PPL Park.
Kleberson, a former FIFA World Cup Champion, played a full 90 minutes for the first time against the Galaxy and looked as poised as ever. He had played a total of 29 minutes in two previous matches.
“I was looking forward to getting my first start and coming here,” Kleberson said through a translator. “I’ve been getting adjusted to the American game and waiting on the bench and observing it the last few weeks. So getting my first start tonight was a big deal to me.
“I’m glad (manager) John (Hackworth) has the confidence in me and I want to reward him for that confidence.”
Kleberson has played in the English Premier League, Turkish Süper Lig and Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, while also appearing in UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches.
That type of experience was evident from the start against the Galaxy and again versus the Fire.
“We’ve known that he’d be a big addition for us,” said Union defender Sheanon Williams. “He’s come in and has been working hard and maybe hasn’t gotten the playing time, he’s getting used to our system and how we play. Brazil is a lot different than us, so I thought he played really well today, had a couple good opportunities.
“He played some really good balls to our forwards and he’ll continue to learn and get better. He’s a great player and we’re happy to have him.”
So is Hackworth.
“Jose did a good job in his first start,” Hackworth said. “You see a lot of good qualities there. Good performance by him, probably tough for him to play 90 but you’ve got to get those game minutes in. At the end of the game, when we weren’t thinking of playing him a full 90, but your thought is you keep a guy with that quality in the game.”
Kleberson was aggressive in the midfield and had chances to score. In addition, he showed the overall skill set that has made him a quality player for numerous years.
“It was very natural for me and I was very content to start the game, an important game at that,” Kleberson said. “I tried to give my best to the team and I laid it all out on the field.”
Kleberson is unsure of what the future holds. He’ll just keep doing the same thing – working hard in training and hoping for the best.
“It’s up to John and at the end of the day, he makes the decisions that are best for the team,” Kleberson said. “I think I can bring a lot of experience and a style of play that can help but at the end of the day, it’s the (manager’s) decision.”