When the Philadelphia Union added depth to the center of their backline with the addition of Juan Diego González Alzate Friday, the 29-year-old Colombian’s new teammates weren’t quite sure what they were getting. Nevertheless, it’s clear the club is ready to welcome González and see what he can offer.
"I've seen him in training and he looks like a solid defender,” said midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. “I haven't seen him a lot, but I've heard very good things. He possesses a lot of talent. I look forward to him clearing his transfer and joining us."
González did just that Friday evening, with the Colombian's International Transfer Receipt coming through in advance of Philadelphia's Sunday showdown with FC Dallas in Frisco, TX. While the defender's role in the coming matches is uncertain, he is now an available option to Manager Peter Nowak.
Despite well-documented lapses in the opposition’s third, the defense has been much improved lately and hasn’t given up more than two goals in any of the last 14 matches. But the unit’s depth was dangerously thin, with only the four current starters – Cristian Arrieta, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey and Michael Orozco Fiscal – on the roster prior to González’s signing.
Other players have slotted in at times this season, including injured winger Shea Salinas and natural holding midfielder Toni Stahl, but an extra body -- and particularly a central defender -- was certainly a position of need for the expansion side.
González has been training with the club since last Wednesday, but his teammates are still feeling out his strengths and what to expect from the center back going forward. To this point, though, the early reviews are positive.
“He’s a good player,” said goalkeeper Chris Seitz after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus. “He’s somewhat new to us and we’re getting used to him but with that being said he’s definitely a good player. He’s going to bring some leadership to the team and he’s definitely going to bring some veteran leadership. We’re looking forward to him getting on the field.”
Nearly every player the Union have had on their roster this season has shown quality at some point or another, instilling a sense of confidence in the personnel decisions of the technical staff and CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz.
Defender Jordan Harvey, for one, can be counted among those who trust in the plan being executed.
"I don't know too much about him, but I'm excited to see him play,” he said. "Our staff, I'm sure saw good things in him to bring him along."
Whether the defender will be given an opportunity to make an impact in the near future remains to be seen, but the addition of an experienced player at a position lacking depth could very well help the Union in the second half of the season.