Juan Diego González is fast becoming a staple on defense for the Union.
Considering how long he has been here – ten days, to be exact – having three starts under his belt already is no small feat.
The Union signed the central defender on Aug. 5, and the 29-year-old Colombian has immediately paid dividends in the center of Philadelphia's backline. Aside from a 3-1 loss in Dallas that is misleading because the Union played most of the match down a man in scorching heat, González has helped the club hold Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids to a lone goal apiece.
Praised over the course of his professional career for leadership and ability in the air, González won a Colombian Cup with La Equidad in 2008 and an International Mercosur Cup with Argentinean San Lorenzo in ‘01.
The goal now is to help the Union win as many matches as possible.
“It has been very positive and has gone very well so far,” said Gonzalez of his experience with the club thus far. “I’m getting a chance to play American soccer and I’m getting used to my Philadelphia teammates.”
Born in Medellín, Colombia, González brings a plethora of experience to the Union, playing for clubs in Colombia (CD Envigado 1996-‘99/2002, Independiente Medellin 1999-’00/’05, Santa Fe ’03-’04, Once Caldas ‘05/’06-’07, La Equidad ’07-’10, Deportivo Pereira ’10), Argentina (Club Almagro ’00-’01, San Lorenzo ’01) and Mexico (Santos Laguna ’06).
Since joining MLS, there has been a bit of a transition period.
“The type of soccer they play here is faster and more physical,” Gonzalez said. “You need to stick with the ball and play physical and fast. I’m getting adjusted to it.”
That he has – quickly.
“I think he has done a great job in such a short amount of time,” said defender Michael Orozco Fiscal. “He has blended in nicely with us. It’s not easy. I think we added a player with a lot of experience and that is always good. He has done very well so far with us.”
In the early going, Gonzalez has been thrilled with his new surroundings.
It’s hard not to notice the passionate fan base at PPL Park anchored by the Sons of Ben.
“They’re very good and loud,” Gonzalez said. “They really support us. When you’re down and they’re behind you the whole time you’re out there, it’s great with how they support us. It’s a really big responsibility for us to play well for the fans.
"It’s a great motivation for us to listen to them and (have them) always pulling for us. We need to answer the bell for them every way we can."