The raucous crowds at PPL Park. A rapidly improving league. Immense respect for fellow Colombian Faryd Mondragón.
Carlos Valdés took all of this into consideration – and more – when deciding to join the Philadelphia Union.
It was too much for the 25-year-old central defender to pass up when this opportunity presented itself.
Valdés simply smiled when asked about what it meant to be one of the newest pieces of the Union. He was formally introduced along with Mondragón at a press conference Thursday at Fado Irish Pub in Philadelphia.
“I am very happy,” Valdés said as the Sons of Ben cheered loudly in the background.
So are the Union.
“Valdés is a very skilled player,” Manager Peter Nowak said. “He is a technically sound player who can mix it up. I think he will be a very valuable addition on the backline. He’ll get acquainted with his new teammates and we’ll all learn each other in preseason training. I think with his international experience, he will be a big help. He makes our team better.”
WATCH: Full Mondragón/Valdés Press Conference
Valdés, who joins the club from Independiente Santa Fe of the Colombian First Division, began his professional career with America de Cali in 2003, where he became team captain and won the Torneo Finalizacion in ‘08. The center back was transferred to Independiente Santa Fe a year after, where he clinched a Colombian Cup title and also served as team captain.
Valdés helped the Colombian National Team win the U-20 South American Cup in ‘05 and the Central American and Caribbean Games a year later. Debuting with the senior national team in ‘08, Valdés has been capped four times.
He’ll soon be competing for the Union, and he’s anxious to begin the next phase of his career.
“In Colombia, not everyone understands MLS and what the American style of soccer is,” Valdés said. “I think this is an excellent league and to be able to compete in it makes me happy. I like the fans here. I like the coaches. This league is one of the better ones and I am happy to be part of it. I’m especially happy to come to the Philadelphia Union.”
Signing a talented player such as Valdés in the prime of his career only improves a backline that was inconsistent in 2010.
“He’ll be competing with players who got valuable experience with us last season,” said coach John Hackworth. “I think he’ll step right into our locker room and be a great fit as part of the team. He’s very skilled and he’s a team guy. He’s a player who will help in many ways.”
Valdés is accustomed to playing hard and playing the right way. What better place than Philadelphia?
“I love playing soccer,” Valdés said. “I am always excited to play. I like this club and the fans, too, who are so supportive. I am ready to begin playing in front of them and performing well.
“I like how they played last season. I watched some video. I think they have very sound players. I am very happy to be coming aboard with them and helping them in all the ways I can.”