Union manager John Hackworth walked into his weekly press conference Wednesday knowing that questions would surround recent reports involving midfielder Freddy Adu and defender Bakary Soumare. In Adu’s case, the report of his imminent trade to Brazilian first division side Bahia was confirmed by Hackworth. Hackworth noted that while talks among all parties have been conducted for a trade agreement that could see Brazilian stalwart midfielder Kleberson head to Philly, the deal is not complete at this time.
“That deal is not done right now,” Hackworth said emphatically. “There are still some hurdles that have to be stepped over in order for that to happen. The reality is that we think it’s a good situation for both Freddy and the Union and it could potentially bring us a very high profile player from Brazil.”
One of the last few contingencies to secure this deal is Adu, who is scheduled to visit Bahia this week. All that awaits now is for both the club and for Adu “to accept [the offer] that has been laid out for them.” It’s a deal Hackworth hoped would only take “a matter of days, not weeks.”
When it comes to Soumare, it’s a much different feel. On Tuesday, the Malian defender currently away on international duty told Philly Soccer Page via Skype that he is seeking a move from the club, citing a difference of opinion regarding his playing time. Hackworth said that the club is aware of Soumare’s request, and while unfortunate, the technical staff is actively looking to honor it.
“First of all, I’d like to say that Baky is an important part of our team right now,” said Hackworth. “Coming into preseason, it was my thought that he’d be the starting center back for us. I’ve know that reading some of the comments in the press that maybe he didn’t feel that way, but that’s not the case. Whoever stepped up in preseason had an opportunity to win a starting job. There are certain guys for sure, that were maybe No. 1 on our depth chart going in and Baky was one of those players and I still think he will be really important for us if he stays here.”
So what happened?
“After the game against Sporting Kansas City, Baky went to [CEO and operating partner] Nick Sakiewicz first and then myself and said that he would like to be traded because he wasn’t happy not being a starter,” continued Hackworth. “He said that he was in the prime of his career that’s what he came here to do and I absolutely respect him for saying those things and can understand where he’s coming from. But at the end of the day, it’s the coaches’ decision and the coaches’ decision was to play [defenders] Amobi [Okugo] and Jeff [Parke] in that game.”
“Baky wanting to be traded does throw a little bit of a monkey wrench in our plans overall, but we try to do what is best for the player and the organization,” said Hackworth.
The Union looks to continue their winning streak in an international friendly this Saturday against Pumas UNAM (5 p.m., purchase tickets). And that game, along with a return to MLS action on March 30 against New York (3:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network) is the primary focus.
“This is a good opportunity for to measure ourselves against good competition,” said Union midfielder Gabriel Farfan said about Pumas. “It’s against a team that has a lot of history. They’ve been around forever and they’ve won a lot of titles. Also, they are known for their youth academy so it’ll be good to see some young guys come up.”
As far as the Union is concerned, Hackworth noted that anywhere from 8-10 new faces could take the field in this match which provides the perfect opportunity to see the talents of guys on the depth chart. One of players could be homegrown midfielder Cristhian Hernandez who spoke with philadelphiaunion.com about having one the Mexican League’s finest clubs play here at PPL Park.
Hackworth also said that Saturday’s match poses as a great way for the club to not lose steam and to stay in a rhythm. It also works as the perfect time to get some playing ailing with nagging injuries a bit of rest before the league campaign resumes.
“What it does is allow us to keep in a rhythm week in and week out,” said Hackworth. “It’s also allows us to take some pressure off our preparation for the game on Saturday…it’s an international friendly and it gives us the opportunity to stay in the same rhythm and gives guys an opportunity that haven’t had one a chance to shine…and I think you’ll see that on Saturday.”
Thanks to all of you that came out last night to our weekly radio show “The 90th Minute” at Chickies and Pete’s in Northeast Philly. The show, presented by Farmers Insurance is every Tuesday from 6:00-7:00 p.m. and airs on CBS SportsRadio WIP (610-AM). We are back same time next as Union forward Sebastien Le Toux joins the panel alongside host Carl Cherkin, Chris Albright and yours truly.
Hope to see you all next week, but we’ll catch you all same time tomorrow. Don’t forget you can also read this in addition to more soccer news courtesy of our partnership with Philly.com. Just click www.philly.com/philly/sports/soccer for the latest news and commentary.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com