Chester, Pa. (November 23, 2011) – Philadelphia Union announced the club has selected Nizar Khalfan in the MLS Waiver Draft after Vancouver Whitecaps FC released him earlier today. Additionally, the Union have waived goalkeeper Thorne Holder and defender Juan Diego González.
A native of Mtwara, Tanzania, Khalfan appeared in 22 regular season matches in 2011, including nine starts. In 1,066 minutes, the 23-year-old notched a goal and four assists. The midfielder joined Vancouver midway through the 2009 USL First Division season, playing a total 58 games and 3,029 minutes with the Canadian side.
Khalfan began his professional career in his native Tanzania with Mtibwa Sugar FC. During the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, the midfielder scored 16 goals in 57 appearances. After spending a season in the Middle East, Khalfan returned to the Tanzanian Premier League to play for Moro United in 2007-08, where he scored five goals in 16 appearances.
Khalfan has 25 international caps for Tanzania, having scored five goals since making his debut in 2006. On Sept. 2, 2006, Khalfan scored a second-half winner in a historic 2-1 home victory over Burkina Faso at the Tanzania National Main Stadium in Dar es Salaam. He also scored the match-winner during Tanzania's 4-1 away victory vs. Mauritius in the second round of African qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Sept. 6, 2008.
Khalfan recently appeared for Tanzania in 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, setting up Mbwana Samatta's goal during Tanzania's 1-1 home draw with Algeria on Sept. 3, 2011. Khalfan then started both of Tanzania’s matches in the first round of African zone qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 11 and 15, 2011. The Taifa Stars advanced to the second round of African zone qualifying.
Holder originally signed with the Union on March 1, 2011, seeing action in four reserve games against New York (4/10), New England (7/18, 9/8) and Columbus (9/18). Holder also played the second half of Philadelphia's 1-0 victory over Everton in an international match at PPL Park on July 20. The goalkeeper suffered a season-ending concussion during his last reserve game against the Crew.
Gonzalez came to the Union on August 5, 2010 after three years with Colombian side La Equidad, playing a total of seven games with the first team. In 2011, the Colombian defender started all 10 of Philadelphia’s Reserve League matches but did not see action with the first team.
The Union also lost midfielder Justin Mapp to the Montreal Impact in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
WATCH: Meet Nizar Khalfan
Name: Nizar Khalfan
Born: June 21, 1988
Birthplace: Mtwara, Tanzania
Last Club: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Pronunciation: Knee-CZAR CAL-fan