Chester, Pa. (January 30, 2012) – Philadelphia Union and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón today announced that they have mutually decided to part ways, allowing for Mondragón to return to his native Colombia and play for Colombian First Division side Deportivo Cali. The 40-year-old Mondragon made his professional debut with Cali in 1990 at the age of 21.
“It has been an absolute honor and a privilege to be part of the Union family,” said Mondragón. “My time in Philadelphia has proven to be unforgettable, and I am tremendously proud of having led the team for what proved to be a successful 2011. We achieved most of our goals and continued the club's growth into becoming the best club in MLS.
"For family reasons, I have requested the club to allow me the opportunity to finish my career where it started. I am extremely thankful with our fans, especially Sons of Ben, the best fans in MLS, our ownership, technical staff, my teammates and everyone in the city of Philadelphia who always made me feel at home and made the 2011 season one I will never forget. I look forward to coming back to PPL Park as an avid fan and part of the Union family. I wish the club continued success.”
Mondragón signed with the Union on January 20, 2011 on a free transfer from FC Cologne of the German Bundesliga and immediately helped transform the Union into one of the league's top defensive units. Given the captain’s armband at the beginning of the season, the World Cup veteran started 27 matches and posted a 62 percent save percentage with seven clean sheets.
Mondragón became the Union’s second-ever All-Star representative, starting against Manchester United in the 2011 midseason showcase. Mondragón fractured his right finger against Real Salt Lake on September 3, sidelining him for seven matches, but he returned for the final two matches of the regular season and the Union’s first playoff appearance. Mondragon capped off his stellar season with a second-place finish in 2011 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting, behind only Kasey Keller.
“We’d like to thank Faryd for his service to our team and his incredible leadership last season,” said manager Peter Nowak. “We understand that family is important above all else and we decided that it was of the utmost importance to grant him his request of finishing his career with his childhood club. We wish him the best of luck as he ends his career at Deportivo Cali, the club where he started his career.”
After beginning his professional career with Cali, Mondragón joined several other Colombian teams before landing with Argentinean First Division club Atletico Independiente in 1995. After his time in Colombia and Argentina, he moved to Europe where he starred in Spain’s La Liga (Real Zaragoza FC, 1999), the French Ligue 1 (FC Metz, 2000-‘01), the Turkish First Division (Galatasaray S.K., 2001-’07, won titles in 2002 and 2006), and finally the Bundesliga (FC Cologne, 2007-’10).
The Union open the MLS regular season on March 12 with a nationally televised game in Portland (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The club will then return home to host the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 18 at PPL Park (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports).