Even when the season spiraled in the opposite direction, Carlos Valdes came to work with the same attitude.
In fact, he came to work even more determined.
Valdes, the Union’s All-Star center back and captain, only knows one way to compete.
Watch: Carlos Valdes bio bites
“Carlos is so competitive,” defender Sheanon Williams said. “I mean, we’re all competitive on this club in training. But Carlos, he brings it and you’d better be ready. I think as the captain, it’s the type of example you want to see, especially for the younger players.”
For Valdes, there’s no other play to play. He wouldn’t know how to go at half speed. That’s not his style.
“I think, whether you’re the captain or not, you have to play hard and give it everything you have,” Valdes said. “It’s being proud of what you do and what I do is play football for the Philadelphia Union. This is my job. I am honored to be the club’s captain and I will always give it everything I have for the club and for the supporters of the club.”
Valdes played another stellar all-around match in the Union’s 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution Saturday night. It was the Union’s third win in the last four matches.
“I’m extremely happy with how we’re playing,” said Valdes, who has anchored a defense allowing just 37 goals all season. “The team has responded very well, so you can tell that everyone is committed for one purpose, and that is to finish strong with great wins for our fans that supported us in every home game we have had so far.
“We have three matches left and we have to finish strong. I know we’re out of the playoff race, but I still think it’s important to get as many points as possible and take those positive energy signs into next season.”
Valdes isn’t just focused on the Union’s next match, Oct. 20 at Houston. There is the huge matter of international duty in the interim.
Valdes will join the Colombian national team and face Paraguay on Friday in a World Cup qualifying match. Then comes a friendly against Cameroon on Oct. 16.
On Sept. 7, Valdes played a full 90 minutes in a 4-0 clean sheet against Uruguay. Overall, he has been capped six times by Colombia with one goal.
Just having the opportunity to compete for his country is amazing.
“All I can say is that I thank god for giving the strength and keep me healthy, so I can prove every day that I can play at the best level, and that is the reason why I am traveling to play for my National team,” Valdes said. “I feel very lucky right now because I am experiencing good moments with Colombia and we hope to give them a good victory against Paraguay. It’s an honor to play for the National team and I’m very lucky to be in this position. I’m going to do all I can to help my country win.”
The break in the Union’s schedule gave Valdes a lift.
When he returns to the club, it will be all business for Valdes in the final three league matches – at Houston, at Sporting Kansas City and home against rival New York on Oct. 27.
“I think whether you’re in first place or in last place, you have to come with the same intensity,” Valdes said. “You have to play as hard as you can because you’re representing a club and its fans. I am the captain and my job is to lead by example on the field. I will always play hard and I’m going to do all I can to help us win the last three matches.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com