Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JOEL HOOVER
There have been no final player moves for the Philadelphia Union on the last day of the summer transfer window for Major League Soccer.
However, the day provided an opportunity for manager John Hackworth to speak about the team’s most recent acquistion: 24-year-old Brazilian midfielder Gilberto dos Santos Souza Junior, better known simply as “Gilberto”, who was signed on August 2.
“We’re happy that he’s here…he was a good summer acquisition for us,” Hackworth said Wednesday at the team’s weekly press conference. “But this is a move that we are looking to as a little more long-term than an immediate need.”
Prior to the move to Philadelphia, Gilberto had played for seven different teams at various levels of Brazilian club soccer. He most notably made six appearances for Brazil Serie A side Atletico Mineiro in 2011. Most recently, he made 16 appearances for Atletico Sorocaba in the Campeonato Paulista, the highest division in Sao Paolo.
Hackworth added that he would like time for Gilberto to adjust to the new surroundings and climate, and that the move does not represent any kind of desperate push for help.
“(Gilberto) hasn’t played in several months,” Hackworth said. “He needs time to get fit first and foremost, but (also) to have an adjustment before we really evaluate his contribution to the team on the field.”
Here are more notes from the Union’s weekly press conference:
KLEBERSON TRYING TO GET BACK ON THE FIELD
Despite working his way back from a nagging thigh injury that kept him out for the month of June, Union Designated Player Kleberson has not found an opportunity to return to the field in recent weeks. John Hackworth said that the Brazilian had been in the discussion for chances to return for the field, but the timing and difficult games have not played in his favor.
“(Our coaching staff) just hasn’t felt there’s been the right opportunity for him,” Hackworth said. “To his credit, he continues to work really hard in training, he’s 100 percent healthy, and I think he’s being patient and waiting for his chance.”
The 34-year-old DP, acquired from Bahia in Brazil in exchange for Freddy Adu back in March, had exited the Union’s 1-1 draw with Toronto FC on June 1 with a thigh injury that would keep him off the team sheet for the next six league matches. He has been on the bench in the Union’s most recent matches with Portland, Vancouver, and Chicago, but did not feature in any of them.
Kleberson has made just six appearances on the season, with four of them being starts, but Hackworth continues to be impressed by the work ethic he has seen from the midfielder in training. He also feels that there “will be a chance” for Kleberson to play a role down the stretch as the regular season comes to its climax.
“Kleberson is a big name and I know there’s a lot of people that have this huge expectation for him,” Hackworth said. “But he was brought here for a reason, he’s done everything we’ve asked, and when he gives us that opportunity to put him in the team, I’m quite confident he’ll be ready for it.”
GADDIS LIKELY TO MISS D.C. MATCH
The disappointment of Philadelphia’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire last weekend was compounded by an injury to left back Raymon Gaddis. The 23-year-old departed the match at halftime after rolling his ankle in a tackle during the first half.
Though according to Hackworth he has made “great progress” and has been working with the team doctors, Gaddis looks unlikely to feature for the Union in their upcoming match with D.C. United on Saturday at PPL Park.
“It’s a tough injury,” Hackworth said of Gaddis’ ankle problem. “He ran a little bit at the end of training today, which is an extremely positive sign. But he’s still got a long way to go.”
To this point, Gaddis had started all 23 games this season for the Union at the left back position, giving the team speed and tenacity at the position despite Gaddis’ natural tendencey to play on the right. Hackworth would not completely rule out Gaddis being available if he could continue his “miraculous” recovery, but the manager is ready to call upon one of the team’s summer signings.
“As it stands right now, Fabinho is slotted in to that position,” Hackworth said, which would be the first start of the season for the Brazilian left back.
- Hackworth noted that D.C. United are in good form ahead of their match with the Union following victories over the weekend against Montreal and in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Chicago. He also stated that the Real Salt Lake-D.C. United final in the Open Cup shows the parity in MLS right now.
- Training earlier in the week was “chippy” because of the loss to Chicago according to both Hackworth and Jeff Parke. However, the manager said such a mood has been a good thing and helped the team put the disappointing loss behind them.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see the Gilberto signing paying dividends in the future for the Union? Should Kleberson be back on the field this weekend? Are you looking forward to seeing more from Fabinho at left back?
Share your thoughts below.