MLS Ticker: Union sign Algerian goalkeeper Mbolhi; Orlando City end pursuit of Robinho

RaisMbolhiAlgeria2-RussiaWorldCup2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The Philadelphia Union have added a World Cup goalkeeper to their squad.

The Union announced at a press conference at Noon on Wednesday that they’ve signed Algerian international goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, fresh off guiding Algeria to their first ever knockout round appearance at the 2014 World Cup. The 28-year-old’s contract, which will become official upon the receipt of his international transfer certificate and his P-1 visa, was not disclosed.

Mbolhi, a native of France who played for his birth nation at youth level before switching to Algeria in 2010, has spent the last four years under contract with CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria, though he’s spent two loan spells with Krylya Sovetov in the Russian Premier League and Gazelec Ajaccio in France’s Ligue 2.

In the introductory press conference, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz revealed that Mbolhi rejected offers from clubs participating in the UEFA Champions League to join the Union.

Here are some more notes from around the league:

ORLANDO CITY OUT OF ROBINHO SWEEPSTAKES, WON’T PURSUE RONALDINHO

Orlando City SC have scored one major Brazilian signing this year, but their attempt to sign another one looks to be over.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando City are out of the running to sign AC Milan’s Robinho. Robinho is expected to be on his way out of Italy this summer and while a move to MLS has long been rumored, other clubs reportedly offering more money, including in his native Brazil, have come into the picture, making a future move to Orlando look more and more unlikely.

In addition, Orlando City have ruled out the signing of former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho, who is now a free agent after mutually terminating his contract with Atletico Mineiro.

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What do you think of these developments? Do you see Mbolhi starting later this season? What do you think this means for Andre Blake or Zac MacMath? Do you see Orlando signing anymore Brazilians as Designated Players?

Share your thoughts below.

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27 Responses to MLS Ticker: Union sign Algerian goalkeeper Mbolhi; Orlando City end pursuit of Robinho

  1. beto says:

    Wow great signing for the Union. McMath was good but this guy could be one of the top keepers in the league. Why did he decide on Philly over UCL clubs? Whats next for McMath?

  2. You have to wonder what the Union are lining up. They have not 3 quality goal keepers – some would argue with the addition of Mbolhi that they have 2 all-star caliber goalies with a third on the way. As a Union fan, I can only hope that they will be using McMath and bait to bring in a much needed world class center back.

    • beto says:

      isn’t Valdez on his way back to Philly?

    • reignman says:

      How could McMath get you a world class CB? Even with added bait the only thing he can get you is other players in the MLS and most would argue there isn’t a world class CB in the league. The ones that might be considered it obviously aren’t moving to another MLS team (Besler, Gonzalez, etc.). He clearly is going to be moved though.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      MacMath has like a 1.5 overall G/game average, 1.7 this season. People realize there are GK out there around 1.0, right? It’s an upgrade.

  3. r.benjamin says:

    Good signing for MLS and Union. These are the type that keep the league moving forward.

    Too bad about the Brazilians. They might be washed up, but woulda been fun/interesting to have a few year reunion of Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho in Orlando.

  4. NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

    I thought Orlando was loaded with money :(
    For example Kaka came in with no fee, so that was easy. So what’s the difference with robinho and ronaldinho?
    I would go for ronaldinho but he wouldn’t like it there, I’m guessing.
    Anyways, where’s ronaldinho press conference, my gut says boca juniors , flamengo or epl and long shot psg.
    MLS won’t get him, it’s MLS :( by the way, Orlando would make a huge impact if they would have gone after ronaldinho.

  5. chuck says:

    Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz revealed that Mbolhi rejected offers from clubs participating in the UEFA Champions League* to join the Union.

    *Qualifying rounds

  6. Willow says:

    The Union now have 3 excellent keepers in Mbolhi, MacMath, and Blake. I would think they will soon be moving one of them. MacMath keeps getting better the more he plays and is maybe one year away from being MLS Allstar caliber. I would think he will be easier to trade than Blake even though they are the same age. It’s going to be interesting so see what happens with this. MacMath deserves to be a starter somewhere.

  7. Benjamin C. says:

    Jim Curtin’s comments about the signing were a bit humorous to me, basically telling the fan base to get excited about Mbolhi. Most diehard soccer fans will know who he is, but the typical American fan is not going to get excited for a goalkeeper unless his name is Tim Howard. Good signing, unless your name is Zac McMath, but I doubt a goalie from Algeria will create a hum of anticipation in the stadium.

    • If nothing else, Philly has a huge Algerian population (Back in 2009 when I was living there, they threw a huge impromptu parade down Walnut and Chestnut Sts. when they qualified for the World Cup.)

      /yes, this does smell like late ’90s MLS ethnic pandering. Imagine Chicago signing another moderately important Polish player.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      If he saves everything not tied down and wins them games the buzz will follow.

  8. NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

    calm down, if mls comes out and says red bull and nycfc signed him, im gonna be surprised given that mls and other soccer websites know everything and let scoop out.
    something fishy is going on, and so sad orlando might be a not so loaded team. I thought garber wanted heavy rich owners.
    look at philly, dallas, columbus, rsl, san jose, chicago, they get nothing from the owner. plus denver and dc oh and new england.

  9. Rafavic says:

    Not sure how I feel on this one. Zac was shaky in the beginning of the season but has been solid over all. Honestly we needed a defender or two rather than another GK. For some of our games you could put the best GK in the world back there and he’d still look terrible because of the defense in front of him. Notice how many times Zac rushes out of the box when he shouldn’t be. It’s because he does not trust his back line.

  10. argh says:

    Mbohli is quality. Arguably best keeper in the league when he starts. Surprised he goes to Philly. what’s his salary gonna be? 400 K? probably could have doubled that had he got on a CL club or went to the Premier League

    either way, excellent move MLS

  11. argh says:

    Robinho is only 29. Offer him a 3 year 15 million dollar deal and he will take it.

    Trust me it’s all in the bag.

    • Jay says:

      I can only hope. Especially since other teams have wasted dp slots and money on much worse players.

  12. KFRZ says:

    Is Robinho a center forward or can he be used in a number of attacking roles? If he’s available y not come to RBNY?

    Would also like to see them make a run at Sami Khederia, since he also appears to be available for the right price. Not a USA household name but world cup winner, world class holding mid and right side of 30… All the talk about making MLS a destination league…this move would be watershed.

    • Strider257 says:

      Sorry, Khedira is NOT going to be coming to MLS anytime soon. He will end up at a good club, at least UEFA Cup level and possibly Champions League. MLS can’t afford him yet.

  13. Josh says:

    Stockpiling keepers is weird.