Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
More than a month into his signing with the Philadelphia Union, former World Cup-winning midfielder Kleberson has yet to make a starting lineup.
The 33-year-old Brazilian, acquired on March 25 from Bahia in exchange for Freddy Adu, has made two substitute appearances for the Union since the move, but manager John Hackworth has remained coy on whether Kleberson will be in the starting lineup in the coming weeks.
“Kleberson is a guy that continues to get acclimated here, and we’re trying to get him to a point where we feel he can play more minutes, but we’re not going to force that,” Hackworth said during his weekly press conference. “He has not played a full 90 minutes in an awful long time, so we have to prepare him to do that.”
After being asked to go further in depth on the issue, Hackworth responded by saying that Kleberson still isn’t physically where he needs to be to break into the starting lineup, and that there are numerous other factors the coaches consider before potentially risking the Brazilian before he is ready.
“I think he is now at a position where he is ready to maybe take another step forward, Hackworth said. “We should realize that he is a player that needs to be fully prepared to play 90 minutes, and in this league, it’s much different than anything he’s experienced previously in his career.”
Here are some more notes from the Union’s weekly press conference:
SOUMARE SITUATION STILL UNRESOLVED
Back in March, realizing that he was on the outside looking in, defender Bakary Soumare handed in a trade request to his bosses with the Union. The Union organization said when the news broke that they were open to trading the Soumare, but as of May 1, he is still property of the Union.
“Nothing I can comment publicly at this time.,” Hackworth said when asked about the Malian international. “We’re actively trying to find a solution for Soumare and for the Philadelphia Union.”
Currently Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo have cemented positions in the center of the back four, with Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams occupying the fullback roles in a back line that hasn’t had to change around much this season.
“I do like our back line right now which means he’s not playing a lot,” Hackworth said. “Soumare has been a good professional in every aspect and is still available for selection, so as of right now he is a Philadelphia Union player and does his job well.”
HACKWORTH NOT WORRIED ABOUT EARLY SEASON INCONSISTENCY
In the month of April, the Union began with two draws before a wild 3-2 victory on April 21 against D.C. United. However, last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to the New England Revolution brought the side back down to earth, even if it didn’t seem to worry Hackworth too much.
“I think this league is tough this way no matter what, I think every team across the board you see that with. I think on any given day anybody can beat anybody,” Hackworth said. “While I would not try to defend the fact that I don’t think we played well on Saturday night, I thought New England was exceptional, and that’s a credit to them as much as it’s our fault for not dealing with it.
Now moving forward to Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, Hackworth mentioned that he’s going to have to remind his side that even though the Sounders have struggled this season, they are still one of the best teams in the league.
“They’re going to be one of the best teams we play and we’ll have to significantly improve from our last performance if we want to be successful Saturday night,” Hackworth said.
NEWS AND NOTES:
- Hackworth mentioned that they have been emphasizing defense in training this week after giving up four goals in the last two matches.
- Between May 11-18, the Union will play three matches, seeing the Fire twice with a match against the Galaxy sandwiched in the middle. Hackworth confirmed that there would be a squad rotation during that stretch.
- There were no injuries to note during the press conference.
What do you make of these notes? Do you feel that Kleberson is being over-managed? Do you think the Union need him in the lineup to be more successful? Do you see Soumare being traded?
Share your thoughts below.