Union finally, officially are rid of Carlos Valdés
It was clear as soon as the Union loaned Carlos Valdés to Uruguayan club Nacional in February that the Colombian national team defender would never take the field at PPL Park again. Even though his $400,000 salary wasn't the Union's responsibility during the loan, the team knew that until it could either sell him or fully cut ties, it would be on the hook again some day.
On Monday, Valdés allowed the Union to finally cut ties with him and move on. The two sides agreed to a mutual termination of his contract with the team.
Although a mutual termination doesn't net the Union a transfer fee, it is at least cheaper than having to buy Valdés out of the remainder of his contract. According to a source with knowledge of that contract, it ran through the 2016 season.
Getting rid of Valdés' contract significantly helps the team's attempts to land a big-name signing who can be not just a short-term loan acquisition à la Fernando Aristeguieta, but something for longer.
If - as has been reported by the Inquirer and other outlets - that signing is Swiss winger Tranquillo Barnetta, the Union still need to clear up another international roster slot. Moving out goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi would certainly solve that problem, but it's been a while since there has been any tangible news about whether and how the Algerian might finally depart.
For now, the Union are at least relieved of a major headache. The team has tried repeatedly over the last year and change to find a club to sell Valdés to, but to no avail.
In his early years at at PPL Park, he was a stalwart of the lineup and a fan favorite. He joined the Union ahead of the 2011 season, and started 65 games combined in 2011 and 2012.
Ahead of the 2013 season, things started to unravel - in part because Colombian national team coach José Pékerman all but forced Valdés to move out of Major League Soccer as a requirement to make the Cafeteros' 2014 World Cup team.
So the Union loaned Valdés to Santa Fe, the club he joined the Union from, for 2013. In 2014, Valdés was loaned to Argentine power San Lorenzo.
After the World Cup, Valdés had a dramatic falling out with San Lorenzo and the Union contentiously recalled him. When he returned to PPL Park, Valdés said he was happy to be back, but when the 2015 preseason started, he showed up to the first day of training in street clothes.
That set off a contentious chain of events that ended with the Union loaning him to Uruguayan club Nacional for 2015.
CBS' Kevin Kinkead did a good job of chronicling the whole saga for the Philly Soccer Page earlier this year. Now, at long last, the Union have closed that tumultous chapter of their history.