Inside the Union: Union's Soumare gets another chance at starting
It is interesting that two sides that wanted a split need to be working together. When the Union visit the Chicago Fire on Saturday for a Major League Soccer game, it's likely that Bakary Soumare will play center back in only his second start for the Union since being acquired last year.
It is interesting that two sides that wanted a split need to be working together.
When the Union visit the Chicago Fire on Saturday for a Major League Soccer game, it's likely that Bakary Soumare will play center back in only his second start for the Union since being acquired last year.
The first start was forgettable. Soumare was not moving well after a knee injury last season, and the Union lost to the Fire, 3-1, at PPL Park on Aug. 12.
Soumare showed in that game that he wasn't ready to hit the field. Entering this season, however, he was prepared to be a major contributor.
But the emergence of Amobi Okugo and the addition of Jeff Parke gave the Union a formidable duo of center backs, relegating Soumare to the bench.
So early in the season, Soumare let it known that the he wanted to be traded. The Union, not happy at his public demand, let it be known they wanted to trade him.
The fact that he has a $350,000 salary probably hasn't made trading him an easy task. But with Parke suffering from a hamstring injury and likely out for Saturday's game, the 6-foot-4 Soumare is expected to start at center back.
"It's exciting," Soumare said about the prospect of playing.
Make no mistake, this has been a difficult time for Soumare, who was nominated for MLS defender of the year while playing for Chicago in 2008.
"There is nothing I enjoy in life doing more than playing soccer, and when you are not able to do what you love, it is frustrating," Soumare said.
Union team manager John Hackworth credits both sides for working through their differences.
"I don't want anybody who doesn't want to be on the field, and Bakary has the opportunity with us, and I hope he makes the most of it," Hackworth said. "It certainly puts any talk of him being traded on the back burner for the foreseeable future, and you never know what will happen."
Nobody will admit it, but the best thing that could happen is for Soumare to show he has regained his form, enhancing his trade value.
At this point, nobody, including Soumare, can predict how he will fare in a game.
"In soccer, you train every day. But in order to get into game shape you have to play games," Soumare said. "My knee feels good. My body feels good, and I am in good form."
He also talked about playing against the Fire.
"Chicago is home, and to play against my former team, where I still have some really close friends, makes it special, not stressful," Soumare said.
What has been stressful has been the inactivity. That apparently is about to change, and what's most surprising is that the change will come while Soumare is still in a Union uniform.