For months now, Union fans and outside observers have been waiting for the team to fulfill its long-standing promise that it would bring in a striker who can truly lead the team's attack. On Friday, the team acquired a player they think can live up to the billing.
The Union signed 22-year-old Venezuelan striker Fernando Aristeguieta from the French club Nantes on a loan for the 2015 season. At the end of the loan, the Union will have an option to buy his contract outright.
Aristeguieta will come to PPL Park under Major League Soccer's Young Designated Player rule, which will limit the Union's salary cap hit to $200,000 regardless of his actual salary. Just what that figure will be won't be known immediately, because MLS doesn't publish salary data. The MLS Players Union releases leaguewide salary data every few months, and will likely do so after the season starts.
The 6-foot-2 Caracas native's career began at Caracas FC in the Venezuelan league, where he scored 32 goals in 71 appearances from 2009 to 2013. The team won the Venezuelan league in his first season as a pro.
In January 2013, Nantes signed Aristeguieta on a six-month loan. He scored eight goals in 18 appearances. Les Canaris were stuck in Ligue 2 at the time, and gained promotion back to Ligue 1 in part because of Aristeguieta's efforts.
Aristeguieta's form dipped after Nantes' return to the top flight, and so did his playing time. His goals total in France now stands at 11 in 53 appearances.
During the winter transfer window, he was close to going on loan to the Spanish first division club Getafe in an attempt to get back in gear. But the deal fell through because of Getafe's long-running financial problems.
At the time, Getafe wasn't the only team that wanted him. The Union did too. Aristeguieta chose Spain over MLS. When the move didn't happen, it gave the Union another chance to get him, and they finally sealed the deal.
In addition to his club career, Aristeguieta has made 12 appearances for Venezuela's national team.