Goalie woes: Mbolhi out; Sylvestre signed
The Union are in a dire goalkeeping situation. Goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, who returned to the Union this week after the team suggested he take time off after a rough start, didn't travel to Vancouver, and won't play in Saturday's Major League Soccer game against the Whitecaps.
The Union are in a dire goalkeeping situation.
Goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, who returned to the Union this week after the team suggested he take time off after a rough start, didn't travel to Vancouver, and won't play in Saturday's Major League Soccer game against the Whitecaps.
He attended practice Tuesday and Wednesday and wasn't on the field with the team on Thursday before they departed for Vancouver.
Brian Sylvestre, 22, was acquired by short-term loan and will be the Union's starting goalie. Sylvestre, who trained with the Union during the preseason, has been competing for the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL.
Pool goalkeeper Trey Mitchell will serve as the Union's backup. MLS employs multiple keepers without a team in case a situation like this arises.
Earlier this week, Union coach Jim Curtin said he called Mbolhi Sunday night and told him that the Union wanted him to return after he was away the previous five games.
Mbolhi had played poorly, allowing nine goals in the first five games and has been a major disappointment since signing with the team on July 30. Curtin said it was his idea that Mbolhi take a leave from the team and the coach said he was the one who requested Mbolhi return.
During Tuesday's practice, Mbolhi's first with the team last week, the Union's two other keepers were lost due to injury. John McCarthy, who started the last five games, suffered a concussion and backup Andre Blake, hurt his knee and will need right meniscus surgery.
The simple question to the team is why wasn't Mbolhi there?
"We have evaluated all of our options and feel that Brian gives us the best opportunity to get a result in Vancouver," Union technical director Chris Albright said in a statement. "We have confidence in the familiarity he has with both our players and staff."
As for Mbolhi, Albright added "Rais remains a member of the Philadelphia Union and we will continue to evaluate all options in the best interest of the club."
It's no secret that the Union (1-6-3) would like to move Mbolhi. Some of the international transfer windows open the first week of June. According to a source, Mbolhi is earning between $450,000 and $500,000 this season. MLS contracts are usually made public later in the summer.
"He is earmarked for summer transfer," Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz said on Friday in a phone interview. "So due to potential injury, there is no reason for him to play."