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The Philadelphia Union have taken a major step toward filling the void at centerback left by the departure of veteran Dan Califf, adding a standout central defender with MLS experience and the qualities to make the Union one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
According to FOX Soccer, the Union have signed former Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare, selecting him with the top spot in the MLS Allocation Order, which the Union acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a trade completed last week.
An MLS Defender of the Year finalist in 2008, the 26-year-old Soumare brings an imposing presence to an athletic but small Union back-line. At 6-foot-4, he should help give the Union a real force in the air, something the team has lacked since joining MLS in 2010.
The final paperwork on the trade and Soumare signing are being processed and both should be announced on Tuesday.
Details on the trade between the Union and Whitecaps were not available at the time of the story, but sources tell SBI that the Union paid Vancouver allocation money to move up. The sum of the allocation is believed to be between $100K and $125K to move up to the top spot in the MLS Allocation Order, the order used to assign returning U.S. national team players and former MLS players previously sold by the league.
If you are wondering why the Chicago Fire don't still have Soumare's rights, by league rule once a team has used the funds secured in the transfer of a player, they lose the rights to that player. Soumare left Chicago in 2009 to join then French First Division side Boulogne on a $2 million transfer, a record for an MLS defender at the time.
What do you think of this signing? Think Soumare makes the Union a playoff contender again? Still waiting for Philadelphia to add a forward before you count them as a serious playoff threat?
Share your thoughts below.