South American Soccer

Santa Fe closing in on year-long loan for Union's Carlos Valdes


Philadelphia Union captain Carlos Valdes is on the verge of heading back to Colombia, and if he does, the all-star defender may never wear a Union uniform again.

The Union are closing in on a deal to send the Colombian national team defender to Colombian side Santa Fe on a year-long loan, sources confirmed to SBI on Wednesday.

The deal has yet to be finalized as of Wednesday morning, but sources with knowledge of the deal tell SBI the proposed move is a one-year loan with an option for Santa Fe to buy Valdes. The move is expected to be finalized this week.

Valdes has been pushing for a loan for several months in order to be fit heading into Colombia’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers in February. Valdes has emerged as a regular starter on a Colombia side enjoying a strong qualifying campaign in South America. Colombian national team manager Jose Pekerman was another driving force behind the move, telling Valdes that such a move could help his standing with the national team.

The success of Colombian national team in World Cup qualifying has raised the profile of players on the team, including Valdes, and a continued strong run for Colombia could earn Valdes some long looks from European suitors. If that happens, Santa Fe would most likely trigger the purchase option on Valdes (though the Union would likely be protected by sell-on fees included in this type of deal).

Santa Fe is currently competing in Copa Libertadores and is favored to advance past the group stage. That competition would also provide Valdes ample opportunity to play high-level matches as well as potentially catch the eye of scouts. Santa Fe’s first Copa Libertadores match is scheduled for Feb. 13th against Peruvian side Real Garcilaso.

An MLS All-star in 2012, Valdes was the leader of the Union defense, but his desire to make a move led the Union to acquire former Seattle Sounders defender Jeff Parke. If Valdes does leave, the Union will have Parke, Amobi Okugo and Bakary Soumare as centerback options heading into the 2013 season.

So why would the Union send Valdes to Santa Fe on loan rather than sell him outright? It’s pretty simple. Valdes’ value has the potential to skyrocket in 2013 by competing in Copa Libertadores and South American World Cup qualifying. A loan with a purchase option that includes sell-ons for the Union makes the most sense for the Union.

What do you think of this development? See the Union doing well defensively with a centerback trio of Parke, Okugo and Soumare? Hoping Valdes comes back to the Union in a year?

Share your thoughts below.

  • James

    As a Union fan I am happy for him and the team. Obviously I would like to keep him, but such is the life of a mid tier league. For us, I’m glad we discovered him and at the growth he showed under us. He is also one of the first players to go from an international bubble (I think he had like 2 caps al ong time ago) to starting for his NT in the MLS. Not a Beckham or Keane situation – instead Valdes was a younger player who first cemented his place on a legit NT while playing in the MLS.


    • ed - houston

      you know, i don’t mind players leaving mls or mls being a feeder league to other leagues. yeah it sucks that players leave but the game goes on.


  • Esteban de la Sexface

    Damn. Good for Valdes, but this turns Philly’s defense from very solid (Valdes, Parke, Williams, Farfan) w/depth (Soumare, Okugo, Gaddis, Albright) to unsure.

    Can Soumare deliver? How does this affect the (hopeful) Okugo transition to midfield? Are we an injury away from Sheanon Williams having to play in the middle?


  • scott

    Ives, why did you delete my post about the grammar on the opening sentence? Just trying to help you out. Everyone makes mistakes don’t worry about it.


    • Camjam

      IF the intention is to actually help them out, then they can look at your post and fix the error. Public embarrassment is not part of “helping”


    • Old School

      Why did you take the time to repost content that was previously deleted?

      If everyone makes mistakes, perhaps it’s you that shouldn’t “worry about it”. Come here to read soccer, not display your overwhelming intellect.


  • Peaton

    How much more money do players make in Colombia, purchasing price parity taken into consideration? Is this a nostalgia, prestige, or financial decision?


    • Jr

      I think they just want to be competitive for the Copa Libertadores. If things go well Santa Fe and Union would make some money


    • Josh D

      They don’t make much. The Mexican league pays more. As a national team defender, I’m sure Valdes will make just as much as he does in MLS. But it’s about perspective: $100,000 here is not the same as $100,000 in Colombia.

      As the article said, this is about making sure he’s fit for qualifiers. MLS’ schedule is not favorable to international players come the Jan-March qualifiers when it’s their off season. My wife is Colombian so I watch the league off and on. I wouldn’t say the quality is significantly better. It would just give him more visibility to the Colombian coaches.

      I’m not sure I would put too much into the option to buy. MLS forces clubs to add that for players they loan out if I’m not mistaken. Or is it only the other way around, i.e. players loaned to MLS have to have buy clauses. Unless he’s homesick, a move back to Colombia isn’t particularly logical.


      • Jay

        It is very logical when your NT coach says it will help your standing. You add in the fact that he will get more exposure through the Libertadores and I am not seeing how this isn’t a logical move


      • Dudinho

        the key here is libertadores

        i bet you if MLS teams were competing in this competition we wouldnt be loaning out players like montero and valdes Libertadores is what provides the exposure

        We need to get into this competition our teams may not do well in the beginning but theres huge upside . just look what happened to the mexican league

        it pays well and they play in libertadores they get a huge influx of first and secound tier south american players every year.


      • Josh D

        Imagine a Canadian team having to fly down to Brazil midweek and play in DC three days later. It won’t happen. The expenses would be massive and MLS would have to reschedule their season.

        And it’s not the exposure from Libertadores, our own players get scouted by Europe now. It’s the level of competition, and for South American players, it’s the prestige.

        And while the national team coach is asking you to play down in Colombia, the fact is you are earning time by playing in MLS so moving would only be a courtesy.


      • Jay

        Just because you are getting playing time doesn’t mean your spot on a NT is safe. Your club situation counts I can’t blame him for making this decision MLS has traditionally been a difficult league for non USA NT players due to the schedule


      • Dudinho

        typical insular thinking Libertadores is a Much higher level than MLS.

        its not just scouting its the big deal for those south american players its the tournament that showcases the best talent

        humberto Suazo tore it up in Libertadores when he was on his chilean team
        got picked up by a Monterrey that also happens to have the ability to play in the high level competition. makes great money and plays at the same high level.

        MLS needs to be able to attract that same kind of player and provide a high level of competition

        the CCL doesnt provide that other than playing the Mexican Teams

        We expect to be a big league by 2020 then we need to start looking at playing higher level competition to obtain that goal garber wants


  • Travis in Miami

    Imagine you are from Colombia. Now imagine having to live in Philly. Now imagine living in Philly in the winter. “Loan me out please!”


  • Yevgeniy

    I am neutral about the move, but I am disappointed by the continuing putting down of MLS by coaches of Colombia. I can see if the coach was recommending a move to let’s say Holland or Portugal or Russia. However, do they really believe that average level of Colombia is that much higher than MLS? I understand that there is something about being closer to home, but still… Makes me sad


    • EllisCarver

      It’s not just about playing in Colombia. He also gets to play in the Copa Libertadores.


    • Iggy

      I am with you….to me its very dissapointing for MLS that he feels (Or perckerman told him) he needs to play elsewhere to strengthen his national team chances. Would be easier to swallow if he was heading to a top Euro league, Mexico, maybe Brasil etc. I admit though, I dont know much about the Colombian league, but seems like more of a lateral move.


  • Drew

    As a Union fan I’m positive they have no plan for the future of this team. Not only is Valdes arguably the best player on our team, he made our defense look like the bright spot going into next season. Hopefully Le Toux and Casey have some magic left or it’s going to be a long season for us Union fans.


  • Sean

    This is an unsettling trend in my opinion. I understand the reasons behind the Montero and Valdes deals, but I would much rather see South American players who have had success in MLS leave for better clubs in better leagues as opposed to returning to SA.


  • 2tone

    Thats cool. The competition sucks in Colombia, but hey if it gets him more fit for WC qualifiers then so be it.


  • Kung Fu Kangaroos

    I like it. It shows other propective South Americans that they can come to MLS, do well, and get recognition from their National Team. I believe there is someone from MLS playing for their African National Team. An interesting article idea would be to list out MLS players that are playing for … or at least involved and on the bubble for their respective National Teams.


  • chris

    This is dumb. Either sell him or keep him. Why cant MLS be this soft with American player transfers??


  • fortunate only

    It’s obvious Valdes and to a lesser extent, Pekerman, didn’t feel like MLS was going to challenge him enough to keep him in the starting lineup for the Colombian NT.

    Unfortunately I agree. MLS has a lot of positives but high level competition (within the continent) is not one of its strong suits.

    The Colombian league isn’t as strong as the Argentine, Brazilian or Mexican Leagues but it is pretty damn good, slightly better than MLS I would say.



      No way is the Colombian league better, why would so many Colombians come to MLS then? Only reason hes going is for Libertadores and the team not the league.


      • Jay

        Money. A lot of Colombian teams have been struggling financially lately so the MLS has offered a bigger pay check then Colombia for the average player. Colombia’s level of play isn’t bad for the top clubs and their league schedule is more in line with the international calendar so as far as his NT career this is the right move


      • fortunate only

        It’s obviously a $$ issue.

        You should really watch the Colombian league when you get a chance.


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