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Union Notes: Parke return means tough decisions about Soumare; Reaction to NYC FC; and more

John Hackworth


After reeling off two wins in three matches last week, both against the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union were given an additional boost this week with the news that Jeff Parke is fully fit.

Parke went down with a hamstring strain in the Union’s 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders on May 4, forcing him out of the team’s last three matches. Parke’s return also raises questions about the future of Bakary Soumare, who filled in admirably for Parke during the absence.

“It leaves us with a tough decision,” Union assistant coach and technical director Rob Vartughian said during the club’s weekly press conference. “(Soumare) has been really good. He’s had these last three games, and he’s played really well, and it’s something we’ve been talking about heading into this week.”

Soumare performed well in his first playing time of the season, a stint of starts that came after he had asked to be traded. Vartughian didn’t specifically say whether Soumare was still on the trading block or not, but pointed towards keeping him on the squad for now based on his recent form.

Here are some more notes from the Union presser:


The biggest news in Major League Soccer this week is undoubtedly the announcement of New York City FC becoming the league’s 20th team.

The impact of the announcement is certainly felt in the Union camp, as they’ll be playing another team in the region, as well as a club going through it’s beginning years just like the Union are now.

“I think it’s awesome, I think it elevates the league,” Vartughian said. “I think relative to this area, and now having another “rival” (emphasis by Vartughian), another team that is in New York, another team that’s in the Northeast, it’s going to create natural rivalries and big games.

“I think it’s fantastic for the league.”


In Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, midfielder Michael Farfan started on his favored right side, pushing teammate Danny Cruz over to the left.

The move was a tactical one just for that specific match according to Vartughian, but shows that the team has plenty of flexibility throughout the midfield.

“It speaks to some of the player’s versatility, and their ability to adjust in a game’s notice,” Vartughian said. “For us it worked, and we’re happy with it, and moving forward it’s something we can look back on.”

Added Vartughian: “If you’re talking with those three guys, (Farfan, Keon Daniel, Kleberson), all those guys have quality. In moments like this where we have three games in eight days, situations of potential call-ups….we have options there.”

In terms of potential call-ups, Keon Daniel has been selected by the Trinidad & Tobago National Team for upcoming friendly matches against Romania on June 4 and Estonia on June 7, meaning he will certainly miss the Union match against the Columbus Crew on June 5 and potentially the match against Toronto FC on June 1.


  • Michael Lahoud is the lone injury being reported by the Union staff. According to the league’s injury report he has a lower abdomen strain.
  • The Union will have a second week in three where they’ll have to play three matches in eight days, as they drew the Ocean City Nor’easters in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The match is set to be played on Tuesday, May 28 at PPL Park.
  • Vartughian noted that the team may have to rotate players next week for the Cup match, potentially giving Roger Torres a chance to make his first appearance in MLS action since the season opener.


What do you make of these notes? Do you see Parke starting this Saturday against Montreal? Excited for an additional Northeast corridor rivalry? Do you see the Union starting Cruz on the left wing again?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. If they want to keep Carroll on the field, bench Gaddis and slide okugo to left back and let him roam up into the midfield a bit more

  2. I don’t like having both Le Toux and Cruz on the field at the same time. They both do similar things: run around a lot and hustle, but have a poor touch and lose the ball. With Carroll also on the pitch, that makes it three guys in important roles who have a record of wayward passing ability.

    I would like them to find a way to keep B.S. and Jeff on the pitch at the same time.

    • Except that Le Toux has a history of scoring goals. Plus he takes decent corners and doesn’t fall over like a spaz a dozen times a game. Cruz, like Keon Daniel, would be a decent squad player.

  3. To me it’s just too logical to have the following line up:

    Williams —- Parke ——Soumare—— Gaddis

    • You would take the MLS’ leading goal scorer away from the front of goal?

      Although he’s been decent with his service from out on the wing (as has Le Toux) taking him away from the front of goal is just silly to me.

      Don’t get me wrong as much as I love Carroll I’ve wanted to see Okugo in MF, but Carroll’s job as handyman for the Union midfield is invaluable to the team.

      Apparently the Uniom are trialing Abdul-Kader Keita from what I hear, and him with Kleberson and Marfan in the midfield would be beautiful to watch. Until then maybe this?

      Marfan———-Kleberson——–Le Toux

      Le Toux has free reign to kinda go where he wants, but I could substitute him for Cruz and be OK, as much as I’d rather see Cruz as a benchwarmer.

  4. I don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s a long season. Having three quality centerbacks to platoon those roles should have a coach jumping for joy, not gutting out a tough choice. If I were on the coaching staff I’d make it job #1 to get all three guys seeing the logic of such an approach, rather than making it an issue of who get’s the bench this week?

    As for all this “quality” in the MF, that’s BS… Kleberson is nearly match fit and is providing some spark, but Marfan to my eye is still more hype than potential (BTW if anyone can point out to me what I’m missing there I would be much obliged–cause it worries me that this is apparantly the annointed one in terms of the future of the Union’s offense). Daniel is a guy that can help you with managing the demands of the schedule, but he is not a playmaker by any stretch. I’d rather see Seba played “out of position” in the midfield in terms of providing offensive creativity.

    • Why not go w/Soumare and Parke with Okugo taking Carroll’s place in midfield?

      Marfan looked really good in stretches of each game last season and that led to hope that this season he would do it all game, every game. Unfortunately he’s regressed this season.

      I totally agree w/the Le Toux in the midfield. Throw him on the right and tell him to stay high. It’d put a bit more pressure on Sheanon Williams, but he’s up for it.

      • To my mind, the main reasons for platooning are turf fields, long seasons and chemistry. Soumare and Parke will continue to take knocks thoughout the season so keeping Okugo healhy will be very important. Plus, Okugo has the makings of a world class CB, so the more minutes he spends there the better. I don’t know if minutes at MF help him in that regard, although I suspect game minutes are always better than bench minutes if given the choice… although if he were to get injured playing at MF… maybe the rest would do him good as well?

      • If they’re planning on dealing BS anyway, it’s kind of a lot to dusrupt everything for him only to revert back right after he’s traded, all for a few extra bucks on the allocation.

  5. Does anyone see the quality in Keon Daniel that the Union coaching staff sees? It’s not that he’s terrible, he’s just so mediocre that it’s depressing.

    Also what happened to playing 4-3-3? That was Hackworth’s m.o. at first, but he’s abandoned it for the 4-4-2 which doesn’t seem to make sense when Philly has more quality up top than in midfield.

    • I’m a casual Union fan–I live in Western PA and go to one game a year and catch nationally broadcasted games on TV. Given what I’ve seen, I completely agree about Daniel’s mediocrity. I went to the game against Seattle a couple weeks ago, and it seemed like Daniel could make simple passes backwards and sideways, but had no hope of playing any dangerous passes going forward. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when your other central midfielder is Brian Carroll (as it was that day), it really doesn’t cut it.

      I thought the Union were much more dangerous in the 2nd half of that game when it seemed like Farfan started cutting in towards the middle more and making things happen.


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