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Union Notes: Kleberson not ready to start; Soumare situation still unresolved; and more

Jose Kieberson

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More than a month into his signing with the Philadelphia Union, former World Cup-winning midfielder Kleberson has yet to make a starting lineup.

The 33-year-old Brazilian, acquired on March 25 from Bahia in exchange for Freddy Adu, has made two substitute appearances for the Union since the move, but manager John Hackworth has remained coy on whether Kleberson will be in the starting lineup in the coming weeks.

“Kleberson is a guy that continues to get acclimated here, and we’re trying to get him to a point where we feel he can play more minutes, but we’re not going to force that,” Hackworth said during his weekly press conference. “He has not played a full 90 minutes in an awful long time, so we have to prepare him to do that.”

After being asked to go further in depth on the issue, Hackworth responded by saying that Kleberson still isn’t physically where he needs to be to break into the starting lineup, and that there are numerous other factors the coaches consider before potentially risking the Brazilian before he is ready.

“I think he is now at a position where he is ready to maybe take another step forward, Hackworth said. “We should realize that he is a player that needs to be fully prepared to play 90 minutes, and in this league, it’s much different than anything he’s experienced previously in his career.”

Here are some more notes from the Union’s weekly press conference:


Back in March, realizing that he was on the outside looking in, defender Bakary Soumare handed in a trade request to his bosses with the Union. The Union organization said when the news broke that they were open to trading the Soumare, but as of May 1, he is still property of the Union.

“Nothing I can comment publicly at this time.,” Hackworth said when asked about the Malian international. “We’re actively trying to find a solution for Soumare and for the Philadelphia Union.”

Currently Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo have cemented positions in the center of the back four, with Ray Gaddis and Sheanon Williams occupying the fullback roles in a back line that hasn’t had to change around much this season.

“I do like our back line right now which means he’s not playing a lot,” Hackworth said. “Soumare has been a good professional in every aspect and is still available for selection, so as of right now he is a Philadelphia Union player and does his job well.”


In the month of April, the Union began with two draws before a wild 3-2 victory on April 21 against D.C. United. However, last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to the New England Revolution brought the side back down to earth, even if it didn’t seem to worry Hackworth too much.

“I think this league is tough this way no matter what, I think every team across the board you see that with. I think on any given day anybody can beat anybody,” Hackworth said. “While I would not try to defend the fact that I don’t think we played well on Saturday night, I thought New England was exceptional, and that’s a credit to them as much as it’s our fault for not dealing with it.

Now moving forward to Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, Hackworth mentioned that he’s going to have to remind his side that even though the Sounders have struggled this season, they are still one of the best teams in the league.

“They’re going to be one of the best teams we play and we’ll have to significantly improve from our last performance if we want to be successful Saturday night,” Hackworth said.


  • Hackworth mentioned that they have been emphasizing defense in training this week after giving up four goals in the last two matches.
  • Between May 11-18, the Union will play three matches, seeing the Fire twice with a match against the Galaxy sandwiched in the middle. Hackworth confirmed that there would be a squad rotation during that stretch.
  • There were no injuries to note during the press conference.

What do you make of these notes? Do you feel that Kleberson is being over-managed? Do you think the Union need him in the lineup to be more successful? Do you see Soumare being traded?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Why does he keep defending poor performances? Last Saturday was AWFUL from start to finish, and for him to sit there and blame that on parity and New England playing “exceptionally” is embarrassing. He should be furious with that performance and to suggest that it was nothing short of terrible is bad managing. Hack needs to stop coddling these guys and start treating them like professionals – when they don’t do their job they lose it. A 2-0 loss should prompt several line up changes.

  2. Someone needs to buy the Union and fire the whole front office before they lose the fan base. For a team with a lot of talented young pieces, they have been excruciatingly poorly managed over the past two years.

  3. So when someone said “I’d trade Adu for a bag of chips and a pack of lucky’s”, that’s exactly what happened.

  4. This smells of a clause in the loan that ties appearances to a transfer price in the future. I wouldn’t doubt it based on the things this front office has done

    • I mean the fact that it was only a loan till DEC kinda made you think they were glad they could get Adu off the books and this guy off after the season… Hack (if he’s still around) better make some moves this summer and once they get the cap figured out… Oh and all out young underpaid players need new contracts

  5. Just saw the notes from Hack’s presser on Twitter, then read this article. I am rarely stunned at anything Hack says or does, but I have to admit he got me today. Kleberson hasn’t experienced anything like 90 minutes in MLS? Say what? Let’s put aside the fact that he played for Man U, and put aside the fact that he won a World Cup and consider one thing about that statement:

    Kleberson isn’t some kid coming out of a reserve league, nor was he injured (that I know of). He’s a healthy 33 year old guy who has been a professional soccer player for damn near 15 years now. If he was in such bad shape that it takes him OVER A MONTH to be ready to go 90 minutes, Why. The. Hell. did you sign him in the first place?

    And then of course, this little gem: “Danny Cruz has been one of our more effective players in possession” Ummm…… what?

    • I was about to say the same thing. Kleberson is as experienced as it gets for most players. There’s something not right about this situation.

    • Who do we blame tho? Like the media isnt exactly making it tough on Hack and the ownership has full confidence in him… I was at the first game Kleb came in and you could tell in the first 3 minutes he was more effective on the ball than Cruz or Daniel.

  6. Hackworth said. “We should realize that he is a player that needs to be fully prepared to play 90 minutes, and in this league, it’s much different than anything he’s experienced previously in his career.”

    The mighty MLS! I’m sure he didn’t learn any of those things in his 32 caps for the Brazilian national team or… playing for MANCHESTER FREAKING UNITED.

    Go away you Hack.

  7. Hackworth said. “We should realize that he is a player that needs to be fully prepared to play 90 minutes, and in this league, it’s much different than anything he’s experienced previously in his career.”

    Didn’t Kleberson play at Man U? I hear they run a lot in the EPL. I am sure he knew what it was like being fit when he won a freaking World Cup.

    I don’t follow the Union closely, but how does this Hack still have a job. Everytime I see a quote from him he seems more and more incompotent. He’s the Jurgen Klinsmann of MLS.

  8. You know the best way to get Kleberson up to speed? Give him valuable minutes during a game? None of this 70th-80th minute substitute stuff, either. Start him and see how he goes. It’s not rocket surgery.

  9. Bakary Soumare – another awesome Union signing. Signed him 10 months ago and he has played ONCE for the team. And that was 8 and half months ago. What a bunch of clowns.

  10. He also stated in the presser that he thought Cruz was playing very effective soccer this season…… Apperently Hack thinks he’s coaching a H.S. soccer team in the year 1992.

    • Hackworth is in waaaayyyy over his head. Hell, it’s looking like the entire Philly Union front office, AND ownership, are all in way over their head.

  11. The Kleberson situation is very, very worrying to me. We bring in a guy (as a DP!!) to be a steadying presence in that crucial position, and a month later he has barely sniffed the pitch with the coach talking about his “ability to go 90 minutes”?

    Hackworth has to see that center midfield (along with right midfield, left back, but I digress…) has been by and large abysmal this year right? In my opinion, one of two things is at work here: either 1) Hack is actually content with the performance of the midfield or thinks the current preferred lineup will improve or 2) Kleberson has not shown much in training to indicate he might be a better option. Neither of these is a good thing.

    • I’m pretty sure it’s not Kleberson… You can’t tell me Daniel, CRUZ, or any Farfan is untouchable… Hack has his favorites and it’s just so annoying watching this team under him for the past 2 years… Thank god for Williams, Okugo, and Jack or I would have stopped coming to games a long time ago

  12. Sacked in November. you will be sacked in November. saaacked in Noveeembeeer, you will be sacked in November….


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