Soccer the universal language for Philly striker Herdling

Kai Herdling

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

CHESTER, Pa. – It took an iPhone and a German-to-English translating app for Kai Herdling to answer a few questions following a recent training session.

It took far less time and trouble for the Philadelphia Union’s new German midfielder to get accustomed to his new team and surroundings.

Herdling debuted for Philly this past Saturday after coming over to the club on loan from the Bundesliga side Hoffenheim on April 16, starting and playing 63 effective minutes against San Jose.

“If you’re a good player – and Kai is certainly a very experienced and quality player – it doesn’t take a guy long to figure it out,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “He’d adapted very fast. He’s a very technically gifted player, very composed and I think he sees the game at a very high level.”

Hackworth did note that one issue from Saturdays’ game was that Herdling was trying to “play a little faster than some of his teammates” but added that will likely be resolved soon.

For Herdling, it didn’t seem to matter that he was playing in his first game in a new league, or that he’s still learning how to speak English. The Union’s newest player could still be heard encouraging teammates from his position in the midfield.

“He’s a good player and is a really nice guy,” said Philly midfielder Amobi Okugo, who started alongside Herdling during the club’s 2-1 loss to the Earthquakes. “He’s really positive. You can tell by the words he says on the field and how he helped our team move forward.”

Through his trusty app, Herdling said it was a shame the Union lost his first MLS game but that he really likes Philadelphia and the atmosphere at PPL Park.

The affable German also said he’d learn English better for his next round of interviews. Then he made one more promise.

“I hope that I can help the team on offense,” he said, “so that we can get more goals.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

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