Warm welcome from old friends for Union's Soumare

Bakary Soumare bangs the drum at a Union game

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio/Philadelphia Union

CHESTER, Pa. – In his first two seasons at Wake Forest, Michael Lahoud played a few games against a gigantic defender at the University of Virginia named Bakary Soumaré.

He tried not to get intimidated.

“I actually loved playing against him because if you got something against him, you know you earned it,” Lahoud told MLSsoccer.com. “He was a friend but it was good competition.”

Six years later, Lahoud and Soumaré were reacquainted – this time as teammates.

Soumaré, a standout center back, signed with the Union on Tuesday, a little more than a month after Lahoud come to Philly in a trade that sent away their old center back, Danny Califf.

“He’s a beast of a man and he plays like a man,” Lahoud said. “I’m sure with the experiences he had in Europe, he’s added some stuff to his game. He’s going to be huge for us in set pieces – defensively and more so offensively.”

When Soumaré was introduced to the Philly media on Tuesday, he mentioned how knowing Lahoud and other Union players would aid in his transition back to MLS after four seasons in Europe. One of those players is Freddy Adu, who he’s been friendly with for many years.

“I’m very, very happy that he’s here,” Adu said. “I always thought he’s a great player. Just to have that presence, that experience on our team, it’s going to help us a lot.”

"A huge joy" for Gómez in return

For the first time in more than a month, Gabriel Gómez saw game action for the Philadelphia Union.

And then, for good measure, the Union’s co-leading scorer netted the final goal of Tuesday’s 5-2 US Open Cup win over the Harrisburg City Islanders with a crafty chip shot.

“I wanted to get back as soon as I could,” Gómez told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “It’s a huge joy to be able to step on the pitch again and be able to help the team. As soon as the coach told me, I was ready.”

Gómez had missed three league games and two Open Cup contests with a left knee injury he suffered while scoring a goal vs. FC Dallas on May 19. The midfielder was also hampered during a recent World Cup qualifying stint with his native Panama.

“It’s always hard for any player when he’s injured,” Gómez said. “The injury left me out for the longest time. Thanks to God and thanks to the medical staff here and with the national team, my recovery was swift.”

Langley revels in PPL moment

Morgan Langley played only 10 total minutes for the Philadelphia Union last season, which not nearly enough time for him to put a ball into the net.

But on Tuesday, Langley did score a goal at PPL Park – for Harrisburg.

His reaction after scoring against his former team?

“I didn’t know what to do,” Langley said, shortly after Tuesday's USOC game. “I was kind of jogging in and out of my own teammates and stopped and realized, ‘Hey, I just scored at PPL.’ So that was good for me because I wanted to score in PPL in a Union jersey but to come in and score against them, that’s just as good for me at this point.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.