Union playing it safe as Soumare undergoes minor surgery

Bakary Soumare, Philadelphia Union

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Philadephia Union

Philadelphia Union defender Bakary Soumaré caught the attention of some soccer fans Thursday when he tweeted that he was undergoing a minor knee procedure that, he wrote, “hopefully fixes the recent issues I have been dealing with.”

When reached for comment following the team’s training session Thursday, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth tried to ease the concerns of those Union fans, saying the procedure was simply an exploratory follow-up to the major knee surgery he underwent in April.

“This is a very minor procedure to make sure there’s nothing structurally going on in his knee that we don’t already know about,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “Baky’s been doing really well and has been training at 100 percent. We think of him as the future at the Philadelphia Union and we want to make sure we’re preparing for that future.”

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As of Thursday afternoon, Hackworth had not heard if the doctors found anything inside Soumaré’s right knee to warrant any concern. But the Union manager said he’s seen nothing to indicate that the center back’s recovery from the initial knee surgery would be slowed.

“He’s been practicing every single day,” Hackworth said. “This is a complicated thing. We are being conservative with Baky. And his knee hasn’t had pain in it all.

“What we’ve trying to do is to make sure everything we’ve done up to this point is going according to plan – our treatments, rehab and retraining the muscle. The procedure in April, the only way you can see if it works is to go in and have it scoped again. The decision by our team doctors, by Baky, by myself was that he needs to do this now.”

Since signing with the Union on June 26, Soumaré has made only one league appearance, starting and playing a full 90 minutes against former club Chicago on Aug. 12. The 26-year-old center back has not played since then, which is partly due to a cautious approach the Union are taking in regards to Soumaré’s recovery and also due to how impressive Amobi Okugo has been in the center back role.

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But Hackworth reiterated that Soumaré – who the Union gave up a first-round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft to sign – is a big piece to the club’s plans next season and that a full preseason will be extremely beneficial to the former MLS Best XI defender.

Thursday’s procedure was done with that in mind.

“I’ve always said that we invested in Baky in the long term because we think he’s our future,” Hackworth said. “That’s what we’re trying to manage the right way.”

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