Kleberson may debut for Philadelphia Union but "he's got to earn it" in crowded midfield
CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union have a logjam in the midfield.
With new Designated Player José Kléberson inching closer to his MLS debut and twin brothers Michael and Gabriel Farfan at full health, Union manager John Hackworth knows he has some tough decisions to make for Saturday’s game vs. Toronto FC at PPL Park (4 pm ET, watch FREE on MLS Stream of the Week on MLSsoccer.com).
“We’re very deep and guys are playing so well,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “Inevitably, there are going to be at least two or three guys Saturday that when the 11’s on the board, I certainly will not be their favorite at that point.”
The only player who seems to have a firm hold on a starting spot is captain Brian Carroll at defensive mid. The three most likely players to line up in front of him if the Union keep their 4-4-2 formation are the Farfan twins and Keon Daniel, who Hackworth said is “blossoming in front of our eyes in a more central role.”
Because of minor injuries, the Farfans haven’t started together since Philly’s opener, which allowed Danny Cruz and Michael Lahoud to rack up significant minutes in the midfield and impress Hackworth. And then there’s fan favorite Roger Torres, who Hackworth continues to say is doing well in training even though the Colombian has played only 10 minutes this season.
“We certainly have a really good core of midfielders right now,” the Union manager said. “And now, all of a sudden, we have a very deep squad. There are going to be guys that are left out.”
Hackworth was noncommittal as to whether Kléberson would start, come off the bench or play at all in Saturday’s contest. The Brazilian international, who was acquired on March 25, made his first 18-man roster this past Saturday in Columbus but didn’t get into the game.
“He’s got to earn it just like every other guy,” Hackworth said. “We like him a lot. But he might have to be patient and wait for the opportunity because I’m not going to take guys out that have been here and are doing well just for the sake of inserting someone else.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.