Roger Torres, Kleberson unlikely to return to Philadelphia Union next season
Roger Torres is one of the last remaining original members of the Philadelphia Union and one of the club’s most popular players.
Kléberson is one of the most accomplished – and expensive – players to ever suit up for the Union.
Both players, however, will almost certainly never play another game for Philadelphia.
Torres’ contract will expire at the end of the calendar year, while Kléberson’s loan from the Brazilian club Bahia is up. And the only way either player will return is if they accept much lower salaries – not to mention a role on the team that will likely continue to be minimal.
“I think Kléberson wants to come back, and I’ve said all year long that he was a good acquisition for us at the time,” Union manager John Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “But it would have to be at a much, much different level of contract.”
Kléberson, a 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil, came to Philly in March as part of the deal that allowed Union exile Freddy Adu to sign with Bahia – Hackworth’s main impetus for the acquisition.
The 34-year-old midfielder ended up playing just 532 total minutes and starting seven games, of which the Union went 1-4-2. But in the final month of the season, Kléberson had two assists and scored one of the most dramatic goals of the season – a stoppage-time, free-kick strike that sent Philly to a 1-0 win over Toronto on Oct. 5.
Torres had his moments, too.
Despite playing sparingly since Hackworth took over as manager a year-and-a-half ago, the Colombian midfielder was once a key player for Philly, starting the first seven games in the Union’s 2010 expansion season and recording the club’s first-ever assist.
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After being on loan from Colombian side América de Cali for his first two MLS seasons, Torres was bought by the Union prior to the 2012 campaign. But after two more seasons in Philly, the 22-year-old is now a free agent with Hackworth saying he “most likely” won’t re-sign with the Union.
“At the moment, we’re not obligated to him and he’s not obligated to us in any contractual way,” the Union manager said. “That gives him a ton of flexibility to go out and search the marketplace and see if he can find something he thinks is better.”
While Torres and Kléberson may be leaving, most of Philly's other well-known players won’t be going anywhere, as Hackworth noted that everyone who played significant minutes this past season remains under contract.
“A lot of that is by design,” the Union manager said. “We have a long-term plan. We knew we had to get through this last year with some serious financial constraints. We have invested in players and for the most part those guys are all coming back to our team, with the exception of a Kléberson and a Roger.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.