As Philadelphia Union report, John Hackworth hoping to finalize Maurice Edu, Carlos Valdes deals

Maurice Edu, "With arrmmmmms wide open"

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Philadelphia Union players reported to preseason camp Friday to take physicals and get ready to begin their first training sessions of the 2014 season.

But there’s still at least one player coming and one player going.

And Union manager John Hackworth sounds hopeful that the long-standing negotiations to send former captain Carlos Valdés out on loan to Argentina’s San Lorenzo and acquire US national team midfielder Maurice Edu (pictured) from the EPL’s Stoke City are in their final stages.

“I am hopeful that we are going to have a deal in place by the end of the day,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com of the Valdés loan. “But to be fair, I’ve been hopeful of that for the last three weeks. It just seems like it’s coming to a head one way or another.”

After Valdés’ loan with Colombia’s Santa Fe ended last month, the center back has remained steadfast in his desire to play in Central America or South America to increase his chances to play for Colombia in this summer’s World Cup. And he’s been linked to a few clubs, with reports of a deal with Argentine champions San Lorenzo surfacing recently.

Hackworth didn’t offer many specifics on the deal currently on the table with the Argentine club, except to say that it’s a “loan with an option to buy.”

“It’s a really difficult process to go through,” the Union manager said. “I’ve been in touch with Carlos on a regular basis. It’s probably tougher for him. But it’s a business and we’re trying to maximize a player like Carlos and, at the same time, put him in a position to make the World Cup team. But in order to do that, you have to make sure you’re still putting the Philadelphia Union first. And that’s a fine line.

“We’ve felt like we’ve had several different agreements in place and agreed to and for whatever reason they didn’t get executed. So it’s a tough, long process and, I hope, we’re at the very end of it.”

Without Valdés and veteran defender Jeff Parke – who requested a trade for personal reasons to D.C. United that netted the Union center back Ethan White and the top spot in the allocation ranking two weeks ago – both gone, the Union won’t have much experience at center back.

Hackworth said White will battle rookie draft picks Kevin Cope and Richie Marquez for a starting spot and that if neither emerge as a viable starter alongside Amobi Okugo the team will “need to go out and make a move to acquire a center back that we feel can do the job.”

As of now, however, that player won’t be former Red Bull defender Heath Pearce, who sparked the Twitter rumor mill Friday when he said he was boarding a flight to Philly.

“I don’t know anything about that,” Hackworth said. “I coached Heath on the national team, and I think he’s a real good player. To be perfectly blunt, I rarely get on that Twitter world. That hasn’t come across my desk.”

What Hackworth does know is that Edu, a 27-year-old World Cup veteran, would be a great addition to Philly’s midfield. He also indicated that earlier reports that Edu would cost upwards of $1 million dollars were exaggerated.

“Without giving away much details, I don’t know where those numbers came from in the first place,” the Union manager said. “We’re trying to reach an agreement with Stoke and with Mo. And I think the league and the union are making sure we do this in a reasonable way and making sure it makes economic sense for all parties involved.”

And does he think the transfer will happen soon?

“My fingers are crossed, yes,” he said.

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