CHESTER, Pa. – It was quite a week for Carlos Valdés.
Four days after getting a rousing ovation from his home fans at the AT&T MLS All-Star game at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union captain showed exactly why he deserved to be an All-Star, saving at least two goals in the final minutes to help Philly secure a critical 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the New England Revolution on Sunday.
“Carlos is a warrior,” Union right back Sheanon Williams told MLSsoccer.com. “Any time he goes into a tackle, he usually wins it.”
Valdés showed that in the 80th minute Sunday when he chased down Dimitry Imbongo and made a risky yet effective slide tackle in the box to knock away the ball and thwart the New England substitute’s breakaway attempt. Later, in stoppage time, the center back slid to clear a Ryan Guy shot off the goal line to preserve the victory. The clearance even went off Guy for a goal kick.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 2, NE 1
“That’s why he’s an All-Star – because he makes plays like that throughout the course of the season,” fellow center back Amobi Okugo said. “I know he had one big play where he saved a goal off the line.
"That’s what we need. We saw guys like Gabe Farfan and Sheanon Williams do it earlier in the season. As long as everyone in the back four, and the team in general, makes plays to cover [goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s] back, then we’re going to be good going forward.”
Valdés’ clearances and tackles were vital for the Union, who switched to a three-man backline for part of the second half because interim manager John Hackworth called it “unacceptable” that they were trailing 1-0 at the halftime break. His performance was also very much appreciated by the fans, who have made a habit out of cheering loudly and often for their captain.
In the All-Star Game on Wednesday, Valdés had a handful of impressive tackles to lead his team to another come-from-behind victory.
What have these past few days been like for the Colombian defender?
“It’s wonderful for me because I can feel the fans calling my name,” Valdés said. “I’m so proud to be part of the family.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org