On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Union lost their captain, a reigning MLS All-Star and the team's 2012 leader in minutes played.
But Carlos Valdés will be back at PPL Park.
At least that’s the hope of Union manager John Hackworth, who on Tuesday loaned Valdés to Colombia’s Independiente Santa Fe for the length of the Liga Postobón Primera A season.
“Carlos is an extremely valuable member of our team,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com shortly after the loan deal was officially announced. “We have a little bit of a long-term plan and Carlos is certainly a part of that.”
Hackworth says that Valdés approached him with the idea of playing in Colombia following the end of the 2012 season. The hope is that the move can help him maintain his place on the Colombian national team roster for World Cup qualifying since there was a chance that the MLS season calendar could have impacted his standing.
Taking the Lead: Carlos Valdés
“He has a dream of playing in the 2014 World Cup,” the Union manager said. “And his national team coach said the best way for him to accomplish that goal is to play at a club where the season gets underway much sooner than our March start date and to be in a place where they can watch him more.”
Colombia host Bolivia on March 22 and travel to face Venezuela four days later in key World Cup qualifiers. The 2013 MLS season gets underway on March 2.
The possibility of the Valdés loan deal was one reason the Union went out and acquired center back Jeff Parke last month – even if Hackworth said at the time it was all about getting better defensive depth.
The Union now go into the 2013 season with Parke, Bakary Soumaré and Amobi Okugo as their options at center back.
“It was part of the plan,” Hackworth said of the Parke deal. “If we were going to lose Carlos, obviously we needed to get someone to fill his shoes.”
Hackworth declined to say who the team’s next captain would be until he addresses the players at the start of preseason. But the job may be a temporary one as the Union’s 2012 captain and fan favorite could still return to MLS following his stint in his native country.
“This isn’t the end,” Hackworth said. “This is just a loan deal. These types of things happen all the time in this game. Hopefully it becomes a win-win for both the player and the club.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.