John Hackworth has seen the types of marquee players other teams in the Eastern Conference have acquired this offseason and knows Philadelphia Union fans are getting impatient.
But in a conference call with reporters Monday, the Union manager said an inactive offseason to this point should soon become quite active. And while he didn’t talk about players by name, a team official later confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that reports that the Union are pursuing, among other players, French midfielder Vincent Nogueira (above) and Argentine winger Cristian “Chaco” Maidana are accurate.
“I know sometimes fans can get frustrated by a lack of movement,” Hackworth said. “But I’m confident we’re in a really good position and hopefully very soon we’ll have some things to announce and show we’re in a similar situation to D.C. and Columbus.
"Maybe not spending the type of money that Toronto has laid out for [Michael] Bradley and [Jermain] Defoe, but at least we’re in this. I think that’s good for the league overall. It’s a good sign. We’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to step up as well.”
Hackworth has talked about the potential for offseason moves for the past month, but things seem to finally be heating up leading to Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia.
A team official said the Union have been engaged in active negotiations with Nogueira, a 25-year-old midfielder who currently plays for Sochaux of the French Ligue 1. According to PhillySoccerPage.net, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz and assistant coach Brendan Burke traveled to France over the weekend to meet Nogueira and watch him play.
A starter with Sochaux, the high-priced Nogueira would fit an immediate need for Philly as a box-to-box midfielder and would most likely come on board as a Designated Player.
As a left-footed attacking midfielder, Maidana would also fill a huge need for the Union, who had very few options on the left side of the field last season. The 26-year-old winger has played at the top level in Russia for Spartak Moscow and in his native Argentina with the Argentinos Juniors.
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If signed, those two players would completely revamp a midfield that sputtered through most of 2013. And while it may not be on the same level as Toronto bringing in Bradley – who the Union did in fact put in an offer for, according to a team official – Hackworth believes the signings will show that Philly can still be a major player in the much-improved Eastern Conference.
“The stakes are being raised significantly,” Hackworth said. “It has been an offseason where teams have really invested heavily and are continuing to do so. It’s going to make things more difficult. Our league is getting better. I think that’s a great thing. It’s good for everybody. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re doing the same thing. And I’m confident we are.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.