World Cup 2014

World Cup: Philadelphia Union seek return of Carlos Valdes, "but there are variables in South America"

Carlos Valdes, Colombia

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CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union want Carlos Valdés back.

And they want him back soon.

On Tuesday at PPL Park, interim manager Jim Curtin told reporters the Union have been in close contact with the on-loan 29-year-old center back – who has started one game for Colombia in Brazil – and are hoping he will return to Philadelphia after the World Cup ends.

“We think we’ve made a very positive offer, an aggressive offer to get him back here in terms of upping the ante down the road with him,” Curtin said. “He’s a guy for the long term we want in a Philadelphia Union jersey.”

Valdes played for the Union in 2011 and 2012 but, on the request of Colombia national team coach Jose Pekerman, was sent away on loan – first to Colombia’s Sante Fe in 2013 and then to Argentina’s San Lorenzo this year.

When asked when the loan ends and when he could return to MLS, Curtin responded by saying, “that’s the tricky part,” but added that, “it could be as soon as the time’s up with Colombia.” He added that because Valdes's stock is rising due to his participation in the World Cup, other teams will try to sign him away from the Union, who still own his rights.

“Let’s just say there are variables in South America; it operates a little differently,” Curtin said. “There are different teams that could come in, and they could come over the top of us. That’s a reality of our business. They can come in and make an offer that our league can’t refuse and, in that case, maybe it goes not in our favor. It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Carlos, get your butt back on the plane.’ It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.”

While the negotiations may be tricky, it certainly makes sense that the Union want Valdes back. The team has had plenty of center back difficulties his season, with Austin Berry struggling through injuries, Ethan White struggling to find minutes and Amobi Okugo recently returning to the midfield. Forward Aaron Wheeler was also tried at center back but returned to his original position even before Philadelphia's coaching change.

Philly’s current center back pairing is Designated Player Maurice Edu, whom Curtin prefers in midfield, and natural right back Sheanon Williams.

“He’s an important piece we want to add,” Curtin said of Valdes. “He’s still young. He’s a center back. You look around the world right now, I think part of the reason why you see so many goals in the World Cup is because center back is a down position. I think it’s a little bit down in our league even. So he’s a guy who can come in and really solidify a back four.”

Curtin also stressed that Valdes already knowing the team and the league is a “huge” factor and one of the main reasons why technical director Chris Albright has been “working very hard” on the deal.

“He’s a known commodity,” Curtin said. “Listen, there are other center backs in the World Cup that have expressed a real interest to come here – like legit starting center backs in the World Cup that would like to be here. However, Carlos knows the league. He’s our player still. It’s a quick transition.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.