CHESTER, Pa. – Growing up in Worms, Germany with an American father and a German mother, Andrew Wooten felt a strong connection to both countries, even if he spent nearly all of his childhood across the pond.
“I followed all the American TV shows, all that stuff I already watched in Germany,” said Wooten, the Philadelphia Union's newest signing.
Then 16, the 29-year-old striker spent a year at Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Aside from his one cap with the US men’s national team in October 2015, though, Wooten’s connection to soccer in the states has been entirely from afar.
“I’m just happy that I’m finally coming to MLS,” he said. “It’s really perfect now. I just [have to] put my performance on the field and just play as hard as I can and hopefully I can help the team win some games.”
Though he remains ineligible to play until the Secondary Transfer Window opens July 9, Wooten joined the Union for training this week after being introduced to fans at a “Men In Blazers” live podcast event on South Street. He also took a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city last week.
“He’s been helping me out,” Wooten said of Wagner. “When I made the move I asked him a lot of questions. I’m very happy he’s here.”
Wooten hopes his transition to MLS is as successful as Wagner and Przybylko’s, players who represent sporting director Ernst Tanner’s extensive knowledge and deep contacts in his native Germany.
Tanner has tracked Wooten’s progression over the past decade and saw him as a missing ingredient as his contract at 2. Bundesliga club SV Sandhausen ran out.
“He’s more or less a combination in between all of the strikers we have,” Tanner said. “He could be pairing with everybody we have on the roster up front and, in addition, he can play as a lone striker as well.”
Wooten will give the Union four forwards on their active roster when he becomes available, at the earliest for the July 13 game at Real Salt Lake. Jamaican international Cory Burke has been unavailable because of visa issues since May and will be loaned out when the European transfer window opens next week, according to Tanner.
“He scores goals,” Curtin said of his early Wooten impressions. “He finds ways to get into the tough spots, I call them, in the hard spots where sometimes people don’t want to go into and he’s brave in front of goal. Obviously, there’s a little bit of adjustment to the 95 degrees and humid in Philadelphia, what that feels like compared to Germany. He’s getting acclimated from the fitness side of things, getting to know his teammates better, starting to implement some of the ideas and ways we want to play.”
The Union used Targeted Allocation Money to acquire Wooten, beating other clubs for the forward's services.
“There were other MLS offers,” Wooten said, “but I spoke with Philadelphia first and there was no need to talk to someone else, because I really had a good feeling and the talks were very good.”