Brian Carroll and Andy Najar battle for the ball
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Understated Carroll the latest to don armband for Union

WAYNE, Pa. – First, it was Danny Califf. Then, it was Faryd Mondragón. Then, it was Califf again. Then, it was Carlos Valdés.

Over the past three years, there’s been a revolving door of Philadelphia Union captains, with each leaving the club for different reasons.

Almost the entire time, though, Brian Carroll has been the quiet leader in the background and the steadiest veteran presence on the field. It was an easy decision, then, to name Carroll the next Union captain headed into the 2013 season.

“We’re very excited about that,” Union manager John Hackworth said after revealing his choice to the press Monday. “Brian has certainly earned that opportunity through his actions and his character and the way he exemplified a fantastic leader last year in support of Carlos.”

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Carroll, a 31-year-old midfielder who's been in the league since 2003, already has some familiarity with wearing the armband, having filled in for Valdés during a couple of games last season.

Valdés, who took over as captain after Califf was traded in May, was loaned to Colombia’s Independentie Santa Fe for 2013.

Before that, Califf, who was the Union’s first captain in 2010, lost the role when Mondragón was acquired in 2011 but then got it back when Mondragón returned to Colombia before the start of the 2012 season.

Has it ever been difficult for the team to constantly adjust to a new captain?

“I think it’s not a problem,” Hackworth said. “Brian Carroll has been here three years and the fact that he’s wearing the armband doesn’t change the fact that he was a leader in our locker room for the last three years. So I think honestly you guys worry about that stuff a lot more than the players or I would worry about it.

“I’m not trying to discount a certain ex-captain that certainly was a big story when he left,” Hackworth added, presumably referring to the controversial Califf trade. “But the fact is we do have big leaders in our locker room and Brian epitomizes that.”

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Hackworth said that he would reassess the captain situation if and when Valdés returns after his loan deal, but downplayed the importance of having one person wear the armband, noting that “you can never have too many good leaders in one room.”

With the offseason acquisitions of Jeff Parke, Conor Casey and Sébastien Le Toux,  the Union are certainly far more stocked with MLS veterans than they have been in years past.

Hackworth also mentioned 34-year-old defender Chris Albright as perhaps being next in line to wear the armband if Carroll is ever out.

“We have a lot of options there,” Hackworth said. “Last year we were on the younger side but we changed things in terms of experience in the locker room.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for E-mail him at

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