But the 27-year-old midfielder, signed to a two-year deal with the Union before the 2016 season, says he’s hoping for another chance in Philly.
“Of course I want to come back,” Alberg told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s a great country, a great city, a great club, great teammates. From the staff to [sporting director Earnie Stewart] to the trainers to the players, everyone is connected to each other. Of course I hope to stay, but we will see what’s going to happen in the future.”
Union head coach Jim Curtin, who declined an interview request for this piece, has indicated the club have contract options on both Alberg and Ilsinho next season. But the general thinking is that the Union will cut ties with both and open the wallet for a big-time No. 10 to play in front of Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin.
Coming into the year, it looked like Alberg could be that kind of dynamic attacking midfielder. But after a promising debut season in MLS, Alberg reportedly arrived at camp overweight, leading to Bedoya begrudgingly starting the season at the No. 10 and the Union getting off to a dreadful start. And even after returning to full fitness, Alberg failed to lock down the starting No. 10 spot, which Ilsinho has mostly occupied after previously being used as a winger.
“That’s hard for every player,” said Alberg, who has made just nine starts this year and none since August. “If you come in as a sub or you’re starting or go back to the bench, it’s of course hard. But my focus is even if I’m starting or a sub, if the coach needs me, I’ll do my best 100 percent. That’s what I did. I want to help my team giving assists and scoring goals.”
Considering he’s only played 866 minutes, the fact that Alberg has scored seven goals is somewhat impressive. And if you throw in last year’s total, Alberg’s 16 MLS goals puts him fifth in franchise history — in just over 2,000 minutes on the field.
But you can probably say the Netherlands native has fallen short as a playmaker, only recording four assists in MLS. He’s also had a couple of verbal altercations on the field with teammates, including one with CJ Sapong over who would take a penalty kick.
Perhaps that’s one reason that rumors recently surfaced of international interest in him — something that Alberg has tried to ignore.
“To be honest, that’s why I have an agent,” he said. “My focus is on training and playing in games. The rumors I can do nothing about. It’s always going to be like this.”
So will Sunday’s 2017 finale, on Decision Day presented by AT&T, vs. Orlando City SC (4 pm ET; MLS LIVE) be the last time in a Union uniform for Alberg, one of Stewart’s first big signings? Or is there a chance he may have his option picked up and stick around for at least another year?
“It’s great here,” he said. “I like it. It would be a great opportunity for me to stay here, but we will see.”