Union Just Benched $400K Goalkeeper
Last summer, the Philadelphia Union made a big deal for a goalkeeper: The team spent $400,000 in transfer fees to sign Raïs M’Bolhi, a goalie who made a big splash at the 2014 World Cup. Thanks to M’Bolhi’s efforts, eventual champions Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria.
The Union signed M’Bolhi to a three-year deal. Now, having played just nine games for the Union, M’Bolhi has been benched. Coach Jim Curtin wouldn’t say if M’Bolhi would ever return to the club, but it didn’t sound like it from his comments at the press conference today. John McCarthy will be the Union’s new starter in net.
“Right now he doesn’t look like himself,” Curtin said of M’Bolhi. “I think it’s best for the team that he has a seat and watch … It’s best for him and the team right now that he’s not with the group. We’re going to move forward with McCarthy as our starter.”
Curtin can say what he wants on the record but if you read between the lines you can figure out that Curtin never wanted Mbolhi in his net.
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) April 8, 2015
“At the time [we signed him last year], we thought Raïs would give us a calming presence out there,” Curtin said. “And for a game or two he did. But after the way we started the season … I decided it was time to make a change.”
The Union have not yet won this season, drawing twice and losing three times in five games. Curtin M’Bolhi’s demotion to third goalkeeper was “performance-based,” Curtin said. M’Bolhi gave up two goals in stoppage time in a 3-2 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Last year, an embarrassing gaffe late in the season cost the team any chance at a playoff spot.
“He’s actually a good guy — he sees the game, he’s a pro,” Curtin said. “He [said he] can’t say how he will react to this, as it’s the first time he’s been benched.”
McCarthy — the Union’s new starter — played at North Catholic and La Salle University. He also starred for local soccer powerhouses Lighthouse Soccer Club, Philadelphia Soccer Club and FC Delco. He was both the Rookie of the Year and the Goalkeeper of the Year in the lower-division USL last season.
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