HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 12: Ionut Rada and Bakary Soumare of Karlsruher look dejected at the end ofthe second Bundesliga match between St. Pauli and Karlsruher SC at the Millerntor stadium on March 12, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Union have brought back one of MLS's best central defenders to help turn around a team sorely in need of help.
Bakary Soumare was eying a return to MLS and the Philadelphia Union desperately need center back help. The two are a match made in heaven and the two sides have made the obvious happen. According to Fox Soccer, Philadelphia has sealed a deal with Soumare to make him the newest member of the Union.
To acquire Soumare, the Union had to make a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps, who were atop the Allocation order. Once atop the Allocation order, Philadelphia was free to sign Soumare, which they have done. Soumare will be eligible to play for the Union once the transfer window opens on June 27.
Now the Union have a central defender who was one of the best in MLS before departing in 2009. He was a MLS Defender of the Year finalist and the anchor of the Chicago Fire defense before signing with Boulogne, but things didn't go so swimmingly in France. Boulogne was relegated and Soumare missed a year with a knee injury before going on loan to Karlsruhe in the 2. Bundesliga. With Boulogne relegated once again this year, this time to the third division, they allowed Soumare to return to MLS.
The Malian will now slot into a Union defense desperate for stability. The trade of Danny Califf earlier this season left a glaring hole in their back line. Recently, they have moved midfielder Amobi Okugo to defense to try and fill the gap with mixed results. The midfielder has a few bright spots, but was also clearly out of position. Now the Union have Soumare, a former midfielder himself, only he's four inches taller than Okugo, dominant in the air and reads the game better. In short, he's actually a defender.
As bad as Philadelphia has been this season - and they have been atrocious - they are only nine points out of the last playoff spot with two matches in hand. And now they have a strong defense to lean upon with Soumare in the center of it.
Even with Soumare, the Union have a lot of work still left to do. They needed stability at the back and should have that now, but they also have only scored 12 goals this year. Figuring out how to look a couple steps above inept going forward is their next challenge, and the one most central to their turning things around this year. Do that and maybe, just maybe, those playoffs become a possibility again.