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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Scot in Chester: McFadden on trial with Union

James McFadden, seen here with Everton in the FA Cup
in Jan. 2012, is on a two-week training stint with the Union.
Chester has been an interesting way station for a number of soccer characters this season. To the average soccer fan who gets bombarded with mid-table English Premier League games on television each weekend, names like Eidur Gudjohnsen and Wilson Palacios are interesting figures, if not necessarily the economical path toward MLS success. (Note that Gudjohnsen, who signed with a team in China, was technically on a training stop, not on trial like Palacios.)

The next name to add to that list is James McFadden, who’s been training with the Union last week and this. He’s a name many EPL fans will recognize, having played in the world’s most visible league with Everton from 2003-08 and 2011-12, Birmingham City from 2007-08 and 2009-11 and Sunderland in 2012-13. He’s also been caped 48 times, scoring 15 goals for Scotland.

Wednesday, Union manager Jim Curtin had some positive things to say about McFadden.

“He’s done well in training,” Curtin said. “You can tell that he has quality. He’s played at the highest level. He’s a guy that he’s been good in training. He provides an intensity level that is good for some of our younger guys to see. No decision has been made. We’ll probably take until the end of the week and then discuss it, but he’s done very well.”

There are some weird aspects to this match. First, McFadden, who Curtin said last week was recovering from an injury, has been out of contract since leaving Scottish Premier League side St. Johnstone in May. He reportedly trained at Motherwell, the club of his youth with which he’s spent parts of five seasons, without being offered a deal.

MLS has passed the deadline for adding players, meaning anything that could materialize for the 32-year-old would be delayed to the start of next season.

Tactically, it seems an odd fit as well. McFadden, who has 20 career EPL goals on his resume, prefers a withdrawn second striker role which doesn’t exist in the Union’s system. Even if we posit that the Union won’t acquire Fernando Aristeguieta on a permanent basis after his loan terminates, McFadden is hardly a direct replacement and would likely be shunted to a wing in the Union’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

Several practice days remain for McFadden, and it’s possible that the Union could decide to keep him around for the rest of the season to train and evaluate him. But don’t be surprised if McFadden joins the list of brief Chester cameos.

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