One in, one out: Trialist updates at Union training
|The trial of James McFadden, seen with Scotland in 2009, |
with the Union has ended, and the club is in wait-and-see mode
on evaluating the forward. (AP)
Red Bulls game? Disappointing.
Orlando City game? Hopeful.
Andrew Wenger at fullback? Meh.
Leadership issues? Not really.
Sporting director search? For internal ears only.
About the only two new pieces on information from Wednesday’s final weekly presser concerned who was and wasn’t training.
Not present was Scottish forward James McFadden, who concluded his two-week trial stint. Curtin seemed pleased with the 32-year-old’s performance, and with the understanding that any decision to bring him into the fold would have to be deferred to the offseason when rosters un-freeze, the club has time to evaluate.
“We’ll sit down at the end of the year after Orlando and we’ll make an evaluation on that,” Curtin said of McFadden. “He did a great job when he was in. Did everything he could. I think he was fit. He played at his highest level possible, showed very well for himself. Had a good talk with him at the end and told him where we’re at in terms of our roster, obviously there’s no flexibility now to sign him.”
At the end of a long and largely disappointing season, the Union have fleshed out their training ranks with a number of Academy players. They continue to have Ken Tribbett, a Harrisburg City defender/defensive midfielder and Drexel grad, training with them.
But the new face was one of the more noticeable: Rochester Rhinos left back Onua Thomas Obasi. He’s an intriguing prospect. He’s not young, at 27. He comes from a futsal background in his native England before a year at Central Connecticut State.
But he’s 6-4 and has impeccable touch and passing ability, two qualities the Union have serially lacked at that position since, well, 2010. He fits Curtin’s call for stronger and bigger (and maybe faster?), and he’s got a winning pedigree at Rochester. With the Rhinos, the 2015 USL regular season and postseason champs who shutout the Union for 120 minutes in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, Obasi has been an omnipresent fixture in a defense that surrendered a mere 15 goals in 28 regular-season matches and 17 in 34 games overall (including playoffs and the Open Cup).
“A player who’s had a great season for Rochester, he played against us, a guy that we’ve monitored all year, guy that we’re high on,” Curtin said. “He put in the 30 games that we talked about playing in USL, and we’ll evaluate him now and see if he’s ready to take that next step at a key position, a left back position that’s a tough one for clubs all over MLS and the world to find. Unique skillset: He’s taller than me, 6-4, 6-5, and has very good feet, is composed on the ball and a good passer. It’s a great first day, but again, one day. He’ll have to put together a good week and we’ll make an assessment there. Impressive.”
The puzzle pieces seem to add up here. The Union have just two fullbacks on the roster, one of whom, Fabinho, is at the end of his deal. Part of the motivation for tinkering with Andrew Wenger there is to get a defensively-sound, attacking-minded guy in place; Obasi has experience as an attacker. He may be an ideal candidate as a two-way, Union 2 player.