Friday, July 31, 2015

Union trade Bakary Soumaré to Chicago Fire

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The Union have traded defender Bakary Soumaré to the Chicago Fire. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union)
The Union have traded defender Bakary Soumaré to the Chicago Fire. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union)

The Union have traded central defender Bakary Soumaré to the Chicago Fire for a second-round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft and an undisclosed amount of allocation money.

Although MLS does not publicize the sums of allocation money involved in transactions, Soccer By Ives reported that the quantity is "small."

Soumaré was the second-highest paid player on the Union's roster, behind Designated Player midfielder Kléberson. It's likely that the Union will now try to find an alternative who won't cost as much as Soumaré's $350,000 guaranteed salary.

SBI reported that the Union will continue paying a portion of Soumaré's salary this year and next year.

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Soumaré was brought to PPL Park last summer in a deal that was initially constructed by former Union coach Peter Nowak. It was one of Nowak's final moves with the team. He was fired on June 13 while the deal was still in progress, and the signing was made official on June 26.

Soumaré made just one appearance in 2012, playing 90 minutes against Chicago on August 12. This year, he didn't make any appearances until after Jeff Parke suffered a hamstring injury on May 4. Soumaré started all three games since then, including two against the Fire.

Back in March, Soumaré asked the Union's front office for a trade due to lack of playing time. At that point, the Union's brass said they would accomodate him, but nothing happened.

After a few weeks, Soumaré's attitude turned more positive, and it seemed that the Union coaching staff's attitude toward him also improved.

It's a move that re-unites the Malian international with the team that first made him a professional.
Soumaré's MLS career began in Chicago in 2007, when the Fire drafted him with the second overall pick out out of the University of Virginia.

He spent two and a half seasons with the Fire, then was sold to French club Boulogne in 2009. After three years in Europe, he came to Philadelphia in June of 2012. The Union signed him through MLS' allocation process for players returning to the league from abroad, which required trading a first-round draft pick and allocation money to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

In addition to his club career, Soumaré has made 13 appearances for Mali's national team since 2009, including that year's Africa Cup of Nations.

Soumaré's departure cements Amobi Okugo's role as a central defender. The 22-year-old has grown into the position under Hackworth, and is now one of MLS' most promising players at the position.

That said, the Union now have no players who can directly replace Okugo and Parke on the back line. If the team moves to sign reinforcements, it could seek to bring former captain Danny Califf back to PPL Park. Califf has fallen out of favor with his current team, Toronto FC. Rumors have swirled in recent days that TFC could be open to trading him.

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