THE UNION has found a temporary replacement for injured midfielder Roger Torres.
Through its partnership with TSG Hoffenheim, of Germany's first division, the club announced Monday it had acquired German forward Kai Herdling.
Herdling is on loan through June 30 with an option to stay the full MLS season. His arrival is pending completion of his visa and other paperwork, but Herdling could debut against Chivas USA, the Union's next opponent, on Saturday (10:30 p.m., The Comcast Network) in Carson, Calif.
Though classified as a striker, Herdling, 27, is viewed by the Union as more of an attacking midfielder who can play behind the strikers, similar to Torres' role. Torres is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks after having surgery Friday to repair ligaments in his left knee. Torres was hurt in the Union reserves' 4-2 win over New England on April 9, the same day Herdling was seen training with members of the first team.
Herdling scored 68 goals in 101 appearances over a 9-year on-again, off-again span with Hoffenheim's second-division squad, and was its captain at one point.
"Kai will be missed heavily, especially as a leader," Hoffenheim II manager Frank Kramer said on the club's website. "But we also respect his wish and want him given a chance without putting obstacles in his way."
Herdling is considered best utilized as a forward, but sources among the Union's technical staff think the right-footed attacker will fit perfectly playing behind the strikers, and can push through and attack, as well. Described as an excellent set-piece specialist, Herdling should also complement and assist current Union free-kick taker Gabriel Gomez.
"I think Kai is an attacking player that gives us something different," one of the sources said. "More a midfielder than a forward, but he's very technical and can score. We'll see how he adapts . . . I think that really is the key.
"He's more of a combination guy who is very versatile and can provide a lot of things," the source added. "But he is very creative and could give us something interesting."
Herdling's acquisition also comes at a time when the Union might lose a few players via international call-ups, given that qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins among various confederations as early as next month.
The Union is desperate for offensive firepower, considering the team has amassed only three goals in five games and has been outscored, 6-3. The Union is 1-3-1, and is coming off a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday.
Contact Kerith Gabriel @firstname.lastname@example.org.
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