Philadelphia Union midfielder Roland Alberg is reportedly leaving the club at the end of the year and will move to Bulgaria to play for CSKA Sofia.
This is a move that most Union followers expected and wanted to see. The 27-year old Alberg is great when it comes to scoring goals, but his poor work rate made him a defensive liability, and rumors abounded concerning his lack of chemistry with his teammates both on the pitch and in the locker room. Alberg’s contract is set to expire at the end of the calendar year, though the Union do have a club option they could exercise.
Alberg, a native of the Netherlands, had been playing in the Eredivisie there before moving to Philadelphia before the 2016 MLS season. He showed some promise in his first season wearing the Blue and Gold, scoring 9 goals in 28 appearances. A hat trick in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire had Union fans calling him “Goaland,” and they were expecting even more of him heading into the 2017 season.
That was not to be however, as Alberg reported to preseason camp carrying a beer belly. It took him a couple of months to get back to match fitness, with his first start not coming until April 14. The lowest point of his tenure with the Union occurred in a home match against Columbus Crew FC, when he quarreled with C.J. Sapong over who would take a penalty kick that Sapong had earned. Alberg prevailed despite Sapong pleading with head coach Jim Curtin, but then Alberg failed to score.
Even with his slow start to the season, Alberg still managed 7 goals in 24 appearances. But he was a defensive liability and his high salary of $345,000 made him the ideal candidate for the Union to make their first cost-cutting move of the off-season; hopefully that money will be used to land that stud number 10 the team so desperately needs.
The Union could exercise their club option and then work on a transfer to CSKA Sofia, but if they were unable to come to an agreement with the Bulgarian club, they would be stuck paying him that $345,000 unless they could find another suitor. I think that the risk is too great, and Earnie Stewart should just let him walk. Tot ziens, Roland.
Mike is a South Jersey native and resident who has been a Philadelphia Union fan ever since the team was just a twinkle in the eyes of the Sons Of Ben. He is also a lifelong fan of the Phillies and an Eagles season ticket holder since 1985.