Union sign forward Fafa Picault

The Philadelphia Union announced the signing of journeyman forward Fabrice “Fafa” Picault to a one-year contract on Thursday. The deal includes club options for two additional years. He most recently played with St. Pauli in the 2. Bundesliga.

The 25-year old Picault was raised in New York by Haitian immigrant parents and is a dual national of the United States and Haiti. Showing promise in soccer as child, he was recruited by Italian club Cagliari Calcio at the age of 16. Picault’s time in Italy was troubled though, as he endured racism from the fans and his teammates. He never made it out of the reserve squad. In 2012, after 6 years, he had had enough of Italy and returned to the United States hoping to find a job in MLS. He wasn’t able to do that, so he settled for a job in the NASL with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

He only lasted one season with Tampa Bay after failing to find the back of the net in 19 appearances. He didn’t catch on with any club in 2013, and finally found another job in the NASL when he signed with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2014. He achieved  success with the Strikers, scoring 12 goals in 24 matches. His performance there led to a transfer to Sparta Prague in the Czech first division. Unfortunately for Picault, a preseason injury sidelined him for a good portion of the 2014-15 season, and he did not play a single minute.

After a coaching change left him on the outs in Prague, he found another job in Europe, this time for St. Pauli. He scored 4 goals in 16 league appearances in his first season there.

In the first half of the current 2016-17 season, Picault made 6 league appearances, 3 as a starter and 3 off the bench. He didn’t manage to score in any of them.

His time in Germany brought him to the attention of Jurgen Klinsmann, who was coaching the US Men’s National Team at the time. He received an invitation to USMNT camp in May 2016 and earned a cap when he played in a friendly against Puerto Rico. Now that Bruce Arena is running the USMNT, it is very possible that that will be his only cap. He has also been called up to the Haitian national team but has not appeared in any matches.

Picault’s role with Union is still to be determined. In his press conference call this week, manager Jim Curtin said he could be used as a speedy sub in the number 9 position, but he has also been playing a lot of left wing in training, so he could also be used as depth behind Chris Pontius. For what it’s worth, he is listed as a midfielder on the roster on the Union’s website.

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