HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 12: Marius Ebbers of St. Pauli is challenged by Bakary Soumare of Karlsruher during the second Bundesliga match between St. Pauli and Karlsruher SC at the Millerntor stadium on March 12, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Union addressed a glaring need by adding a veteran center back with a successful history in Major League Soccer.
According to a report on FOX Soccer, by Ives Galarcep of Soccer By Ives, the Union acquired Bakary Soumare, formerly of the Chicago Fire. Soumare was a nominee for MLS Defender of the Year in 2008, when the Fire only gave up 33 goals in 30 games and finished second in the Eastern Conference.
Galarcep said that Philadelphia had sought the services of Soumare for some time and that it was actually former head coach Peter Nowak's plan to bring in the 6-foot, 4-inch defender when he chose to trade former captain Danny Califf to Chivas USA.
The Union have been courting Soumare for more than three months, with his acquisition part of the long-term plan of former Philadelphia head coach Peter Nowak, who traded away veteran defender Dan Califf in anticipation of the arrival of Soumare. Nowak parted ways with the Union last week, and has been replaced by interim head coach and long-time assistant John Hackworth.
To add Soumare onto the team, the Union traded with the Vancouver Whitecaps to move up in the allocation order to be in position for the acquisition. Soumare was available through the allocation order because he's "a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee" means allocation order," per the 2012 MLS Roster Rules.
The 26-year-old Malian international - he has a United States green card as well - left the Fire in 2009 for France, where Soumare joined US Boulogne for a fee reported to be in the region of 1.5 million euros. Soumare spent last year on loan with 2. Bundesliga (the German second division) club Karlsruher SC.
Both teams he was a part of in Europe were relegated during his three seasons overseas, leaving both without a need for a player that had a salary too high for lower divisions in France and Germany.
Major knee surgery sidelined Soumare for a year and upon his return to health he went on loan to German second-division side Karlsruhe. With Boulogne set for relegation to the French third division, the club has left Soumare walk away from the remaining time in his contract to return to MLS.
Soumare will be expected to replace converted midfielder Amobi Okugo in central defense. Okugo, a former first round SuperDraft selection, was pushed in a center back role after the trading of Califf and an injury to fellow central defensive convert Sheanon Williams.