As a sure sign of the age we live in, the Carlos Valdes situation has gone from a simple "Where is he?" to a mystery wrapped inside of an enigma wrapped inside of trying to decipher 140-character salvos. This morning, we were waiting to see if Carlos would show up at camp with San Lorenzo, having been AWOL from practice for the past couple of days. There were still the same hateful tweets being sent to Valdes by San Lorenzo fans, and noting really seemed out of sorts until about 12:30 PM, when Marcelo Tinelli - host of an Argentine variety show who just happens to be San Lorenzo's vice president - tweeted the following:
Me encanto estar en la práctica de San Lorenzo hoy. El plantel está muy comprometido para lo que se viene. Lo de Valdes sin palabras.- marcelo tinelli (@cuervotinelli) July 17, 2014
(I loved being at San Lorenzo practice today. The organization is very committed to what is coming. About Valdes, I am speechless.)
En San Lorenzo el compromiso es de TODOS. Porque TODOS hacemos un gran esfuerzo. El que así no lo entienda que siga de vacaciones.- marcelo tinelli (@cuervotinelli) July 17, 2014
(In San Lorenzo is the commitment of EVERYONE. Because EVERYONE makes a great effort. He who doesn't understand continues on vacation.)
It is of note that prior to this, Tinelli hadn't mentioned the situation - at least on twitter. A couple of hours later, Valdes broke his silence tweeting the following:
@cuervotinelli parece que no estas bien informado... En este momento sigo esperando mi sueldo de hace 5 meses- carlos valdes (@carlosvaldes5) July 17, 2014
(@cuervotinelli it seems you don't know... currently waiting on my salary from 5 months ago)
At that point, all hell broke loose. Tinelli then proceeded to fire off a succession of tweets saying San Lorenzo had paid MLS and that he needed to speak with club manager Bernardo Romeo. Journalist Román Perroni tweeted that San Lorenzo had made two payments of $200,000 to MLS and that MLS should have made the salary payments to Valdes. According to Juan Arango (who covers soccer for Fox Sports, Al Jazeera, and the BBC among other outlets), a radio interview with Valdes suggested he was headed back to MLS within "days" and would begin training "next week". Arango's last tweet (as of this writing) is a quote from Valdes' agent:
Pachón: "The future of Carlos Valdés is in MLS" #DOOP- Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 17, 2014
I've known Juan for a while now, and if there's anyone more knowledgeable on the nuances of South American soccer I haven't come across them. It seems like Carlos Valdes will be back in Philadelphia before the Copa Libertadores after all.
It seems like there are a lot of things that don't make a lot of sense left up in the air. For instance, why would San Lorenzo send Valdes' salary to MLS and not directly to the player? Surely MLS wouldn't be paying his salary - paying the salary of a player not at the club usually only happens when they're loaned to a lower division club to get them minutes. San Lorenzo is one of the best teams in the entire hemisphere, so it seems very unlikely that this is the case. And while you don't hear about it very often, it still happens every so often that a club doesn't pay its players for whatever reason. Liga MX side Queretaro didn't pay their players for three months as the club's owner was under investigation by the Mexican government for fraud. San Lorenzo is a rather rich club, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that they're not paying their players - or at least one of their players.
Something else to ponder is Valdes' future with the Colombian National Team. Mario Yepes is 38 and will most likely retire from international competition soon. Valdes was high on the defensive depth chart going into the World Cup, getting the start against Japan as a lot of the starters were rested. But it is very well known that Los Cafeteros manager Jose Pekerman sees MLS as an inferior league and forced the initial loaning out of Valdes to Colombia's Santa Fe in 2013. Will Pekerman still consider him a viable option if he doesn't continue to play in South America?
Regardless of all that, he appears headed back to the Philadelphia Union. His closest friends on the team - Faryd Mondragon, Roger Torres, and Gabriel Gomez are all gone, replaced by fresh faces. The manager is someone whom he has most likely never met, as are most of the coaching staff. He will be back among familiar company in the back, as Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, and Amobi Okugo are all still here, but looking upfield he will see a (mostly) new cast of characters. It'll be a brand new day for Carlos Valdes, and for the club as well.