What were your expectations? How do you feel about how things have gone?
"It's a tough one. It's been difficult. It's been very challenging for me. Basically, last season I suffered an injury and I couldn't get better and I had to get a second surgery. Towards the end of the season I started feeling much, much better. Then going out, at the end of the season, I had a meeting with the coaching staff [and] management in which they made it clear to me that they were counting on me for the following year. I had the same speech and the same conversations when the season started, right before the preseason.
I went through the preseason with no problem. I've had no issues with my knee and things went pretty well overall. I was starting to get my rhythm back and everything. A couple of days before the first game I was told that they didn't feel like I was ready to play and contribute the way they had envisioned. I was taken aback a little bit because I had put together a pretty good preseason. I've asked for a trade for many different reasons, not only because I wasn't starting, but also because I felt like there was a lack of communication and maybe I've lost a little bit of trust in my employers. A little bit because of what I was told at the end of last season and during the preseason and what actually happened."
How much did Peter Nowak have to do with trading up to pick you up? Do you think it's something that changed because of his departure from the club?
"It's possible. This is one of the questions I can't answer for a fact. Yes, when I was still playing in Germany, I had an option to stay in Germany if I wanted to, but I had a long conversation with Peter. That was well before I decided to come back to the league. That was toward the end of the Bundesliga season when I talked to Peter. He said listen, he'd love to have me in Philly and he's gonna do whatever it takes to bring me here.
Yes, the process was intiated by Peter and Peter is the one who played a major part in convincing me to come back into the league. He, unfortunately, was let go. At the point were he got let go, was at the end of my deal getting together. He played a huge part in it. When I signed, John Hackworth was the coach. The truth is, and everyone knows, that a lot of the groundwork was done by Peter Nowak and by Diego, because they both were still there. And when I signed, Diego was actually still there as a Technical Director and he got let go the week after."
How did the preseason go?
"I thought the preseason went well. I went through all of the training sessions. Besides the Chicago game I played in the summer, I hadn't played for... that was the only game I had played in eight months. I was getting my rhythm back and everything went well.
My fitness was... my fitness wasn't 100 percent, but whose fitness is 100 percent the first game of the season? That type of fitness comes in the first few games. That's always been the case when I've played with Chicago. The first couple of games you're not always 100 percent, but you play more games and you find rhythm and stuff and that's when the fitness comes."
Were you surprised by the Union bringing in Jeff Parke?
"I wasn't surprised that they brought in Jeff. I thought he was the right move considering we were losing our captain and center back Carlos Valdes. Obviously, they had to bring in someone else. Coming into the season and preseason, at the end of last season, I think the goal was to get Amobi to move back into his more natural position, which is him as a midfielder and me in the back with Jeff or Carlos, if he had been here. At least that was what I was told, at the end of the season and the preseason.
Even the last game, leading up to our first game, which was against DC, which was the last preseason game, it was how we played. We played with Jeff in the back and Amobi in the middle. Amobi is really good in both spots, you've gotta give him that credit, but I thought that's what we were going to start with. Literally two days before the first game against Kansas City, that's when I found out that I wasn't going to be playing and that we were going to go back to a different center back pairing because they felt like that was the best for the team, I guess. I didn't expect it at all, though.
This one I really got blindsided by. That's my seventh season as a pro. Decisions have been made. I've been on the bench a couple of times, but this, I really got blindsided. I didn't expect this at all."
Are you willing to move out of MLS? Would you prefer to move back to Chicago if given the opportunity to do so?
"That's a very good question. Obviously, Chicago is my home now. I've made it my home since I played there. It's gonna be my home when I'm done playing soccer. Whether I go back there now, or I go back there in five or six years, it doesn't matter. I'll end up there at some point. It doesn't have to be as a player. I haven't played, basically, for a whole year. In a whole calender... year.
The only game I played was that game against Chicago. The last game I played for my Bundesliga club was at the end of April of last year, in 2012. I've played one soccer match in a whole year, barring my injury and stuff. I just wanna be back on the field playing. I've made the decision to come back to the States and Major League Soccer because I wanted to. If I can't do that, I'm going to have to find a place that I'll be able to play. It's unfortunate that things haven't worked the way I wanted them to and at the end of the day I just want to play. Whether it's Chicago, or it's a different MLS club, or it's me going back to Europe, that's what it's gotta be."
Has Philadelphia been in conversations with Chicago? Or other clubs?
"There have been preliminary conversations with Chicago and other clubs. I've asked for a trade and Philly's not out there trying to accommodate me directly. They've gotta do what's best for the club and the organization. They're probably shopping me around. I know they're talking to numerous teams including Chicago. There are other teams that they've talked to. I don't get involved in the day to day discussions or negotiations because at the end of the day, unless a deal is done, there's nothing for me to know. I know Philly has been very proactive in making this happen.
They know where I'm coming from and they've heard me out when I had my meeting with Hack and Rob and everyone at the club that I wanted to go and they completely understand. They said they're going to work on it, but it's gotta make sense for the club. They're trying to figure something out. They've been really good. It's been all business. I'm still part of Philadelphia. I still go to training every day.
I don't feature in games or in the 18s, but we're trying to figure out a resolution. It's early in May, so we can only look at MLS clubs because the European clubs are still in the midst of their seasons or at least close to the end of it, so we have to wait for it to be over."