After the speculation picked up yesterday that Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M'Bolhi would indeed be heading to Philadelphia, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz confirmed M'Bolhi's arrival this afternoon. Per MLS policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed, though previous reports suggested he has come here on a three-year contract with a $400,000 transfer fee attached to him.
The 28-year old M'Bolhi has spent his career journeying around Europe, spending time with clubs in France, Scotland, Greece, Japan, Russia, and most recently, Bulgaria with club CSKA Sofia where he has just concluded his third stint. Though it is difficult to glean information from his days in Bulgaria, many soccer fans will recognize him as the Algerian goalkeeper in the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Most famously, he was the goalkeeper Landon Donovan beat for his much celebrated goal in 2010 that sent the U.S. to the knockout round and the top of their group.
With interim coach Jim Curtin also fielding questions from reporters, M'Bolhi, in very good English, also chipped in when directly addressed. When asked what drew him to The Union, M'Bolhi said that he was sold on the club as soon as he spoke to Sakiewicz, and that Philadelphia was exactly the, "kind of project I have been looking for". He also stated that he was impressed with the facilities, adding "they are better than many clubs in Europe who are playing in the Champions League". Take that, Chester public park haters!
Curtin confirmed that M'Bolhi would be the number one keeper with MacMath as the backup, however Zac will be the starter for the upcoming fixture on Friday against Sporting Kansas City. As for when the change of starter will happen both Sakiewicz and Curtin were a little vague, saying that issues of adjusting to this side of the Atlantic and fitness will be addressed 'behind closed doors'. Though Brian Holt was released this morning, no further announcement was made on any impending transactions involving MacMath or Andre Blake.