Algerian World Cup starting goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi did not travel with the Philadelphia Union to Canada for Saturday's game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Instead, the Union acquired Carolina RailHawks goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre on a short-term loan and brought in Trey Mitchell as an emergency back-up keeper.
Even though M'Bolhi has been less than stellar for the Union, surely a goalkeeper who started in World Cup games would get the start and help out his beleaguered club, right? Not so fast.This is where things get murky, as there is a very different message being sent by the Union's head coach than there is by the front office.
In an interview with Johnathan Tannenwald, Coach Curtin was pretty clear on the reason behind M'Bolhi not traveling with the team to be their starting goalkeeper.
"He and I have a difference of philosophy right now," Curtin said. "He's not going to play any more games with us. He has a contract, so he'll be training by himself, separate from the team. We'll arrange for that at our facility, but it will be at a different time from when our team is training [and] he won't have any interaction with the group."
"I asked Curtin whether there was any particular incident that caused his relationship with Mbolhi to go off the rails.
'"There's no one incident to point to, it's just a combination of performance on the field, interactions in the locker room with the rest of the group, the whole package," Curtin said. "I made a decision. I still think he is a talented goalkeeper - there's no denying that. He has proven that on the World Cup stage. But on the club level with the Union right now, we've decided to move on."
"He is earmarked for summer transfer," Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz said on Friday in a phone interview. "So due to potential injury, there is no reason for him to play."