UPDATE: Philadelphia Union Technical Director released the following statement this morning: "Contrary to unsubstantiated reports, Rodolfo Zelaya is not training with us at this time. We do not want to make a habit of commenting on rumors, but feel our fans should not be misled on misidentified claims."
It appears as though the below claim that Zelaya is training with the Union is unsubstantiated.
.@PhilaUnion is #TeamCameron pic.twitter.com/iTX5GxtES6— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) July 10, 2015
Per a tweet from the Union's twitter account, Salvadoran forward Rodolfo Zelaya is working out with the team. Zelaya is the player standing behind Cristian Maidana in the fourth photo.
The 27-year-old striker has been linked to MLS for what feels like an eternity. Following an excellent Gold Cup performance in 2011, in which Zelaya made the tournament's Best XI, the player expressed interest in MLS.
"We all hope to get out of El Salvador," [Zelaya] said through an interpreter. "We all try to demonstrate on the field that we have the ability to get out of our country — that's what all of us want, to come here and play in MLS."
Despite Zelaya's interest, he was loaned to Alania Vladikavkaz of the Russian Premier League, where he would stay until the next Gold Cup. While in Russia, Zelaya suffered a severe knee injury that sidelined him for several months.
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After two years of relative anonymity, the striker exploded again on the international scene. Zelaya balled out in the 2013 Gold Cup, scoring four goals in as many games. His outspoken interest in MLS was reciprocated by a handful of clubs, but it would all be for naught.
In September of that same year, El Salvador banned 22 players for match-fixing. Zelaya, who represented hope for a Salvadoran team that hadn't made the World Cup since 1982, was among them. The revered figure was forced to sit out of national team activities for a year. He hasn't appeared for his national team since the ban was imposed.
Following his ban, FC Dallas rekindled their interest in the Alianza player, but nothing came of it. The Texan side just couldn't quit him; however, and he was recently brought in for a trial in late June. Lisandro Pohl, president of Zelaya's Alianza, revealed that the player would join Dallas on a six-month loan, pending a physical. The move never materialized, and now Zelaya appears to be training with the Union in Chester.
Rodolfo Zelaya no alcanzo acuerdo con Dallas, ante esta situación Philadelphia Union siempre de MLS se a interesado en él— Francisco Osorio (@fmosorio) July 10, 2015
A journalist and radio host from El Salvador noted the Union's interest in Zelaya, and it was confirmed by Pohl to some degree, but he insisted that Zelaya would not go on trial.
Lisandro Pohl: "Fito Zelaya no irá a prueba con Philadelphia Union pero se reunirá con gente del club lunes y martes". @EDHdeportes— Víctor (@zeladauceda) July 10, 2015
That does not appear to be the case, and now Zelaya is the third player to be under serious consideration from the Union in the last three days.
Lisandro Pohl: "Philadelphia quiere explorar la posibilidad de quedarse con Fito para lo que resta de la temporada o la otra". @EDHdeportes— Víctor (@zeladauceda) July 10, 2015
The Union, like Dallas before them, seem to be interested in taking the player on loan.
With Zelaya, there are some issues concerning the role he would play in Philadelphia. In Jim Curtin's favored 4-2-3-1, the five-foot-nine Zelaya would best fit in the middle of the attacking midfield trio. However, Cristian Maidana has made that spot his own in the last few months, and it would take a player of a higher caliber than Zelaya to displace the Argentine.
The wing might be a suitable spot for the Salvadoran, offering him a chance to pinch in and create or seek out goalscoring opportunities from deep positions. Being a striker, Zelaya would likely be a defensive liability if tasked with getting back to defend his flank.
Zelaya could line up next to a target man in a 4-1-2-1-2, but Curtin has stood by his 4-2-3-1 throughout the Union's roller-coaster of a season.
Though they have been the worst defensive team in Major League Soccer so far this season, the Union are seemingly hellbent on acquiring more attackers. Two days ago, it was revealed that winger Santiago Dittborn is on trial with the club. Earlier this week, multiple outlets reported Union interest in experienced Swiss winger Tranquillo Barnetta.