U.S. youth international center back Danny Barbir is back in the area training with the Philadelphia Union after being released by West Bromwich Albion in England.
The 19-year-old was born in Atlanta, Georgia but grew up in the Allentown area. He was part of the Philadelphia Union Academy in its pre-U.S. Soccer Development Academy days as a member of the New Jersey club Players Development Academy, a Union youth club affiliate.
As a dual national - his father was born in Romania - Barbir was able to go abroad when he turned 16, joining Manchester City’s youth academy in 2014. He signed his first professional contract with West Bromwich Albion a year later and had a goal in 10 appearances for West Brom’s U23 team in 2016-17.
He made two appearances for the United States U17 team at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile.
Given the Union’s depth and youth at the center back position - Oguchi Onyewu is the only one of their six center backs over the age of 25 - it’s hard to see where Barbir would fit in with the team or if his training stint is anything more than a chance to stay sharp while he seeks a new club home.
Head coach Jim Curtin told media on Thursday that Barbir is only with the team to stay fit, but a similar comment was made back in preseason about Onyewu, who went on to sign with the team a week later.
Like Downingtown native Zack Steffen before him, Babir is not on the allocation list and could be signed using the league’s discovery mechanism - a rule that allows teams to stake a claim on a player should they become available.
The Union currently have one first-team roster spot open, cleared when midfielder Eric Ayuk was loaned out to Sweden.