Philadelphia Union Sign Algerian GK Rais M’Bolhi


photo via Philadelphia Union’s Twitter

The Philadelphia Union have announced the signing of Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi at a press conference this afternoon.

The 28-year old was very impressive in this year’s World Cup in Brazil and last played on the club level in Bulgaria.

Union interim manager Jim Curtin said that current starter Zac MacMath will play Friday in Kansas City and Andre Blake would be the backup.  He also stated that M’Bolhi would be the starter when ready.  The Union also announced they had waived third-string goalie Brian Holt.  The Union now have three quality goalkeepers on the roster. This has led to rumors starting that MacMath or Blake could be moved through trade or transfer.

Union CEO Nick Sackiewicz and Curtin both said the team has a plan for the transfer window and implied that more moves are on the horizon.  Sackiewicz also alluded to the possibility of loaning out one or both young goalies.  Curtin mentioned during the press conference that MacMath handled the news professionally.

Many have questioned the move and those questions will become even louder and more frequent with the signing becoming official.  M’Bolhi began in the youth ranks of Olympique Marseille and has played in France, Russia, Scotland, Greece and Japan before most recently playing for CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria.  He took over as the Algeria starter during the 2010 World Cup, giving up his only goal to Landon Donovan that sent the USA into the knockout round of the tournament.  M’Bolhi was one of the better keepers in Brazil, making several huge saves to help keep his team in games.  He helped frustrate world champion Germany until they scored the winner at the beginning of extra time.  M’Bolhi is big, strong and athletic and seems like he commands the box well.  However, on the club level he has not impressed as much. He speaks English fairly well, which should help speed up his integration into the team.

He will not travel to Kansas City for Friday’s game but will instead remain in Philly to work on his fitness.

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