Albright happy with homecoming to Union


Amid the Unions unpopular and erratic off-season, the signing of local product Chris Albright on Monday was a satisfying and warm acquisition. It was also a storybook welcome home for the veteran defender.

I'm thrilled, said former Penn Charter and Council Rocks Albright on Tuesday. It's come full circle for me to be able to come back to my hometown.

I got a phone call from the New York Red Bulls saying they wouldnt pick up my option. Im excited to add a new chapter to the story and Im thrilled that its with my hometown team.

For coach Peter Nowak, acquiring Albright, 33, wasnt done for the good story, but a strong piece in the puzzle that is the Unions young and undecided roster.

We invited Chris to our camp and after couple meetings and training sessions we decided to offer him a contract and he accepted, said Nowak. Chris will help us and help everyone around team with his experience. He had a very good week with us, thats why we decided to go with this route. Chris will bring championship-caliber experience and we hope that will help us throughout the season.

A 13-year veteran of the MLS, Albright brings vital experience to one of the youngest teams in the league. He also brings crucial defensive depth on a back line that features Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Porfirio Lopez, Sheanon Williams and little else.

With Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez, now we have more veteran experience, said Nowak. Chris provides a great example. He trains very hard, gives everything he has in training and directs guys in front of him as well.

He has enough experience to play all the positions along the back line. So its a good thing we can add this type of player. Chris has been in this league for many years and its good to have him, especially being our local boy.

Albright, who is set to be a factor in 2012 after starting 24 games with the Red Bulls in the last two seasons, couldnt help but gush about his new club.

This was definitely my first choice, said Albright, a potential replacement for Williams, who could depart for the under-23 US Olympic Team. There were some other options out there but this was always my first choice. If I wanted to continue playing, I wanted it to be with Philly.

Coming here means a lot. I grew up playing in city, playing on a field pretty beat up in the inner-city. To be able to play in Philadelphia in front of fans and in front of the people I know, its really special. I cant say that enough. For me the whole experience is coming full circle and Im thrilled.

But how much of a role will Albright play in the Unions seasonal plan? At 33 and with an extensive injury history, the veteran will need spot starts to remain healthy, something Nowak was very aware of when they inked him.

We will try to keep them fresh, try to keep healthy, Nowak said about all his players. We have enough resources and enough medical staff that can predict when players are tired and need time off. With Chris its the same. We need to see where we are after two weeks and possibly give him a couple days off. Hes not getting any younger so he needs to take care of his body as well. Try to help with regeneration and keep him healthy and keep him motivated.

However, motivation wont be an issue with the well-traveled Albright in Philadelphia.

I understand what it is to be a Philadelphia fan, Albright said. I have that passion in me, I understand what its like to be Philly fan and Ill do everything can to keep Philly fans happy and do my best.
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