Union receive midfielder Lahoud, cash for Califf


The Danny Califf trade saga officially came to an end on Thursday.

The Union sent Califf to Chivas USA for 25-year-old midfielder Michael Lahoud and allocation money.

"I want to take this opportunity to give my sincerest thanks to all our fans, the city of Philadelphia and all of my teammates that I have played with, Califf said in a statement release by the team. You have opened your heart and welcomed this California kid like just another one of yous guys!"

While an underwhelming return for the Union captain and veteran center back, Lahoud, the ninth overall selection by Chivas in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, started 46 games over the last four seasons and has two goals on his MLS resume.

But the trade adds more questions than answers on the Unions roster.

Lahoud, a Sierre Leone-native and former Wake Forest standout, is known more for his charity and humanitarian work than his play. He suffered a preseason hamstring strain, which caused him to miss the first two months of the season. Though now healthy, Lahoud does not appear to fit in the Unions crowded midfield.

Packed behind Gabriel Gomez and Brian Carroll in the center and unlikely to beat out Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu or Keon Daniel on the flanks, Lahoud, like many young players on the Union depth chart, is in roster no-mans land.

Califf is the third fan-favorite to be moved by coach Peter Nowak and the Union in the last two seasons. However, Califf is the first to bring a player back in return. In 2011, Nowak moved left back Jordan Harvey to the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money. The team has yet to find a permanent and natural replaced on the left defensive side.

Prior to the 2012 season, Nowak moved leading scorer Sebastien Le Toux to the Whitecaps for more allocation money. The result has left the Union as one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league.

There is no telling the effect that moving Califf will have on the Unions current roster or how Lahoud will fit into the mix. But after losing support from the fan base for two fruitless moves that seem to have made the team worse, Nowak may feel pressure to make the curious Califf deal a positive one.

Playing host
The Philadelphia Union will host their first ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Game on May 29 at PPL Field, the club announced on Thursday.

The Union, who are 0-2 all-time in Open Cup matches, will face the winner of a match between the Brooklyn Italians (NPSL) and the Rochester Rhinos (USL Pro), which will be played on May 22.

Home teams will be determined by a random selection process, decided by coin flip, and gives equal chances to participating teams with venues that meet tournament standards.

Tickets for the game are not included in season ticket packages. Tickets go on sale to both season ticket holders and the general public on Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m.

The open is a knockout American soccer tournament and the country's oldest ongoing national soccer competition. It is open to all United States Soccer Federation affiliated teams, from amateur adult club teams to MLS clubs.
E-mail Ryan Bright at ryanbright13@gmail.com.

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