Rais M’bolhi

Freak double injury suddenly puts Rais Mbolhi back in pole position to start for Philadelphia

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This is shaping up like a movie with the Philadelphia Union. Buckle up.

A pair of training ground injuries for two of Philadelphia’s goalkeepers in the same day has shockingly taken Rais Mbolhi from first-team fringe to the starter’s spot.

Both Andre Blake and the current starter John McCarthy suffered injuries in training minutes (maybe even seconds) apart that will keep them out for the foreseeable future. Blake’s is more serious, and it could see him sidelined for significant time after already missing much of the preseason and start to the regular season. Philly writer Dave Zeitlin has the full story:

Brutal stuff. For now the Algerian is all of a sudden thrust back into the starting role for this weekend’s long road trip to Vancouver it would seem. The Union will likely make a move of some sort to secure a backup or maybe even a starter should they really wish not to start Mbolhi. Manager Jim Curtin after the training session would not officially dub Mbolhi the starter, joking instead that it could be “any goalkeeper in the USA.”

“I’ve never seen two goalkeepers get hurt in the same season, let alone within 45 seconds of each other,” Curtin said of the situation.

Mbolhi started the first five games of the season for the Union, three losses and two draws, and was absolutely horrid in net, making critical errors that led directly to goals. Just yesterday he was welcomed back to training after taking a month sabbatical to “clear his head.” That month off led many to believe he would be sent away on a permanent basis, but here he is, come to the rescue.

Now Union fans will be hoping his month off will help him recapture the form he displayed during the 2014 World Cup for Algeria, during which he helped his country pull off some stunning group-stage displays against Russia and South Korea that earned the Fennec Foxes a place in the knockout round, where he performed well in a 2-1 loss to Germany.

For Blake, it would appear he is out for approximately the same amount of time his earlier injury took, which would sideline him for another 4-6 weeks. The most recent torn meniscus is in his right knee, while it was his left that was injured in February. He will require surgery. Also, midfielder Michael Lahoud has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a hip flexor injury.

Rais Mbolhi rejoins Philadelphia Union, back training in full

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The Philadelphia Union have revealed that goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi has been welcomed back to the club and is training with the first team nearly a month after being sent away.

Manager Jim Curtin confirmed back on April 8 that Mbolhi was benched following a disastrous start to the season, and just a day later it was revealed that the 29-year-old would take time away from the club to “clear his head.” Transfer rumors understandably flew at the time, but now, for the time being, he’s back with the club in training.

The Union picked up just two points in five matches to start the season with Mbohli in net, including a number of matches highlighted by egregious goalkeeping errors. Since his benching, 22-year-old John McCarthy has stepped in, and the club has picked up four points on a win and a draw in four matches. They are currently in the midst of another three-match losing streak.

Many had considered Mbolhi’s departure to be a turning of a corner, a step in the right direction for a club beginning the season in free-fall and clearly in turmoil. It was thought the parting of ways would be more permanent. Reaction to the recent news of his return has been…not entirely positive.

Just because Mbohli has returned to training doesn’t mean he’ll start again, or even that he’ll return to the matchday squad. However, it does indicate the club doesn’t feel required to sell him immediately. Philadelphia’s next match is a cross-continent visit to Vancouver this weekend, followed by a home match against Eastern Conference co-leaders DC United the following weekend.

Mbolhi sent home by Philadelphia, who won’t rule out transfer addition

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Being a part of the Philadelphia Union’s group of goalkeepers has been an unstable position for the past two seasons, and it isn’t getting any safer.

Union coach Jim Curtin has announced that not only has Rais Mbolhi been removed as starting goalkeeper, but he’s been sent home to Algeria to “clear his head.”

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Additionally, former Rochester Rhinos goalkeeper John McCarthy will start in net on Saturday ahead of 2014 SuperDraft No. 1 pick Andre Blake, who is recovering from a knee injury and not match fit.

Philadelphia is oW-3L-2T to start this season, and faces New York City FC next.

From CSNPhilly.com’s Ryan Bright:

“The things we can talk about publicly are performance-based, that’s why he’s not going to start,” Curtin said. “There are certain things that will be kept in house, in terms of transferring players. That’s going to stay inside.”

Curtin’s goalkeeping decision came after Mbolhi’s sloppy performance against Sporting Kansas City, in which he allowed three goals in an embarrassing nationally televised loss.

“He doesn’t seem like himself,” Curtin said. “He didn’t seem like the goalkeeper that was winning us games in the preseason, singlehandedly. I think the confidence was gone in him.”

Wow. The addition of Mbolhi was questioned from the get-go, as the 2014 World Cup hero was brought in despite the presence of Blake and Zac MacMath, the latter currently on loan to Colorado.

It’s a huge opportunity for McCarthy, the 2014 USL goalkeeper of the year, as a healthy Blake would likely get the call 9 times out of 10.

Is there a way back for Mbolhi? That likely depends more on the locker room than his on-field play, as he’s a talented keeper who should find his form somewhere. He’s had more than a couple howlers for Philadelphia, and one error cost them big time in last season’s failed stretch run.

Philadelphia Union to bench struggling goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi

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Manager Jim Curtin confirmed to media at training today that he will sit goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi for Philadelphia’s upcoming home match against NYCFC on Saturday.

Mbolhi has been widely criticized for his play this season, having made a number of poor mistakes that have contributed to the Union’s winless start to the season. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle said Mbolhi is “earning a rep for being one of the poorest DP signings in league history,” and the Algerian international has been ranked among the league’s worst goalkeepers to start the year, having allowed 9 goals on 20 shots, the lowest save percentage among MLS starters.

Most recently, the 28-year-old horribly misjudged a corner to allow Dom Dwyer to head home a goal in a 3-2 loss to Sporting KC.

Curtin has either 24-year-old Generation Adidas product Andre Blake or former USL Pro Goalkeeper of the Year John McCarthy at his disposal to step in for Mbolhi, with Blake having recently returned to training fresh off knee surgery during the offseason. The manager did not say who would be his starter at this point. It’s also unclear how long Mbolhi will sit, whether it will be just a game to collect his thoughts or if it could be a longer-term spell on the bench with the requirement that he earn his spot back.

Mbolhi shined during the World Cup with Algeria and largely earned himself a big contract on that performance. He came to the Union from a third spell at Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia.

MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 3-2 Philadelphia Union

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The game in 100 words (or less): Soccer on drugs. I really could leave it at that, but I’ll expound a bit more. Three absolute howlers from the two goalkeepers, a pair of goalmouth scrambles leading to nothing and a pair of goals in second-half stoppage time. Three points is three points for Sporting KC, but the ragged, uninspired performance for 91 minutes can’t be ignored. Peter Vermes’s side has a long, long way to go if they want to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

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Three moments that mattered

3′ — Marin’s early mistake puts the Union ahead — Luis Marin’s first MLS howler put the home side down early, as the Chilean goalkeeper completely whiffed his attempted punch of Sebastien Le Toux’s corner kick. One of Andrew Wenger or Jacob Peterson, positioned at the back post, chested the ball goalward and Jalil Anibaba’s attempted clearance was ruled a millisecond too late by the assistant referee, as the ball had already crossed the line.

16′ — Molhi’s with a howler of his own — Rais Mbolhi matched and perhaps one-upped Marin with his latest howler. Benny Feilhaber’s corner kick was sent to the top of the six-yard box, where Mbolhi’s poor route to the ball left the Algerian ‘keeper well short of the high cross. Dom Dwyer headed the ball downward to net his first of the season.

94′ — Nemeth steals it for the home side — Feilhaber’s stoppage-time corner kick found Matt Besler at the near post, where the U.S. national team defender flicked the ball on for Krisztian Nemeth at the far post. Nemeth and Raymond Lee combined to bundle the ball over the line and send the Sporting Park faithful into raptures.

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Man of the match: Rais Mbolhi — In all honesty, this game exuded the quality of a really poor 0-0 draw, if not for a number of shoddy goalkeeping blunders. Mbolhi “wins” out here, because he committed more horrific errors than his counterpart, and his team lost the game. Sorry, Rais.

LINEUPS

Sporting Kansas City: Marin, De Jong (Sinovic 46′), Besler, Opara, Anibaba, Carrasco (Mustivar 78′), Espinoza, Feilhaber, Medranda (Nemeth 64′), Dwyer, Peterson

Goals: Dwyer (16′), Anibaba (91′), Nemeth (94′)

Philadelphia Union: Mbolhi, Fabinho (Lee 79′), Vitoria, Edu, Gaddis, Wenger, Carroll, Lahoud, Ayuk (Sapong 71′), Le Toux, Aristeguieta

Goals: Peterson (OG – 3′), Aristeguieta (19′)