Carlos Valdes Union MLS

Focus: Saturday's Rival Philadelphia Union

MONTREAL – When the Philadelphia Union host the Montreal Impact this Saturday, a former San Lorenzo player may compete for the first time since leaving that club. But it won’t be Ignacio Piatti.

Center back Carlos Valdes, back from a year-and-a-half on loan in Colombia and Argentina where he was a teammate of Piatti’s, will be eligible for a first game back with the Union. Montreal fans may remember Valdes from a 2012 match against the Impact at PPL Park, where he stabbed in a stoppage-time winner on a throw-in.

Montreal forward Jack McInerney was on the field that night, playing for the Union. On his return to Philadelphia, he’s likely to be matched up directly against Valdes. McInerney considers this less a challenge than an opportunity.

“He’s a great player, and I think a lot of players on this team have played against him in the past,” McInerney said on Thursday. “He brings some leadership and steadiness back there. I think it’s going to be tough, but on his first game back, I think he’ll be a little nervous and maybe a little shaky as well, so I think we can take advantage of that.”

Behind Valdes could be another new addition that Montreal would get acquainted with: Algeria goalkeeper Raïs Mbolhi.

Signed on July 30, Mbolhi may yet skip this one, however. Philadelphia interim team manager Jim Curtin said earlier this week that Mbolhi would determine whether he’s fit to start himself. If not, Zac MacMath will get another start for Philadelphia, who have been impressive in staying unbeaten in the last four games.

It’s a sight that Montreal ‘keeper Troy Perkins would welcome.

“Zac’s done okay for himself,” Perkins said. “He’s still very young – my God, he’s played more games than I did when I was 22 years old. He got a good start. For me, as an American, I hate to see foreign goalkeepers come in this league, because there are so many good, young Americans that are sitting on benches in different teams, or even older guys that can step in and play.

“But it is what it is. It means the league is getting better and they’re looking to bring higher quality and guys want to come here. It’s a two sided coin.”

But should both Valdes and Mbolhi start on Saturday, Perkins sees an opportunity there, much like McInerney, for these folks must get to know each other.

“It’s a chance for the guys that know the league and know our team to take advantage of maybe some miscommunications and guys being out of position,” Perkins said.

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