Monday saw the end for one of the more promising acquisitions the Philadelphia Union have had in their short history. The team and goaltender Raïs M’Bolhi have mutually parted ways, as first reported by CBS 3’s Kevin Kinkead. Shortly after, M’Bolhi signed with Turkish club Antalyaspor on a free transfer.
M’Bolhi was little known prior to his performance with Algeria in the 2014 World Cup. Outside of his international performances, M’Bolhi played in smaller tier leagues, most notably for Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia on three separate occasions, two of them on loan. M’Bolhi had the best showing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil for his native Algeria, leading his country to the knockout round for the first time in their history after placing 2nd in Group H to Belgium. Algeria lost in the round of 16 to would-be champion Germany in extra time 2-1, but M’Bolhi received man of the match honors.
He signed with the Union last July, but his debut was delayed until late August due to his involvement in a car accident in Paris. He won his debut against San Jose 4-2, which would be his only win as a member of the club. He would appear only eight more times in a span of 12 months, recording four losses and four draws in that time.
He would play his final match in the Union’s collapse in Kansas City where manager Jim Curtin benched him for his poor play and left Chester. He surprisingly returned in May when backups Andre Blake and John McCarthy went down with injuries during training, but was deferred for two emergency options instead. There was a lot of confusion as why M’Bolhi came back or who told him to return. But team officials later said that there was a “miscommunication” with his agent. Curtin later said that M’Bolhi would never play for the Union again.
At the time of his signing, M’Bolhi was the third highest paid keeper, behind DC United’s Bill Hamid and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando.
Recently, M’Bolhi was trialling with Bolton of England’s Championship (second division), according to Algerian outlet EL GOUAL.
M’Bolhi joins Antalyaspor, who were promoted to Turkey’s top tier league Super Lig, after a 5th place finish last season in their second tier league. Antalyaspor also has former FC Barcelona great Samuel Eto’o, one of Africa’s most decorated players, on the squad.
M’Bolhi’s termination gives the Union $350,000 of salary cap relief, and adds to the $400,000 termination of Carlos Valdes from earlier this season.
The Union now have John McCarthy, Andre Blake, and Brian Sylvestre as their keepers for this season. Zac MacMath is currently on loan with the Colorado Rapids for the season.