After car accident and transatlantic flight, Rais Mbolhi makes MLS debut

by Kevin Kinkead on Aug.25.2014
  1. Rais Mbolhi began his week with visa issues and a car accident in Paris, France.

    He ended the week with his MLS debut -and a 4 to 2 victory at PPL Park in Chester, PA.

    It was a whirlwind turn of events for Philadelphia's newly minted goalkeeper, who finally featured for the team more than three weeks after his July 30th signing. 

    "I was really happy, you know?," Mbolhi told reporters after the win. "To see this atmosphere, to see the fans, and win - we got the three points so I'm very happy."

    "As you know, I had some trouble with my visa. Then, after, I had the little car accident. But finally I came back here and I felt good. I thought it was only going to take a few days, and it took like two weeks. I wasn't expecting it to take that long"

    It was a relatively slow first half for the Algeria international. He looked a bit rusty early, but did well to save a Chris Wondolowski effort and also punch away a dangerous cross into traffic. One sequence saw him mis-judge a shot-come-cross that caromed off the crossbar, though he was communicative and appeared to look comfortable with his defenders.

    In the second half, there was little he could have done to stop Sam Cronin's 25 yard volley, or Wondolowski's one-time effort from close range. 

    Mbolhi said he wasn't sure if he would even play, after his arrival in Philadelphia was pushed back to Wednesday of this week. 

    "It was really difficult because, as you know, I came really late," the goalkeeper explained. "But they told me that I had to play tonight, so I had to be focused. 

    "I wasn't sure if I was going to play. But finally the coach told me that I was going to play."

    Union interim manager Jim Curtin praised Mbolhi and offered up a slightly different version of the story. 

    "He got in this week and we had a conversation early on his first day," Curtin explained. "He had a good, sharp day of training. He actually trained when we were off, with goalkeeping coach B.J. Callaghan. B.J. told me he looked very sharp, sharper than the last time he was in Philadelphia and before he went back to Paris. We talked early in the week, we talked in the middle of the week, and we made the ultimate decision (Saturday). It was late, it was down to the wire with him, and he looked me in the eye and said, 'I wanna play'. That's enough for me. I thought he did a good job tonight. He did a solid job. The save he makes in traffic in the first half, it's a tough save and that kept us going. He's a world class goalkeeper and he had a very good debut. It's the first of many wins. He chose the Philadelphia Union, he chose to come here, we believe in him, and we chose him tonight."

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