With preseason training underway it’s now time for the Philadelphia Union to begin bringing in trialists to compete for spots on the team.
Last year, Ilsinho and Ken Tribbett were notable trialists to make the Philadelphia Union last season and names are beginning to crop up of trialists for this season. One of the first names to become public is Fafa Piccault. Piccault is a forward / winger who was last under contract with FC St. Pauli of the 2. Bundesliga where he has been since 2015. The 25-year-old is reportedly drawing interest from several MLS clubs according to Bild (warning german article) but the Philadelphia Union are showing the most interest and already have Piccault in town.
The Philadelphia Union already have forwards Jay Simpson, CJ Sapong, and Charlie Davies under contract for the season so this is likely a chance to make the Bethlehem squad but it still raises intrigue. Tribbett was brought in for Bethlehem last season and made the first team squad after impressing in the preseason so there is a precedent for a move like this ending in first team spot but it shouldn’t be the expectation.
Piccault has dual United States and Haitian citizenship so he would not take up an international spot. He also has one USMNT cap while Jurgen Klinsmann was in charge. Nicknamed “the gazelle” Piccault could add speed on the flanks after the departure of Walter Restrepo. While this may not bode well for Eric Ayuk, it does make sense for the Union to take a look in this situation.
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say about Piccault prior to his call-up,
"Over the weekend, Fabrice Picault – playing for St. Pauli in the second division in Germany – scored two goals, and people wondered why he’s not on the radar for the National Team. When he left Fort Lauderdale Strikers to St. Pauli, he was already looked at by us. The coach at St. Pauli, Ewald Lienen, mentioned to me a few times that there’s a kid who is extremely hungry and wants to prove a point. He said he has a way to go, but to just follow him. Now over the weekend he scored two goals in a big game in front of 30,000 people and got them really excited. It shows how diverse things are with the U.S. National Team."
English translation of the Bild report:
Piccault’s Checkered Club Career:
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Piccault got his start with the Cagliari reserves in 2007 but left in 2011 due to racism incidents in Italy. He then moved to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2012 but was released at the end of the season after going goalless in 18 appearances with the club. After spending 2013 clubless, he latched on with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers scoring 12 goals in 24 appearances earning himself a move to Sparta Prague. Unfortunately, he would get injured at Sparta Prague in 2015 and never made an appearance with the club.
He signed with Saint Pauli in the summer of 2015 and was moved to forward where he did a little better. From 2015 to now Piccault has made 22 appearances with the club scoring four goals. Reportedly, he got into clashes with the training staff and was demoted to training with the u-23 side afterward. Because of his lack of fitness and attitude Saint Pauli have terminated his contract. Piccault is expected to sign with another club by the end of the week.
Risk vs Reward for the Philadelphia Union:
Bringing Piccault in for a trial is a low-risk option for the Philadelphia Union as they’ll have a chance to test his work ethic and fit with the squad without signing him to a contract. If he impresses the trial may either be extended through the friendlies in Florida or Piccault may be signed to a contract (either with Bethlehem or the first team). If the trial doesn’t go well the Union can cut him with no repercussions.
For someone with Piccault’s athleticism, these chances will always be around but he’s reaching the point in his career where he needs to make something of his talent or be out of the game forever. It will be interesting to see how this plays out but it could turn into a good under the radar addition for the club