Mondragon signed with the Union on January 20, 2011 on a free transfer from FC Cologne of the German Bundesliga and immediately helped to transform the Union into one of the league's top defensive units in '11. Given the captain's armband at the beginning of the season, he started in 27 matches and posted a 62% save percentage with seven clean sheets. Mondragon became the Union's second straight All-Star representative, starting against Manchester United in the 2011 midseason showcase. The 40 year-old fractured his right finger against Real Salt Lake on September 3, sidelining him for seven matches, but returned for the final two matches of the regular season and the Union's first ever playoff appearance. Mondragon capped off his stellar season, with a second place finish in 2011 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting, behind only Kasey Keller.
"We'd like to thank Faryd for his service to our team and his incredible leadership last season," said Union Team Manager Peter Nowak. "We understand that family is important above all else and we decided that it was of the utmost importance to grant him his request of finishing his career with his childhood club. We wish him the best of luck as he ends his career at Deportivo Cali, the club where he started his career."
After beginning his professional career with Cali, Mondragon joined several other Colombian teams before landing with Argentinean First Division club Atletico Independiente in 1995. After his time in Colombia and Argentina, he moved to Europe where he starred in Spain's La Liga (Real Zaragoza FC, 1999), the French Ligue 1 (FC Metz, 2000-'01), the Turkish First Division (Galatasaray S.K., 2001-'07, won titles in 2002 and 2006), and finally the Bundesliga (FC Cologne, 2007-'10).
The Union open up the 2012 season on March 12th with a nationally televised game against Portland at 9:30 p.m. EST and return home to PPL Park on Sunday, March 18th with a match against the Colorado Rapids at 4:00 p.m.
(Copyright 2011 Philadelphia Union. Reprinted by permission)