A year later, Valdes is all smiles as he and teammate Michael Farfan will represent the Union in Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game in their home venue, PPL Park in Chester. Kickoff is set for 8:50 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
The MLS all-stars will compete against European club champions Chelsea.
Farfan was just added to the team on Tuesday. On Monday, MLS accepted Chelsea's request to increase the number of substitutions permitted during the All-Star Game from seven per team to 10. That necessitated the addition of another player to the all-star roster. MLS all-star coach Ben Olsen selected Farfan.
No doubt the Union players will receive a huge ovation from a fan base that has been among the most supportive and passionate in the league. It's something Valdes will savor.
"For me this is amazing," Valdes said following Saturday's 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. "I am very proud and very excited to represent my team."
When asked about last year, Valdes slips that trademark smile. The Union team captain, Valdes has done a wonderful job over the last year in grasping the English language. And he already knows the art of evading a question.
So when was asked about last year, after a reflective pause, he decided to talk about this season instead.
"When I was in MLS for the first time, one of my goals was to be the best defender of the league," he said. "And now this is our reward for hard work."
Last year Valdes arrived and fit in immediately as a central defender along with veteran Danny Califf. Now, with Califf having been traded to Chivas USA in May, Valdes is clearly the defensive quarterback.
Valdes' game isn't flashy, although he likes to take more than an occasional run in the offensive zone. Widely popular with his teammates, Valdes inclusion in this year's All-Star Game brought the predictable upbeat response from the Union players along with interim team manager John Hackworth.
"I just can't say enough about his character and his play, and I am really happy for him," said Hackworth, who will be an assistant coach in the All-Star Game.
This has been a season in which the Union have not yet taken that next step forward. A playoff team a year ago, the Union are currently 6-10-2. Since Hackworth replaced Peter Nowak, who was fired on June 13, the team has played better, going 4-3 in MLS games under his guidance.
With all the turmoil, especially at the end of Nowak's tenure, Valdes was a model of stability.
"It's a credit to Carlos and how we sort of responded since the bad start to the season," veteran midfielder Brian Carroll said. "I wish him the best and know he will represent Philadelphia and the league very well in the All-Star Game."
Valdes and Farfan are the third and fourth players in the Union's three-year history to earn this honor. Current New York Red Bulls forward Sebastien Le Toux was the team's first selection in the inaugural 2010 season. Last year, former Union keeper Faryd Mondragon, a good friend of Valdes and native of Colombia, was selected.
Valdes wasn't sure what to expect when he came to the United States last season and one thing he has consistently mentioned is that he is touched by the fans' ardent support.
So the disappointment of not being an all-star last year is behind him. Now he's moving forward. Wednesday will be his time to soak up the adulation he will no doubt receive during the pregame introductions and throughout the event itself.
"It is my first experience so I just want to live this experience, enjoy this moment and play in the PPL Park where we usually play," Valdes said. "It's very comfortable for me and I can feel the emotion from the people, the Philly fans."
Contact Marc Narducci at 856,779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.