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Ansaldi: Union talked to 4 players in Argentina, State of MLS, more news

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Kerith Gabriel has a Q & A with Ricardo Ansaldi, the Union’s new director of international development, on the club’s website. Ansaldi says the main target for the club in the offseason is acquiring “forwards” and that he and John Hackworth interviewed four players during the recent scouting trip in Argentina.

Ansaldi says, “[A]s a team we get offers everyday from every single part of the world. We are talking African players, Eastern European players, almost every country in South America. My job is to screen those possibilities to see which ones of those players may be suitable for the Union. Which one will be within the Union’s budget and then when that is narrowed down then the coaches choose and ultimately make that decision.”

What kind of player is Ansaldi looking for? “In my view and this is not the view of the coaches, but maybe, I think personally I am not very looking for a big figure or a big name. That being said, a player you put a lot of expectations on would have to deal with a lot of pressure. What I think I would like to have of the player—and this goes for the whole roster, is the team idea…Specifically, I would like to have a player with very exquisite technique, very strong to play in MLS, which is a strong league. Ideally, with some experience but not necessarily in terms of age. In a sport like soccer, the ideal player does not need to be above the age of 30 to have experience.”

Ansaldi says that when he and John Hackworth were in Argentina, they “watched about four or five game in the four days. We did interview four players, we sat down with them and we did interview with some clubs. It was a very active week.”

Ansaldi says the countries where he has the strongest contacts are Argentina Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil.

Carlos Valdes was named to SBI’s MLS Best XI third team.

Soccer Wire and  Soccer America has some more details on the US U-18 team’s games against Canada last week. Zach Pfeffer and Union academy goalkeeper Zack Steffen started in both games with Pfeffer scoring a goal and an assist in the second game.

The Brotherly Game links to a report out of Poland that says Peter Nowak is up for the Polish National team’s sporting director job.

Local

La Salle’s Courtney Niemiec is one of 36 finalists for Soccer News Net’s Women’s College Player of the Year.

Buckslocalnews.com takes a closer look at Conwell Egan girls’ team’s campaign to the PIAA Class A state finals.

MLS

Soccer Insider reports that DC United president Kevin Payne is stepping down “and will join another team in the league.”

Don Garber gave his annual state of the league teleconference on Monday. At Sporting News, Brian Straus has a good rundown on the main topics: David Beckham’s buy-in; competition format consistency; New York expansion; youth development; struggling teams.

Garber confirmed that the 2013 season will kickoff on March 2, the earliest start in league history. He also said the league will have a light schedule in July because of the Gold Cup tournament and will “do everything possible to not schedule games again during World Cup qualifying dates.”

Garber highlighted the growth the league has experienced during the time David Beckham has been with the league and said that Beckham “overdelivered” when it comes to improving the league’s recognition and prestige around the world. “We needed David Beckham in 2007 to help drive our credibility,” Garber said. “We don’t need anything today.”

Garber said that a clause in David Beckham’s contract allows him to become an owner of any club in the league excepts for in New York: “Anything’s a possibility other than his right to exercise that option in New York.” Garber’s comments are interesting in the context of the speculation we linked to on Monday that Beckham is in talks to become a player/owner of New York Cosmos.

Garber said that negotiations for a new stadium in Queens are “at the finish line.” He also said the league needs to expand into the southeast, mentioning Orlando and Miami as prospects. “If we’re not able to  get something finalized [in NYC], we obviously have to start looking at other markets until we’re able to execute the second team here in New York.”

Saying that “developing young players is one of our top priorities,” Garber explained, “We will continue to invest mass amounts of money in our academy programs and our reserve leagues. That investment has not yet paid off.” He said the league has discussed ways to ensure young players get enough playing time, including working on loans to NASL teams or implementing a mandatory minutes rule as is done in Mexico.

Soccer America explores the idea of mandatory minutes for homegrown players.

For a Canadian perspective on Garber’s comments, TSN has a good wrap while a report from The Canadian Press focuses on Toronto.

The league announced its Best XI on Monday. Four Sporting Kansas City players made the list.

We know Saturday’s MLS Cup final will be David Beckham’s last game in MLS. Could it also be Landon Donovan’s?

Avi Creditor writes that criticism of the current playoff format is based on too small a sample size. “When the league, finishing up its 17th year, completes expansion and has a firm, long-standing set of competition rules in place for the long haul, this will no longer be an issue or a debate, and the system will be accepted for what it is.”

The Kansas City Star reports that Roger Espinoza is set to join Wigan Athletic.

Toronto have re-signed Eric Hassli.

A report in the Telegraph that is without any named sources but full of plenty of “sources with knowledge” and “it is understood,” says that the owners of Manchester City  are interested in placing a bid on a second New York team. The report also says, “There are also suggestions that Red Bull may be reconsidering its investment in the MLS, which potentially opens up a second New York franchise.”

AFP reports that, with the goal of developing “the best team in the US, in the world,” New York Cosmos sporting director Eric Cantona says, “Our ambition is to have the best team in the country, with most of the players coming from the (youth) academy and help the country win the World Cup one day.” The report is based on an interview Cantona did with the BBC a year ago.

Speaking of the NASL, the league will announce their new commissioner this afternoon.

Women’s Soccer

ESPNW has a roundtable discussion on what the new women’s professional league can learn from past failed attempts at a pro league.

Elsewhere

The people of Brazil have voted that the armadillo mascot for the 2014 World Cup will be named “Fuleco.” According to the AP, “Fuleco comes from the Portuguese words ‘futebol’ (football) and ‘ecologia’ (ecology), and FIFA said it ‘seamlessly represents the way in which the FIFA World Cup can combine the two to encourage people to behave in an environmentally friendly way.'”

 

2 Comments

  1. The whole HG idea is fantastic but it has some very serious flaws when approaching it as a “mandatory minutes” thing.
    Just using ours as a obvious example, HG players are young, at least < 19, right? They SHOULDN'T be playing first team football. In the rest of the world, they would still be in the youth team, or at most getting minutes in the reserve leagues (and the MLS has no youth league and a broken reserve league).
    All this talk about "Hm HG players don't play that often, we don't see any ROI!" is flawed. This stuff can't be measured in a year or two. It's about getting young kids a professional level of experience training, coaching, living and playing. Which, (as we seem to always come back too), every other league in the world does normally without needing some "HG" label.
    I think it all comes back to the salary cap. It's too restrictive these days. And all this talk about forcing HG players to play proves it. Only the best of the best wonderkids even crack the first team at <19 (outliers notwithstanding).

  2. The interview with Ricardi Ansaldi wasn’t that informative except we learned that he has a Klinsmannesque penchant for monologue.

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