Daily news roundups

Heading to Clearwater, Delort rumors, Mbolhi/Algeria out of ACN, player notes, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The Union were scheduled to leave for the first phase of preseason training in Clearwater this morning (barring any weather delays) and will have their first training session there this afternoon.

Over the weekend, reports began to emerge of the Union’s interest in 23-year-old French striker Andy Delort, currently languishing at Wigan Athletic after scoring 24 goals for Ligue 2 side Tours last season. French Football Weekly reports his relegation threatened former club would like to have him back, but only on loan, with Tours president Jean-Marc Ettori saying,

In regards to Andy Delort, we don’t know what the English (Wigan Athletic’s management) are doing. For our part, our conditions are clear, precise and unequivocal – we won’t subsidise his wages at all. We don’t have the resources available to us to do so, as we’ve got a salary cap in place. That’s our plan A. If I can help get Andy out of where he is at the moment, I’ll be more than willing to do so. I’d like to state emphatically that asides from that, the rest is up to Wigan.

However, according to Wigan fansite Vital Wigan, Delort “looks set to join MLS side Philadelphia Union, despite reports in France suggesting he was due to rejoin Tours, not sure if this is a loan deal or permanent transfer.” Given Delort’s reported price tag of around £3 million (approximately $4.5 million) when he signed with Wigan — one no doubt somewhat diminished given his lack of playing time there — and the Union’s own lack of funds, if Delort comes to the Philadelphia, it seems likely that it would be in the form of a loan.

As L’Equipe reports (crappy Google translation here), Delort’s options are limited in Europe because FIFA prohibits players from appearing for three clubs that work within the same transfer window, and Delort saw minutes with Tours before joining Wigan in September. However, the prohibition does not apply in MLS because the league operates on a different transfer window.

Rais Mbolhi and Algeria were defeated 3-1 by Ivory Coast on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations. Presumably Mbolhi will now be joining the Union in Clearwater this week for preseason training.

While Austin Berry was with the Union during preseason training at YSC, he tells Dave Zeitlin at MLSsoccer.com that his future is unclear: “I’m trying to figure that out right now. I’ve had few talks with [head coach Jim] Curtin and [technical director Chris] Albright in the last few weeks. There have been some things we talked about, so I’m just waiting to hear back right now…If I’m in the picture, I’d like to stay. If I’m not, I’d rather have a fresh start [somewhere else].” I suppose much depends on whatever happens with Carlos Valdes. According to El Observador (crappy Google translation here), Valdes was to fly to Montevideo over the weekend for further talks with Nacional.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George on how impressive Eric Bird has been so far in preseason training. Bird said, “My focus right now is to make the team first. I would play any role that Coach Curtin wants me to play. I think at this next level the best suited role for me is a 6 or an 8 — a more defensive guy than I played at UVA. I think that I’m a player that has a good engine and I can string together passes efficiently and can be that rock or foundation in the middle of the field.”

De George notes that Curtin had much praise for Dzenan Catic and Raymond Lee. Curtin said of Lee, “It’s starting to look like he’s starting to be a left-sided type of Ray Gaddis. His game is simple. He’s got better feet than people think and probably give him credit for. Good left foot, can actually play a ball with his right foot, too. And he’s quiet, just goes about his business. Quite pleased with what he’s brought.”

Curtin said Aaron Simmons struggled to adjust to playing on turf at the start of the week but his play improved as the week went on.

In case you missed it, we posted video on the PSP YouTube channel of remarks from Curtin on Friday after the open practice:

World Soccer Talk rates each MLS club’s offseason moves. The Union got a D+: “This current roster is by no means a final product. But if the Union don’t improve, it could be a long year for Jim Curtin.” (In case you’re wondering, also getting a D+ was New York Red Bulls, while San Jose got a D-.)

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald’s look a how free agency would work in MLS includes comments from the Union’s MLSPU rep Danny Cruz. “We’re trying to continue to see how this league has grown and where we are now, in today’s MLS,” Cruz said. “I don’t think we’re asking for things that are completely outrageous.”

A rare Sunday edition of the Daily Doop rounds up news from the Union’s first week of preseason training.

Brotherly Game has observations from Friday’s open practice at YSC.

Former Union man Brian Brown scored two goals for Norwegian Premier League side Mjøndalen over the weekend. As far as I can tell given a crappy Google translation, Brown is trialing with the club after a trial with Bob Bradley’s Stabæk failed to result in a contract.

Union Academy

You will recall that soon after Union Academy players Sebastien Elney and Sean Wilson were listed on the team’s preseason training roster last week they were called up by the US U-18 team for the Copa Chivas tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. In Friday’s 1-0 win over Monarcas Morelia, Elney was captain of the team but was subbed out in the 35th minute (the US Youth National Teams Twitter account says Elney was subbed out at the start of the second half, but the match report disagrees), while Wilson went the full 90. Elney may have been subbed out due to injury because he did not dress for the 1-0 loss to Cruzeiro on Saturday. Wilson entered in the 60th minute in that game. If it was an injury it was a minor one, as both Elney and Wilson started today against Club Tijuana. The team faces Club Deportivo Universidad Catolica on Tuesday. You can view the games live at chivasdecorazon.com.mx.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders’ home opener will be against FC Montreal on Saturday, April 18 (the announcement on the team website twice says “Saturday, March 18,” but March 18 is a Wednesday and the accompanying graphic says the home opener is on April 18, which is a Saturday. Pittsburgh Riverhounds will have their home opener on Saturday, March 28 against Harrisburg so it looks like the City Islanders will be opening the season on the road. The full 2015 schedule is expected to be released today.

Darren Ambrose, the Penn women’s team’s all-time winningest coach, has resigned to become the head coach of the Vanderbilt women’s team, a move that stunned the team. Over a 15-year career at Penn, Ambrose recorded 148 wins and Ivy League titles in 2001, 2007, and 2010.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle has a good read on Christian Pulisic, the Hershey, Pa./PA Classics/US U-17 player who recently signed with Borussia Dortmund.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is in London for a trade mission so naturally he visited the Emirates on Sunday to take in Arsenal’s 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa. Christie was asked by reporters to compare the enthusiasm of fans there with those in New Jersey and Philadelphia. In the wake of the furor that accompanied the governor’s very public support of the Dallas Cowboys against the Philadelphia Eagles, and his reported description of Philadelphia sports fans as “the worst in America,” Christie replied, “Well I’m never talking about Philly fans again. So as to fans in New Jersey, same kind of level of enthusiasm. They seemed like they were having a good time and they had a lot to cheer for today, obviously.” More on Christie’s visit at NJ.com.

MLS

Juventus have confirmed that Sebastian Giovinco left the club today to join Toronto FC in preseason training. When Giovinco’s signing was announced, he was not expected to join Toronto until the summer.

It’s official: Juan Agudelo has re-signed with New England.

Columbus Crew has signed 22-year-old midfielder Cedrick Mabwati, who is currently with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations. Cedrick will join the Crew from La Liga side Real Betis this summer. He’s currently on loan to Spanish second division side Osasuna. DR Congo will face Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup on Nations semifinal on Wednesday.

San Jose Earthquakes has signed 25-year-old Nigerian-born Swiss forward Innocent Emeghara as their third Designated Player.

Colorado Rapids has acquired 23-year-old midfielder Lucas Pittinari on a one-year loan from Argentine club Belgrano.

Orlando City and DC United drew 1-1 in a preseason game at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Friday. More on the game here.

On Saturday, New England topped RSL 2-1, San Jose defeated Sonoma County Sol, 5-0, and Portland defeated Kansas City, 2-0.

On Saturday, NYCFC announced David Villa as the team captain. On Sunday, NYCFC defeated NASL side Jacksonville Armada 2-1 on a penalty kick in the closing seconds of a preseason game, which was split into 24-minute quarters. You will recall the Union play Jacksonville on Saturday.

New York Red Bulls defeated University of South Florida 4-0 on Sunday.

At MLSsoccer.com, Scott French talks to local lad Dan Gargan about his hopes with the Galaxy in 2015. The 32-year-old recently re-signed with LA after a career-best season in 2014.

The LA Times on how a players strike could stall the league’s momentum.

At the Salt Lake Tribune, comments on the CBA negotiations from Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers.

Also at Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah State Fairpark officials urged lawmakers Friday to approve legislation needed to allow Real Salt Lake to build an 8,000-seat minor league soccer stadium there, saying it would greatly benefit both the fairgrounds and the team.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Falcons are planning to install a circular video screen  at the stadium that will be the home of the Falcons and the as yet unnamed Atlanta MLS club. “

The petition aimed at putting the question of whether the use of public funding for the proposed stadium in Las Vegas should be put before voters has failed. Reports from Fox5 and CBS8.

An opinion piece at Miami New Times says David Beckham’s hoped for MLS team should play at Sun Life Stadium until it gets its own.

US

Jill Ellis has named her 23-player roster for the friendlies against France (12 pm on Feb. 8 on ESPN2) and England (3 pm on Feb. 13 on Fox Sports 1). Not on the squad due to injury are Megan Rapinoe (knee) and Christie Rampone (back), with Hope Solo off the roster as she serves her suspension. On the roster is Shannon Boxx which, with all due respect for an illustrious career, is simply ridiculous as once again an aging USWNT veteran takes up a spot that should be filled by younger player.

Paul Rogers, who was the USWNT goalkeeping coach from 2009 until last week when he took the same position with Houston Dynamo, says his departure has nothing to do with the Hope Solo situation.

Only two hours after tickets were made available to the public on Friday, sales for the USWNT friendly against New Zealand on April 4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis had topped 23,500, requiring the opening of upper level seats in the stadium and putting the game well on pace to be the best attended USWNT game in 11 years.

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “FIFA have confirmed that incumbent Sepp Blatter, former Portugal forward Luis Figo, Dutch FA president Michael van Praag and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan have bid to stand for president.”

Earlier, Reuters reported, “FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne is out of the race after failing to win sufficient backing for his bid, saying that national associations feared ‘reprisals’ if they supported him.”

Australia defeated South Korea 2-1 on Saturday in the Asian Cup final. For tournament hosts Australia, it was their first Asian Cup title.

Mayhem at the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday after a controversial refereeing decision awarded to host country Equatorial Guinea sparked their 2-1 comeback win over Tunisia. The AP reports the decision resulted in “ugly scenes as players and coaching staff members brawled on the sidelines on a number of occasions and threw water bottles at each other. Tunisian players attacked the referee at the end of the game and had to be beaten back by riot police in the chaos at Bata Stadium.” Tunisia Football Federation president Wadie Jary resigned from the Africa Cup organizing committee the next day.

66 Comments

  1. The Black Hand says:

    I believe Wigan just paid 3.5 mil for Delort’s services, so a permanent transfer doesn’t seem realistic for us. A loan could work. Give us something, Union!!!!!!

  2. I can’t help it. Jim Curtin! Love that guy.

    • Me too. As much as I rant(bitch) about this organization and it’s decision making, I love Jim Curtin. I will continue to rant at times, it’s who I am. I’m what some call passionate. Andy Delort looks like Wondo and Letoux. I want so much for this team and fan base. I’m that way about all Philly teams and yes I feel there is a conspiracy against us real or imagined…sue me!

    • Same here. I was at open practice Friday – he took the time to work around the perimeter of the field and greet each of us beforehand, then was there to thank us as we left at the end. He just gets it. I thought the practice session was very well run and hit the right focus for what this team needs – high energy, fast paced, crisp, and a heavy focus on attacking play throughout. And the man has the confidence to rock the short pants in public.

      • personalities aside…………….I’m waiting for the product on the pitch. Then we shall see if he really…….”gets it”.

  3. Shame about Jerome Champagne. Predictably though, being a canditate strongly in favor of making FIFA an honest/open organization meant that he never had a chance…ugh.

  4. J in Section 125 says:

    Any news on Cezary Wilk? Saw his name as a potential defensive midfielder signing over the weekend. Be nice if we can secure the services of Delort as well.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Andy Delort. The Sons of Ben may need to practice La Marseillias en francais! The website transfermarkt.com, a German site available in English translation, provides a career skeleton and some financials of past transactions.

  6. Anybody seen the goals that Mbolhi gave up in the CAF game?

  7. I keep refreshing my news feed like a crazy person just waiting for those announcements/signings. Don’t let me down Jim….

    Please remove the MLS section from your updates until it includes something from the Union… its like salt in a wound… 🙂

  8. Wait, am I supposed to be happy about a rumor of a player who cannot get playing time at a club that is second from the bottom in the second tier of English football?

    • The Black Hand says:

      23 year old, who scored 24 goals in 38 appearances for Tours (French Ligue 2), last year. I’ll take those numbers.
      .
      It’s something!

      • I would agree in that I will literally take absolutely anything at this point. But it is important to remember that this guy is not Vincent Nogeuira, who was a captain on a League 1 team. There is zero chance the Union are going to pay a lot of money, so that means Wigan is willing to basically write of 3.5 million for this guy. He’s 23 years old, and they paid big money. Something smells a little…

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agreed. His price is out of our reach. We’ll never get the full transfer.
        .
        A ‘season long’ loan, with an option, would be nice but I think Wigan are looking for a six-month loan…which would do nothing for us.

      • A young striker with one good season in a lower tier league?

        How is that any better then what the Union already have?

    • Gruntled Fan says:

      At this point any rumor is a good, the Union have worked magic here, they’ve lowered my expectations to the point that if they bring anybody in I’m happy.
      .
      I don’t anything about Delort, but he does seem to have a decent track record and is young, so I’m excited.

  9. Does Delort have to be signed today?

    • The Black Hand says:

      I believe he does.

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      No. Transfer windows are based on the recipient team, so players can transfer into the US until May 6. The reason for the focus today is that the “selling” team typically wants to use the resources elsewhere and today would be the deadline for their use of those funds.

      That said, it would be nice if our guys can get into camp and learn the system before games start.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Yeah?? I thought that any transfers involving European clubs must conclude by 11:00 GMT.

      • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

        That only applied to players moving to EUFA. The transfer rules apply based on the window in the “target” federation.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Never knew that. I had always thought that any dealings with a European club needed to be wrapped up within their window…leaving us with S. America and MLS as our talent pool.
        .
        This gives us hope…to sign no one!!!

  10. “Presumably Mbolhi will now be joining the Union in Clearwater this week for preseason training.”

    How nice of M’Bullshit to finally grace the Union with his presence….you know the team that actually pays his salary.

    • can’t begrudge the man for wanting to represent his country in an international tournament

    • As it was nice for all the World Cup participants to finally grace their clubs last summer…

      • ya i dont care about what other players on other teams do regarding national team stuff. much like Judas (oops I mean Valdes), M’Bullshit’s priority is NT and not the Union. I will continue to boo the shit out of him until he puts a few wins in the column or (hopefully) never sets foot in PPL again.

    • I hope the fans are willing to give Rais a clean slate this year. I don’t think he deserves to be booed at the outset. There was some borderline anti-muslim stuff shouted from the river end last year after the incident-that-shall not-be-named, and while I can understand a moment of intense anger, I don’t think I’d continue attending games if that kind of thing is going to happen regularly.

      • +1. And that can’t be pinned on the FO at that point.

      • IF what you say is true regarding those comments, we are no better than the anti-semites and bigots in France and Italy tormenting players of color. no better. borderline or not. i’m with you. that is intense unconscious living and i would not be able to be part of it. as I say to my kids, “Fly Right People.”

      • I would like to think that our fans will self-police and prevent that crap from staining our team.

      • +1 i had no idea that this happened

      • +1, I’ve heard some poison come out of 114 over the years before I stopped re-upping. No excuse for it……….ever.

      • After considering, I just want to add that my comment was not meant to be disparaging toward the River End or Sons of Ben in general. I stand there myself and have for four of five seasons now. I find the environment to be, if not ideal, about as positive as a group of people largely united by a love of drinking and shouting for 90 minutes can be.
        .
        If anything, I think there’s been a bit of a change in tone since the SoB requirement for seats there was waived so that the River End now functions as the Supporters Section, but also as the generic cheap seats.
        .
        Anyway, my point is that while I did hear the comments I reference, and I am concerned about there being more of that, I am NOT making any kind of negative blanket statement about the SoBs or the River End overall.

      • I didn’t take your comment as a broad brush, but, I am disappointed that it happened. I would hope the SoBs would shut that down quickly. If PPL Park ever became a place to vent hate I’d leave and never come back.

      • I as well did not take it accusatory but observatory and my comment is a reflection of that observation.

      • ++ 1

  11. From the world soccer talk article: “Signing Maurice Edu was vital, but it seems like Philly operates like a small-market team, which, considering the size of their market, support, and stadium situation, they aren’t.”
    .
    Amen to that.

    • beginning. middle. end. the alpha and the omega.

    • And the world takes notice!

    • The Chopper says:

      We know this team does not have ownership capable or willing to pump dollars into the roster and operate at a potential loss hoping for some payoff down the road.

      The club must do well enough with their ticket revenue and concessions. Merch sales have been reasonable enough as well. They did take a hit on parking revenue through the unaffiliated lots in Chester, so that is one stream below initial estimates.

      My guess is that the Union are not making the necessary revenue in their marketing efforts. Sponsorship dollars are critical and from what I see, there are not a lot of big dollar deals. Small markets sponsors, small market budget. The question is, is this a poor effort by the Union sales team, or are Philadelphia’s marketing managers not willing to make heavy investments in MLS and the Union.

      • The Union make plenty of revenue. The stadium is paid for by the government, and the ad and merchandise sales are more than enough to cover ancillary expenses. But the revenues still seem to significantly outweigh the current costs (ticket sales alone are about 3 times as much as the team’s total player salary cost). The only conclusion to make is that the owners are running the organization with a skeleton crew in order to make up for profits lost in their other businesses since the ’08 crash.
        .
        I’m not expecting the owners to pump dollars into the roster and operate at a potential loss, but I do expect the profits made from the fans to be re-invested in the team, not pocketed by money-grubbing leaches.

  12. So the Delort deal isn’t happening. Starting to worry this team is going to essentially strike out this offseason. We’ve done nothing.

    • How about that other French striker, Godot? Are we still Waiting for him?

      I’ll show myself out…

    • The Black Hand says:

      It was a long-shot. His price is out of our range…way out…
      .
      Sucks. He looked like he could have been a nice fit.
      .
      Our club is going to suck…but our coach is a nice guy?

    • We’ve done less than nothing. We lost our best young prospect *to another MLS team.* It would have been bad enough to lose him to Europe, but to lose him to a team who should be less established than us!? Unacceptable. But for lack of a real ownership group, manager, or anyone with any sort of intelligence whatsoever, we pay a transfer fee plus a DP salary to Edu, who is not significantly better than Okugo. For a team who claims to be penny pinching, the FO doesn’t seem too concerned about making smart, efficient decisions.

      • Boom. Like that.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Pretty much summed it up, frey. An utter and complete cluster-fuck is being mixed up, as we speak.
        .
        Now we can be treated to some S. American transfer rumors…and then the blockbuster MLS trade!!!!

      • I actually that think the MLS trade has been where they have planned to get a striker all along. One of the defenders will be move for …. something.

      • The Black Hand says:

        How big of a return can we expect for Fab/Sheanon? If they are talking of trading Gaddis, than they have gone straight out of their heads.
        .
        Unless, we are talking about acquiring a Liga MX player who’s name sounds like Shmercules Shmomez.

      • I don’t think it will be for much. I just think that’s where they go. Sapong & Casey will be your forwards.

      • LOL I second a Shmercules Shmomez acquisition!

      • The Black Hand says:

        How about trading Blake???

  13. I hope the North Bank gave Christie a rendition of, you fat bastard you ate all the pies.

  14. The Black Hand says:

    The sons of bitches did nothing!!! Not a thing. Repulsive…

  15. OneManWolfpack says:

    So many signings I can barely keep up!!!

  16. The Black Hand says:

    Please tell me that Brian Brown is still with the club!!! Was that a loan? I fear it was…

  17. The Black Hand says:

    Is Claudio Bieler off the table?

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Bieler was allready sold by KC(MLS). After Berry talked about not being here maybe they package him, an international roster spot and allocation for Gilberto? Toronto still hasn’t moved him and they are at their 3 DP threshold. Maybe MLS tries to save face and subsidizes his pay and sends him to Philly? Wishful thinking but it would allow the league to kill 2 birds with one stone….

  18. Love Jim Curt and wish him well coaching this team and trying to negotiate thru the rachetness of this organization. As for this organization I hope this fan base will put the screws to them and really sound off. Campaign for new financially competitive ownership. Campaign for comcast to step to the forefront. I know that this market is important to MLS. If the Union can’t handle being in a top market than it’s time to start campaigning for a franchise that can and appreciates the best fan base in sports.

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