Daily news roundups

Stewart says Union looking for “controlling midfielder,” Simpson notes, league news, more

Photo: Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Speaking to Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald, Earnie Stewart says the Union’s search for new acquisitions is not done yet. Stewart says,

In midfield, we’d still like to go get a controlling midfielder that we’re busy with right now. Then, for the most part, we’d like to be two deep in every spot, and that’s especially what this draft is for – some young talent that can fill those holes that we still have…

[A veteran center back], that’s also a possibility, but things have to happen on our roster…There would have to be something that happens for us to get that done, but let’s hope. That’s one of the things that we’d like to do. We have a young back line, and we’ve seen that on some occasions last year we could have used some veteran experience in helping us. That’s what we’re looking to do.

Stewart also explained the process behind identifying and signing Jay Simpson:

Jay came through the network that we have in Europe and the contacts that we have over there. He came to our attention, and after our first evaluations, we made sure to go and watch him…

The thing that we were looking for in this offseason was somebody whose alarm bells go off when we get into the 18-yard box. That’s what we were looking for, focusing on and targeting, and Jay has that. Once a ball falls into the 18-yard box, he has those instincts as a center forward to be in and around the ball. That’s a very important quality that a center forward needs.

That was something that we wanted to address, and with Jay we feel we’ve definitely done that.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead talks to two English journalists to share their thoughts on Simpson. Will Jackson of the Hull Daily Mail says:

Although I am by no means an expert in MLS, from what I gather the tempo of the league is a lot slower than the English game and therefore better suited to Jay Simpson.

While there is no denying his strong work ethic, Simpson as a footballer lacks pace and stamina, meaning he often gets caught up in build up play and can’t get to the areas he needs to be to score goals.

Despite that, I honestly feel like MLS could be the perfect stage for Simpson to finally realize his potential. He’s good with the ball at his feet, and in fairness to him when he gets in the positions he can be dangerous.

It all depends what Philadelphia fans want from a striker. If they want nothing more than a goal scorer then Simpson is not the man for them. However, if they want a striker that works hard for the team and brings others into play, then Simpson is their man.

BBC Radio’s Dave Victor says, “Jay is a very skillful player and if he gets a good supply of quality crosses and through balls he will score a lot of goals.”

At Brotherly Game, Eugene Rupinski talks to a Leyton Orient season ticket holder who writes for SB Nation’s Tottenham Hotspur blog, who says of Simpson, “if you can unlock the shit-hot player that scored nearly 20 goals for us last season before January then you’ll be laughing…the vast majority of the goals I’ve seen have come from him receiving the ball in central areas and shooting, rather than dribbling with it. Basically, my final verdict would be that if your coach is willing to experiment with a 4-4-2, he could have a really good impact for you. Otherwise, he’s likely to be a handy impact player.” (emphasis in the original).

Section 215 wonders what the Simpson signing means for CJ Sapong. Philly Sports Network wonders if Simpson is the next Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Vital Football’s Leyton Orient page on whether or not a transfer fee was paid to acquire Simpson: “It remains to be seen if Orient boss Andy Edwards will be handed any of the money from this transfer – which was undisclosed – to strengthen the squad before the end of the month as the O’s seek to stave off the threat of relegation from the Football League. Simpson would have been a free agent this summer and therefore probably have left Brisbane Road on a free transfer anyway.”

When participants at the MLS Players Combine were asked who their favorite MLS team is, your Philadelphia Union came in second place with 10 percent of the votes. Maurice Edu was the lone Union player to be named when combine participants were asked to name their favorite MLS player.

At MLSsoccer.com, the Union’s first round 2016 draft picks certainly compare well in this review of how the draft class did. More at Philadelphia Union.

FourFourTwo’s review of how No. 1 draft picks did in MLS reminds that the Union have been connected to five No. 1s: Freddy Adu (2004), Maurice Edu (2007), Danny Mwanga (2010), Andrew Wenger (2012), and Andre Blake (2014).

Union Mock Draft picks — Jorge Gomez Sanchez and Tucker Hume — at Brotherly Game.

Looks like former Union man Conor Casey will soon be named as an assistant coach at Colorado Rapids, replacing the departing John Spencer.

Bethlehem Steel

At the Bethlehem Steel website, Tom Vai on the Steel Soccer School program.

Philadelphia Union Academy

US Soccer has announced the addition of a U-15 single age group to the US Soccer Development Academy system beginning with the 2017-2018 season. USSDA director Jared Micklos says, “The addition of the U-15 age group is another important step to ensure players have the opportunities they need to develop on and off the field. We have all seen the benefits of the increased opportunities this season with the split of last season’s U-13/14 division into single U-13 and U-14 age groups. We believe the U-15 age group will be another avenue for clubs to further their player development efforts.” The announcement notes, “The change to a U-15 single age group is in coordination with the birth year mandate that will go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season.”

The top of the USSDA pyramid will thus be U-18/19, U-16/17, then U-15.

City Islanders

The City Islanders have exercised the option on midfielder Mouhamed Dabo and re-signed him for 2017.

Local

Local lad Jimmy Ockford (Yardley, Pa.) has signed with USL expansion side Reno 1868.

Remember Trey Mitchell, the MLS Pool Goalkeeper who provided cover for the Union in 2015? He’s signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

MLS

Kansas City have signed 23-year-old forward Cameron Iwasa “to a one-year contract with options for 2018, 2019 and 2020.” Iwasa last played in the USL for Sacramento Republic.

After selecting him in Stage Two of last month’s Re-Entry Draft, Kansas City have signed goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra to “a one-year contract with an option for 2018.”

Minnesota have signed Norwegian international defender Vadim Demidov “using Targeted Allocation Money.”

NYCFC have loaned defender Jefferson Mena to Ecuadorian Serie A Barcelona for 2017.

Sebastian Giovinco has no plans to return to Serie A.

New Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo has announced his full coaching staff.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez says he would rather move to MLS than China but he’s happy in Germany right now.

The Guardian and Yahoo Sports reflect on the tenth anniversary today of the announcement that David Beckham would be joining LA Galaxy.

Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Atlanta United could announce their USL partner as soon as next week. Last season the club partnered with Charleston Battery.

St. Louis Business Journal reports, “A bill that would have put a Major League Soccer stadium funding question on the city of St. Louis’ April ballot will not move forward, the legislation’s sponsor said Tuesday.” The AP reports dropping the bill is “threatening the effort to lure a Major League Soccer expansion team.”

NASL

New New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso says his insistence that he would buy the team only if the NASL retained Division 2 status forced US Soccer to do so late last week. Commisso says backpay owed to players and staff since November will be paid this week. He also says the team will play within New York City in 2017, either at minor league baseball’s MCU Park in Brooklyn or at his alma mater, Columbia University in Manhattan, whose soccer field is named after him. That stadium’s 3,500 capacity falls short of Division 2 requirements so it is unclear if the team could possibly play at Columbia’s football stadium.

Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese says former Union and Bethlehem Steel man Ryan Richter is one of only three players currently signed by the team.

More on the Cosmos news at Big Apple Soccer (1, 2, 3), Empire of Soccer (1, 2, 3), ESPN, Soccer America, SBICrain’s New York Business, and Newsday.

US

A knee injury will prevent Bill Hamid from participating in the January USMNT camp.

ESPN reports, “Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron hopes to return in February after travelling to the United States for an examination on his injured knee. Cameron is in the Los Angeles area and will be examined by the U.S. Soccer Federation’s medical staff this week.” Cameron has not played since Oct. 22.

The Washington Post has a good interview with Bruce Arena in which he discusses the urgency he feels to guide the USMNT to World Cup qualification. Asked what it would mean if the US fails to qualify, Arena replied, “It would be terrible. How terrible? Are there different levels of terrible?”

From the AP:

The United States and Mexico could team up and meet FIFA’s need for the biggest-ever World Cup in 2026 being staged by the most host nations.

Canada has also joined the North American neighbors for informal talks about a three-way bid in a contest that FIFA will complete during American President-elect Donald Trump’s first term, according to persons familiar with the talks. They spoke on grounds of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

Sunil Gulati, who the article says was part of the unanimous vote to expand the World Cup field to 48 teams, notes the expansion means “the number of countries that can host it without building major infrastructure and stadiums is limited.”

Elsewhere

From Grant Wahl at SI: “It’s the end of the World Cup as we know it: Expansion to 48 ruins FIFA’s showpiece”

At the Washington Post:

  • Steven Goff writes, “The World Cup is growing by 50 percent, but will it be half as good?”
  • From Simon Evans: “A 48-team World Cup is set for 2026. The battle over who gets those slots starts now.”

At the Guardian:

At ESPN:

At Fox Sports:

  • From Ryan Rosenblatt: “The World Cup is expanding to 48 teams: How did it happen, why and what will it look like?”
  • From Alex Dowd: “World Cup evolution: How the tournament grew from 13 teams to 48”

At Goal.com:

  • From Joe Wright: “‘Football is more than Europe and South America’ – Infantino champions expanded World Cup”
  • From Harry West: “‘We fail to see the merits’ – Europe’s top clubs question motives for World Cup expansion”
  • From Peter Staunton: “Why a 48-team World Cup is a good thing”

From Pro Soccer Talk’s Nicholas Mendola: “The merits of a 48-team World Cup (and sample draw)”

From Mike Woitalla at Soccer America: “Will a 48-team World Cup really hurt the quality of play?”

At ESPN: “Anti-doping organisations have said Russia should be banned from hosting and competing in international sporting events, including the 2018 World Cup, until it can show it is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.”

Also at ESPN: “FIFA has filed a report with police in Switzerland after six Hublot watches went missing before Monday’s The Best gala in Zurich. The watches, estimated at €93,000 each, were to have been given to Cristiano Ronaldo, Claudio Ranieri and the other winners at FIFA’s top award ceremony.”

Reuters reports, “Football officials in Rio de Janeiro have called on police to take urgent action to stop what they called ‘the destruction of the Maracana’ after valuables were looted from the famous old stadium.”

52 Comments

  1. Ah, fantastic! We signed a guy without speed OR endurance, who operates best in a 4-4-2, and who needs quality service to be any use at all as a goalscorer. Sounds like a perfect fit for the Union! That’s exactly the type of guy you want as a lone striker on a team without great setup men!
    .
    Nothing in that interview with Tannenwald inspires any hope in me whatsoever. “Past results do not guarantee future performance”. So you once found a guy in a lower league who became something. Good job. Doesn’t mean anything.
    .
    He only wants to bring in one midfielder? That means either Bedoya is playing behind the front 4 or we’re starting Carroll or Creavalle. I’m not sure I like either option, although the former is certainly much more palatable than the latter. Or he’s banking on Edu coming back and playing major minutes. Pipe dream.
    .
    Going into another season with the Yaro/Tribbett pairing as our only options at LCB seems bad.
    .
    Give me hope Earnie. Something that shows you understand MLS and aren’t just banking on Andre Blake to steal enough points to get us a first round exit again.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      First point, I’ll tale Ernie’s opinion over a reporter’s any day.

      Second point, he wants someone to play Nogs old role, Bedoya is your 10. Edu is your other holding midfielder with some combination of Carroll, Crevalle, Jones backing them up.

      3rd point, Yaro had a tough time last year with injuries and I believe a death in the family. He’ll be much improved this year.

      4th point, can’t believe I’m defending the U…..

      • Yaro/Tribbet are competing for RCB – Marquez has been exclusively on the left.
        .
        Also, I would not take too much stock in one person saying “he lacks pace and endurance”. It is all relative.
        .
        The big positive that I have seen is that he can create his own space to get a shot off, which is something only Alberg has really shown consistently.

      • If you read Kevin’s piece where he interviews people you wouldn’t think they were talking about the same players since the analysis contradicts. Simpson clearly has some abilities though. Hopefully it transfers well to MLS and the Union.

    • Your first point is way off base, because we saw MANY MANY times CJ was late to a Fabinho cross, or had the ball at his feet in a good position but couldn’t even take the shot!

      So we DO get good service into the box, so I’m not sure why brining in a better pure finisher is a bad thing.

    • Wow, I’m surprised the Stewart just didn’t tell a reporter his exact plans for building the Union’s roster in order to make some fans feel better.

      What was he thinking????

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        you sound as though you believe in the free flow of truthful information.
        .
        What a radical thought.

      • No, I was being sarcastic.

        I like that Stewart goes about his business quietly and keeps our strategy on lockdown. He shouldn’t be giving any info away to press or fans. It’s a competitive business so you gotta smart in what you say to people.

      • Pundits
        pundit
        Builders
        build.
        .
        No blueprints here.

  2. I found Stewart’s comments really pretty fascinating. It’s interesting that he doesn’t rate leagues when considering players — I’ll defer to his ability to scout talent. It’s at least pretty well proven over the course of his career.

    Also fascinating that the Union are still in the market for a controlling midfielder. That, to me, suggests they’re looking for a #6 and that Edu might be pushed into an #8 role (if healthy) and that we might as well pencil in Bedoya at CAM. Alberg is depth at CAM and wing positions.

    Glad to hear Casey’s staying in the game.

    • Honestly I’m not sure what a controlling midfielder is. I could be any of the 3, but I guess I would lean to an 8. I think the reason he used that term is because Bedoya and Edu both have some positional flexibility so they are just trying to find the best player they can and make it work. It’s good that it appears they are looking to bring in a starter in the midfield though, that’s a necessity.
      .
      Also the comments about a vet CB depends on other roster things makes me wonder if they want to bring in a foreign CB so we need to get an international spot for that or if it’s just a salary issue.

      • Now that I think about, you’re probably right. “Controlling” isn’t a clear cut definition of position.

      • Can’t take credit for it though, I though 6 at first too, then I saw Kevin Kinkead’s tweet saying he though 8 or 10 and that made me realize it was just Earnie being intentionally vague. He sure knows how to use the media well.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        He may be looking to sell someone, as another logical possibility for “something needing to happen.”

      • That is exactly what I thought when I read those commments.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Far Wiser to make plans that do not include Edu. He’s little more than a pipe dream now. With funny stuff in the pipe.

  3. I find it interesting that the team seems to be advertising the signing of Simpson so much more then Wijnaldum – more articles and videos and stuff.
    .
    I wonder if it is simply because he is a natural English speaker and so is more comfortable doing stuff like that, or maybe because of his position they are trying to put him in the spotlight to up his confidence coming into the team. The other reason, of course, is that they are truly confident he will come in and do well.

  4. I don’t understand all the negativity about the world Cup expansion. Scheduling seems odd, as some teams won’t play in the first week, but all this talk of diluting the event is dumb. How about we take the other extreme and only allow the top 8 in fifa rankings. Why waste time with 9th ranked teams and below?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      to once again quote John Reed’s entire speech to the Portland Oregon Chamber of Commerce on what he learned about the Great War visiting Europe, “Profits.”
      .
      Infantino inherited a FIFA that has had a lot of money stolen from it by various people operating over a long time. (Havelange + Blatter)
      .
      They need the money. Remember, over 200 national associations all have their hands out. perhaps 10 to 12 do not need FIFA handouts. The rest do.

    • For me it’s the idea that this was a tit for tat with Infantino and the smaller footballing nations. Elect me and I’ll give you a better chance to make the WC. Welcome the new boss, same as the old boss.

  5. So I’ve found some of these signings very interesting. Now I know they said 4-2-3-1 but just as a thought anyone see what could be possible. Just watch this for a second it could be utter craziness, but lets just say for a minute this team swaps to a 4-4-2 when on offense while a 4-2-3-1 on defense. OK here is my lineup thoughts: up top put LS Alberg- RS Simpson (two guys with talented technical ability to work off each other and both want the ball) LM Pontius RM Sapong (both can handle balls in the air and can distribute from the edge and make late runs (we all know CJ’s runs are never on time anyway)) LCM Bedoya RCM Edu (unfortunately they will never get rid of Edu and expect him to be in the plans thus I think you need two of your most athletic players in the middle. LB Fabi (start season/ hopefully to give the role up to wijlandum) LCB Marquez RCB Yaro RB Rosenberry GK Blake. Bench Davies Herbers Ilsinho Gaddis Tribbet Carroll McCarthy

  6. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    Maybe Ernie is looking to make a trade. Wouldn’t that have to do with the roster?

    “[A veteran center back], that’s also a possibility, but things have to happen on our roster…There would have to be something that happens for us to get that done, but let’s hope”.

    This statement makes me think it’s a player for a draft pick of Garber bucks. That would open up cap room.

    • Been thinking the same. Stewart was pretty aggressive in the draft last year. If there’s a young player he likes, he’ll make a trade for a pick. I hope it’s not Herbers, because I’d like to see him develop more. It won’t be CJ, though, He’s worth a lot more than a draft pick or two. …. But I won’t be at all surprised if there’s a buzzer beating trade deal early in the draft.

      • Really? If I was making the call I’d easily trade CJ for two good [1st rd] picks, like Chicago’s or Columbus’. And I would gladly eat crow down the road if it bit us.

      • His transfermarkt value is 600,000 euros. That’s a pretty high value to trade away on a couple of draft picks, I think.

        Interestingly, again according to transfrmarkt, his value has doubled since the Union acquired him from KC….

      • John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

        Gaddis probably has the most value in a trade. Then maybe sign a free agent who is American, like Marvell Wynne. He can play anywhere on the back line. I think he would upgrade at least two positions as back up.

    • Section 114 (former) says:

      My read is that he has an international he wants but needs to open up the spot.

      • Ayuk on the way out…?

      • If it involves him, I would guess (and hope) it is a season-long loan.
        .
        The organization has also seemed high on him since day one but was adamant that he also was pretty raw. Needs consistent playing time.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        not likely unless you see depth behind Pontius from another source?

    • I agree with your thought on a trade I think Earnie is trying to work something out. My thoughts is he wants an international roster slot and a veteran CB in the trade. What I see him giving up are draft picks and money. They liked who they got last year the team is young and they signed 2 homegrown players and plan to develop more they are not looking for draft picks. I see them shipping out possibly 1st 2nd picks this year along with money and possibly a future draft pick in a combination of trades to get what they want.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        2017 1st round draft pick already gone. It went for the right to get Bedoya.

      • I see then I would assume 2018 first pick 2nd pick this year and money to get an international slot and CB depending on player.

  7. I’m praying Ernie just likes to play it close the the vest, as has seemed to be the case. Otherwise, if his comments are taken at face value, what the hell are we doing? We can’t count on Edu, and I’ve been an advocate. The midfield was a total mess at the end of the year. The fact that we have made only two moves, and they can legitimately be argued to not end up being the starter at their positions, is very scary. I was happy go lucky, but Ernie seemed pretty happy as is, which frightens me.
    .
    Just sitting here, staying calm, hoping the midfielder is a game changing move and that Ernie is just lying to everyone

    • While I agree, I also think the team expects to get more for people the invested in last year (Ilsinho, Alberg, Bedoya, Davies, Yaro, and even Rosenberry) slong with counting on Edu (which is questionable at best).

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Please spare me all references to Edu. “Questionable at best” is the most positive spin possible. Make all plans without him, please.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        not going to happen, because to sell him now is to realize a loss. His current value is below what they are paying him. I doubt that’s moneyball.

      • I get the caution with planning for Edu, but it’s totally unfair to the guy to write him off. And it’s also just not realistic. He had a catastrophic run of injuries over the last year and a half, but he’s not a slacker. When he can play again, he will. I don’t think he’s to blame for the constant “he’s two weeks away” talk from the club. I think the Union under Ernie are all about being vague and not giving up anything. I think it’s safe to say Edu wants to be back and that we should plan for his return this season. Maybe not day 1, but he’ll be back in the starting XI.

      • I’ll believe it when I see it.

      • What is this “fairness” you speak of? It’s business. A lot of resources/cap room are tied up in a damaged asset. This is definitely the last year of his deal. If they extend a 30yo turning 31 this season with a history of leg injuries, how is that “fair” to guys behind him on the roster? How is it “fair” to STH who don’t get the benefit of a better soccer team because 25% of your budget is tied up in a guy with a limp?
        .
        Take your time, I’ll hold.

      • 18 games
        1589 minutes
        1.3 goals
        per year

        is our DP.

        Yes, let’s plan without.

  8. I suspect Earnie is waiting for someone to get a Green Card so he can make a deal for an international CB.

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Fifa eliminated joint world cup bids in 2004, so a North American bid would need a rule change.
    .
    If the Japan-S. Korea precedent were followed, a Mexico-Canada-USA joint bid would result in three seeds being given to the three hosts. Three sixteenths is 19%. That’s a high percentage to grant to teams that are not that good on the world stage.
    .
    None of these concerns affect potential profits, though, and the ability of all three nations combined to host without new construction – save for an up-to-date media center, is compelling.
    .
    Within the decade it will expand to 64 so every side get’s three games. Flying around the world to see three games is a better sales opportunity than two, especially for repeat business once the novelty is gone.
    .
    Of course there may be need for a Mercy Rule.

    • If FIFA is so concerned with giving chances to other countries, maybe they should try to build a better event around qualifiers. Maybe hold regional tournaments that can get more exposure and use those to winnow the field yet still give other countries a shot. Maybe hold them every four years in between Cups. (That could make it more difficult for other big regional tournaments, like the Euro, but…. Maybe the Euro could be used for cup qualifying)
      Making the Cup longer and weaker is not terribly exciting. How many teams that didn’t make the last up really belonged?

  10. Manneh officially a US citizen now. He cannot play for the US until the FIFA paperwork is cleared so he likely cannot play in the upcoming friendlies but he should be good to go in the next few months.
    .
    http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2017/01/11/15/48/20170111-mnt-feat-kekuta-manneh-has-us-citizenship

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