Daily news roundups

Union bits, Steel to play Junior Lone Star, league news, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

At the Union website, a recap of Day 2 of preseason training.

Here at PSP, a full transcript of remarks from Jim Curtin and Earnie Stewart to reporters on the first day of preseason training. Curtin says, “The expectations from our fans should rise. Certainly, on paper, I think we’ve added some good pieces. And there’s more to come. The roster is still fluid and evolving.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George observes that SuperDraft pick Marcus Epps has a lot of competition ahead of him for the right winger spot, although Epps is encouraged by the Union’s reputation for playing young players and having Bethlehem Steel as a team to develop players.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead has notes from the opening of training. More on the opening of preseason from Dave Zeitlin at CSN Philly.

Also at CSN Philly, Dave Zeitlin on Maurice Edu’s path back to full fitness.

ESPN notes Oguchi Onyewu’s presence in the Union training camp.

At Brotherly Game, Eugene Rupinski reviews the prospects of the Union’s international players receiving green cards and so opening up international spots on the Union roster. Contrary to what is suggested in the review, there is no requirement that a person seeking a green card — which is to say permanent resident status — must reside in the US for a set period of time in order to receive such status.  (see the Green Card Eligibility page at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website and the comments from immigration attorneys here). Rather, an applicant must be “eligible for one of the immigrant categories established in the Immigration and Nationality Act.” For professional athletes, this means the “Job or Employment Based” category. Thus, the Union can sponsor an applicant under the “Priority Worker” category, which is for “Aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics,” of which there is a quota of 41,455 available each year. If after a person has received a green card he/she  and then wants to receive US citizenship, then are there residency requirements but not before (five years if you have a green card, three years if you are a green card holder married to a US citizen).

Jim Curtin said on Tuesday, “[T]here’s green cards that happen at the snap of a finger now, so status has been changed on a player on our team recently…There’s good things working, in terms of guys adding their green card that will change the amount of international spots.” Presumably we’ll soon learn which international player or players will have their residency status changed.

At the Union website, Mike Sorber talks about participating in US Soccer’s second Pro License course.

At MLS Italia, a good Q&A with former Union man Tranquillo Barnetta about his time with the team and now with St. Gallen. I still miss him.

World Soccer Talk notes Union color commentator Tommy Smyth has left ESPN after a 24 years with the network.

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem will play Junior Lone Star in a preseason game at YSC Sports in Wayne on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

MLS

Middlesbrough have announced that Brad Guzan will be leaving the club this summer to join Atlanta United on a “multi-year contract.”

SI reports Landon Donovan will not be joining Real Salt Lake: “it remains to be seen what the future holds for Donovan.” ESPN confirms the SI report.

New England have signed Slovenian international defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea from Olimpija Ljubljana “using Targeted Allocation Money.”

Atlanta have acquired 19-year-old center back Anton Walkes on loan from Tottenham Hotspur as “a Discovery Signing.”

Columbus have signed signed 19-year-old Columbus-born midfielder Abuchi Obinwa, who joins the team after last playing for Hannover 96 U-19s in Germany. The Crew have also has acquired 19-year-old Panamanian midfielder Cristian Martinez, who was on loan to the team from Panamanian first division side Chorrillo FC last season. You may recall Martinez scored against the Union in his Columbus debut at Talen Energy Stadium last June.

NYRB have re-signed center back Damien Perrinelle.

At MLSsoccer.com, “What is a Special Discovery Player?”

Crain’s Chicago Business reports Soldier Field will be announced as the site of the 2017 MLS All-Star Game: “MLS officials next week will announce that the lakefront stadium and former home of the Chicago Fire will host the league’s All-Star Game in early August, sources familiar with the deal confirmed.”

At World Soccer Talk: “MLS TV schedule ditches parity to focus on super clubs for national broadcasts.”

SI’s series looking at the top possible expansion cities continues with San Antonio.

Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti says the lack of relegation in MLS is “demotivating.” Ancelotti, who apparently spends a lot of time in Vancouver, explained, “I’d watch Vancouver and they weren’t doing well but, hey, what changes if they finish last? They don’t get relegated, they still get paid… But that’s the structure of U.S. sports and you have to respect it…I spent a lot of time in Canada last year and watched a lot of MLS. It’s different, it’s a different approach, the way everything is structured is geared towards a spectacle, towards parity, rather than flat-out dog-eat-dog competition.”

NWSL

Houston Chronicle reports the NWSL’s minimum salary will more than double: “Sources said Wednesday that the minimum salary will be about $15,000 in 2017. That is more than a 100-percent increase from the $7,200 amount from 2016. When the NWSL debuted in 2013 the minimum salary was $6,000.”

Canada Soccer has announced the allocation of ten players to the NWSL for 2017.

US

Left back Jorge Villafaña has been added to the roster for the the USMNT’s January camp ahead of the friendly against Serbia on Sunday (4 pm, ESPN2, UniMas). It’s his first call up to the senior team.

At US Soccer, five things about the Serbia team. Btw, there’s a video above the start of the article of Bruce Arena welcoming his players and the first day of the camp that is worth watching.

At Fox Sports, five things to watch for in Bruce Arena’s first two games back as the USMNT head coach. More on what’s ahead for Arena and the team at Philly.com.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle reveiws concerns about the state of player development for the USMNT.

At FourFourTwo, Steve Davis on how the debate about foreign-born USMNT players gets in the way of talk about the state of player development in the US.

Elsewhere

From Reuters: “Bankers, agents, fixers: the middlemen behind China’s global soccer splurge”.

From Goal.com: “The Mexican football association will take its case against FIFA before the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday, arguing it should not be punished for a chant FIFA has ruled is homophobic.”

Vice Sports talks to Chapecoense’s director of football Rui Costa about how the team is being rebuilt following November’s tragic plane crash.

47 Comments

  1. Lots of interesting tidbits: Ancelloti taking a stroll on the third rail of American soccer politics. Lots of good comments below the article…. There are also a lot of interesting observations in that Tranquillo interview, about travel, skill and youth development.

    Thank god for football to distract us just a bit in these crazy days.

  2. Landon and Brett—- two peas in a pod that Mr. Donovan and Mr. Favre.
    .
    Skip the BS and just start making the Wrangler commercials.

  3. Soldier field is a bad field to play football on. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that could be remotely passable for soccer.

    • Errr, is this a serious post? It’s a beautiful natural grass stadium. All-star game is before the NFL season so won’t have any NFL wear-and-tear on it yet and no football lines. Don’t see the issue here.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Whenever soccer is played on a field designed primarily for American football, being high school or professional, always ask three questions.
        .
        Width
        .
        Length
        .
        Is the American football playing surface turtlebacked for drainage.

      • Yes, NFL players literally trip on that field all the time. It is complete crap. I guess the timing makes it ok but the field is so constantly over used you can tell how poor the grass in on tv.

  4. Here’s a question regarding PRO/REL. What is better, having more “interesting” games at the end of the year for crappy teams trying to stay up or having better games all year because you have no idea who is going to win each year?
    .
    I think the idea behind pro/rel is very interesting, but it sucks when you already know only 2-4 teams even have a chance to win any year. The other main point is that we can yell about it all we want, but the American sports model absolutely crushes other sports leagues in terms of money and that’s all the people who have the power to change it care about.

    • I think that’s a false choice. Lack of pro/rel has nothing to do with league parity. It’s the salary cap. There’s nothing that says you can’t have a pro/rel system with MLS financial controls AND a year-end playoff series. (though I think a strong case can be made that parity actually harms a league’s ability to generate revenue. People like super teams — Yankees, Patriots, Barca, Man U.)

      As for U.S. leagues being richest, I think a lot of that has to do with the size of the country. NFL is a league for 310 million people. Right now, the Premier League is wealthier than both the NBA and the NFL — thanks in no small part to deals it’s making to reach world markets, including the US.

      • Just to clarify on that, the NFL has a hard salary cap. Yes, it’s an insanely high number, compared to other sports, but it is an inflexible cap. This is what ensures parity in the NFL. Yes, the Patriots are up there year after year, but they are an anomaly. (And the Browns are on the flip side of that.)
        .
        People tend to overlook the cultural part of all of this. People want their Major teams to continue to be major teams. Yes, Pro-Rel is a fun concept, but it is a death sentence to teams in this country.

      • While I hear and understand your point – obvious support for it is the naming of the current first division soccer league in the US – I would ask that it be more nuanced.
        .
        In the process of trying to learn more about the so-called hybrid affiliates emerging in in the USL, it is clear that in sports entertainment marketplaces unserved by other teams, minor league teams can make it work.
        .
        In extreme south Texas the Rio Grande Valley has no live professionallevel sports other than an NBA D-league team and USL side Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Dzenan Catic a former Union draft pick and a center midfielder from UVA with a last name of Martin played for them last year. Catic got little time, but Martin played.
        .
        Anyhow, in an article from a source called “Scratch the Pitch” by a writer last name of Hollingshead by memory in late July of 2015, he explores the hybrid relationship between local ownership and the Houston Dynamo.
        .
        My own guesses were reinforced by the Article and what I already had gathered about larger metropolitan areas in the US.
        That Rio Grande area is comparable in population size to the Lehigh Valley because you have to count the Mexicans across the river.
        .
        Mexico and Mexicans are sometimes described as soccer-mad. Lower ownership was making money on basketball and was approached by the Houston Dynamo to partner on an USL team.

        It put goals in the net and butts in the seats and this season two more teams are trying it. Reno 1868 is partnered in a hybrid relationship to San Jose Earth Quakes, and Ottawa Fury now of the USL has partnered similarly with the Montreal Impact. Old FC Montreal is gone.
        .
        Losing to the Steel in the first game of the season must have sealed FCMontreal’s fate!
        .
        A hybrid is when the MLS side controls the technical side of the USL team and the local ownership gets the profits. That is the basic structure but the devil is in the details of who pays what for the technical side both players and non-players. The MLS side does not have to worry about running the business. The USL owners will be provided with players through little or no effort of their own.
        .
        If you are thinking it begins to sound like some of the structures of minor league professional baseball, I agree with you.

      • There are so many big differences between the NFL’s model and soccer. NFL offers a sport that pretty much doesn’t exist anywhere else. They run a global monopoly on American Football. There’s no international competition in the sport. MLS is one league among hundreds in which the talent pool is vast but is also competitive. I understand the value in parity, but it also comes at a cost. Parity is why you likely won’t see an MLS team win CCL. Maybe people don’t care about that. But it’s hard to discuss the league as “one of the top in the world” if it can’t win a cup competition in it’s own confederation.

        And Pachy is right. A big part of the benefit of pro/rel has a lot more to do with the sport and player development in the United States and less to do with individual clubs themselves.

        And again, I don’t think pro/rel should be instituted by fiat from on high, but should be part of an agreed upon strategy in which club owners, individual leagues and USSF all agree that it’s in the best interest of the game, even if it comes at the expense of some clubs.

      • The American soccer player is developing better now with a strong MLS than they ever have before. Having there is no evidence that pro/rel would improve upon that other than you guys saying “it drives competition”. Right now clubs can be patient with younger players because they are not afraid of dropping to a lower league. We also don’t have the issue of Chelsea buying all the good young players and then loaning them out to whoever without any sort of coherent development plant. The only things that is going to make us better as a country thinking big picture is having soccer become a more popular sport. MLS is a stable constantly growing league who’s measured approach has always been criticized but has consistently worked better than any other system we have tried before.

      • Yes, they are. And MLS is getting better every year. And I think it’s hard to argue that what MLS has done has been “bad” in any way, particularly in view of how far things have come in recent years. But to take the next step, I think, and Peter Wilt thinks and the guy who owns the Kingston Stockade and Ancelotti, thinks that it’s time to plan for pro/rel in the future, which would move the ball even further.

      • I agree that those guys know more about soccer development then I can ever hope to, but pro/rel is the only system they have ever known. That doesn’t me it’s the best though. I can see great arguments for and against both. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle. I love the idea of pro/rel personally, but I don’t think it will fix any issues and I realize that it will cause the owners to take on a lot of risk so it’s not happening any time soon.

      • I disagree with the point about CCL. MLS clubs will seriously compete and win CCL more often when the cap expands and the middle/bottom of rosters can be built out appropriately. I don’t believe it has to do with parity.
        .
        The reason MLS clubs haven’t won CCL is because all rosters are too unbalanced. Liga MX has 20+ players all making $200K-$800K annually. The middle and bottom of their rosters are more talented than MLS rosters, which is what separates them from MLS. With expansion of TAM and the rise of minimum salaries in MLS (not to mention development of academy players), MLS will be able to seriously challenge in CCL.

      • That’s precisely what I’m talking about. Parity in MLS is entirely a mechanism of the salary cap. It has nothing to do with pro/rel whatsoever.

      • Pete – I agree and maybe I’m confused, but you said parity is what’s preventing MLS from winning CCL. I was saying that I don’t think parity is what’s holding MLS back and I don’t think Pro/Rel fixes that.
        .
        I’m saying you could still have a hard or soft cap, it just needs to be higher than what it is now. All clubs could still be held to the same cap (parity), but all clubs’ talent will rise with more money because of the global talent pool. I don’t believe CCL competitiveness has to do with MLS parity. I think it has to do with Liga MX average salary for players being higher.

      • You’re right, DK. Perhaps laying the blame squarely on parity’s shoulders isn’t entirely accurate. My point was that the salary cap, which creates parity, is what forces even the wealthier clubs in MLS to lack genuine, quality depth. You could push the salary caps higher and address that.

      • It’s not just the salary cap going up, which is indeed incredible important, but also forcing the salary floor to go up too.

      • A. – that was exactly my point. I said MLS needs to improve middle and bottom of the rosters. Meaning median salary and minimum salary numbers need to increase. I think MLS will get there, it’s just a bit frustratingly slow the pace they’re moving. But they’re definitely moving in the right direction with the TAM players and hopefully next CBA sees minimum salaries hit $100K+. Then you’re talking about pros that can fully commit themselves to their craft.

      • What numbers do you have to back up that the Premier League is wealthier than the NFL. Going by revenue both the NFL and MLB crush the Permier League.

    • PROMOTION RELEGATION IS ABOUT PLAYER DEVELOPMENT.
      .
      sorry for yelling.

      • Other than soccer we develop the best athletes across the world. We have never been serious fans of soccer before. Even now it’s in it’s infancy.

      • Where do you stand on solidarity payments and training compensation? I argue that’s more important than promotion and relegation with regards to player development. Granted solidarity payments and training compensation come with a whole host of their own issues and problems…

      • They are an absolute necessity IMO… for the game to advance let alone soften the pay to play model, which may actually not benefit from their incorporation.
        .
        .
        The faster an 8 year old becomes a commodity the better. Until then….

      • I agree with the general idea, but that last line is a horrible statement.

      • Yeah, that was why I said they come with their own host of problems. I agree with el pachy on this that solidarity payments and training compensation are critical for development, but I fear for the legal and emotional battles that come along with that…

      • I had to fight the urge to vomit at last statement.Seriously patchy that is sick.
        UnionGoal

      • The last line is a horrible statement from your point of view Union Goal- that’s all.
        .

      • One example of plenty I have read.
        .
        http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/6/20/brazila-s-footballfactorysupplyingtheglobaldemandfortalent.html
        .
        Not really much different then the thousands of inner city kids shooting hoops everyday from sun up to sundown.
        .
        Many of those kids are already in the pipeline. Many of those kids are assets.
        .
        All in your point of view. The statement is in fact not horrible ‘A’. You just don’t agree with it.
        .
        Which is fine.
        .

      • It’s a scary mindset when the main viewpoint of a child is that he is a commodity. I’m sorry that is just not ok. Not saying that the kids that age aren’t playing all the time and constantly being pushed to get better, but it is disgusting when rich men are lining up to try and profit off of them.

      • Yet mls succeeds without it.
        UnionGoal

    • Completely agree with ya “A”. And to the point of it being about player development? Um no. When you’re failing and are about to be relegated, to whom do you turn? Ah yes the veterans because they give you the best chance of staying up regardless of whether you still suck or not. Meanwhile your young players rot away on the bench. Comparatively, MLS teams lounging near the bottom, knowing there are no consequences as severe as relegation, can take the opportunity to ply young players and have success. And it’s more exciting and it makes a ton of money.

      • You are surface level thinking this sir. I can be no more blunt I understand and I’m sorry.
        .
        Promotion relegation opens up all clubs across the nation with a desire to do so to develop first teams. This drives a competition- of which soccer in this country yet cannot even scratch at. You are blatantly wrong on this.
        .
        Add in solidarity and training compensation too.

      • To my understanding…roughly 15-20 kids will make the Philadelphia Union U12 Academy team.
        .
        20.
        .
        20.
        .
        20.
        .
        let that number sink in a bit. the entire greater philadelphia area (and all the square mileage designated Union dominion by MLS) will provide 20- eleven year old kids an opportunity… with a sporting director who already stipulates to a lack of scouting. 20 players.
        .
        20.
        .
        that isn’t even considering the disenfranchised kids playing in the NE who would beat the hell out of most of those 20 kids in a game of 1v1.. but are priced out of the system.

      • There are many other routes than playing for the Union academy though. Mr. Pulisic did not play in an academy. So all we are doing right now is adding an additional top tier to our existing development system. Which I will mention is no different than our baseball development system.

      • It doesn’t matter what the heck they have the opportunity to do, it still matters whether they CAN or not and this is what you can’t seem to understand. So there is the opportunity to all of a sudden get promoted, nevermind that owners would never go for it, well great. But they’re still dirt poor and don’t have the money to develop academies. Of course it’s always beneficial to have academies and any team that has the capability to make them would do so because they give you local players that want to play for you and you can sell them for a profit as
        Opposed to just spending spending spending. But it doesn’t matter if they want to. They can’t. They don’t have wealth owners, they don’t sell out their stadiums, etc. So Mr. Insane, Pachy, whatever your pseudonym is today, if pro/real opens up tomorrow it doesn’t magically change the financial situations of countless clubs across America. If they would end up getting promoted and so increasing revenue, it would only come at the cost of severely hurting the financial viability of a current MLS club. So there ya have it. Good day to you

      • Likewise Chief…they are all good days, aren’t they though.

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        I saw on big soccer someone did the research and found that being a player on a losing MLS team doesn’t keep you in the league long. But if your team is relegated you have a better chance of playing on a D1 team the next year. Basically it comes down to playing young players at the end of the season. It happens in MLS and not in pro/rel leagues.

      • Good read. I think that when I read a lot of people dismissing out of hand that the Union should even try to play Trusty or Jones because they’re “prospects”– too young. But if you can’t find minutes for them on the first team, how will they grow?

  5. When assessing this team. this franchise. this sporting director. this coach. this player pool. the scouts. the fans..the the the the the the…
    .
    …It becomes important to read or reread the KK piece on SoB which then reminds us—this team and ALL THE ABOVE was created from thin air buy a bunch of dudes sitting around a bar table at the oldest watering hole in center city—-
    .
    –just a few years ago. For real– just a wink ago… less than 50,000 miles on your car depending on your routine.
    .
    .
    As Javier Hernandez is quoted as saying when someone asks you what you want… “you tell them I want everything there is.” I respect this and would like IT ALL TOO… but this team was a figment of imagination made real…

    • John O'Donnell Jr says:

      Don’t really have to read it as I’m number 188 on the list. I remember that day on BIG soccer when they started recruiting. Sadly I think they lost that momentum when a certain coach made the playoffs and started to breakup the team.

      • I Am Citizen Insane says:

        Indeed and once the novelty for the casuals wore off losing did what it does to Phillies ‘fans’ and 6ers ‘fans’ and now Union ‘fans’
        .
        Why I respect the hell out of hockey fans…. they show no matter.

  6. In the words of the youth, Atlanta “needs to chill” with their fun signings.

  7. "Parity is a lie to mask profiteering." says:

    New leaf.
    New leaf.
    New leaf.

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