Daily news roundups

News roundup: MLS and Austin oddity continues

Photo: Paul Rudderow

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Philadelphia Union

This week’s Inside Doop wishes upon a star.

Union fact check.

Get to know Orlando City.

Local

Bethlehem Steel is being propelled by youthful energy captained by veteran leadership.

I typically hate posting rumors, and this is as rumor as it gets right now, but it looks like many USL2 teams could be folding – and Bethlehem is among them.

MLS

To follow up on my comments on yesterday’s roundup, Columbus leaders are really confused because they have offered to work with Precourt on multiple occasions to help provide additional avenues of funding and because Precourt hasn’t actually told them what he’s looking for.

Again, let me reiterate: Precourt does not have any intention of keeping the team in Columbus and clearly never did.

The “community of supporters” supposedly trying to bring an MLS team to Austin is, uh, Precourt Sports Ventures, according to their website (check the bottom). A quick search on twitter shows a distinct lack of Austin support or excitement. Why is Garber allowing this?

MLS is complicit.

Graphical representations of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference standings by week.

A look at what good coaches did to help their teams this weekend, like making an impact sub at halftime instead of the 90th minute.

The MLS needs to accept its role as a selling league.

Around the globe

The US U-17s will face off against England in the U-17 World Cup quarters.

The U-17 team is a beacon of hope in America’s dark soccer time.

England showed well in Champions League play. More results.

The UEFA World Cup qualifying finals are set.

Apparently losing to Trinidad is good for a one spot boost in the World Rankings. Makes sense.

Shakespeare was a great playwright but apparently not a great coach.

Highlight of the day

Kick save and a beauty!

38 Comments

  1. Bethlehem going away would be an unmitigated disaster we could not recover from.

    • If the Union kill Steel then the calls for Sugarman to sell the team need to be constant and deafening.

      • Agree. If we aren’t spending money on DPs because we are spending money on Youth Development. And one of the largest expenses is USL team. The announcement of closing the team better be met with an announcment of two new DPs.

      • That’s all bull anyway though, because even if they are losing money on Steel, it’s not that much. It’s all excuses.

  2. The cynic in me looks at the Steel rumor and figures that the way that Sugarman was convinced to invest in making the Union better is to cut costs in other areas. If you own a USL franchise that is losing money, that’s one way to cut some costs even if it goes against the Union’s marketing pitch of building through youth development.

    All that said and if this is true, this episode will fit nicely in the Union’s history of being a dysfunctional organization that is spinning its wheels.

    • It doesn’t make sense to me. Sure Sugarman has been determined to run this franchise on the cheap for a while. But the Unions entire business plan has been to develop talent and finally there is a clear pipeline from Academy to the Union.
      .
      But this is the Union and considering the bare bones nature of the Union Roster maybe the Union had hoped that Bethlehem would be a money maker or at least break even. Losing money 3 years in probably wasn’t part of the plan.
      .
      If we lose Bethlehem I believe we will lose Earnie shortly thereafter. Stewart was brought in primarily to create an infrastructure that can sustain the team over the long haul. Sure he has to contend with teams before that had smaller budgets, but they all had youth teams and development. Losing Bethlehem would be a step back and potentially undoing all of his work so far.
      .
      US Soccer is gonna go through a lot of turnover in the next 5 years and there is more glory in that than getting cockblocked by the Union.

      • I am interested in what caused this. Like I agree about Sugarman, but since this is affecting other USL teams too, I wonder if this has to do with any rulings by USL or USSF.

      • Remember, Bethlehem was Sak initiative. Earnie inherited it.

      • I doubt it was a Sak initiative but more of a soft league wide directive. The same league that helped the Union land Earnie in the first place.

      • That was my thought, James. If Bethlehem was the only one (potentially) closing up shop, I think fans could make the argument of Sugarman being cheap and the organization being dysfunctional.
        .
        My best guess is that this has to do with USL acquiring D2 status without any deferments / exceptions next year.
        .
        Supposition: The “MLS2” teams are only going on hiatus for a year, and will re-emerge in the D3 league USL is starting.

      • Sieve – Soft league wide directive? Umm, ok. We can debate who was the driver behind Steel all day long, but what isn’t in dispute is that all of it happened under Sak’s regime.

        John Ling – That’s a pretty good supposition. I hope that you’re right.

      • BTW – lost in all of this Steel talk. Mark Pulisic is the Assistant Manager at Rochester.

      • Why can’t we just still own Steel and partner with whoever we want. The teams operate separately. Yes loaning is easier but who cares. Are we making a stink that NYCFC is owned by Man City and gets benefits no other MLS team gets because of that?

      • Will see Earnie on Sunday. Will ask him about this rumor

      • Yea I am sure the league “encouraged” teams to form their own teams. As almost all of them more or less appeared at once. And then they just so happened to fire sak and get someone who could actually manage those teams

      • Sieve – Neither of us really know the answer so let’s just agree to disagree.

  3. WeAreSteel2K17 says:

    Save Steel

  4. Is it great coaching to bring on Accam as a sub at half? I don’t see a player like that in our starting lineup let alone our bench.

  5. Dark, dark news this morning. First, allowing Columbus to move is a catastrophe. I might just quit supporting this whole league if that’s allowed to happen. It would be a crime to remove that club and its history from Columbus. Only mitigation I’d consider remotely feasible is that MLS extend a guarantee to the city that it gets to keep the rights to a franchise and the rights to the name/crest/colors. Anything short of that would be just awful. An absolute abnegation of duties the league and club have to fans. Unforgivable.

    And what of this Steel rumor? Would also be catastrophic if true. I learned yesterday when looking at league avg. attendance, that the Steel have the best avg attendance of any B team in USL, unless there was an affiliated club on the list I missed. Hopefully, if true, they offer to sell tickets to save the team. I might be more inclined next season to make the trip to Lehigh over Chester.

    But even if not true for the Steel, a contraction of MLS club sponsored B teams is an alarm bell. If MLS clubs can’t support B teams, they’re not doing the business of football right at all. Scary stuff.

    • Yea I can’t imagine US Soccer being cool with losing their home base.
      I can kind of see the MLS having the asshole logic of hey lets appease this asshole owner while always having the Columbus fan base to tap whenever they need some more money in franchise fees.

    • +1 re: MLS supporting B teams and not handling the business of soccer well

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This is the nature of American sports – really unfortunate. In my opinion this happening flies right in the face of the idea espoused by many promotion relegation is an unstable model at this time and MLS is the stable model —- which is why it is better. I call utter bullshit.
      .
      Before Steel fold, if it were to ever happen, the team should just move back to Talen. If the experiment fails in Bethlehem just let them play back ini Chester. Lower costs, still reap the benefit.

      • WeAreSteel2K17 says:

        They could move back to Chester but they better drop the name. BSFC has a chance to be as successful as the IronPigs and Phantoms if they do things right. Which is a longshot given this is the Union. Crowds grew this year. If they do play next season, I expect even larger crowds to show support for a Bethlehem/Lehigh Valley club and because word about the team is spreading in general.

      • It truly is bullshit. Don’t know why so many think America is a major exception to the rule that works everywhere else. Sure, it’s not the top sport in the states, but it’s a huge country — one that can put 100,000 people in seats for a bloody friendly in the summer.

        Was heartened a great deal to hear Kyle Martino say that one of the three main parts of his platform to run for USSF president would be a roadmap to Pro/Rel for the U.S. Delighted to hear as big a name in the sport here as Martino supports it unambiguously. Hope others with his reputation agree.

      • MLS follows the setup of other American sports leagues which are all insanely profitable. I’m not sure why soccer fans think soccer is a major exception to the rule that works in every other sport. See how that works. Maybe sports just make a lot of money no matter what.

      • Everyone realizes this crap will keep happening until we have pro/rel, right? The rest of the damn world has been doing it that way for 100 years for a reason…………

  6. If the Union leadership decide that now, at a time when loyalty may be at an all-time low, is a good time to fold the Steel, there is little reason to believe we will be anything more than cannon fodder for the rest of the league for years to come.
    .
    The talk of investing in youth, and of having the Steel players training side-by-side was just false advertising.
    .
    This is going to be a very contentious off-season. I feel bad for the players on the roster who may feel the brunt of the reaction, but the systemic failures of this franchise fall on the men in the suits.

    • Nah, the worse part is that it was NOT false advertising.

      Bethlehem WAS used to give youth players a taste of pro soccer. IT allowed young current HGs and future HGs like Real, Fontana and Trusty to play every week and train with pros every day.

      Losing that would be a disaster. An affiliation with Rochester is a goddamn joke.

  7. Chris Sherman says:

    “Apparently losing to Trinidad is good for a one spot boost in the World Rankings. Makes sense.”

    Yup. Fifa’s system gives a loss a zero multiplier, rather than a negative, so a loss to Brazil on the road impacts your score by exactly the same amount as a loss to Tonga at home

    • You’re correct that it doesn’t matter who you lose to, but it does matter who you beat/draw. The US beat Panama, nothing special, but they did pass Ukraine who were also 1-1 this month but had their win against Kosovo who just moved up to 183rd. They also passed Turkey who had a loss and a draw (against Finland). The US was passed by Ireland who had 2 wins including one against Wales who was 13th at the time.
      .
      The US should plummet next July when teams around them are getting games with the 4x multiplier for the World Cup.

  8. John O'Donnell says:

    Just remember, that if pro/rel is implemented, the Union getting rid of the Steel would be just the beginning of the end. There is no way this team would survive in D2. The loss of revenue wouldn’t pay for the debt the team owes in the infrastructure. Just look at the decline in attendance for a losing team in D1 now. But hey, good luck with that quest.

    • I get the pragmatism behind that sentiment, but think today it’s more cynical. It assumes the sport needs life support and that what we currently have is artifice. I don’t agree.

      If the Union can’t make a soccer franchise work in Philadelphia, 6th biggest metro area/media market in the country, than maybe it doesn’t deserve to. With the threat of relegation, you put money into a team or fail. This Union doesn’t really deserve to play div. 1 ball.

      US is a big growth opportunity for the business of the sport, but it’s been capped by MLS. The single entity model may have been necessary for the first 20 years of the league, but I think it’s justification is getting more and more difficult. I wouldn’t advocate Pro/Rel tomorrow. But it’s time to plan the roadmap to get there.

      • Cosmos Original says:

        uh, yes.

      • I agree completely.

      • Spot on, Pete.

      • John O'Donnell says:

        That’s not my point. The way the team is built is based upon D1 attendance to pay the bills. There is no way that would happen in D2 in Chester. They would be lucky to draw 5,000 fans. Right now Atlanta can bring in about two to three million more on the gate per game than the Union. With pro/rel in place it would make more sense to start a team in Philadelphia than buy a white elephant. The team would die a slow death and Chester would get stuck with the bill.

      • Isn’t the club dying a slow death in Chester anyway?

    • There are 4 teams with less points and 2 we are tied with. We wouldn’t be getting sent down anyway. At least not this year. I agree we probably would though because as soon as you implement it the league would have to stop owning the contracts instead of the teams or it just doesn’t make sense. It’s a long haul to get to pro/rel.

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