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Union land in Greece, more news

Union

Faryd Mondragon reports via Twitter, “just landed in Athens, a little bit tired but happy, looking forward for a good and productive pre-season camp!!!!”

MLS Rumors.com, citing a report from the website partizani.net, says that the Union are among the teams who have been in talks with 34-year-old Albanian midfielder Ervin Skela. One thing is certain, he has a Union connection of sorts, having played for Union Berlin 1995-1997.

From the Union website, Carlos Ruiz talks about coming to Philadelphia. ““It’s a great opportunity for me to come back to Major League Soccer.” He continues, “I’m a very aggressive forward. The passion I feel for this game—I don’t think other players feel it like me. I always try to win, no matter what. If it’s practice or if it’s a game, I always want to win,” adding, “I think this team deserves to be in better position than last year. Great fans, great atmosphere, one of the best soccer stadiums in the league. I’m going to work hard and try to score goals—that’s why I’m here.”

If you are looking for a short primer on why Ruiz coming to the Union is a good thing, look no further than JP Dellacamera’s analysis: At 31, he still has some life left in him; he’s got something to prove; he came on a free transfer; his presence on the field will make space to Mwanga and Le Toux; while he has never scored at the same level as his debut season in the league, even at his least productive (Dellacamera doesn’t say this but I will) he should score more goals than Alejandro Moreno did.

There have been quite a few changes in the Union roster since Justin Mapp joined the team last summer. “Yeah, we have made a whole lot of changes, but we all have so much trust in the technical staff and the organization,” Mapp said. He continued, “I think between the drafts and signings, we have done a lot of good things. There are a whole lot of new faces and players to get to know. But that’s part of the business. I think we have a team filled with potential and we’re all looking forward to making the necessary steps forward in our second season…We feel like we have the talent to be there at the end. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The IllegitimateS have posted some great videos from the Sons of Be Night at the Flyers on Tuesday. My favorite is “They Fight, We Doop.”

For some time there has been talk of Villanova using PPL Park for its home football games in the fall. Here’s a prime example of why that is a terrible idea. The scheduling of a Howard University football game at RFK in September has left DC United officials very concerned about the damage that will be done to the pitch. Apparently, the damage done to the pitch by the Military Bowl, which is held in December, is difficult enough to repair in time for the start of the season in March.

MLS

On Wednesday the league released its playoff format for 2011. Ten teams will have the chance to compete for the MLS Cup, including three top seeds from each conference. Four teams, regardless of conference affiliation, will compete in two play-in matches to qualify for two wild card berths. Nelson Rodriguez, MLS executive vice president of competition and game operations, says “While there will be some who say that expanding the playoff field dilutes the regular season, we believe that in a certain way, it actually enhances it…It will mean that the battle and the race for the playoffs will have added intensity and last longer through the regular season. And that, on balance, should be a good thing for the play on the field, and for the fans.”

The Washington Post’s Steve Goff responds, “Okay then, Mr. Rodriguez, why not promise playoff berths to 16 teams, thus intensifying the regular season even more? Or open the playoffs to all clubs and re-name it the ‘second regular season’?”

Big Apple Soccer also thinks the new playoff format doesn’t make sense. The author links to an article from November of last year earlier in which seven out of ten MLS coaches asked believed the number of teams in the playoffs should remain at eight.

Vancouver Whitecaps have returned home from a stint of preseason work in Arizona. Here’s what one analyst has to say about Shea Salinas: “Vancouver’s most dangerous player this week. He might not score a pile of goals, but he certainly looks capable of creating his share…[Coach] Teitur Thordarson’s system is tailor made for a guy like Salinas and he’s looking more confident each game.” Sigh.

Portland Timbers beat Montreal Impact 1–0. Chicago played the Energy Drinks twice on Wednesday, winning in the morning 4–2 and drawing in the afternoon 1–1. Apparently, Chicago tried out the 3-5-2 and the Energy Drinks were all about the possession game.

It looks like Seattle will have to cut one of its two drafted goalkeepers to comply with league roster requirements.

Landon Donovan on David Beckham: “He’s doing what he thinks is right for himself and none of us should judge that.”

Elsewhere

The Qatari royal family is reportedly prepared to offer $1.5 billion for the purchase of Manchester United. Meanwhile, the Glazers are reportedly ready to confirm their commitment to the club.

Qatari emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani says he will “ask the people” if they want the 2022 World Cup held in the winter or the summer.

Sepp Blatter tells African football leaders that FIFA has $1.2 billion in reserves, an increase from the $1.06 billion at the start of he 2010 World Cup.

Bundesliga side St. Pauli, with only four defenders fit to play against Hannover, have called up their 30-year-old press officer to be included in the squad for Saturday’s match against Hannover 96.

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