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Home opener announcement today, Reading Utd in USOC for 5th straight year, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

MLS is expected to announce the home opener dates for each of the league’s 19 teams later today. The league has already announced that first kick will be Saturday, March 2.

When the Union selected Conor Casey in the second stage of the Re-Entry Draft on Friday, they only obtained the right to sign him. Kerith Gabriel writes in Monday’s Daily Doop that Casey “is enjoying a short vacation in Belize, before a return to the East Coast to meet with new boss John Hackworth and sign on the dotted line.”

Amobi Okugo talks to Gabriel about his recent training stint with Freiburg in Germany (lots of shooting drills, yoga), and where on the pitch he expects to play in 2013. “It’s going to be interesting with all of the changes we made,” said Okugo. “Coach Hack told me to be prepared to fight for most positions. I liked center back, but it’s different. See, as a[defensive] mid, you have to track your runners where at center back you can pass them on or hold them off. I like mid more because I can spread the ball out, but on defense it really helped me read passes.”

Okugo added, “It will be nice to get back into it, especially in front of our home fans. With the way the past season played out we have to come out and establish ourselves as a contender early. I don’t ever want to be a part of another season like last year.”

On last weekend’s edition of Goals on Sunday on Fox Soccer, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said that most of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers would be held in MLS stadiums. After mentioning a list of MLS stadiums, including PPL Park, where the USMNT has previously played, Gulati says, “Because of the develop of MLS venues, we are now in a situation where we can go into stadiums that are the perfect size for us, ensure that we have a home crowd, with a perfect playing surface and all the amenities that fans would want. So I think you’ll see us play at a number of MLS venues. It won’t be exclusively that, but I think you’ll see us play at a number of MLS venues.” Fingers crossed.

Ahmet Turgut of the blog Turkish Football-Soccer tells the Brotherly Game that Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber, who retired from the game in July, rejected an unspecified offer from the Union. No information is provided about when the reported offer was made.

Local

The 2012 US Open Cup will see Reading United as the first amateur team in the modern era to make its fifth straight Cup appearance. Ocean City Nor’easters will be in the Cup for the first time since 2009.

Reading United alumni Jose Gomez (Creighton) is No, 1 on TopDrawerSoccer.coms Top 100 Upperclassmen list. Gomez, along with fellow Reading United alumni Ryan Finley (Notre Dame) who is No. 5 on the list, is one of three finalists for the MACC Hermann Trophy. Also on the list from Reading are New Hope’s Steve Neumann (Georgetown) at No. 17 and Yardley’s Eric Schoenle is No. 33 (West Virginia). Tyler Miller (Northwestern) of Woodbury, NJ is No. 56, and Langhorne’s Kyle Soroka (Villanova) is No. 83

The NSCAA Players of the Year list has come out and Reading United’s Stephen Okai has been named the NAIA Player of the Year. Bordentown Regional High School’s Brandon Hudik has been named High School Scholar of the Year.

MLS

The New York Red Bulls announced on Monday that they have signed 37-year-old Brazilian midfielder Juninho. Message to the Union: do not foul Red Bull players anywhere near the box in 2013. Please.

Sporting Kansas City will announce a new Designated Player later today. Some reports suggest the DP will be Argentinian striker Claudio Bieler. At Goal.com, Avi Creditor looks at Kansas City’s “relentless” championship pursuit.

Three weeks after former FC Dallas captain David Hernandez was named as an assistant coach, head coach Schellas Hyndman, who also coached Hernandez back in his college days at SMU, has confirmed reports over the weekend that he is no longer with the team.

You will recall that former US U-17 defender Mobi Fehr signed with MLS back in November. He will be allocated to Portland, San Jose, or Seattle through a weighted lottery this morning at 10am. Portland stands the best chance of landing Fehr. [Update: Portland acquired Fehr.]

You can vote for the Moment of the Year at the MLS website. The only Philly-related moment to vote for is the MLS All-Stars defeating Chelsea which, admittedly, was very cool.

You can also vote for Game of the Year.

MLS Talk argues that league rules foster cycles of success that have their basis in the desire to create parity within MLS.

ProSoccerTalk spotlights this video Christmas card from the Red Bulls to its fans. Union? Over to you.

US

US Soccer announced on Monday that the Men’s National Team will host Canada on Jan. 29 at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. The match will close the January camp and is the only match prior to the start of the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in February. The USMNT will face Honduras away on Feb. 6.

Canada will name an interim coach before the match. Stephen Hart resigned as Canada’s head coach after the team was defeated by Honduras 8–1 in October and eliminated from the World Cup qualifiers.

At Sporting News, Brian Straus looks at Jurgen Klinsman efforts to recreate the kind of chemistry that existed in the 2006 German World Cup team he coached within the USMNT.

The Seattle Times and ProSoccerTalk review that city’s hopes to host one of the upcoming qualifiers.

Elsewhere

An open letter from Landscrona, Zenit St. Petersburg’s largest supporters group, calls on the Russian club to refrain from bringing in players who are black or gay. “We’re not racists but we see the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition,” explained the racist homophobes. The hateful bigots deluded on, “dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit’s throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction” and gay players are “unworthy of our great city.” The small minded xenophobes frothed, “We only want players from other brotherly Slav nations, such as Ukraine and Belarus as well as from the Baltic states and Scandinavia. We have the same mentality and historical and cultural background as these nations.”

Luciano Spalletti, the club’s head coach, while not directly addressing the open letter, called for tolerance on the club’s website, which he described as “the ability to understand and accept differences. Furthermore, being tolerant means that you fight against any kind of stupidity.”

Napoli are appealing a two-point deduction and the six month bans handed to two players, including the team captain, after a former player admitted to attempting to fix a game in 2010.

Lionel Messi has signed a contract extension that will see him at Barcelona through 2018 at the ripe old age of 31.

The Guardian looks at tactical trends in football in 2012.

After submitting a resignation letter, Mohamed Bin Hammam has been issued with a lifetime ban by FIFA. Glad to see that’s finally over with.

The AP reports, “The South African Football Association suspended its president and four other officials Monday after a FIFA report into match-fixing ahead of the 2010 World Cup found ‘compelling evidence’ that one or more games were fixed by betting syndicates.”

 

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