Daily news roundups

Hack says Kleberson must earn start, Califf excited to return to PPL, more

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Philadelphia Union

John Hackworth has expanded on the question of whether or not Kleberson will play on Saturday. “He’s got to earn it just like every other guy. We like him a lot. But he might have to be patient and wait for the opportunity because I’m not going to take guys out that have been here and are doing well just for the sake of inserting someone else.”

Check out our quick reference for stats, video, and more from all of the past games between the Union and Toronto and look for our match preview later today.

Kevin Kinkead has a scouting report on Toronto. Union Dues has a match preview and predicts a 2-1 win. Goal.com also predicts a Union win.

David Murphy’s Philadelphia Union Blog says, “[W]hile Toronto may be better this year, the Union most certainly is, too. In truth, this seems very likely a match-up between two similarly skilled clubs in a year in that portends a good deal of parity across the league.”

Waking the Red previews Saturday’s matchup from a Toronto perspective.

One of the major storylines of Saturday’s game is Danny Califf’s return to PPL Park for the first time since Peter Nowak unceremoniously shipped him off to Chivas USA last May. If you didn’t see it yesterday, check out Adam Cann’s interview with Califf.

Califf is clearly looking forward to the return, and his family is coming out from California for the game. The former Union captain said, “[Philly sports fans] are absolutely different from other sports fans, but they love their teams and they are knowledgeable. It is a pretty cool dynamic. I think they are going to heckle me a bit. I think it will be friendly heckling and I’m excited to see how creative they get with it. I would feel weird if they didn’t do that.”

Califf told Matthew De George at the Delco Times, “I’m really excited. I know that the Sons of Ben will give me a hard time. I would feel a little weird if they didn’t because it would mean they didn’t like me when I was here. I’m excited to see the stuff they have in store, whether it’s banner or chants or whatever…To be able to walk into that stadium is going to be exciting. Some of the best times I had in my life were there. It’s going to be emotional…I don’t regret anything about my time in Philadelphia. I love the city, and I love the fans…I’m really looking forward to coming back.”

For a sense of some of the fun that Union fans are having with Califf—and that Califf is having right along with them—check out the #califflies hashtag on Twitter.

Califf had this to say about the 2013 Union: “They’re much more cohesive as a unit. John has tried to continue his attractive pass-minded style; that hasn’t gone away. But the makeup of the team is completely different. Obviously a coach is going to have his guys come in, but they’re much more free-flowing and working harder. They’re more like a team.”

Should Califf start—he missed last weekend’s game with a stomach flu and Gale Agbossoumonde did well filling in for him—he will not only be facing his former club, he’ll be going up against his former US Olympic team roommate, Conor Casey. Califf said of playing against Casey, “It’s fun. It’s always a battle when we go up against each other. Big bodies banging around. Lots of beef.”

More on Califf’s return from The Inquirer.

At ProSoccerTalk, Steve Davis thinks it’s time for everyone to tap the brakes on the Jack McInerney is the American Chicharito talk. Honestly, outside of a few writers at MLSsoccer.com who started the talk in the first place, has anyone taken the comparison seriously? McInerney certainly hasn’t.

Grantland has a team-by-team converter for MLS bandwagon jumpers, a phenomenon that I was not previously aware of. The article describes the Union as “A hot mess rather than a soccer team” and compares the Sons of Ben to John Tesh fans.


Harrisburg City Islanders begin the 2013 season on the road against cross-state rivals Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday (8pm, USLLive.com). The game will take place in the Riverhounds brand new Highmark Stadium. By the way, did you know that Pittsburgh right midfielder Jason Kutney is also the club’s chief executive?

At the Patriot-News, Michael Bullock checks in with Harrisburg’s Sainey Touray, who is looking for a strong start to the new season after dealing with a number of injuries in 2012.

The 2013 City Islanders is a young team. Head coach Bill Becher said, “We have quite a few players that are under the age of 21. We joke our new, after-game place will be Chuck E. Cheese this year.”

The Harrisburg Academy U-20 women’s team will be participating in the re-branded W-20 league, which was formerly known as the Super 20 League, and will be aligned with USL’s W-League.


NBC Sports Live Extra’s MLS coverage will launch this weekend with livestreams of the FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy match on Saturday and Portland Timbers vs. San Jose on Sunday. Comcast Xfinity TV and Verizon FiOS are among the providers who will carry NBC Sports Live Extra, which will also stream Premiership matches beginning in the 2013-14 season.

Dwayne De Rosario says he is fit to play in Saturday’s re-match between DC United and New York Red Bulls.

At Goal.com, Seth Vertelney says that the league’s slow-but-steady approach to growth is manifesting itself in the CONCACAF Champions League where MLS team have improved but still haven’t been able to consistently best Mexican opposition.

The recently launched Overlap magazine, a collaboration between MLSsoccer.com and Howler, is now available for Android tablets.

The Florida Courier notes that the bills being consider by the Florida legislature to give tax breaks for building a new stadium for Orlando SC include no provisions that would require a commitment to hire local, minority, or women-owned businesses.


The new women’s professional league begins its inaugural season this weekend. ESPNW reports that while the league is starting without announcing its primary sponsors, it will livestream all games.

NWSL News reports that the league will livestream all games via a YouTube channel. Unfortunately, they do not name or link to that channel and I cannot find it. The report also says that NWSL Executive Director Cheryl Bailey “hinted that a television partnership could be announced before Saturday’s inaugural match in Kansas City against the Portland Thorns.”

The ESPNW report also says that players will be be paid between $6,000 to $30,000 for the 5-and-a-half month season.

Also at ESPNW, Julie Foudy provides some answers to the most important question facing the new league: Will it work?

The AP has five things to know about the new league while Soccer America has six reasons why the league will succeed. At Fox Soccer, Leander Schaerlaeckens says the league needs more than good will.


A goal from midfielder Corey Baird was enough to see the US defeat Guatemala 1-0 at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama and finish at the top of Group C. The US faces Honduras in the quarterfinals on Sunday (6pm, FSC, Univision Deportes).

In the second part of an interview at Soccer America with Tim Holt, the USL president talks about some of the key issues facing youth soccer in the US.

The New York Times looks at how Michael Bradley has emerged as a leader at Roma.

Two goals from Clint Dempsey weren’t enough as Tottenham fail to advance to the semifinal round of the Europa League after falling on penalty kicks to Basel.


The Champions League and Europa League semifinal draws took place today. In the Champions League, it is Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona (April 23, May 1)  and Dortmund vs. Real Madrid (April 24, April 30). In the Europa League it is Chelsea vs. Basel (April 25, May 2) and Fenerbahce vs. Benfica (April 25, May 2).

The Premier Soccer League in South Africa is considering banning vuvezelas. A ban is being considered not because of the mind numbingly annoying noise the locally popular instruments make but because they are being used as weapons.

England manager Roy Hodgson is concerned that plans to penalize clubs whose fans racially abuse players could backfire. “One does fear sabotage,” said Hodgson. “Groups coming in who have nothing to do with football but are, perhaps, of a Nazi persuasion who could cause an awful lot of problems.”

Don’t forget to check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of the upcoming week’s live games online and on TV.



  1. RIP: Okugo’s possibly NT level career at DMid.
    Brutally murdered by Hackworth’s lack of foresight and tactical flexibility.
    ? – April 2013

    • Man, someone’s hyperbolic machine is turned up to 11. You do realize that just because Okugo is playing center back for his club does not mean that he can’t play defensive midfielder for his country. Hell, he could play as a keeper or a forward if that’s where his coaches think he fits. Just because you limit him to one position doesn’t mean he can only play that one position.

      As everyone and their mothers like to argue, Okugo is a “natural” defensive mid, but guess what, he’s ALSO a natural center back; he has the tactical flexibility to play BOTH. Hackworth had the foresight to see that, as did Schellas Hyndman with the Generation Adidas squad, and Okugo’s US youth coaches who played him as both DM and CB.

    • Heck it’s not like Cameron hasn’t played DM CB and RB for his club and country

  2. Okugo and Parke are both playing incredibly well for us. Soumare is obviously on the outs. Why would you want to move Amobi in to midfield? I care more about the Union’s back line than I do about Amobi playing in midfield for the national team, so on this issue (our center backs) I think Hack has it right for once.

    • Okugo has been alright but he has been shaky the last couple of starts. Having Okugo and Saumare play their natural positions as a potential net gain to the rest of the team. Seems like a no brainer for the tram to at least try.

    • JediLos117 says:

      Because we cant accept that maybe Okugo is a better CB than Soumare and that Soumare will never play for the Union.
      Its call Soumare is still on the roster so he still has a chance to play fantasy land.
      Its a wonderful place where shifting a proven excellent CB to Dmid and adding an unknown to the public ex all star to the starting 11 will make the Union an elite club.
      I say just sub Kleberson for Carroll and keep Okugo and Parke together. They really have been an excellent couple.

      • Maybe Okugo is a better CB than Soumare. But that’s not much of a loss if Sourmare is “good” and Okugo is “pretty good”.
        And you know what else, Okugo is a MUCH better DMid than Carrol. Hell, he’s probably our best midfielder.
        This isn’t about one position, it’s about two. The difference in quality between Okugo and any other DMid we could play there is massive. The difference between Okugo and Soumare is small.
        This would still be a net gain for the Union. But Hackworth is too American to do something that obvious.

      • JediLos117 says:

        CB is the most important position on the field. We absolutely need a “pretty good” CB and CB pairing…not just good..
        For me Okugo as a CB, has been excellent, not just pretty good.
        Its been over 2 years since we have seen Okugo in the midfield…assuming he is our best MF is a stretch.
        What do you think of Kleberson as our Dmid?

      • until I actually see Kleberson on the field I refuse to believe he actually exists. My working theory now is that Kleberson is a stock photo and hand model hired by management to help us forget about Freddy Adu.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Shouldnt you apply that rational to Soumare?
        Until I see Soumare on the field, bench or same state I refuse to believe he actually exists.
        Freddy A-who?

      • but we have seen him on the field. and on the bench he has been around for a bit. played in Chicago too.

      • The Black Hand says:

        nominated for defensive player of the year (2007), named CAPTAIN of US Boulogne, At the time French League 1 but team has since been relegated (2010), current member of the Mali national team.
        Can’t say that he is not a good defender. At 27 years of age, he has a real shot at finding that pre-injury form. If he were to come close to his former level, a partnership with Parke would be dominant. I can’t see how not keeping this guy ‘in our plans’ is a good idea. The decision to keep Okugo at CB, when he would tremendously upgrade our midfield, is poor management.
        Okugo and Kleberson (if he’s real) would be a very solid center of the pitch. Both could be used as CM’s, allowing overlapping play, rather than a fixed CDM. Both are capable of distributing to attackers, while keeping an eye on things defensively. Should, at least, be explored.

      • “Hell, he’s probably our best midfielder.”

        Based on what exactly? Okugo’s 1408 minutes played as a midfielder since 2010? In three years (2010-12) he’s played 29 games as a midfielder, starting in only 14, and playing more than 45 minutes in just 12 of those games. So how do you figure that Okugo is the Union’s best midfielder? I’m not saying he’s a bad midfielder, but claiming that he is the Union’s best, especially since we haven’t seen him play as a mid in nearly a year, is foolish.

      • The Black Hand says:

        That may speak more for our current midfielders, than it does for Amobi. Our midfielders are disgustingly bad.

  3. Kenso Josh says:

    Soumare hasn’t played for years- except a few awful outings for the Union. The coach made the call (and we don’t have enough data to second guess him the way we are). He could be not good at CB.

    • But we can judge some of Hacks other personnel decisions and make a call on his fitness to make certain calls.

    • JediLos117 says:

      This is an absoulutely rational assessment.
      The bottom line is that this isnt about Soumare or about Carroll but rather about Okugo. It has become more evident than ever since Klebeson joined the fold. People want to see Okugo at Dmid.

    • The Black Hand says:

      He played one match for the Union. 3-1 loss to Chicago, where he looked out of form. He suffered an injury and missed the remainder of the season. He might have played in the Aston Villa friendly, I can’t recall. Bottom line is; Hackworth has hardly given Soumare a good look. Wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility to think that Hackworth is poor at assessing player talent.

  4. Danny Cruz stinks. He does nothing to improve our chances to win, Keon is slowly getting worse.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Keon is getting worse?

      • He was servicable as a LM with his crosses, but he’s clearly out of position inside and can’t control possession/play a ball through.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I disagree. I think that Keon had very little effect, on the outside of the pitch. Seems more comfortable at the center. To me, his strengths are in controlling possession, holding up to allow play to develop.

      • Ok. Agree to disagree. You like Keon over Marfan/Torres/Kleberson? The Union get murdered in possesion rates every game. The Crew passed the ball 100 more times than the union did with the same passing %. Obviously, you have no qualm with my assertion that Danny Cruz stinks.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Torres-based on his preseason form, no.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree with your call on Cruz. Aside from his “outstanding” game against Columbus, he is useless. Wish he had a touch to go along with his hustle. He is a bench/role player, at best.

    • Chris I agree with you on Cruz, but Keon’s natural position is in the center, I’m not saying he is or isn’t our best option there, but his natural position is CM

  5. Even though the Union managers have a history of doing the opposite of what the fans want it seems as though if a player falls out of favor here there is a real behind the scenese reason. Of course the lying is annoying and pointless but I can’t think of a guy who we let go or traded that has really come back to haunt us by playing so well elsewhere.

    So, I gotta say I trust the decisions they make.

    • Well put.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Andrew Jacobson is pretty good. We probably could use a player like that.
      Faryd Mondragon. Would be nice to have a goalkeeper.
      Danny Califf. Solid CB and Captain. Loved playing here.

      • I’d add Shea Salinas, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Jordan Harvey and Brian Perk to the list.

      • Yea, Shea’s being tearing up the MLS with his two goals since leaving here in 2010…Fiscal was a loan who we chose not to sign. Could have been a mistake but not sure about our cap at the time….Harvey and Perk would be backups at best.

      • What?! Harvey would be our starting left back, fiscal wanted to stay, but got nowaked, salinas had 7 assists last year, and yes, perk would be a backup.

  6. We have plenty of “pretty good” players on our team. Jacobson isn’ anything special.

    Haha Faryd? That’s a good one. Dude was a statue by the end of his career here.

    Califf would be a downgrade at this point over either of our CB options. Lots of guys like playing here but that doesn’t mean you should play. Kind of like how I said they don’t make popular calls but usually ends up being the right one.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Jacobson is pretty damn good in Dallas.
      Faryd was effective. His true value was in being a ‘Field General’. We are really missing that.
      Califf would slot in fine at CB, with Parke. Freeing up Amobi to strengthen our midfield, making our team better.
      Right choices make the club better. Are we better?

    • The Black Hand says:

      Not to mention the money that we have lost with Adu, Soumare and, hopefully not, Kleberson. Aside from Parke, I can’t see one right decision that was made, really.

      • According to Hack, Torres had a great preseason. He’s obviously a defensive liabiltiy but isn’t that why Carroll is still aloud to park in the players parking lot. This team plays like a team always praying for one point. The lack of a CAM and a holding midfielder that can direct possession causes them to play over the top ad nauseum. And for all the defensive players, they lose a ton of 50/50 balls.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree 1000%

      • He isn’t a defensive liability. Eli goes over that pretty good on the podcast and there is actual evidence of the fact looking at his preseason performance.

      • I think we play to win one nil

      • Yes, we are better than last year through 5 games.

      • JediLos117 says:

        We are actually exactly one point better than my pre season predictions thought we would.
        Technically we are better this so far this year.

      • The Black Hand says:

        “Technically” is the key word.

      • Whatever way you put it, we are still better.

      • The Black Hand says:

        If we drop three points to Toronto, we will be exactly where we were through six matches, last year.

  7. Hack says Kleberson must earn start, Califf excited to return to PPL, more

  8. Hack says Kleberson must earn start, Califf excited to return to PPL, more

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