Daily news roundups

Union move on, more on Dempsey move, West German doping, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Amobi Okugo understands the team squandered a huge opportunity in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, that “we didn’t step up like we needed to.” Okugo continued, “Luckily for us we’ve always bounced back from losses. I don’t think we’ve lost two games in a row this season. I don’t want to jinx it, but hopefully we can come back next weekend against D.C. I know they’ve got some momentum after beating Montreal. Hopefully we can get that win.”

And so, the players are ready to move on from Saturday’s loss. Zac MacMath said, “You have to wipe it away because there are plenty of games left in the season. Three really good opponents coming up and every point matters so you have to put this one behind you. We have to go back to what we were doing better the last few months and hopefully that brings us results.”

The latest Inside Doop echoes questions about John Hackworth’s decisions in Saturday’s game, particularly the decision to insert Leo Fernandes into the game and why Aaron Wheeler was not used. Looking forward to Saturday’s game against DC, Zeitlin wonders who Hackworth will start in center midfield.

Zolo Times looks back on Saturday’s loss and asks, “although it was difficult to watch and the outcome was disappointing, was the play any different from what we have seen all season?” before concluding, “The team needs a shake up. Some players need to be benched and others given a chance.”

The Guardian looks at Jack McInerney’s scoring drought and concludes, “As his club season has progressed, it’s become clear that the key to Philadelphia’s success is less McInerney’s poaching than Conor Casey’s role as John Hackworth’s focal point. In that way, McInerney is playing out the “Chicharito” Hernández comparisons that were prevalent this spring. Just as Hernández’s hot start at Manchester United has regressed into a more modest level of production, McInerney’s failed to fulfill the hype. But when talking about a 20-year-old—somebody naturally susceptible to inconsistencies—the hype is often more of an issue than a player’s varying performance.”

In ESPN’s latest power rankings, the Union tumble four spots to No. 12. At SI, it’s a one spot drop to No. 10.

A report on the Union website publicizes Michael Lahoud’s charitable work with the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the Bresee Foundation in helping to bring four young players from Central Los Angeles to train under the guidance of Union players and see the sights of Philadelphia.


On the PDL website is a Q&A with Reading United president and general manager Art Auchenbach.

The Pennsylvania Roar have named Eric Puls at the new MISL team’s first head coach. Puls, who is from Shillington, Pa., Is founder and president of the NPSL’s Reading Revolution and formerly played for the Reading Rage.

The Reading Sentinel reports that Puls plans to build his team “with a combination of Harrisburg City Islanders, former players from the indoor team, the Philadelphia Kixx, local and non-local players.” I can’t help but wonder what the Harrisburg Heat of the Professional Arena Soccer League think of Pul’s plans since the team used quite a few City Islanders players in its inaugural 2012-13 season.


Clint Dempsey said at his introductory press conference on Monday of his return to MLS, “I wanted to be able to come back when I’m in my prime and not when I’m past it to help continue the growth of this league and of this club…I want to come and make an impact. I want to win things and I’m still going to work as hard as ever to make sure that my game is at the highest level possible and I’m doing everything I can to help the team win.”

Dempsey also said, “I’ve been in Europe for six and a half years and I just wanted to come home. Each year was getting more difficult to go back. I was already starting to get the itch. And I think everything just has to do with timing. The Seattle Sounders moved mountains to get me here. It was an opportunity to come back when I was in my prime and continue growth in the league and it’s a challenge.”

At SI, Grant Wahl has a behind the scenes look at how the Dempsey deal went down. In the article, Wahl says that an unnamed source familiar with the deal told him that the league paid for Dempsey’s $9 million transfer fee, although he notes that an unnamed league official disputes this.

At The Big Question, Aaron Stollar notes Wahl’s suggestion that the league paid Dempsey’s transfer fee and observes,

the rule only appears to apply to those players big enough to demand DP-sized salaries – the kind that have to get approved by the league (really, the other owners). The other returning USMNT guys, the kinds of players that might not require DP-sized salaries, still have to go through allocation and, if required, would have their transfer fees paid by the teams themselves.

So if a less wealthy team like, say, Columbus wanted to go get a USMNT player that wasn’t a big-money, TV-needle-moving type like Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley, it would have to both, deal assets to get atop the allocation order, and pay the transfer fee out of its own funds.

In essence, MLS is now willing to subsidize the transfer fees of its richest clubs, and explicitly deny that privilege to its less-rich clubs.

But really, it’s MLS saying “We’ll subsidize the guys who we want to put on national TV, but if you just want to sign a USMNT player to improve your team, you’re on your own.”

Reacting to Wahl’s report, ProSoccerTalk’s Richard Farley writes, “Focusing on allocation being bypassed (not [sic] true) or some other conflict in MLS’s rules misses the point, after today’s report. The issue is the Dempsey Route—something that can only improve one team at a time, and only when MLS decides to do it.”

Sounders general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer said at Dempsey’s press conference on Monday, “[W]e talk about transparency, and we want to continue to have more and more transparency in the league. I think that’s a good thing for fans. It is something that we’re working towards…We’ve created a rule structure that we think best allows our league to grow in a rational way. You can ask me about a specific rule, but we have a decent level of transparency in some areas. In others, maybe we have less transparency, but we’re just trying to build the game and do what we need to do to run a healthy enterprise.”

Reacting to Wahl’s report and Hanauer’s comments at ProSoccerTalk, Liviu Bird writes, “The set of guidelines team officials use flex much further than the MLS Roster Rules and Regulations published to the world. Never has MLS’s single-entity structure seemed as insular as this week.”

Steven Goff elaborates on the DP exemption for returning USMNT players at The Washington Post, “It’s not listed in MLS’s roster rules and regulations available to the public, and as far as we can tell, has only been implemented one other time (Reyna signing with the New York Red Bulls in 2007).”

As CBC’s Ben Rycroft puts it regarding the DP exemption for USMNT players, “The problem is, despite MLS’ assertions that this is a rule that has been in place since 2007, try finding anyone who knew about it…In fact, try finding a player, a coach, a former coach or an executive who claims to know all the rules of MLS, and you’ll have found yourself a liar. While MLS is absolutely governed by some hard and fast laws, a very big grey area also governs it. Or if you’d like to think of it another way: MLS has itself a get out of jail free card, to be used anytime it wants to tweak some of those laws in a way it figures best suits the league.”

At Goal.com, Avi Creditor reviews how Dempsey’s signing as a DP exempted him from the allocation process and writes, “That reasoning would seem fair enough—if it were listed anywhere in the MLS rulebook that is accessible to the media and the general public.”

In an article at MLSsoccer.com, Revolution general manager Michael Burns says of Dempsey’s transfer from New England to Fulham in 2007, “Both the Revs and league felt that at the time the offer was substantial enough to move him prior to the end of his contract, which we did. That’s obviously the reason why we didn’t have the right of first refusal when he came back into the league this time.”

At SBI, Burns says of the Dempsey deal, “I think for me personally, it was a little surprising. It seemed like it happened relatively quickly, not having any involvement on the inside of negotiations with the league in Seattle. I think they did a very commendable job keeping the lid on this until the last possible minute.”

The Seattle Times notes that more than 60,000 tickets have already been sold for the next Seattle Sounders home game on Aug. 25, which happens to be against the Portland Timbers. Seattle’s record for attendance for a league game, 66,452, was set last year against Portland.

At Goal.com, Kyle McCarthy wonders if the Dempsey move is the start of a trend.

The LA Galaxy announced the signing of Panamanian national team goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

San Jose supporters group the 1906 Ultras has been banned from displaying tifo inside the Earthquakes Buck Shaw Stadium. The supporters group vows to remain silent at games, as they did over the weekend, until sanctions are lifted.

At ProSoccerTalk, Richard Farley wonders what’s next for the New York Cosmos quest to achieve relevance, rather than a nostalgia-fueled hype, in the US soccer landscape.


Clint Dempsey admits he hasn’t talked to Jurgen Klinsmann about signing with Seattle. “I haven’t had the opportunity to really sit down and talk to him about everything that’s going on. I’ve been busy with my family and really thinking about the decision and trying to make the best decision possible for us.”

Notes on Wednesday’s US Open Cup semifinal matches at the US Soccer website. I’m still ticked off at how terribly the Union played in their loss to DC United—and, come to think of it, in their win over Ocean City Nor’easters—earlier in the tournament.

One year ago today: “Oh it’s in! Alex Morgan has done it!” Perfect cross, perfect finish. No, I’m ok, must have gotten something in my eye.


A report out of Germany details possible use of performance enhancing drugs by the West German soccer team beginning in the 1950s and including the 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cup teams.

Responding to news of the report in his column for De Telegraaf, Johann Cruyff writes, “To be honest, I cannot even remember whether there were already doping tests after games back then. I didn’t see anything strange during the final against West Germany. We didn’t know any better than that West-German players were always bigger and stronger than us. They were developed better physically, but everybody always said that was because they drank more beer.”

The Utah teenager who back in April punched a referee who soon after lapsed into a coma and died a week later has pleaded guilty to a charge of homicide by assault. In doing so, he avoids being prosecuted as an adult.


  1. It’d bad enough we have a bad decision making group, now we need to be subsidizing Dempsey’s transfer fee for Seattle?

    • it really annoys me that the league is giving millions of dollars to a team in order to help them get their third DP when there are teams that barely have one. so far the only examples we have of the league paying a multimillion dollar transfer fee for a club were this one and LA acquiring Keane. i dont like it

      • The fact of the matter is that MLS will be negotiating for a new TV contract for after the ’14 season. From a league standpoint, it makes perfect sense to bring back the US Nats captain to play in the league in the year directly before and after the world cup to drive up the price. We can complain all we want, but the league is doing the right thing for the growth of the league.

        Our contention should be with how our club operates, not the league which it plays in.

      • I can’t get too annoyed at the league by this. Dempsey only wanted to play in Seattle (or maybe his hometown), so the league moved mountains to put him there. If Dempsey had said, “I want to come back to MLS, but I want to play in Philly,” the league would still have subsidized the transfer fee.

      • cszack4 – Where you should get annoyed at is the fact that Doyle “only wanted to play” in Colorado but got completely screwed over by the same process the league found a way to overrule for the Dempsey deal.
        The fact that big name players will want to pick and choose their team isn’t the issue. It’s that, in the name of “parity”, there are league rules actively preventing the same thing from happening if the player ISN’T USMNT superstar #3. It’s imbalanced, archaic and counter productive.

      • James – if you had used Marcus Tracy as the example, you might have convinced me. 🙂

  2. Jeremy Lane says:

    I can’t decide if negative sentiment surrounding the way in which Seattle acquired Dempsey is good, in that it shows fans of other teams care deeply about their own squads’ chances of success, or bad, in that it might be shortsighted. Having Dempsey play in MLS, for one of the biggest teams in the league, is definitely a good thing for MLS as a whole, but stacking teams is obviously not great for the rest of the teams in the league, from a competitive standpoint.

    • I never get this “oh wow a big player coming to the MLS will help SOOOO much” attitude. A league’s quality isn’t decided by it’s ability to sign players to big contracts to big teams (though obviously all the best leagues can do that) – if it was Qatar and China would be some of the best leagues in the world.
      It’s the ability for the whole league to attract quality players, play quality football and challenge other great teams in other great leagues.
      All the Dempsey signing proved is that the MLS has no integrity and will continue to stack teams, as you put it. Maybe down the line this opens up the flood gates for the rest of the league – maybe. But in the meantime, look at the Doyle/Rapids situation for what happens on the other end of the spectrum.

      • Heck, if signing big players to big teams was all it took, we’d still be watching NASL.

      • It is a huge deal like it or not to have Dempsy back in his prime-ish.

        Screw casual fans this will bring interest from USMNT and Euro snobs. You need them more than someone who has a slight name recognition from Mr. and Ms. Spice Girl.

      • Jeremy Lane says:

        I agree with sieve, above. Having big-name players that are popular in America with American fans in the league, and playing for title contending teams, where they are likely to play games with consequences in the playoffs, is undeniably a good thing for the league as a whole. It definitely drives fan interest. Having Dempsey in MLS is arguably a bigger driver of American soccer-fan interest than Beckham ever was, too.

      • I don’t think what MLS is doing is right, but it’s kind of a necessary evil.
        TV ratings will ultimately make or break MLS. For all of the growth of the league, TV ratings are still very poor.
        Bringing in another American star like Dempsey can only help improve the ratings. It’s going to take more than Dempsey, but it’s a step in the right direction. This ties into the recent news of NYCFC and Garber’s comments on expansion. It’s a way of boosting the “product” ahead of rights negotiations.
        And regardless of what any of us think about the Dempsey situation, it doesn’t affect the frugal Union one bit.

  3. Bottom line, a player should be allowed to choose the team he’s going to play for regardless of his national team affiliation. Yes, Portland got screwed, but that system has to change. It does affect the union because I can’t imagine too many national team guys would want to come here with the terrible management and that awful USMNT game with Colombia that was more like an away game. I had front row seats and was embarrassed when someone threw a bottle at onyewu during a free kick and remember seeing Dempsey roll his eyes at the heckling.

  4. The Chopper says:

    I am an MLS fan and supporter, so I am looking forward to seeing Clint Dempsey. The league certainly needs every top flight player it can land.

    That being said, I wonder if the expenditure is really worth it. Dempsey is a player that those of us who are already followers of the USMNT and MLS fans are excited about, not sure he brings more fans to the table and increases TV ratings. Maybe if the World Cup stage creates a star out of him, but that’s a long shot.

    It’s funny. The league needs Amerian stars. But the people who get excited about American stars are already in the stands. It is the Beckham’s and Henry’s who bring in the extra fans. Fans of international football who would not bother with MLS except to get a glimpse of those larger than life legends at the end of their careers.

    Demosey’s money may have been better spent of a harlf dozen players to raise the overall quality of play.

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