Daily news roundups

Zac’s confidence high, Union D is key, HCI ready for playoff bout, more news

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

While you wait for PSP’s preview of Sunday’s Union road game against New England, check out our preview in the Guardian. You can also get up to speed on the series history between the two club’s with our quick reference. More previews from the Brotherly Game and Goal.com.

Goal.com predicts a Revolution win.

The Revolution are rightly concerned about the dual threat posed by Conor Casey and Jack McInerney. Says centerback AJ Soares, “The combination of the both of them is difficult to match up with. They’re both good individually, but they also have a good pairing. They get a lot of goals whenever you don’t take care of them.”

But taking care of them isn’t as simple as saying you will closely mark them. New England head coach Jay Heaps says,

You can’t just say, “Hey, there’s their guy.” I really think you can’t just hone in on a McInerney because he drifts similar to (Chicago Fire forward Mike) Magee in that he finds the elusiveness. The more you mark him, the easier he finds another area to go to.

I find Conor Casey’s been excellent for them in his holdup play. Then the players that run off of those players are dangerous at all times; Keon Daniel, Danny Cruz. So they’re a relentless team in what they can do off the ball off those key forwards.

Several of the articles coming out of Wednesday’s press conference focus on the greatly improved Union defense. And rightly so, they have four shutouts in the last five games.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George notes, “The standard bearers for MLS stinginess are New England (23 goals allowed in 24 matches), Houston (23 in 23) and Portland (25 in 24). Excluding the Union’s capitulations to LA and Montreal, they have surrendered 23 goals in their other 23 matches.”

At CSN Philly, Ryan Bright describes, “During the first 13 games of the season, the Union allowed 22 goals against and collected just three shutouts. In the last 12 games, the Union defense has given up just nine goals and earned six shutouts.”

Zac MacMath agrees the 5-3 road loss against Montreal was the turning point. “I think that night a lot of us looked at each other and were like, wow, we kind of need to get ourselves together. That game as well as that LA game where we gave up four goals, I think it was a two- or three-match span where we gave up too many goals. I think after that span, we really buckled down.”

John Hackworth said, “Our defense has been the strong point for us. When you get shutouts, it starts to come to light a little more. We’re proud of our players because you can see we’re getting better and that’s what you want. If we’re going to be a team that contends for anything, we have to improve. We’re certainly doing that on the defensive side.”

If MacMath’s confidence has been evident on the field, it is also evident off the field. Speaking of being tied for the most shutouts with nine, MacMath said, “It reconfirms that I can be one of the best goalkeepers in this league. I’ve always thought that but I haven’t really proven it. I’m just trying to prove it not just to myself but to my teammates and the coaching staff.”

So far, the defensive improvement has continued with newcomer Fabinho filling in for the injured Ray Gaddis at left back. Sheanon Williams said, “I think it speaks to our depth and how everybody in the locker room is on the same page with each other regardless of who’s playing in the game. People are tuned in in practice and understanding if they need to come in, what we’re about and what we’re doing.”

More from Hackworth’s Wednesday press conference at SBI. Hackworth said of Jack McInerney’s slump, “I worry about a lot of the talk being about Jack not scoring. As long as we’re successful as a team, Jack’s successful. If he was scoring a goal and we were losing, I don’t think any of us would be happy.”

At the Inquirer, Marc Narducci looks at how, given how tight the Eastern Conference is, the rest of the season will have a playoff feel to it.

Conor Casey says of the importance of the Union earning their first-ever point at Red Bull Arena, “It shows how far we’ve come as a team this season. To break a lot of small milestones (like getting a point on the road against the Red Bulls) keeps our confidence high and intensity going. It would be huge for us to make the playoffs and we just have to all stay on the same page, and keep working hard on a daily basis.”

Beginning with “Amobi Okugo is the future of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team” as a defensive midfielder, Philly Sports Live concludes, “The fear of every Union fan should be that Okugo realizes that he is jeopardizing his chance of playing for the national team because of remaining on the Union [as a central defender]. If that day does come, Union fans should have some serious questions about the leadership of their team.”

The myopic worldview of the sports section of Philly newspapers may be disappointing but it is never really surprising. This from Inquirer baseball writer Bob Brookover is just the latest example.


The Harrisburg City Islanders host the Charlotte Eagles on Saturday in the USL PRO quarterfinals (2 pm, USL Live). Coach Bill Becher says, “We’ve had a good week of training. The guys seem to be in the right frame of mind to have themselves prepared for a tough game on Saturday against a very good Charlotte team. We’ve done everything we can this week and I think everyone’s put in hard work. The attitude seems very good and I know the guys are hungry to make a run at this thing.”

Jason Hotchkin, the City Islanders player who was wounded in a shooting in West Chester last weekend, remains in good condition.

The Ocean City Nor’easters have announced their season MVPs. Centerback Tapiwa Machinguata was named defensive MVP, forward Dwayne Reid was named offensive MVP, and midfielder Ken Tribett was named overall team MVP.

Zach Herstek, who played for PA Classics and Trinity High School in Camp Hill and is now a freshmen at George Mason, has been named to the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason all-rookie team.

La Salle’s Renne Washington is one of 30 finalists for the CLASS Award.


Shortly after the end of the Union’s game in New England the Seattle Sounders will be hosting the Portland Timbers in a game that will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2. If the historic rivalry between the two teams isn’t enough, the game will also be the home debut of Clint Dempsey. Says Seattle midfielder Brad Evans of the game, “It’s massive. I think it’s what defines MLS at this point. I think it’s this rivalry right here. It’s Portland vs. Seattle. Everybody will be watching.”

A few days after saying he’s open to moving overseas when his contract with LA Galaxy expires at the end of this season, Landon Donovan said he would like to finish his career with the Galaxy. “Obviously as you get older you only have so many more opportunities to do things you want to do. Financially, things come into play, so all things being equal, I would love to be here, and we’re working towards that and I’m hopeful that will happen.”

At SI, Brian Straus talks to new Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt about his hopes to improve the team’s profile. “We want to be the Green Bay Packers of Major League Soccer, a small market team that is globally relevant and has a consistent winning tradition. We very much recognize that to do that, we have to be more relevant here and we have to connect better to our market and make them proud.”

Among the changes to expect are a new team crest, which doesn’t even have the word “Columbus” on it. “I anticipate making changes,” Precourt said. “The name and the colors are great. The crest, it’s one of my highest priorities. Man, it’s one of my obsessions. When I go to the league office and look on the wall and see the different logos, I want ours to be really relevant and local and contemporary.”

A backlash in Chicago after an editorial written by the Fire’s director of communications mixing frustration with personal criticism directed at himself by fans with his own criticism of the behavior of some fans at the recent US Open Cup semifinal loss to DC United appeared on the team’s website. Deadspin described reading the editorial as “like watching a train wreck in slow motion.” The Chicago Tribune and MLSsoccer.com both published stories on the club’s defense of the editorial.

At MLSsoccer.com, Jonah Freedman writes that expanding the DP rule to four or five players per team is a terrible idea.

Daigo Kobayashi, who came to Vancouver following a career in Japan, Norway, and Greece, says, “I feel that Major League [Soccer] is not as easy as I thought. Major League [Soccer] is more physical. [Opponents] have good speed, so I have to play simple more and faster more.”

Manchester City have signed a TV deal with the the YES Network, the New York Yankees’ regional sports network.

A vote on the funding package for a new downtown soccer stadium for the Orlando City Lions could be pushed back until October.


FC Kansas City’s Becky Sauerbrunn has been named the NWSL Defender of the Year.

SBI has previews of Saturday’s semifinal games, which can be seen on Fox Sports 2.


Tom Sermanni has named his roster for the upcoming USWNT friendly against Mexico at RFK Stadium on Sept. 3. Former Philadelphia Independence defender Leigh Ann Robinson, now with FC Kansas City, got her first callup.

Aron Johannsson has five goals in his last five competitive matches, including this one yesterday in a Europa League qualifier. Oh, yes, Aron. Yes.

A report out of Bosnia says the USMNT could host Bosnia and Herzegovinia in a friendly in St. Louis ahead of the 2014 World Cup if both teams qualify.

More than 3.4 million people watched the opening weekend of the NBC Sports Group’s broadcasts of the Premier League. Soccer America reports, “The five games on NBC and NBCSN were watched by a total of 3.2 million viewers — up 52 percent from the 2.1 million total for the five games on ESPN and Fox Soccer last year.”


FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke says referees at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be able to stop play “two or three times” during the course of games so players can hydrate themselves. “For us the health of players and spectators is paramount.”

A study by England’s University of Bedfordshire says the teams will need to arrive at least four weeks before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar so that players will be able to acclimatize themselves to the local conditions. A professor from the university’s sports science department recommends that teams that play a high temp style change their tactics to “a slower, more patient style of play” because “countries used to playing at a low tempo in hot conditions will hold an advantage.”

You will recall the report we linked to yesterday on the El Salvador Football Federation provisionally suspending 22 national team players while investigations continue into alleged match-fixing. The investigations include two games against US opposition, a friendly against the USMNT in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup, and a friendly against DC United. Among those suspended are several former MLS players. Soccer America takes a look back at some of the dubious doings in the friendly against the USMNT. ASN, MLSsoccer.com, SBI, ProSoccerTalk, and The AP have more on the story.

Two Armenian referees have been banned for life after being found guilty of “[attempting] to manipulate the outcome” of a Europa League qualifying match in July.

Technology is being developed in England to virtually simulate penalty kick shootouts to help players better deal with such situations in reality.


  1. In an article about the new crew owner, I found this relevant …
    “I think if we were to do it all over again, if we’d been in Columbus since the beginning, being closer to downtown in an urban environment is what’s most important,” he said. “Crew Stadium isn’t a destination place right now. You want to have bars and restaurants and things around, nightlife, retail. People can go out to the fairground and tailgate and go to the game, but it would be nice if they had a local pub nearby. It’s something we’re considering and talking about. The supporters have asked us about that. They want their own pub at the stadium.”
    McCullers said that the Crew is looking to “accelerate the conversation” with the city about either upgrading the fairground site (there are 11 years left on the club’s lease) or finding a new one.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:


    • Yea, Ideally you want your stadiums in the city, with access to public transportation. MLS finally learned that lesson with the success or Portland and Seattle.
      But on the other hand Columbus is about to ask for a pile of public money and should be told to go to hell.

      • WilkersonMcLaser says:

        Yeah, funny that MLS is only now starting to catch onto the great model pioneered by … the Charleston Battery.

    • The ‘new’ Houston stadium is also great; right in the middle of town near dozens of bars who had a great atmosphere before the game last time I was there.

  2. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    Jack Mcinerney: He “finds the elusiveness.” Someone fire up the ol’ scarf and tee machine.

    • I was thinking more like Tifo containing riddles, parables, mystical poetry and profound Haiku’s.

      Then Tshirts

    • Wow! That is a great quote. How very Zen. I would love to have a beer with that guy.

    • I wonder if Coach Heaps has similar insight into other Union players. Suggestions:
      On Danny Cruz: “The foul that one commits on oneself is never whistled.”
      On Keon Daniel: “The most difficult shot to make is the one that is not taken.”

      • Philosophy is wasted on literal thinkers.

        He should stop telling his midfield “Sometimes the way forward is to go back.”
        “There are few pleasures so sublime as watching Macinerny pout after not passing to him while he is making a run in the box.”

  3. I’m not sure that Okugo’s MNT future isn’t on defense rather than CDM. Currently the two main cogs in the center of the midfield are Bradley and Jones. Bradley is one of the best players on the team and Jones is playing in Germany which is means JK isn’t going to replace him. Meanwhile, at centerback, it looks like the two first choices are Gonzales and Bessler. Those two don’t seem nearly as set in stone as the midfielders.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      Agreed. Central midfield is full of options right now. Geoff Cameron, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud, are also strong contenders that I’d also rate highly. As a CB, Okugo’s ability to get forward and distribute as well as solidly defend makes him a very exciting prospect.

    • We know Amobi has no shot at the 2014 cup but Jones is 31. He won’t be around by 2018. Amobi should be working now at CDM on weekly basis to start getting ready. Of course that won’t happen here and I guarantee he is running out of town as soon as he has the chance. What is bad for the Union is good for the country and I will wish him luck when he leaves.

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