Daily news roundups

“Pressure is on”: Hack says lineup spots are open, more news

Before we get to the roundup, a big thank you to PSP’s Adam Cann for covering for me while I was in Columbus for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico, where every soccer fiber in my body — already quivering with anticipation before the game — was soon gloriously vibrating with the electric energy that was shimmering through Crew Stadium and then surging with patriotic joy with each US goal before finally exploding with rapturous exultation at the final whistle, only to surge again when the result in Honduras confirmed the US was on its way to Brazil. Good times, that. I think I need a cigarette.

Philadelphia Union

John Hackworth said in Wednesday’s weekly press conference of Saturday’s game against Houston,”This game is a literal six-point swing…If the result doesn’t go our way on Saturday night it doesn’t mean we’re out, but the likelihood is far less that we’re gonna come back in the remaining five games and get the results we need.”

Describing the team’s performance against San Jose as “alarming” and “unacceptable,” Hackworth said change could be on the way, “There are more positions open this week than there have been all season. We wanted to emphasize that it was unacceptable on many levels on Sunday night. It bodes well for guys working hard in training who smell it a little bit. They know there’s opportunity there. And if the coaching staff isn’t happy with the performance, the logical thing is you interject a new face in there or change something tactically.”

Asked for specifics in terms of how many positions are open, Hackworth said, “There’s six of them open right now.”

More specifically, Hackworth said, “I think the pressure is now on, I would call it our front five — our two strikers and then our three, much more attacking-minded and positionally midfielders. And Keon is one of those guys. Whether it’s Keon Daniel, whether it’s Conor Casey or McInerney or Sebastien (Le Toux) or (Danny) Cruz or Michael Farfan or whoever we put in there, somebody on our team has got to start making those big plays that all teams need. That didn’t happen for us.

Hackworth added, “We’re in a position where we need to have a guy step up and make a play. Make a big play for this team.”

So, will someone like Kleberson or Roger Torres be given the opportunity to step up? Dave Zeitlin writes, “When then asked if he’s consider inserting more of a natural playmaker into the lineup – someone, perhaps, like Kleberson or Roger Torres – Hackworth simply reiterated that there will be ‘more opportunities in the starting XI this week than there’s ever been to this point in the year.'”

The Brotherly Game says Hackworth “sounds like a motor running out of gas.”

Zac MacMath tells KYW Newsradio, “Obviously we had a little bit of a hiccup over the weekend. But the team is still very high on confidence and we know this weekend’s a big game for us and it’s going to make a big difference in the playoff race.”

Comparing the Union’s position this year to last year, MacMath is a much happier player. ““It’s great. We still wish that we were farther up the table, but we’re a lot better than we were last year. It’s a lot more enjoyable, especially this late in the year, knowing that we’ve got a lot to work for and a lot to play for, knowing that the playoffs are right around the corner.”

At Union Tally, Matthew De George wonders if Amobi Okugo is the answer to the Union’s midfield problem.

JP Dellacamera writes, “So if McInerney, Casey and Le Toux are your top three offensive threats and they are not scoring, who picks up that slack? Right now, the answer unfortunately is no one.”

At The Brotherly Game, a look at what other teams will need to do in order for the Union to miss the playoffs, assuming they manage 9 out of the possible 21 points available to be earned  through the end of the regular season.

Power rankings? At ESPN, the Union remain at No. 12. At MLSsoccer.com, the Union stay at No. 10. SI keeps them at No. 9. Soccer America actually moves them up one spot to No. 10.

No Union players made the latest Castrol Index Weekly Top 20 Performers list. In the Full Castrol Index, the top five Union players are Jack McInerney (No. 9), Conor Casey (No. 21), Zac MacMath (No. 36), Sebastien Le Toux (No. 45), and Amobi Okugo (No. 52).

Local

Penn’s Alec Neumann earned the Ivy League and Philly Soccer 6 Rookie of  Week honors, the first Penn player to earn such a double since Duke Lacroix in 2011.

At Penn Live, Michael Bullock on Hershey’s Christian Pulisic move to the national U-17 residency program in Brandenton.

MLS

Lady Luck continues to smile on the Union when it comes to Eastern Conference results. On Wednesday night, Chicago struck first before Toronto equalized and then held on for the 1-1 draw at BMO Field. With the result, Chicago remains in seventh place but is now only three points behind the fourth place Union.

Marco Di Vaio says family concerns may force him to retire after this season.

ProSoccerTalk considers a tweet from a Canadian reporter that says Don Garber said before the Toronto game that three of the four expansion spots to reach the league’s goal of 24 teams are “already spoken for.”

The Galaxy will field a USL team next season. Bruce Arena says such a step is “going to be the way MLS clubs move in the future.” I wonder what LA Blues thinks about this?

Under contract with Lazio for another year, Miroslav Klose says he has received “two very good offers from the US.”

Former Toronto mayor David Miller blasts Toronto FC’s management before concluding, “I am so frustrated with the latest management missteps that I am returning the remainder of my season tickets to you: it is the only way I can emphasize how serious the situation is for those of us who support TFC. Please donate them to an appropriate cause. There once was magic at BMO Field. The latest reshuffle has made the possibility of that magic returning almost certainly disappear.”

FC Dallas’ stadium will now be known as Toyota Stadium.

A labor agreement has been signed to ensure that the proposed stadium in DC will be built on time.

A new radio contract is nearly complete for the Yankees with New York’s CBS-owned WFAN that includes a three-year deal to broadcast New York FC games, “believed to be the highest radio contract for a MLS team.”

Seminole County will contribute $2 million to Orlando City’s new soccer stadium. Orlando County and the city of Orlando are set to contribute $20 million each.

NWSL

Carli Lloyd is happy to be home.

US

The Columbus Dispatch writes that of course the final scoreline in Tuesday’s qualifier win was 2-0, even with Clint Dempsey stepping up to the penalty spot in the waning moments of the game. “The U.S.-Mexico game had to end that way, with a miss. There is a greater power at work here, and it is inexplicable. Had Dempsey converted, this critical World Cup qualifying match would have ended 3-0. Some amalgam of fate, destiny and rhythm would not allow it.”

Also from the Columbus Dispatch, some great quotes on the effect the crowd had on the Mexico team.

So, did Dempsey miss the penalty kick on purpose? He said after the game, “Nah, I always try to score. I was a little bit tired, but I’ve converted on three [USMNT PKs] and that’s the first one I’ve missed. Obviously that’s frustrating, that would’ve been nice, an icing on the cake for me tonight. But the most important thing is we won, and I’m happy with that.”

The rating’s for ESPN’s broadcast of Tuesday’s qualifier were the highest ever for a non-World Cup or Confederations Cup game.

Holy eye infection!

Is the difference for the US team a matter of self-confidence? At Bloomberg, Jonathan Mahler believes so: “The U.S team has always had a never-say-die attitude, which Bradley took as far as he could. But Klinsmann has instilled something different in the team — self-confidence — which has the potential to take them much further.”

ASN says that Jurgen Klinsmann arrived just at the right time: “Klinsmann is not a miracle worker. He is simply a smart coach doing a good job. Like any successful manager he is maximizing the talent he has available. It just so happens that the talent at his disposal is better than ever.”

Soccer America looks at how Klinsmann shook up the US roster on the way to qualifying.

ASN examines the tactical work the US still needs to do ahead of Brazil.

Looking back at the ground gained since the launch of Project 2010 in 1998, The National says the USMNT is no longer a project.

And because everyone knows PSP’s love of soccer history, here are some good reads on why Columbus is so special for the US, that first 2-0 win over Mexico at Crew Stadium back in 2001, and the 2-1 win back in 1980.

Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado said after the loss, “Unfortunately, us players are completely to blame. We cannot put our heads down, even after we get scored on and especially when there is so much time left in the second half. That was the key to today’s game. In the first half, we didn’t play bad at all, but with everything that is going on, your mind sometimes plays tricks on you. We don’t have confidence, we don’t have the ability to react and lift the spirit. It’s the reality of things.”

Miguel Angel Lara, a professor at Ibero-American University who studies sports and society, described the mood after Mexico’s loss to the US, “People see this as the country failing them, especially when it means it may not qualify for the World Cup. Seeing the national team losing like that, two times in a row, really generates hopelessness and disappointment.”

Word out of Mexico is that a new head coach will be announced this afternoon with former Monterrey boss Victor Manuel Vucetich rumored to be getting the job.

At ProSoccerTalk, Steve Davis warns about rooting for Mexico not to make the World Cup because a poor CONCACAF showing in the tournament could mean a reduction in the number of places allocated from the federation.

Elsewhere

The news broke earlier this week that Sepp Blatter has acknowledged it may have been a mistake to award Qatar the hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup. You can read his comments in full here.

At the Guardian, Marina Hyde writes that Blatter’s handling of Qatar 2022 is “auto-satire.”

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati wonders how FIFA failed to take Qatar’s weather into account when they awarded World Cup hosting rights to that country. “What led to their decision when those facts were known three years ago? There’s a number of people that should answer that question.”

Afghanistan has won it’s first international tournament, defeating India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation Championship.

It’s the little things, right San Marino?

21 Comments

  1. So who is the next Caleb Porter this offseason? Think we can get him?

  2. So from looking at the qualifying table and remaining schedule…if the US wins our next game and Costa Rica and Honduras tie we lock up the top spot with 1 game left. That final game is against Panama who is currently level with Mexico for the playoff spot. How sweet would it be for the US to go into that Panama game and completely lay down to let them have the 3 points and keep Mexico out of the World Cup.

    • Speaking as a sports fan, that would be sucktastic. I *hate* when teams lay down in those sorts of situations, or play for “ping pong balls” at the end of a bad season. I hate when players flop, whether it’s soccer or hockey or basketball.
      .
      Sportsmanship is supposed to mean something…

    • John O'Donnell says:

      I Think the US wants to win out, so that they keep the expectation of a winning team.Mexico needs to make it to the World Cup, so that we have an opportunity to beat them again on a bigger stage.

    • I gotta say having your biggest rival completely burn out and not even make the World Cup resulting in shame and embarrassment for their country the best possible outcome. LETS GO PANAMA!

    • I don’t think the US should throw the game against Panama (and a lot still depends on what happens in the Mexico-Panama game the previous Friday). However, I do think that there is absolutely no reason why Klinsmann shouldn’t look to get some of the players with dual citizenship or parents from other countries cap tied to the US. I also think he should sit Jozy as a reminder not to take stupid yellow cards.

    • There is no way JK lays down in last game in that scenario. If that is the case, I expect him to play the strongest team he can barring injury and those damn yellow cards. Too much respect for the game. Too much respect for Mexico as a soccer nation. They would deserve our best effort. Would they reciprocate? that’s a question I’m glad doesn’t need to be answered.

  3. The Real Brian says:

    Ed, great times in C-Bus.

    As for Hackworth, is he purely delusional at this point? I get the impression that he is clueless with the answers he posits. If he sees Keon Daniel as an attacking player, why isn’t he pulling him aside and talking to him about, you know, ATTACKING. Keon plays the safest possible ball, which is normally square or negative. Over the last two games, it looks like he has tried to play the ball forward, and he lacks that incisiveness to deliver that ball. Julie Foudy, Kyle Martino and other national commentators have seen it. Why can’t Hackworth? Another issue is Keon’s absolute lack of hustle. (Keon- watch your game tapes and then watch Kleberson. He fucking SPRINTS to get into a better position or push the game forward to support the attack. YOU SLOWLY JOG. Get some initiative, son). Hackworth completely overvalues Keon, and when we need someone to push the game, he leave Keon out there. That is a head scratcher. Keon would be better off as a late sub when we are winning to help kill the game with his rampant back passes.
    Tactically, Hackworth gets called out on his formulaic subs, and he can’t answer it. Here’s an idea Hack, you need to leave your talisman, Jack Mac, out there to get him out of his rut. You pull him out with 20-30 minutes remaining. That must do wonders for his confidence. Let him play and score. He can do it. But inserting Hop for him every fucking game is getting old. Especially when Jack starts to heat up at the 60-65 minute mark. You pull him out… and shred his confidence. He is the one guy, at the end of the game, that can get open or find the little seam to get that shot off. All it takes is one goal. Stop fucking with him.
    As for the rest of the team, they do seriously have to get Amobi up to his natural midfield position. His talent is getting wasted in the back. This is a Steven Gerrad/Frank Lampard/Micheal Essien type talent. He is an exceptional passer (meaning he passes the ball forward, Keon should take note) that we are wasting in the back. Let Sheanon play center back, were he has done extremely well and put Gaddis out wide on the right, where he excels as well. That is one fast back line. Then we can get Amobi up in the midfield in front of Carroll. Problem solved. Then you can sub Keon in at the end of the game, when it is appropriate.

    • Not to mention, re:hop, his “hey i can run really really fast” style of play would found out and successfully game planed against about 1.5 years ago.
      He offers nothing anymore, he is still living off his decent scoring record from his first 2-3 sub appearances. It’s a joke that a player like Hop is a entrenched player for this team but playrs like Kleb or Torres arent.

    • I agree The Real Brian. I had to scratch my head after reading Hack’s quote in the Delco Times article by Matt DeGeorge. In fact I had to reread it to make sure I didn’t read it wrong. He said “Keon’s clearly an attacking mid position,….” Is he watching the same guy as we all are? The position may be clearly an attacking position but the guy in that position is not by any standard, an attacking player. The fact that his answer was evasive when asked if he would consider inserting more of a natural playmaker into the lineup – someone, perhaps, like Kleberson or Roger Torres doesn’t give me confidence that he will seriously reevaluate the midfield and make the changes everyone but he knows should be made.

    • Hack’s continued selection of the same players despite poor/inconsistent results has been a disservice to the players. I don’t think anyone who follows the team dislikes Keon, Carroll, Cruz or Letoux and I don’t think any of us can fault their effort. I’m over the Torres stuff but I think it’s been genuinely frustrating for the fan base to not see Kleberson or Marfan get more playing time with so little forward progress coming from our midfield.

  4. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    I can’t even get mad anymore. I’m just … bewildered at just how much Hack lacks self awareness. It’s painful to see just how clueless or willfully delusional he is when it comes to lineups and subs and the way he protects certain players.
    .
    I can’t help but think that Hack might have been a good coach for the 1.0 or even 1.5 version of MLS. Nowak, though he obviously knows soccer, loves himself more and was never going to be a capable, long-term manager. Hack, on the other hand, seems to actually care and do a decent job off the pitch. But his understanding of the game is hopelessly mired in a long-passed age of MLS that is now way out of date.

  5. Southside Johnny says:

    The only thing more infuriating for me than watching Hackworth mismanage this team and their matches is watching his pressers. I once again applaud the restraint demonstrated by the press in attendance and the professionalism of the players who continue to give all they have on the field in spite of him. They deserve better.

  6. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    In a magical world where the Union ownership and FO wasn’t horrible, Hack would probably have his job on the line if we didn’t make the playoffs (at this rate, it’s hard to see that happening, even with all the gifts the rest of the east keep giving).
    .
    If that were the case, who would be some realistic replacements? My list:
    .
    — Jesse Marsch: Proven manager with a good eye for talent and team-building.
    — Frank Yallop: Builds ‘Scottish’ teams, but turned a small-pocket team into a league powerhouse.
    — Gary Smith: Did well in Colorado before Oscar Pareja. Just got the sack in League One (after bringing them some success last season). Could be open to an MLS return.
    — Leigh Cowlishaw: Richmond Kickers general manager who just led a small market team to league winners of USL, beating Orlando City (although had a truncated run in the playoffs). Orlando City’s Adrian Heath would make sense but he’s unlikely to leave.
    — Chepo de la Torre: Just kidding.
    .
    Anyone else? Could Jason Kreis be persuaded to leave RSL on a high note? 🙂

  7. i’m still in the pro qatar wc camp. there are issues sure, but it is the WORLD cup and I’m happy to see non-traditional spots get the opportunity. the issues can be worked around.

  8. smoking kills you slowly

  9. I am personally insulted every time Hack speaks.

  10. My dearest Ed,
    I think I shall print that first paragraph out and post it in my classroom. It makes me smile. It made it so much more fun to watch the game knowing that you were there screaming your head off, drinking beer and smoking like a chimney!

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