Daily news roundups

“No Letdown”: news ahead of Saturday’s big game, FIFA appoints task force on 2022 WC schedule shift, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Check out our Union vs. Toronto match previews here at PSP and at check out our quick reference for highlights and stats from the past encounters between the two teams.

You know it, and John Hackworth knows it: Saturday’s game against Toronto (7:30 pm, TCN, MLS Live) is huge. “It’s certainly one of the biggest games,” Hackworth said at Wednesday’s weekly press conference. “We’re in a position right now with this game, two games left at home, being in fifth place right now, it’s important that we treat this game with the respect it deserves. And our opponent is probably much better than people are giving them credit for. It’s going to be a really tough game, but one for us as an organization is very important.”

Hackworth continued, “They are coming off a good win over DC. They are going to be confident coming in here. We have had two tough games with them already.”

Asked the inevitable question about the possibility of there could be a let down in the Union facing Toronto on Saturday after last week’s big win in Kansas City, John Hackworth said, “I don’t think there will be a letdown at all. But the reality is it’s a really hard matchup.”

Hackworth conceded, “We are a little better going in as an underdog than a favorite. That is what it is and it is hasn’t changed all year.”

Hackworth said leadership from veteran players will be key. “Guys like Brian Carroll and Jeff Parke, they’ve been good at making sure we’re focused on what we can control. I like that leadership. It sets the tone for how we’re going to play and how we’ll deal with any adversity we face.”

Kevin Kinkead notes the Union were the clear favorites in the two previous games against Toronto this season, both of which ended as 1-1 draws. “Oddly enough, each game included the following: an opening goal from Toronto, a TFC red card, and a stoppage time equalizer from Jack McInerney.”

The Brotherly Game says McInerney scoring and the Union defense holding firm will be be the difference between a Union win and disappointment.

The Union will face a Toronto side that will benefit from key players Jonathan Osorio and Steven Caldwell returning from suspension and the team’s leading goalscorer, Robert Earnshaw, back from injury.

Much of the Union’s success last week was down to some fine play from Zac MacMath. The young keeper said, “I think the last stretch of games I’ve done much better. I’m still trying to get to where I should be. Obviously, last weekend was good for me confidence-wise. And hopefully I can continue that into this weekend.”

Sheanon Williams said of MacMath’s improved form, “Obviously he’s had his mistakes. So has everybody on this team. But he’s come up big when we needed him. And this is the biggest stretch of the season and this is when we need him most.”

Matthew De George notes that it’s been a year since the Union converted a penalty kick, 11 months since they were last awarded one. “In minutes, the droughts stand at 3,175 and 2,827, respectively.”

Toronto SB Nation blog Waking the Red scouts the Union.


The Drexel women’s team fell 2-0 to William & Mary on Thursday.

The Penn women’s team hosts two games this weekend, an Ivy League match against Cornell on today at 7 pm, and then a nonconference match against Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday at 2 pm. The Penn men’s team hosts Cornell on Saturday at 7 pm.

In the latest NSCAA high school boys’ rankings, Wilmington’s Salesianum School moves up three spots to No. 8 while Mechanicsburg’s Cumberland Valley drops three spots to No. 21. In the girls’ rankings, Cumberland Valley moves up two spots to No. 8, Washington Township’s Immaculate Heart Academy moves up three spots to No. 11, and Langhorne’s Neshaminy High School moves up one spot to No. 18.

South Philly Review has a great article on last Friday’s celebration of National Youth Soccer Month at Sacks Playground, located on the 400 block of Washington Ave.


Goal.com talks to Lancaster, Pa., native Andrew Wenger about how, two years after being drafted by Montreal, he still hasn’t found a steady position on the field.

At ProSoccerTalk, Liviu Bird says of the fact that the league does not suspend play during FIFA international dates, “If MLS wants to be in the top 10 leagues in the world, as is its stated goal, then accommodating international games and adapting a more traditional calendar will be vital.”

ProSoccerTalk’s two-part series on OPTA contcludes with a look at the impact the stat company has had in the US.


Remember all of the hubbub about FIFA possibly sanctioning Costa Rica for pregame shenanigans such booing the US national anthem during last month’s World Cup qualifier? On Thursday, FIFA fined the Costa Rica federation a mere 11,000 Swiss franks, the equivalent of little more than $12,000. They also warned Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell for unsporting behavior in conning the ref with an egregious dive that resulted in giving Matt Besler receiving a yellow card missing the qualifier against Mexico for yellow card simulation.


The AP reports, “FIFA has received applications for more than 4.5 million tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a week before the first phase of sales ends.”

The London Evening Standard reported on Thursday that, according to a source, “FIFA will postpone a decision on whether to move the 2022 Qatar World Cup to winter until a task force has reported on whether the controversial switch is possible.”

On Friday, FIFA’s executive committee announced the task force. Belgian FIFA member Michel D’Hooghe said: “[It will be] at the earliest in 2015. We need some concrete information – this will not be done in two days. We have to look together with our marketing and broadcast partners. Don’t expect any decision from the commission before the World Cup in Brazil. We have two World Cups before Qatar where we also have concerns.”

The AP reports, “The head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organizing committee says he’s ‘comfortable and confident’ the tournament won’t be taken from his country.”

The head of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee, Hassan al-Thawadi, has dismissed suggestions that the country won the hosting rights through unethical means as conspiracy theories. “I think what we’re going to see is a picture of the grassy knoll in the JFK assassination and instead of it being smoke they’re going to say it’s the Qatari headdress and it’s us. It proves the need for the Middle East to host a World Cup. It proves the need for us to actually be able to break down stereotypes.”

FIFA spokesperson Walter De Grigorio said he has “no doubt” the 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar. “What is open to question is if we play in winter, and if so is it November, December, January? I don’t know. But there is no doubt we will play in Qatar.”

At the Guardian, David Conn says the only way FIFA will find credibility is by re-staging the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Russia will not allow entry of FIFA’s chief investigator, Michael Garcia, into the country. Garcia is tasked with investigating whether ethical violations were involved in Russia being voted host of the 2018 World Cup but he is on a ban list for his involvement when he was a United States attorney in the prosecution of Viktor Bout, “who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US after being convicted of conspiracy to kill American citizens and officials by smuggling arms to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.”

The Iraq Football Federation is lobbying FIFA’s executive committee to lift the ban on the federation hosting international matches in Iraq. In other news, at least five people were killed and 13 wounded when terrorists detonated a bomb near a soccer field south of Baghdad. The AP reports, “Soccer fields and other areas that are hard to protect have been increasingly targeted by militants in recent months. A similar bomb attack on a youth soccer game in Madain in late August left at least three dead.”

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