Daily news roundups

The Bradley bomb, a chat about training facilities, more news

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Michael Bradley to Toronto

It began with a tweet.

An otherwise unremarkable Wednesday became a day to remember when at 2:13 pm Taylor Twellman tweeted, “Ready for a blockbuster? I’m hearing @torontofc on the verge of signing Michael Bradley.”

Cue pandemonium.

Thirty minutes later, Twellman’s ESPN colleague Alexi Lalas tweeted, “Just confirmed with a source, M. Bradley move to @torontofc that @TaylorTwellman reported is for real.”

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle soon posted an article citing “multiple MLS sources” had confirmed that a move was imminent. The money in play was considerable. “MLS is poised to sign Bradley to a contract in the five to six-year range at an annual salary in the neighborhood of $6.5 million. There was conflicting data in terms of the transfer fee, with one overseas source indicating that Roma expects to receive $7 million and multiple MLS sources stating that the Italian club will receive in excess of $10 million.”

Leaving aside such questions as what Toronto will have to do since two Designated Players — Matias Laba and Gilberto — are already on the books and the long anticipated Jermaine Defoe signing appears to be happening on Monday, not to mention whether such a move is good in soccer terms for Bradley or the USMNT, the Bradley news left Philadelphia fans once again wondering when the Union would be announcing some news — any news — to get excited about.

Carlisle’s report noted, “MLS clubs were notified around the start of the year that Bradley was available and clubs were instructed to let the league know if they were interested. Given its financial muscle, and with new Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke eager to turn around the struggling club’s fortunes, Toronto F.C. quickly moved to the front of the line.” As was the case most recently when Eddie Johnson was available, it was little comfort to learn that the Union was among the teams that expressed interest in Bradley but were never a serious contender to land the US international, as Carlisle and Ives Galarcep tweeted.

Expressing the frustration and discontent among many Union fans that has been simmering for sometime and was all to plain to see on social media after the Bradley news, the 700 Level’s Steve Moore asked, “What do the Union want to be? Do they want to be a mid-level team in MLS that catches lightning in a bottle every few years for a playoff run?…Philadelphia wants a winner. And if you want to be a part of the Philadelphia sports landscape, you can’t strive to just be relevant…at some point, the front office needs to ‘wow’ us. It needs to take a risk. It needs to make a statement that says ‘we’re here to win.'”

The quiet departure of an under-utilized Kleberson, a single underwhelming Re-entry Draft selection, the departure of Michael Farfan, losing out on the only reliably reported transfer target to Malaga, the ongoing uncertainty about the status of Carlos Valdes — the first half of the Union’s offseason has been a public relations disaster. With two months still remaining before the start of the season, there is plenty of time for new additions to be brought into the team, beginning with next week’s SuperDraft. But at this point, preaching patience becomes more and more difficult and it feels as if the team could have the greatest draft in the history of the league and it still wouldn’t be enough to placate an increasingly frustrated fanbase. Given how the offseason has unfolded thus far, what can the Union do to turn its public relations efforts around?

In the event, the Disney World Pro Soccer Classic just got a whole lot more interesting. It’s a shame then that the Fan Weekend is scheduled to take place Feb. 7-9, before the start of the tournament.

Philadelphia Union

The Michael Bradley news, aside from further revealing fan frustration, provided an unexpected glimpse into a significant player concern, namely, the fact that the Union still does not have its own training facility. And as was the case with the Bradley news, Twitter was the source. (Some of the tweets in this conversation have since been deleted.)

Chester ParkIt began with Amobi Okugo tweeting in response to the Bradley news, “Please Bradley… stay overseas we look up to you …you’re one of the few #ambitionispriceless …but if you do come to philly haha”.

Former Union man Bakary Soumare soon responded, “Have him train at Chester Park? Come on bro”. Zac MacMath added, “how would the guy prepare for the World Cup without a training facility”.

A fan asked Soumare if the lack of a training facility was the biggest downside of his time in Philadelphia, to which Soumare responded, “in my opinion yes, the ONLY downside… Besides that, everything else is first class!” MacMath responded, “Debateable” [sic].

Aaron Wheeler piped in with, “too funny! Harsh but funny,” to which MacMath replied, “#truth”. Soumare replied to both, “Exactly!”

Several fans reached out to say whatever frustration there may be about the FO, the players should remember that they will always have the fans’ support, to which MacMath replied, “yes we will! And we love our fans for that!”

When asked by a fan about using the facilities at YSC in Wayne, MacMath replied, “all turf fields”.

It was a remarkable exchange and served to underscore Nick Sakiewicz’s recent statements that a new training pitch is “a top priority” for the Union. As Jason Davis tweeted on Wednesday, “I know it’s a joke flying around Union land, but don’t underestimate role improved training facilities play in getting guys to leave Europe.”

Clarin.com is reporting (crappy Google translation here) that Argentinian side San Lorenzo is interested in Carlos Valdes. More from El Spectador (crappy Google Translation here), who also mention interest from Colombia club Millonarios.

The Union are holding a fan broadcaster contest.

Local

More on local soccer legend Gene Chyzowych, who will receive the Walt Chyzowych Lifetime Achievement Award at the NSCAA convention next week.

MLS

MLS Transfers has a helpful series of updates regarding the Michael Bradley news. The last update notes says the deal isn’t done and that Bundesliga sides Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen are interested in signing him from Roma. However, Bradley’s agent in Italy, Alberto Faccini (apparently he has two agents, his US agent being Ron Waxman) said the deal is done. ““After 10 years in Europe he wanted to return to the United States. It’s certainly a sour and bitter choice, but he made it with his heart. Roma reiterated they didn’t want to sell the player up until the very end, but this was his own choice.”

Reaction to the Michael Bradley news from The Washington Post, SI, Soccer America, ProSoccerTalk, Goal.com, and the Brotherly Game.

In other player movement news,

This year’s Generation adidas class is set with Wednesday’s announcement that Christian Dean, AJ Cochran, and former Reading United man Damion Lowe had signed GA contracts.

Real Salt Lake’s coaching staff is shaping up. Looks like the Columbus staff is shaping up too.

Empire of Soccer looks at the obstacles NYC FC face in building a new stadium.

Did the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions really just acquire the rights to Walter Restrepo from the Fort Lauderdale strikers in exchange for hotel and transportation arrangements? More from SI and MLSsoccer.com.

US

Jurgen Klinsmann says the January camp isn’t about fitness. “It’s something where now we want to see them express themselves on the top level, and if you want to express yourself on the national team level, you’ve got to be fit…Hopefully, they did all that work over the last couple of weeks – we think positive – and then we want to see, obviously, their technical capabilities and their real soccer abilities.”

The US U-20 WNT opens play to day in the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in the Cayman Islands (7:30 pm, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go). Soccer America has capsule profiles of some of the players on the team.

ESPN has announced that Ian Darke will be the lead commentator for their coverage of the World Cup.

The Guardian on the Dallas Tornado’s 1967-68 world Tour.

Elsewhere

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge supports a move to a summer schedule for European soccer.

The AP reports, “Five months from the start of the World Cup, Brazilian authorities seem unsure about how to handle the crunch of international visitors, many of whom are expected to rely on air travel for the month-long tournament.”

ESPN reports, “The general secretary of the 2022 World Cup local organising committee in Qatar has insisted the tournament can still be held in its usual summer slot despite the claims of Jerome Valcke, which have caused consternation throughout the game.” Meanwhile, FIFPro has reaffirmed its belief that the tournament should be played in winter in order to “safeguard the players and provide a better platform for them to perform at their optimal level.”

57 Comments

  1. Michael Bradley to Toronto= terrible news for the U. I wasn’t worried about Defoe, one big name striker does not make a team, but one amazing midfielder capable of playing CDM or CAM, or box to box and scoring goals? Ack.

  2. I feel so embarrassed as a fan of this team. The players are publicly questioning the club and with good merit. At this point, all of the glass half full journalism needs to end. I’m not pointing fingers, but this team practices twice a week in a state park.

  3. We have become a joke of an organization on par with Chivas at this point. Former players and current players are openly mocking the front office. How is it possible we train in a public park?!?!? Why spend the money on that academy without proper training grounds? This is why Sack has been a failure everywhere he has ever been. He has failed upwards unlike any other in sports history.

    Next year is already a lost season. We now know even with a ton of money we can’t/won’t sign anyone new. Total jokes in the front office. I don’t blame any of these players for wanting to leave ASAP.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      That’s just it, they NEVER spent the money on the academy. The guy who owns YSC (sorry I forgot his name) made a deal and is now part of the ownership group. That money DID NOT come as cash from this front office. This is why I did NOT renew my season tickets, brcause they treat the fans like idiots! If your broke, say your broke, but don’t treat us like fools and lie to our faces!

    • The Academy already has a great training pitch, indoor and outdoor. Frustratingly that’s where the money is going/has gone. Front office failure.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        Unless something has changed, the Academy is being funded by YSC Sports owner and Union investor Rich Graham, not the Union. our news roundup on Sept. 4, 2013 says, “Though the Union see YSC Academy as the future of their organization, the club is only an affiliate of the program and is not a financial partner according to Union representatives. The project is funded and headed Graham, an investor in the Union and advocate of the athletic academy model.”

        Also, as fine as the facilities at YSC may be, if Zac MacMath’s comments above are any indication, players do not want to play on turf training pitches.

      • Good point. I understand the Academy is not directly funded by the Union, but my point was that they use that for the academy, and the new high school, as well as occasionally practice there themselves, so the Union rely on YSC even if indirectly. I completely understand Zac’s comment as well, as a professional soccer team who plays only 3 or 4 games a year on turf (NE, SEA, POR) should ABSOLUTELY have their own practice facility. Can you imagine the Eagles practicing in JFK Park?

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        My point was simply that this team has NO money to spend or won’t spend….

  4. “…at some point, the front office needs to ‘wow’ us. It needs to take a risk. It needs to make a statement that says ‘we’re here to win.’”

    There may be some worry that when the Union tried to do this a couple of years ago (Freddy Adu) it turned into a total flop. They seem to be of the “once burned, twice shy” mentality rather than “if at first you don’t succeed…”

  5. Also, where are the Sons Of Ben in all of this. Our largest supporters group is more worried about their Rotten Tomatoes score than the state of affairs of the club. They should be a vocal presence here.

    • Great point. I remember 3 years ago when Newcastle united fans didn’t like the direction of the club and had huge banners during games cursing the’re front office “cockney mafia”. This really is a club by the people, for the people.

      • Richie The Limey says:

        How did that work out for Newcastle? The so-called Cockney Mafia has only increased with Kinnear being appointed.

        If you think the Sons of Ben could have ANY sway in the matter then you are seriously delusional. The FO treat the SOBs like a noisy Jack Russell terrier – give them scraps to keep them happy but never acquiesce to their true desires because you always have to show who is in charge.

      • The difference here is the union FO needs US a lot more than we need them, unlike Newcastle, but I see your point.

  6. We’re doomed, disband the team and plummet from the Market street bridge into the cold dirty water of the Schuylkill. Burn the field, salt the pitch etc etc

  7. Wait a second, going into the fifth year and they don’t have a training ground? Amazing! Now I know why the parking lot is never gonna get paved! All the personnel FO decisions aside, I think this club needs new ownership. It’s clear they’re not putting enough into the team. Curious if Orlando SC has a training ground, or if there are any other teams without one? Let us know PSP, this is gonna be huge with the fan base!

    • I too would be interested in the state of affairs at other clubs with respect to training facilities. Just how far behind the curve is our club?

      • I know Fire,Dallas,Galaxy and even Chivas have practice fields at main stadium with team locker rooms.

        No need to transport to other places.

      • Portland opened a gorgeous new practice facility back in April, 2012. If you’re keeping score at home, that was the 2nd month of their 2nd season.

      • Just watch MLS 36 episode on Dax McCarty and you’ll get a great look at the beautiful new training facility that NYRB has.

  8. I’m wondering if real professionals want to even come here given the track record and philosophy of this organization. What are they looking at when they see the history thus far of the Union? Do they question the competence of the Ownership and the decision making of John Hackworth? This organization needs to do something major now to at least prove that they are actual players in trying to bring quality talent to the Union. How did we get saddled with this ? I would also like to know what the SOB’s are feeling about how things are going with the Union.

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    It’s sad when I have to say things like, “this is good for MLS”… instead of getting excited about my team.
    .
    You have the starting CDM/CAM for our national team playing in Canada now. I know it’s MLS and it’s really a moot point but there’s just something wrong with that.
    .
    Like my dad said in response to the Bradley news last night… “WTF, why not our team?!”

  10. NYRB, with their vast amounts of money and long mediocre history, only opened their (admittedly first class) training facility last June. Before that, their training facilities were at Montclair State University. Toronto, with a huge financial backing from Maple Leaf SEG only opened theirs in 2012 (2007 joined MLS). RSL opened theirs in 2012 (2005 joined MLS). This team is beginning their fifth season after starting FROM SCRATCH. It does not have a huge financial backer. What they are doing with YSC/Striker Partners is a very good start. They can’t do everything at once.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Thank you for that info, msg24365, there’s a lot of interest in it.

    • The problem is that these are players, current and former, talking about this… Not just crazy fans. That actually has some meaning

    • Thank you for posting this. I also like that people were making fun of that puff piece interview where it was announced that the training facility was coming soon and are now gnashing their teeth about how terrible it is that we don’t already have one.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        +1

      • Of all the complaints about the Union puff piece I did not hear one person complain about building the practice field.
        The majority of the complaints were about the Unions response to the Marfan deal.
        Not one.
        And if I had any complaints about him mentioning the practice field it would be of Sac’s tendency to say things that don’t come true.
        Also known as lying.
        Your gotcha comment is mostly without substance.

      • nooo… my gotcha comment… worthless…

      • well there is always tomorrow.

      • I’m sorry, I glanced over it. I just never realized they had no facility. If it was in articles I glanced over it. Not until I saw the comments did I realize this, as I bet most people did. We’re allowed to be surprised.

    • Have you been to YSC or been involved with them? They are a very shisty organization to start and their facilities were always going to be extremely limited in terms of size and expansion, as well as all TURF!
      If the Union were any kind of organization they would have created their own youth development from scratch or not partnered with YSC…Also note that the above teams all had SOME sort of training facility. Their are tons of Colleges in the Downtown area, the NovaCare facilities, or colleges South and West of Chester that aren’t too far.
      West Chester, Delco, Spirit (little far) always had more land and better facilities, as well as youth development credentials.

      • I heard from people the YSC is in a very round about way actually pay to play from people. But I never got confirmation so I never mentioned it before.

    • San Jose has a small training facility (opened 2010) by the airport (which is the same area where their new stadium is being built).

      The Impact have a turf (sorry Zac) training field adjacent to Saputo Stadium. However, that stadium already existed for the second division Impact and was expanded to the current layout (i.e., not as much of a dollar layout required)

      The Timbers have a 3 field public-private partnership facility (2 fields for the timbers and one for public use) and a 6000 sq ft facility for locker rooms, etc. Ironically, sponsored by Adidas (in Beaverton – the middle of Nike country). Again, they existed before joining MLS and had an existing stadium that was retrofitted.

      Sounders don’t have their own stadium, and their training facility is at the starfire complex (owned by an “charitable” entity) similar to Starfinder Foundation. Starfire funded the additional fields and locker and office facility at the site. I’m guessing the Sounders pay rent that essentially pays off the cost of building the additional fields, etc.
      —-
      When construction on PPL began, right before the collapse of the real estate market, there was talk of developing a huge commercial/retail site. However bad of an idea that may have been, there should be a suitable site for a grass and turf field and training facility.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        Good stuff, msg!

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        This is good info. However, it doesn’t placate me. I don’t think it is only the training facility(or lack thereof) that angers people, but rather the entire mentality/thriftiness of the front office.

        I’d like to know the following in addition to other clubs’ training facilities;

        1.How much have they Spent on DPs.
        2.Do they max out their roster spots or save open spaces to get allocation money.
        3.Do they play attractive soccer
        4.Do they make trades to get better or to aquire allocation money to lessen their financial burden
        5.Does their head coach purge almost every latino player from his roster in 2 years (I’m caucasian by the way).
        6.Do they promise a youth movement and then get rid of the young players?
        7.Did they fund their own academy programs or “partner” with established youth clubs to save costs and promote the pay to play system.
        8.Do they pay their taxes?
        9. Are their parking lots paved?
        Do they have an established scouting/coaching sytem or do their coaches wear multiple hats to save costs?

        These are just some of the issues that U fans bring up. Taken one by one, they can be explained away. Taken together they display a picture of incompetence and poverty at best…..I like to think that Union fans have a right to be disenfranchised after 5 years. I’ve spoken with my wallet and decided not to renew. I hope they change my mind in the next 5.

      • Thanks for this, good intel.

  11. TFCs newest fan from Philly says:

    I just Google mapped Chester Park. Unf’ngbelievable. Where do they change? Where do they get treatments from PT? Where do they park their cars? No wonder Soumares knees never recovered, thats not a professionally maintained field. F’ing high school teams have better facilities that’s ridiculous. By the way, fine for a city/state run park, don’t get me wrong. But this is a pro soccer team!! Isn’t it?

  12. +10000 for the comments asking the SOBs where they are on this…
    SOBs get all the “glory” as the fans who brought them here, they then need to do the dirty work and get on the FO.
    The events from mid 2012 until now are completely unnacceptable.
    As much as I have been lobbying and fighting for MLS soccer in Philly since 1996, I will not support this organizationas is.

    • The Sons of Ben have been pretty toothless for a while. Expecting them to do anything is pointless.

    • Aren’t they just in the pocket of the Union front office now?

      • It seems that way. They send out more promotional tweets than the Union do. Not to mention the fact that you can sign up for the SoB through the Union website. Looks like they’re just another arm of the organization.

  13. every needs to CALM DOWN – if this turns into open revolt, Nick Sakiewicz will order a traffic jam at the end of the Commodore Barry Bridge

  14. Are you people for real? If I didn’t know any better I would swear you are Red Bull fans. Get real. The team is starting its 5th season. It takes time to build from the ground up. Oh My Buddha. You can’t be true Philly sports fans. One team wins a championship and you expect every team to win a Cup. Back to reality. Be a supporter and not a Jock Strap.

    • As long as we pay for tickets and watch the games we can calmly and politely complain as much as we like. I imagine 95% of the people on here are STH, and most are founding members, and if you read this site regularly, this truly is PHILLY PEOPLE 😉

  15. james lockerbie says:

    P s p and brotherly game refer to each other’s articles so I think I am safe to point out the behind the scenes post about the wade site. That may explain why the lot hasn’t been paved the e.p.a needs access to the soil. On a related note the writer was hoping we could help raise money for a memorial fond for the first responders. Here’s an idea the S O B and union could invite the first responders to come to a game and have a boot drive.

    Many fire. Companies raise money by collecting money at local stores or intersections using their firefighters boots. The sobs and maybe a player or two could collect money using soccer “boots”

  16. As someone who has attended the last two preseason outings, I am dumbfounded as to why they placed preseason on Feb 7-9. Last year we got two games against MLS teams – this year they are offering a Union scrimmage. If I had the money I would fly down for the Disney Cup and see better games and have almost as much player access.

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