Daily news roundups

Hop hits 3, reports say Union interested in Bolton CB, TFC boss responds, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The Union walloped University of North Florida 9-1 in Saturday’s scrimmage. Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Cruz, Kevin Cope, Sebastien Le Toux, Leo Fernandes and Jimmy McLaughlin all tallied and Antoine Hoppenot scored a hat trick. UNF’s lone goal came in the 6th minute of the final 30-minute period.

As was the case with the scrimmage against New England last Tuesday, each of the three 30-minute periods featured a different lineup. Those lineups, with goals scored and assists in parentheses, were:

First 30-minute period:
MacMath, Fabinho, Marquez, Okugo, Williams, Carroll, Edu, Ribeiro (3′, assisted by Cruz), Maidana, McInerney, Cruz (29′)

Second 30-minute period:
Blake, Derschang, Cope (17′, assisted by Le Toux), Lahoud, Gaddis, Daniel, Fred, Bone, Le Toux (29′, assisted by Cope), Wheeler, Casey

Third 30-minute period:
Holt, Quinn, White, Kassel, Seamon, Hernandez, Pfeffer, Fernandes (19′), McLaughlin (28′), Hoppenot (4′, assisted by Hernandez; 12′, assisted by Seamon; 22′, assisted by Fernandes), Clesio

The Union next face New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., at 6 pm. On Tuesday at 4 pm, there will be an open training session at Jacksonville Jaguars practice fields. As of this writing a live stream of Wednesday’s game will not be available.

The single biggest concern among Union fans is easily the question of who will partner with Okugo in central defense. On Saturday, it was draft pick Richie Marquez, who was the guest on this week’s edition of the KYW Philly Soccer Show podcast.

At Goal.com, new Union center back Ethan White has been tipped by Ives Galarcep as the Union’s breakout player of the year candidate. “If White emerges as a strong starter, the Union could coast into the playoffs and be a real factor in the postseason.”

John Hackworth has said the Union will pursue a veteran central defender if necessary. According to Sky Bet and Bolton Wanderers site Burnden Aces, the Union are interested in 33-year-old defender Zat Knight. The 6 foot-6 former captain of the Championship side has said he would like to finish his career in the US and his contract is up at the end of the season. Knight began his career at Fulham before moving to Aston Villa and then joining Bolton in 2009 for what Burnden Aces describes as a “turbulent five years with Wanderers.” Transfer Markt lists Knight’s value at £350,000, or about $574,350. (On May 28, 2005, Knight played against Conor Casey in the USMNT’s 2-1 loss to England in Chicago at Soldier Field.)

Whoever that may be when the season gets underway, Okugo and Sheanon Williams are ready to lead the Union backline. Okugo said of concerns about the Union defense, “I think we’re fine. Sheanon’s already played 100 games. I’m going to reach that milestone this season if I’m lucky. Ray can step in. Fabi can step in.” Williams said the defense has demonstrated it can successfully handled personnel changes. “I think every year we’ve had changes to the backline and every year it seems to be OK. That’s what we have the preseason for.”

At ASN, Brian Sciaretta talks to Maurice Edu about returning to MLS, reaching the playoffs with the Union, and making the US World Cup squad. “I just need to get back playing and help the Union out first and foremost. The national team, of course, is one of my goals and going to this World Cup and playing in it are goals too. But I think you have to crawl before you can walk. If I’m not playing well here, I have no chance at getting picked. I just have to focus and make sure I’m doing things well at the club level.”

Toronto FC/Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke has responded to comments made by Nick Sakiewicz to PSP last week questioning the wisdom of TFC’s offseason spending spree. Leweike tells the Toronto Sun,

Everyone has their own marketplace. On ours, we’ve sold 17,000 tickets in three weeks. We’re going to have a packed stadium every game this year. Our ratings are going to be great. Our merch sells are going to be great…In our world, with our fans, with the commitment they’ve made the last seven years, we owed them this. This is about our business and our relationship with our marketplace. We knew people were going to shoot at us. The shooting has begun.

As to Sakiewicz asking what is the better deal, Michael Bradley at $6 million a year or Maurice Edu at $600,00, Leiweke said,

I’m sure there are others who are mumbling underneath their breath, but this one was a little bit more than that. Questioning Bradley is great. Good. Do more of it. One thing I know about Michael is the more people question him…all they do is get him more committed, more passionate, more aggressive…

Everyone has an opinion. They’re entitled. But 10 times out of 10, I know who I’d take. That doesn’t mean the other kid (Edu) isn’t a good player. He is. But this is Michael Bradley. I hope they keep on him and keep on saying what they’re saying. It will only motivate a core piece of our team and the rest of the team around him.

More on Leweike’s comments from MLSsoccer.com and ProSoccerTalk.

The Brotherly Game begins a series on the Union’s positional depth with a look at goalkeepers.

Local

Registration for boys and girls aged 3-13 years old is open for the spring intramural season of Delaware County’s Nether United. The club’s home fields happen to be Chester Park where the Union trains.

MLS

DC United have signed Spanish left back Cristian Fernandez Salas, who last played with La Liga’s Almeria.

Toronto and defender Jonas Elmer, who has not been with the team in preseason, have mutually agreed to part ways. Which leads to…

You will recall that we linked to reports last week that Brazil national team goalkeeper Julio Cesar was about to join Toronto FC on loan from Queens Park Rangers. On Friday, the Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larson confirmed the loan would be happening, although neither club has yet done so. ESPN also reported confirmation of the loan.

In the same report, Larson writes that TFC “will offload” Argentine Designated Player Matias Laba ahead of the March 1 roster deadline date. Larson writes, “The Reds will look to loan Laba out ahead of the season rather than sell him or trade him to another club.” Laba is the odd man out from the quartet of DPs being carried by Toronto ahead of the March 1 deadline that includes Jermaine Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Gilberto.

Jermaine Defoe has played his last game for Tottenham Hotspur. He is expected to join Toronto by the end of the month. More photos from his farewell here.

Soccer Nation looks at Chris Wondolowski’s start in the NPSL.

Ashley Cole has been linked to a move to the New York Red Bulls when his contract expires at the end of the season. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists Cole has a future at Chelsea but said when asked about the defender, “I have to ask Thierry Henry. You are speaking about Thierry Henry, so speak with Thierry Henry…Maybe Thierry is doing with Red Bulls the same as David [Beckham] is doing in Miami. Maybe he’s buying Red Bulls. Yes, he [Cole] has [a future at Chelsea], but maybe Thierry has a better proposal.”

You will recall that we linked to a report last week that said DC United majority owner Erick Thohir was preparing to sell his shares in the club in order to cover the debts of Inter Milan, which he bought in the fall. Thohir has released a statement saying the report is untrue.

The Miami Herald looks at six possible sites for the stadium that will need to be built for David Beckham’s Miami franchise to come to fruition. According Victoria Beckham, the family isn’t moving to Miami. “Just because David has a club in Miami doesn’t mean we are moving to Miami. We’re based in London and that’s where the kids go to school.”

Has Beckham asked the Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain to help fund his Miami franchise?

The New York Daily News wonders if David Beckham can find success in Miami.

MLS is looking for sales tax exemptions for any All-Star games that might be played in Florida. Such exemptions are already enjoyed by the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.

The San Antonio Business Journal on the San Antonio Scorpions’ work to gain corporate partners as part of its efforts to join MLS.

US

In an interview with ESPN, Jurgen Klinsmann says US players lack the belief in themselves to succeed in Europe. And he knows what they need to gain that belief.

It needs to take the US team in a World Cup to go into at least a quarterfinal, if not a semifinal, to give more credibility to American players. But it’s also the American players when they go to Europe to prove that they can be big players in Europe. So it’s also down to do they have the belief? They have the qualities, but do they have the belief?…Because you go into a European top club and if you want to play in the top five, six teams in England or Germany or Italy, you have 15, 16, 17 national team players on the roster, so you have to kick somebody out. I think the American player still doesn’t have this last belief that they can kick somebody out. This is something that they have to build.

Klinsmann says that players should focus on playing in the UEFA Champions League. “We need players someday like Brazil, Argentina that play Champions League. Champions League in Europe is the crème de la crème…My wish is that maybe after the World Cup we get Jozy Altidore, our No. 9, into a Champions League team or Tim Howard becomes goalkeeper of a big team. We have good players, but we don’t have the belief yet that we belong in there.”

Timothy Chandler’s 2014 World Cup aspirations may be over after suffering a torn meniscus ten minutes into FC Nürnberg’s 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday. Chandler is expected to be out eight to ten weeks.

The USWNT crushed Russia 7-0 in an exhibition game on Saturday with Delran’s Carli Lloyd bagging a first half brace. Postgame quotes here. The teams meet again on Wednesday (USsoccer.com, 7:30pm).

ESPNW talks to former Philadelphia Independence forward Amy Rodriguez, who played 30 minutes in Saturday’s game and recorded an assist. Rodriguez is working her way back into the team after giving birth to her first child six months ago.

The US U-17 WNT are undefeated champions of the 2014 Women’s NTC Invitational with a 2-1 win over Japan on Sunday. Ocean Township’s Taylor Racioppi equalized from the penalty spot after the US was down 1-0. On Friday, the US defeated New Zealand 2-0 with Racioppi recording an assist. The US opened the tournament with a 4-0 win over China, a game in which Racioppi also had an assist.

Elsewhere

Another World Cup stadium construction worker was killed in Brazil on Friday while dismantling a crane that was used to put the roof on the new stadium in the Amazonian city of Manaus. Five workers have died in the preparations for the tournament, three at the stadium in Manaus, where the US will face Portugal in Group G play on June 18.

The AP reports, “Workers at a World Cup stadium in the jungle city of Manaus are threatening to go on strike to demand better conditions following a third recent construction-related death at the venue.”

The Lisbon derby between Benfica and Sporting on Sunday at Estádio da Luz, scheduled to host this year’s Champions League final in May, was postponed, and the crowd evacuated, before high winds caused parts of the stadium’s roof to fall onto the stands and pitch. The derby will now be played on Tuesday. Sporting supporters say that Benfica officials acted in an “irresponsible” manner by not allowing them to leave the stadium until about an hour after the evacuation had been ordered.

The opening ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics took place at Fisht Stadium, which is one of 11 host stadiums for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. SI has a look at the venue.

Budweiser has decided not to renew its sponsorship of the FA Cup.

33 Comments

  1. Does anyone else have a Pitt in their stomach bc Cruz was in that first lineup? I know it means nothing, but i can’t stop the sinking feeling

    • I hear you. That first lineup looked suspiciously like a regular season starting lineup to me. But there will likely be changes. Is Nogueira even in camp yet? And, in the end, if Cruz can regularly produce assists and goals, he deserves a spot.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Danny is bad to have on the team, there’s just no way he can be the starter. All of his good qualities scream end of game bench player. The key thing there was “regularly produce”, which he doesn’t as a starter. Also I figured Nogueira would just fill in for Ribeiro.

      • Oh, I agree completely. Just pointing out that we will see changes, inevitably. And Le Toux deserves starts ahead of Cruz on the right, anyway. I just hope that when Cruz does play, he’s able to contribute meaningfully, in ways he hasn’t in the past.

    • All the moves they’ve made this offseason have been exciting, but when I step back and look at the big picture, there’s one midfield position they didn’t fill – right mid. We got a CM (Edu), a LM (Maidana), and 2 CAMs (Nogueira, Rebeiro), but we didn’t acquire a right mid, which means it’s Cruz or Le Toux’s job. And given last season, I too am very concerned that he will be in that spot on March 8th. Le Toux is the better option, regardless of how Cruz performs in the preseason.

  2. I love Edu’s attitude, I think it really bodes well for his time here and the results we can get from that.
    .
    Also “with the commitments they’ve nDe, we felt we owed them that”. What a difference in attitude at the top. I know the union have done really well here lately, and I actually agree that Edu is the better value here’. Seriously though it’s just a different mindset there than it is here.

  3. “On May 28, 2005, Knight played against Conor Casey in the USMNT’s 2-1 loss to England in Chicago at Soldier Field”

    Wow, nice use of the Wayback Machine for that nugget. Little known fact,fire and the wheel were invented at halftime from fans chosen from the crowd.

    • So, apologies for the ignorant question, but if in fact Knight “could leave before the summer,” would it be “for a nominal fee” or would it be for half a million dollars? cause half a mil is not nominal in MLS

      • Since he is out of contract in months, there is no way his fee would be half a million. Players leaving on a free so soon are worth very little for that exact reason. Teams have no leverage. Why would we pay Bolton so much money when we can wait a short amount of time and get his for no fee?

        Source: 5 years of Football manager.

      • That’s a good point from the Union’s side, but from Bolton’s point of view they may see that and try to move him early so they can get a fee. I mean even $100k at this point would be bette than nothing, so if the Union gets aggressive on this they may be able to get him early, without paying the actual fee.

      • Bolton has minimal leverage in this situation. I would bet that a transfer fee would be around 100k considering Knight is out of contract in 4-5 months.

  4. Good to see Okugo in the line up. I was a little worried that his injury might be more serious than they were letting on. Cruz will get starts his season. Hack just loves the guy.

  5. John O'Donnell says:

    I believe Cruz played as a striker up top with Jack. His speed was probably a problem to deal with as well as Hoppenot’s in the third session. I wonder if he’ll get a look at the same spot against Red Bull?

  6. Klinsmann realizes that the US has already been to a World Cup quarterfinal in 2002, right?

  7. The headline had me scared that the Union were looking at Tim Ream. Phew.

  8. So is PSP creating an mls fantasy league?

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