Daily news roundups

Union face TFC today, Berry says joining Union “a good move,” Hack’s Twitter session, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The Union face Toronto today at 1 pm in their final group game at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. The game will be live streamed on the Union website and on YouTube, and you can follow @TheUMatchDay on Twitter for live updates.

There’s a preview for the game on the Toronto website. Maurice Edu, Jack McInerney, and Andre Blake are tapped as three players to watch. Waking the Red also has a preview.

At the Union website, Austin Berry tells Kerith Gabriel about the whirlwind that was his Monday, which included being told ten minutes before leaving for the morning training session with Chicago in Arizona that he had been traded and then being on a plane at 2 pm to join the Union in Florida. His new teammates apparently christened his arrival by pouring a cooler of Gatorade over him after his first Union training session.

Berry says “it’s been a crazy 24 hours,” adding, “This is a good move for me.”

John Hackworth said of Berry,

Clearly we had a need and a hole in our back line, but I think we’ve been consistent in our messaging that we need the right central defender to come in. And when you check off the boxes, Austin is a player that has played nearly every minute for the past two years and that kind of durability game in and game out is extremely important. More so than that, he has qualities that we don’t currently have within our back line; he’s excellent in the air because of his size, he likes to make sure that the line moves together. Those are the principles of how we defend and those are principles he specifically was taught and tries to apply that to his overall game.

Hackworth added, “He’s an extremely good person. He’s a good pro…there is no question that he is the kind of person and player that we were looking for.”

Describing him as “one of the most reliable center backs in MLS over the past couple of seasons,” Benjamin Baer writes at MLSsoccer.com, “Berry looks to be a long-term solution and he comes with one distinguishing characteristic: He’s not foul-prone.” Hopefully, Berry is also adaptable and can gel with Amobi Okugo and the rest of the defense quickly.

On Tuesday, John Hackworth answered questions on Twitter on a variety of topics from fans using the #AskHack hashtag, which was soon trending in Philadelphia. Among the things he said were:

  • He expects Austin Berry to play “at some point” today against Toronto
  • He also said of Berry, “Our expectation is that he makes our team better. We searched the world over and think we found the right fit.”
  • On whether he expects Brian Carroll to be a regular starter along with Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira, Hackworth replied, “interesting question. We certainly have more options than we have had previously. It’ll be good competition for BC.”
  • Asked why Danny Cruz consistently makes the starting lineup, Hackworth responded, “Danny is an effective player. He is much better technically and tactically than he gets credit for.”
  • On the competition between Zac MacMath and Andre Blake, Hackworth said, “both are playing well in preseason. Zac is still our #1, but in order for Andre to progress, he will need playing time.”
  • On the progress of Homegrown Players Zach Pfeffer, Jimmy McLaughlin and Cristhian Hernandez, Hackworth said, “Each are different in terms of their development, but we’re hopeful that all 3 will contribute to our overall success.”
  • He also said he expects more squad rotation this season now that the team has better depth.
  • On the question of 4-4-2 versus 4-3-3, Hackworth said, “I think there’s too much talk about us playing a 4-3-3. In reality, we’re going to put the best team on the field to be successful.”
  • When said when asked what he learned last season in falling short of making the playoffs, Hackworth answered, “Lots of lessons learned. Most importantly, that we needed greater quality and depth in our team.”
  • Asked if he believes the Union have a chance at reaching the playoffs this season, Hackworth replied, “I certainly think so, I feel like we are in a position to challenge game in and game out.”
  • Asked what bringing a championship to Philadelphia mean to him, Hackworth said, “It would mean everything to me. I constantly dream about raising the @MLS Cup for our fans.”

Union players also got in on the fun, with Jack McInerney asking, “after tomorrow’s game can we have Thursday off?” Hackworth replied, “not a chance, Jack.” (I can’t help but see in my mind an image of a bunch of giggling Union players gathered around McInerney in a hotel room as he typed the question, shouting, “Tweet it, Jack, tweet it!” before falling on the floor laughing.)

McInerney was a guest on the latest Off the Bench podcast (interview starts at 24:30). McInerney talks about how the Union have been playing 4-3-3, and the adjustments that requires from him personally; his goal drought last season; his preseason preparations; his national team aspirations; his thoughts on the Edu signing; partnering with Conor Casey; the team’s young core; the pressure of playing in front of Philly fans; who the team’s biggest rival is; and his personal goals for 2014, which is scoring 20 goals; and who the biggest jokester on the team is (Hoppenot); and his two dogs.

Soccer America says of Richie Marquez, “The lone Division III pick out of Redlands should make the Philadelphia Union roster as it is thin at center back.”

Brotherly Game’s series on positional depth continues with Union strikers.

Sebastien Le Toux comes in at No. 10 in the list of the top 24 players in 2013 for points per minute played. It’s a fantasy football thing.

Referee assignments have been announced for opening weekend and it will be Hilario Grajeda carrying the whistle when the Union face Portland.

The 2014 schedule for the Union Soccer Schools has been released.


Harrisburg City Islanders have released their preseason schedule, which consists of games against UMBC, St. Francis, Penn State, Navy, and Maryland between March 7-30.

The Changing the Game documentary includes a storyline about two Philadelphia teens’ journey to the 2010 World Cup. You can support the film on Thunderclap.


Player news:

  • The Province reports that Toronto FC have loaned Argentine midfielder Matias Laba to Vancouver. You will recall that the Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley signings have meant that Toronto has been forced to find a new home for the 22-year-old designated player.
  • Toronto have waived forward Emery Welshman.
  • Former Reading United man Jimmy Ockford tweeted on Tuesday that he had signed with Seattle, who selected him in the second round of this year’s SuperDraft, and would immediately be going on loan to New York Cosmos.
  • Portland have signed midfielders Aaron Long and George Fochive, who were both selected by the Timbers in this year’s SuperDraft.

Toronto FC have announced they have sold out of full season ticket packages. That’s 17,000 season tickets, folks.

Toronto’s Doneil Henry says, “I think this team can be one that can really contend for the MLS Cup.”

NYC FC is expected to unveil its crest on Thursday, March 13


US Soccer announced on Tuesday that next week’s friendly will not be played in Ukraine. The announcement says the US and Ukrainian federations are in discussions with officials in Cyprus to play the game there. Confirmation is expected today.

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep on how the Ukraine friendly “could be the final shot to impress Jurgen Klinsmann for several long-term absentees.”

It’s no contract offer from Blackpool for Freddy Adu. Head coach Barry Ferguson said, “There is nothing happening with Freddy. He’s come in and worked hard with us. He is a great lad but I’m more than happy with what I’ve got. I have a strong squad.” Adu will apparently continue to train with the club.

Bayern Munich have announced they will open an office in New York on April 1 as part of its “internationalization drive.” Yes, the date gives me pause too.


After pressure from Brazil’s tourism board, which is looking to change the country’s reputation as a sex tourism destination, adidas has agreed to stop selling two t-shirts that “were from a limited edition that was only on sale in the US.” Reuters reports, “One shirt shows a bikini-clad woman with open arms on a sunny Rio de Janeiro beach under the words ‘Looking to Score.’ The other has an ‘I love Brazil’ heart resembling the upside-down buttocks of a woman wearing a thong bikini bottom.”

the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of today’s games.


  1. Hacks tweet about Cruz’s skill just killed all faith I have in seeing the proper lineup out there come opening day.

    Why can’t the U just play a 4-4-2 and not have to worry about Cruz at all? Jack/Casey or Jack/Le Toux up top.

    • What is Hackworth supposed to say, “You guys are right, Danny Cruz sucks.”? Any coach worth his salt is going to defend his players’ abilities in that situation.

      • He could have ignored it. There were hundreds of questions. Just don’t reply.

      • Given the number of questions that were about ‘why Cruz, he sucks’, ignoring them all would’ve been worse. I don’t read Hackworth’s answer has a reason to question his judgement, I read it has having his player’s back. And I’m hoping Hackworth doesn’t prove me wrong by starting Cruz over Maidana Week 1, or something.

      • Yes, I have to agree with he just could have ignored it. Or at least he could have answered it in a way that doesn’t completely ignores everything that happens on the field every week. He also answered a question about Brian Carroll that wasn’t exactly a glowing response.

      • No, he could have answered it in a different, more evasive manor. like “Danny is a good player and there will constantly be competition there”.

  2. Technically, tactically and every way in between, Danny Cruz stinks.

  3. To beat on a dead horse about Cruz’s technical ability. If your the coach and you’ve got to tell people he has more ability than he gets credit for, he doesn’t have it! I’d love to see him just juggle a ball for a few minutes. Please start LeToux!!!!!

    • because of his supreme technical ability? funny choice. I love LeToux as well, but he’s not exactly a huge leap in 1st touch over Cruz. Actually similar players in many ways (hussle, create headaches for defenders, good pace, not good in tight spaces)

      • I think for that position it’s either letoux or Cruz. The union will be better off with letoux I think. I’m guessing 90% think the same.

  4. I just cannot fathom what it is that Hack sees in Cruz. His comments indicate that he is aware that many people don’t agree that he’s good enough to start but he thinks we all don’t give him enough credit. Really? Is it just stubbornness at this point? Cruz has no business starting on this team. He’ll do one good thing all season and Hack will take that as vindication of his quality play. I’m very excited for the new season and to see the new additions on the field but this blind support for Cruz is a buzz kill.

    • His comments are actually a bit of insult to the fan base by saying he doesn’t “get enough credit.” I gave him all the credit for those goals against Seattle, as they were both outstanding. But he always loses a ton of points every time he falls over his own feet. And every time he dribbles himself into a corner. And every time he ends offensive possessions with poor passes or positioning. And every time he fails to defend. In other words, he’s not great technically, and he’s often out of position, which is tactical accumen. So he gets the credit he deserves, which is not enough to warrant a start.

  5. Southside Johnny says:

    Wait. He gets credit? When and for what other than “hustle”? Oh yeah, from Hack.

  6. People are sticking on the Cruz answer, which is fine, but lets not ignore his other answers. There was a lot to like.
    – The answer about Carrol was not exactly a shining endorsement.
    – He seems away that he needs to rotate the squad for open cup matches
    – He flat out said the team needed more quality and depth comapared to last year
    – Saying Blake “needs to play” to evolve

    • +1. That last bullet point I think is the most interesting. He’s basically saying Blake is going to get minutes this year.

      • I really hope to see Blake play in the Open Cup games and any friendlies we have. I agree that’s the only way he’s going to get better, and there is no reason Zac needs to play every minute like he did last year. Blake was #1 overall, and we might as well find out if he’s our future sooner rather than later.

    • Thank you!

      I would agree, I came away extremely happy with Hack’s answers and honesty. Also, if that he is what he believes of Cruz, why can’t we trust it?

      I personally disagree with Hack on Cruz, however, I am in no place to challenge his soccer knowledge. At minimum, given the offseason and other answers he gave yesterday Hack deserves to prove his point on this.

      As a lasting takeaway, I am hopeful to see the HG guys, I want to see Blake get some real time (even if its open cup) and seeing us rotate a squad this year will be a huge plus for experience and fresh legs.

    • I really agree with you here, the Blake and Carroll point especially. I just don’t get him on Cruz. But still, much more to like than usual.

  7. I beat up on Cruz as much as the next guy, but it’s not as if he has a complete and utter lack of skill. I look back at a play against DCU in October where Cruz dribbled the ball upfield, baited two defenders into missed tackles and then cut the ball back out to McInerney, who would have scored if not for a point blank save from Hamid. If he played with that level of patience and vision even 50% of the time, I’d have no problem with him playing. Unfortunately, he has one or two plays like that and surrounds them with the usual “Let me hang out at the midfield line while the defense bails me out, then take the ball upfield, run into a defender and go down like there’s a sniper hidden somewhere in the stadium” routine.

    For all of the people slamming Hack for keeping him around, what is he supposed to do? Behind Le Toux and maybe Hoppenot, who’s going to man the RM/RW spot? Sure, I’d rather have one of the Farfans, but they’re gone now, and we’ve made too many good moves this off-season to cry about the ones I wish we didn’t make. Let’s all suck it up and stop complaining until we’re a few games into the season. If it’s not working then, feel free to slam your heads against your keyboards again, but it’s rather pointless to keep doing it right now.

    • I don’t think most people say they don’t want Cruz on the team, we just don’t want him blindly starting. He is tailor made to be a late game sub.

      • If Wells Thompson is still a starting LB somewhere in MLS, I’m having Cruz start that game.

      • Then most people need to relax about preseason lineups. They don’t mean anything. It’s a chance to tinker with lineups and positions and see which players complement each other and which do not.

        Aaron Wheeler started today’s Toronto match at CB. Is he going to start there in Portland on March 8th? Of course not. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at what he can do there during preseason matches.

      • That is the thing though. Preseason needs to be used for your actual first team to gel. We can’t go into the first game with a starting 11 that hasn’t played together for more than 1 game at a time.

        Next thing you know Hack is saying Cruz and Le Toux have to start because Maidana and Nogueira haven’t had time to get acclimated yet with the rest of the team.

      • Not the earliest parts of preseason. That’s when you get everyone on the field and see what happens with different lineups and combinations. Once everyone’s rounding into game form at the end of camp, then you start to throw out your preferred 11. Lo and behold, that’s what we got today (with the probable exception of Wheeler). Le Toux starts, Cruz comes in as a sub. Happiness for everyone.

  8. Wow. After all that’s happened in the off-season, Danny Cruz is still a lightning rod. Why? I’m not sure. I do think that Coach’s answer was too long. He should have simply said “Danny Cruz is an effective player” and left it at that.

    • I think this is right. Hackworth also did not commit to playing Cruz either. I think given the squad it is unlikely that Cruz isn’t at least a bench option, and all Hack was trying to do was shield a player from criticism.

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    When the coach says several times in several different venues that the over all depth and quality of the team needs to improve, how can that be seen as an endorsement of last season’s starters?

    Is no one else concerned that we have scored one goal against an actual major league soccer defense and only one other against a franchise that will become an MLS side in the future? Casey and Hoppenot have had no minutes in the last two preseason games. Casey may well be getting preferential treatment as an established veteran in the manner of George Allen’s old Washington Ramskins, but Hoppenot cannot be categorized as that.

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