Daily news roundups

Sheanon hopeful, new jersey unveiled, replacement refs possible, US v Ukraine, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

All of us at PSP are very happy to announce a content sharing partnership with Philly.com. That partnership begins with this video preview of the Union’s 2014 season with Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald and PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch. Look for PSP articles on Philly.com soon.




In Tuesday’s press conference, John Hackworth said that Conor Casey and Sheanon Williams are both questionable for Saturday’s season opener in Portland. “Right now both players are not in training. Sheanon was more precautionary than Conor was. Conor, we’re being more conservative with. Hopefully we’ll have Sheanon available for the weekend but we won’t know until [Wednesday] or even Thursday.”

Williams seems hopeful about his prospects to recover in time from the strained quad that saw him leave last Wednesday’s game against Toronto early. “We’re hoping it’s not too bad. I did some treatment today and tried to get everything squared away.”

Hackworth said that the shortened preseason has been a challenge. “Right now with a shortened preseason, I’ve been talking to other coaches around the league and it’s been an issue for everybody. It’s going to test the depth of teams early. Certainly with us that might be the case on Saturday.”

So, how does he feel about the Union’s depth? Hackworth said, “I feel good about our depth. It’s better than it was last year for sure. We do have a couple of knocks right now that we’re dealing with – more so than we’ve had in the past.”

Hackworth made clear that Aaron Wheeler is training as a central defender, not as a forward. “He plays hard and deserves that shot. He’s shown rapid growth as a central defender and he’s learning the position, playing good entry balls into the midfield and has been a bright spot for us [this preseason].”

Wheeler says the adjustment has been made easier by the fact that he’s been training in central defense since last June. Wheeler explained, “Once Hack brought it to my attention that they were looking at me more as a center back, it was quite easy to make the transition. For me, it’s more so mental as far as it being a much bigger field of play that you are looking at, it’s not just collecting he ball and distributing it, you have to watch two, three, sometimes four different runs [from the opposition] happening and be ready to react. A lot thing happen before they actually happen in this position.”

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George talks to Austin Berry about joining the Union and the challenges of coming to the team so late in the preseason. In the article, Amobi Okugo describes the similarities between Berry and Jeff Parke. “They’re pretty similar in terms of being the warrior type of center back and winning head balls and just being a strong presence in the back.”

Brian Carroll and Andre Blake both got votes in a preseason poll of MLS coaches asking who is the most underrated player and who will be Rookie of the Year.

The Union released their new home kit on Tuesday at the Meet the Team event at Dave & Busters. Judging by the front-and-back image of the Edu jersey, it looks like the team has smartly opted to go with lettering and numbers whose colors better match the gold elsewhere on the jersey. Photos published by PSP several weeks ago showed more yellowish “Athletic Gold” lettering and numbering. More on the jersey release form MLSsoccer.com and The 700 Level.

At the Union website, Kerith Gabriel talks to Nick Sakiewicz, John Harkes, and Peter Vermes about the passing of Stan Kozoil, a Northern New Jersey member of the “Tri-State area soccer community” who died Monday after battling leukemia. Gabriel notes that the Philadelphia Union Foundation will be accepting donations on behalf of The Stan “Stas” Koziol Memorial Fund. Monies collected on behalf of the fund will be presented to the Kozoil family during a ceremony at a Union home game this season. More on Koziol’s passing from North Jersey.com.

At the Brotherly Game, staff predictions for the Union’s season final point total as well as “a purely mathematical projection.

MLS

At the Washington Post, Steven Goff reports, “MLS and its referees edged closer to a work stoppage Tuesday after the sides failed to make progress in efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement before the season openers this weekend.”

In the report, Steve Taylor, the lead negotiator for the Professional Soccer Referees Association, the organization that represents the league’s referees, said that the Professional Referees Organization, which oversees referees on behalf of MLS and US Soccer, had “threatened a lockout.”

Don Garber said, “We will be opening up this weekend with referees, and we are absolutely in a position to have a contingency plan in the event that those discussions don’t end positively. We have so many things that we’re gearing up for with our 2014 season. Nothing is going to stop us from having a strong opening and to continue to grow this league.”

Taylor says of the possible use of replacement referees, “The potential for disaster is great. I’m concerned about the health and welfare of the players in games officiated by referees who won’t have a handle on games at this level.”

More on the story from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.

In a Q&A with reporters and fans on Tuesday, Don Garber spoke about expansion, finances, and the importance of supporters culture to the league’s success. ProSoccerTalk and SI have more highlights from Garber’s remarks.

Player moves:

You’ve read our Eastern Conference preview. Well, SI has a primer for the Western Conference.

US

Despite the ongoing crisis at home, the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of today’s international friendlies.). The team has dedicated the match to the people of Ukraine under the slogan of “Peace for Ukraine.”

You’ve seen our preview of the game. Goal.com has a preview. while ASN has five thoughts ahead of the game, and ProSoccerTalk has five areas of focus for the team and a list of players who need to impress. SBI has lingering questions to be answered and Soccer America has seven players who need to impress.

As ProSoccerTalk notes, Jozy Altidore is one player who needs to impress. At the LA Times, Kevin Baxter writes that today’s friendly is an opportunity for Jurgen Klinsmann to find his goalscorer.

At Goal.com, Thomas Floyd talks to Brad Evans about his emergence on the USMNT.

Bruce Arena says of concerns that MLS players will not be at peak form in time for the World Cup, “MLS players aren’t an issue in terms of the World Cup. They’re actually kind of fresh. They’re reporting to camp in May and playing in June. The players you have to concern yourself with are the European [based] players. It’s much easier for the MLS players. They’ve had their break [over the winter] and they’re pretty rested. They’re just getting into form and will be peaking about World Cup time. They’re in great shape. It’s the players from Europe you worry about. They’ve just endured a long season. They’re exhausted.”

Brad Friedel says of the US World Cup squad, “The US have a strong squad.Very good up front, very strong in the midfield. Very good goalkeeper in Timmy Howard. Probably our biggest weakness would be along our back four. If we have everyone fit, we’ll be formidable against anyone…However, playing against the world’s best player in [Portuguese winger Cristiano] Ronaldo, playing against one of the world’s best teams in Germany, is going to be difficult. So that Ghana game is going to be a must-win for us, in my opinion.” Yep.

Want insight into the 1994 US World Cup team? You got it. At ESPN, part one and part two of Roger Bennett’s four-part oral history series on the team. At SB Nation, Seth Vertelney has a long-form article on the team.

By the time you read this, the USWNT will have played Japan in their opening game — set to kickoff at 7:45am ET — at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. With the US and Japan in Group B are Sweden and Denmark.

Elsewhere

With the World Cup now less than 100 days away, ESPN’s Wright Thompson looks at concerns that the tournament will be disrupted by protests and just what those protest are all about.

At ESPN, Eduardo Alvarez has a very interesting look at what playing conditions at Brazil’s World Cup stadiums will be like considering temperature, humidity, and travel. Alvarez notes, “The U.S. men’s national team, for instance, are likely to play all three of their group-stage matches under extreme conditions after long flights.”

14 Comments

  1. I won’t pretend to be an expert or anything, but I am utterly amazed Hackworth and Co. see Wheeler more as a CB than Forward.

    But no means is he Drogba or Zlatan … but he seems like the perfect sub for Casey. Tall, strong, great in the air. Whenever we need 2 strikers, and Casey is either out or being subbed out … who else would you want next to Jack/Hop other than Wheeler?

    Seems crazy to me. It’s one thing to consider Wheeler an emergency option at CB. It’s a whole other to go “Yeah, he’s a CB now.”

    • i like the idea of him being flexible and being able to fill in in both positions but it sounds like they want him only as a cb.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Which is weird, because they like Marquez as a backup for Berry and White as a backup for Okugo. So last year they had 2 CBs, now they have 5, but only 3.5 strikers.

    • It’s probably in Wheeler’s best interest to switch to CB. In my opinion, he has the most upside in that position. He is big, strong, and has good feet for such a big guy. I’m not sure he is fast/quick enough to be a starting forward at this level. However, as a CB those wouldn’t be as big of a concern. Could be an Omar Gonzalez-type player with more experience at that position. He should be asking to go to Harrisburg to get as much playing time as possible as a CB.

      • Making wheeler a CB is ripe with the old 80’s philosophy of biggest guys as defenders, smallest guys as forwards. Since he’s had limited playing time I think if they asked him to play anywhere at this point he’d agree.

    • In a situation like this I blame the MLS salary cap more then the Union themselves. This isn’t much of an issue in other leagues because they can just go buy the position they need but we can’t do that. So we see guys like Amobi, Wheeler and then wherever they put Macmath after Blake takes his job playing out of position.

  2. The jersey’s stripes are not bad, but the different gold and yellows just look awful. I still think the font is comical. BIMBO change is definitely a big upgrade.

    • I am not into the stripes on the jersey at all but compared to some of the other jerseys it is great. It is gonna be one ugly jersey cycle I’m looking at you Chicago and RSL.

    • Pinstripes in baseball, yes. Pinstripes in soccer, a big no. The upside is it’s only for 2 years. 2 long years.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        I actually really like the idea of pinstripes in soccer. I’m hoping that NYCFC’s uniforms have pinstripes of some sort, rather than just a nod to Man City. After all, the Yankees are part owners too, and it’s a NYC team.

  3. I always saw Wheeler as a Kenny Cooper-esque forward.

  4. Replacement refs = scabs

    • If Garber can’t get the PRO and the PSRA to act like adults, and they start the season with scab refs, this goes from being Garber’s best offseason to one of his worst.

  5. Now that the golds appear to match, the new jersey is growing on me quickly. I’m on board with the pinstripes.

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