Daily news roundups

Season opener previews & predictions, more Union news, replacement refs for season openers

Philadelphia Union

It is time.

The Union kickoff their 2014 campaign on Saturday in what is sure to be a chilly and wet Portland (10:30 pm, CSN, MLS Live).

John Hackworth says of opening the season on the road in Portland, “I have no problem with it. I think the pressure is more on them. They’re playing in front of their home crowd. I think we’re a good team, and we’re prepared, and we’re ready to go in there. We know they’re a good opponent and we respect them a lot, but we’re not going in there with the idea that we’re not coming away without a result.”

Maurice Edu says of the opening of the 2014 season, “I am excited, I came onto this team knowing they narrowly missed the playoffs, and this is a hungry group of guys, and we all believe in each other and feel we can compete with any team in the league.”

Match reviews from PSP, PhiladelphiaUnion.com, and MLSsoccer.com. SB Nation blogs Brotherly Game and Stumptown Footy ask one another some questions about their teams. In a look on what it takes to breakdown the Timbers defense, Stumptown Footy notes that Portland gave up only four goals in seven preseason games.

In addition to our match preview, checkout our Union vs. Timbers quick reference to refresh your memory of past meetings between the two teams. For a tactical outlook for the Union see part one and two and three of our Tactics Talk season preview series. We also have looks at who has the most to prove on the Union roster, five burning questions ahead of the season start, and an Eastern Conference preview. Additionally, checkout PSP’s season preview our readers’ season predictions poll. If you enjoy previews in podcast form, checkout the latest editions of the KYW Philly Soccer Show and All Three Points. If you have a hankering for some video, Ray Gaddis, Danny Cruz, Amobi Okugo, Jimmy McLaughlin and Maurice Edu talk to PSP about their preseason and expectations for 2014. And don’t forget to the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of this weekends MLS games.

At CSN, Dave Zeitlin and Ryan Bright have player predictions (Team MVP, Top Newcomer, Biggest Disappointment, etc.). Both predict the Union will make the playoffs. At The 700 Level, Steve Moore ranks the Union players who “will be key to a winning season.” The Daily News, reviews the new additions to the team and The Inquirer has a breakdown of the roster, as does Brotherly Game.

SBI previews the Union and predicts a playoff spot. Soccer America predicts a “4th-7th place” finish.

The Union get some love in the staff season predictions at Goal.com. Rudi Schuller and Thomas Floyd see the Union as “surprise contenders,” Ives Galarcep has Jack McInerney winning the Golden Boot, Keith Hickey has Maurice Edu as comeback player of the year, and Schuller has Andre Blake as rookie of the year.

The Union come in at No. 10 in SI’s preseason power rankings.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George looks at the French-language Union contingent of Antoine Hoppenot, Sebastien Le Toux, and Vincent Nogueira, which “provides an opportunity to communicate freely, essentially encrypted from opponents.”

In the Delco Times article, the 5-7, 140-pound Nogueira speaks about the challenges of playing in MLS. “Already, I felt like I was a little different in Europe because everyone was bigger and faster than I was. It’s going to be even harder for me here because the league is bigger and faster, and I think I can bring a little technical, European style that’s going to help the team grow.”

At the Union website, Cristian Maidana talks to Kevin Kinkead about coming to MLS. “I never thought I would come to the (United States) to play. But I knew there were a lot of players coming here and I knew that they were progressing very well. There are a lot of Argentinians who have come here and done well. Seeing them, you realize that this is a really good league, a really good opportunity, and a chance to grow. When I talked with the technical staff and this opportunity came up, I didn’t give it a second thought.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Zach Pfeffer talks to Dave Zeitlin about his goals for the 2014 season. “If you look all over the world, usually at 18, 19, 20 is when guys start to break into their team. That’s absolutely my goal now. I feel like I’m at an age now where I’ve got a few years of experience under my belt and I can utilize that and definitely try to break into the team.

Univision have announced their MLS broadcast schedule and it begins on Univision Deportes with the season opener against New England on March 15. I wonder if that means the game will now be blacked out on MLS Live?

Redlands Daily Facts and D3soccer.com have reports on the Richie Marquez signing.

In a survey of MLS coaches asking what is the toughest place to play in MLS, PPL Park received no votes. What’s up with that?

Zolo Times reflects on the true meaning of Tuesday’s Meet the Team event. “To get an autograph, have your picture taken with them or shake their hand is something the kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Which is exactly the real value of the event. The Union, through this simple act, are creating life long fans.”

Brotherly Game looks at what former Union Academy players are doing this spring collegiate season. Also from Brotherly Game, an assessment of the fortunes of former Union players still playing in MLS.

Local

Yann Ekra, who was signed by the Union after the close of Harrisburg’s 2013 season and released earlier this year, will re-sign with the City Islanders. More on the news here.

Reading United’s open tryout for their PDL and Super 20 teams on Sunday, March 9 have been moved to Alvernia University. The March 16 tryouts will take place at Exeter High School. Click here for registration information.

Kevin Silva (PDA; Bethlehem, Pa.) and Christian Pulisic (PA Classics; Hershey, Pa.) have been named to the US U-17 MNT squad that will play three games in the Pacific Northwest, March 7-18.

Camden Catholic have announced Larry Sullivan as their new boys’ soccer head coach.

MLS

The Professional Referees Organization announced on Friday morning,

Today, following a rejection by referees of a no strike/no lockout agreement, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced that it will commence a lockout of its match officials, effective at 11:00 am ET on March 7, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between PRO and the Professional Soccer Referees Associations (PSRA). PRO will use replacement officials for the Major League Soccer matches that will be played this weekend…

PRO has recruited a highly-qualified pool of replacement officials all of whom have officiated at the professional level.  The pool includes international FIFA officials who have moved here from overseas, former MLS officials and officials who have worked in other professional leagues in the US who PRO believes are qualified to officiate at the MLS level. As part of PRO’s contingency plan, the replacement officials attended a preseason training camp last week.

Unbelievable.

Player moves:

USA Today has eight reasons to be excited about the new season. Deadspin has 12,000 tired words on why you’re a fool to care.

ESPN reports, “For the first time in the nation’s history, Major League Soccer (inaugural season: 1996) has caught up with Major League Baseball (founded in 1869) in a significant marker of popularity. Both leagues can claim 18 percent of 12-17-year-olds as avid fans of their sport.”

The 91st Minute has quick previews on the league’s teams.

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep says MLS must show improvement ahead of it’s 20th season next year.

Fans in Ohio are rightly miffed about the Crew’s new local broadcasting deal with Time Warner Cable, a deal announced just two days before the start of the season.

US

US Soccer has announced the opponents and venues for the World Cup Send-off Series.

  • Tuesday, May 27 vs. Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
  • Sunday, June 1 vs. Turkey at Red Bull Arena
  • Saturday, June 7 vs. Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.

All three matches will be broadcast on ESPN (Nigeria) or ESPN2 (Azerbaijan, Turkey), WatchESPN and UniMas.

Jose Mourinho says of the US at the World Cup, “I see the American team – obviously not with incredible talent, but they have some good players, some good players playing in Europe and some good players in MLS – that is coming up day by day. So I think they are ready to create problems, like they create problems to Portugal because they beat us in another World Cup before in [2002].”

By the time you read this, the USWNT will have played Sweden in their second group stage game at the Algarve Cup.

Part Three and Four of Roger Bennett’s four-part oral history at ESPN of the US 1994 World Cup team cover the games themselves and what happened to the players after the tournament.

Soccer America talks to Alan Rothenberg, the head of the 1994 World Cup organizing committee and former US Soccer president.

Elsewhere

A hopeful sign from Ukraine: the domestic league season will resume on March 15. The season was scheduled to restart after the two-month winter break on Feb. 28 but was postponed in view of the ongoing political turmoil.

Reuters reports, “Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung was sentenced to six years in jail on Friday for money laundering in a high-profile case that law enforcement officials hailed as an important victory to combat money laundering in the global financial hub.” Yeung is the owner of Championship-side Birmingham FC.

27 Comments

  1. “We know they’re a good opponent and we respect them a lot, but we’re not going in there with the idea that we’re not coming away without a result.” — One too many negatives in there I think, Hack…

  2. That deadspin article!! makes me laugh to think that there are people like this that actually HATE MLS. I mean its one thing to not follow the league but how many other second or third tier leagues get as much crap as MLS?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah I thought the same thing. No other sport in this country gets as much hate directed toward it than soccer does. If I don’t like a sport, I don’t pay attention to it. I don’t go around destroying it, and posting comments on the fans site to troll the people who do. I just don’t get it. I’m not trying to sound like a snob, I have plenty of friends who laugh at me cause I like soccer, but if you don’t like it, just ignore it.

      • In my opinion, this article shows there are a lot of people in this country that feel extremely threatened by the idea that 20 or 30 years down the road MLS will be a top sport in this country…if not the top sport. (interesting side note that the article comes on the heals of mourinho saying he hopes to coach in MLS one day. Just gonna go ahead and guess if a coach with his reputation and pedigree wants to coach here the quality of the league must not be that bad.)

      • I agree. Side note, it would be so amazing for MLS PR-wise if Mourinho came here to coach. I find him to be arrogant, tedious and hypocritical, and I loathe the style that he brings to Chelsea (as well as loathing Chelsea)…BUT, he’s a walking soundbite. This man would be on ESPN every day talking sh*t, complaining about the refs and playing mind games with his opponents – and he’s a guy who has won the champion’s league twice (playing some of the dirtiest, diviest, cheatiest football to get there, by the way) and league titles in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Sign him up, Red Bull, I’d love to hate you more!

    • Amazing, isn’t it? I’m normally a fan of Deadspin, but that article is a troll job of the highest order.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    That ESPN article series on the 94 USMNT was fantastic. I’d love to see a 30 for 30 documentary on that. Really cool stuff.
    .
    I can’t believe this league can’t get its shit together with these officials. What a disgrace. Like I always say with MLS… one step forward, two steps back.

  4. The referee situation is a total farce, and will probably result in hilarious, infuriating and embarrassing calls in equal measure, similar to what the NFL experienced when they had their referee lockout. What’s that you say? MLS refs make embarrassingly bad calls already? Well, it will in all likelihood be worse…can you even imagine that? Jesus.

    • This may be the first shot in the MLS labor Armageddon that will come eventually. Sooner or later.

    • I bet it won’t be as bad as the NFL. Most football refs have to be part-time employees since the NFL, college, and even high school only play for 3 or 4 months out of the year. Soccer refs have to work for most of the year since the seasons are that long.

      • But the scab MLS refs aren’t going to have experience as nearly as high a level relative to the pros as the scab NFL refs did. That, and the problem where one call can decide a game so much more easily in soccer than in football, has me fearing it’s going to be way way worse.

    • to say nothing of PRO/MLS not really negotiating in good faith with the refs’ union. the league sure is working the spin job on how they were “forced” to locked them out though. 2 years of nlrb complaints about and stalled negotiations on the PRO/MLS end and suddenly they feel like the refs owe them a binding agreement not to strike. there are good articles on it in thenation(dot)com by dave zirin and soccerrefereeusa(dot)com by steven davidson.

  5. The Union will finish 4th-7th Soccer America? Way to put yourself out there.

  6. Can’t wait for tomorrow. And next week, especially this being my first year with season tickets.
    .
    Great point about the meet the team event. My good friend is an elementary school music teacher, he said the students have been in Union gear all week and talked him into doing the DOOP song as a class send off this week. Awesome to see younger ages coming up into soccer.

  7. John Ling says:

    ‘Zolo Times reflects on the true meaning of Tuesday’s Meet the Team event. “To get an autograph, have your picture taken with them or shake their hand is something the kids will remember for the rest of their lives. Which is exactly the real value of the event. The Union, through this simple act, are creating life long fans.”’
    .
    Hmmm… where have I heard something like that before? *scratchs head* Oh yeah! https://phillysoccerpage.net/2013/11/21/fans-view-the-futures-so-bright/ 🙂

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