Daily news roundups

Injury update, problems with Fred signing, more quotes from Hack’s presser, more news

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

In Wednesday’s press conference, John Hackworth said that Conor Casey returned to training this week after recovering from a calf injury and could be available on Saturday against New England. The news on Sheanon Williams is, however, less hopeful. Williams still has not been able to return to training after leaving the final game of the preseason against Toronto on Feb. 26 early with what turned out to be a quad injury. Hackworth said of Williams, “We’re optimistic that he’ll be back sooner than later.”

Other topics from the press conference included:

  • Hackworth said the team needs “a better mentality” when it comes to finishing out a game and that this is something being stressed daily in practice.
  • Hackworth described Portland’s late equalizer as “a crazy play,” adding, “There’s a lot going on in that. You watch it back as many times as I have and there are so many little things that we can correct.”
  • Hackworth praised the play of Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. “We try very hard in the offseason to the right pieces and bring in those kind of players, and both Vincent and Chaco did a good job in Portland and we hope we can just build on that. They’re going to be really important to the way we play, both positionally and also stylistically.”
  • Hackwoth said that Maidana and Nogueira got “a great taste” of what MLS is like in their debut, adding, “Yet, there’s going to be a lot of other hurdles as we go through the year — teams are gonna play differently, they’re gonna be presented with different kinds of opposition — and they’re gonna have to learn a lot of those things as we go.”
  • Hackworth said what pleased him most about the team’s performance in Portland was that, after six weeks of preseason training aimed at making sure everyone was “on the same page” about playing “a certain way,” the Union “against a good opponent — in a game that was real, in an environment that was pretty amazing —  you saw our performance come out and you saw that it looked like we were a team.” He added, “It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good starting point and we have to build off it.”
  • Hackworth said Jack McInerney’s tally “was a big goal,” and a confidence builder. “There’s no question that he needed to start that way…We want to make sure that we are a team that can attack in a variety of ways, but Jack getting on the board and continuing to be dangerous in front of goal is gonna be important for this team.”
  • Hackworth said New England’s season opening 4-0 loss in Houston was “an “odd result,” adding, “I don’t think that’s reflective of the New England team we know.” He expects New England to be “very motivated” to put the loss behind them this weekend.
  • Hackworth said the front five of New England is a challenge because “they have a ton of mobility. You look at some of their attacking players and they’re good, they pop up all over.” He added, “You have to deal with that, you have to be a team that understands defensively how to play by zonal principles more than tracking guys. You can’t get caught ball watching.”
  • Hackworth said of Saturday’s game, “I think you’re gonna see two teams that are very attack oriented going at it.”
  • Hackworth said of the signings of players like Austin Berry and Maurice Edu, “We needed to add a little bit more of the physical dimension, that’s important in this league. But when we were looking for that speed, the strength, the height, we also wanted players who we felt played the game the way that we wanted to try to implement here.”
  • Hackworth said of Saturday’s home opener, “You open at Portland and that’s a mighty big challenge. But you get to come back home and now, where last week one of things that we talked about was that there’s no pressure on us — we can go out and play — now we come home and in front of our own fans we have to kind of reverse it a little bit and make sure that we use all that energy, we use all the excitement and the build up that’s happening here in Philly.”
  • Hackworth said he doesn’t need to specially prepare the new players to playing for the first time in front of the home crowd at PPL Park. “The new players that are coming in are players that have played in a variety arenas and countries, so my thought is that their experience at this point in their careers is gonna allow them to understand how to go out and play a home opener in front of a very passionate fan base.”
  • Laughing in response to a question about reports the Union are considering adding a mascot, Hackworth said, “I have no idea about this whole mascot [thing]. Just so everybody’s clear, I have not talked about it, I have no idea what it is, or who it is, or how its gonna look, or anything.

Hackworth also said that the team is still working to sign 2010 veteran Fred. “We’ve been going back and forth between the league and his representatives. He’s had different offers. I know that there was a report that he was going to go to Minnesota the other day. They made him a strong offer. I can tell you that I don’t think that’s done yet, so we’re still hopeful that we’ll be able to get something worked out there.”

The issue is the league’s allocation rules. Hackworth said, “I’ve talked to the league a lot on this. Long story short, he fits into the category now as a player returning to our league and nobody has his rights but there’s a mechanism, per our current CBA, where players are reallocated to the league. So that’s a little bit complicated…Nobody has his rights. But there is a process we’re going to have to go through to acquire his rights.”

At the Union website, Kerith Gabriel talks to Andre Blake about his recent call-up to the Jamaican national team. “It was a great feeling,” the rookie goalkeeper said. “Every soccer player at some point wants the chance to represent their country. To me to get that chance it was an honor to not only get that experience, but to play with some of the bigger guys on the roster, guys whom I look up to and admire, what else could I ask for?”

John Hackworth said of Blake’s callup, “It’s fantastic. Young players need games and when you get games with your National Team it makes it easier for us to manage. Certainly, he feels like he had a great experience and learned a lot from the two games. It will help him and it will help us.”

Brotherly Game has five questions for fellow SB Nation blog The Bent Musket head of Saturday’s home opener against New England. The Bent Musket has five changes for the Revolution ahead of the game.

At The 700 Level, Steve Moor has three reasons to be encouraged from Saturday’s draw in Portland.

Brotherly Game looks at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Portland game.

The Union come in at No. 8 in SBI’s power rankings.

Local

Philadelphia’s Ed Tepper, who was inspired to co-found the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1978 after seeing the Philadelphia Atoms play the Red Army team at the Spectrum in 1974 and later owned the Philadelphia KiXX, has been named to the 2014 Class of the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame.

Jacob Klinger recently wrote a story for the Reading Eagle about the long history of questionable business dealings of Pennsylvania Roar owner Andrew Haines. Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall. Thankfully, Klinger has posted excerpts of the article at No Short Corners.

The Philadelphia branch of Street Soccer USA is looking for volunteer soccer mentors.

MLS

MLS teams finished the home legs of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play undefeated with Kansas City defeating Cruz Azul 1-0 and LA defeating Tijuana 1-0 on Wednesday night. On Tuesday, San Jose drew 1-1 with Toluca.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle reports that, according to a source, “Major League Soccer and the league’s referees were back to the bargaining table on Wednesday, accompanied by a federal mediator.”

Player moves:

Mike Petke says of the Supporters Shield celebration the Red Bulls will have before their home opener against Colorado on Saturday, “To be quite honest with you, I think we really need to move on. I’m very happy that it happened, I’m very happy that they’re having a celebration, but it’s in the past. We can’t rest on that. I know it’s great for the fans, the supporters, the organization, but I want my players focused on Colorado and that’s it.”

Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen’s recent remarks describing the field at Seattle’s Century Link stadium as “a bad artificial field” begged a response and Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has rather tepidly obliged.

I disagree with the point of making it seem like Seattle’s is worse than the others. I think the others are equally as good or as bad – whichever way you want to look at it…I think we all prefer to play on natural grass. But playing on bad natural grass – playing at (the University of Washington) last night where the field was coming up all over the place – is dangerous as well in terms of people turning an ankle, stepping in a hole. So there are dangers involved in that field. A good field is a good field. A good grass field is the ideal. A good turf field is not more dangerous than a bad grass field, necessarily.

Take that, Toronto!

The Huffington Post reports on the league’s efforts to better protect gay players.

At The Independent, Simon Hart looks at how the two career rejuvenating seasons former Tottenham player Simon Dawkins spent with San Jose as an example that bucks the notion that the league is a retirement home.

At ESPN, James Martin talks to former Rancid singer Lars Frederiksen, who recently penned a “pavement-pounding anthem” for San Jose, about his love for the Earthquakes and the connection in his life between soccer and punk rock.

MLS and USA Today Sports Images are partnering with Brand Affinity Technologies to launch mls.fanphotos.com, the league’s new official online photo store. A press release says, “The partnership will grant Brand Affinity the rights to produce products across 11 categories. Products will include reprints, greeting cards, mugs, ornaments, magnets, coasters and other compelling photo-enhanced items.”

Former Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha has been named the new head coach of Gornik Zabrze in Poland.

US

While I can’t say I remember Clint Dempsey looking anything but kind of slow and disinterested in the loss to Ukraine, Jurgen Klinsmann says he has turned the corner and is on track to be in good form for the World Cup.

Clint is on the right path. Clint is looking a lot sharper, a lot better than at the end of last year. He struggled with injuries, the whole transition back from Europe into MLS, a different type of a game, turf field in Seattle, all those things you can see now are left behind…

He prepared very professionally these two [months on loan] at Fulham. It didn’t work out on the field the way everybody hoped, because the team is at a different stage right now than it was maybe two, three years ago when he was at Fulham. But for him personally it was very, very important these two months at Fulham, getting back into a rhythm, getting back into a shape. He looks a lot, lot better than at the end of the last year. So we are very positive on Clint’s path, and it makes us feel a lot better towards the World Cup.

Here’s the postgame quotesheet following the USWNT’s 3-0 win over North Korea to capture seventh place at the Algarve Cup.

USWNT coach Tom Sermanni said, “It was a good way to finish what has been a strange tournament.” The victory was the only US win of the tournament after going 0-2-1 in group play. The teams that defeated the US — Sweden and Denmark — both lost their final games of the tournament.

Carli Lloyd said after Wednesday’s win,

It was good to end the tournament with a win. Obviously it’s been a difficult situation for all of us. I think teams are getting a little more sophisticated in how to break us down, in how to contain us, and we’ve got to find more sophisticated ways to break them down. They are not going to give us time and space in midfield or up top, so we’ve got to find other ways, and I think that’s what will elevate our game. You live and learn. We’ll learn from this whole experience here and move forward and we’ve still got plenty of time.

A campaign is underway to secure an invitation for the US Power Wheelchair Soccer Team to visit the White House when the USMNT does in April ahead of the World Cup. The Huffington Post reports the US Power Wheelchair team is the only US soccer team to successfully defend a world championship after winning the Power Wheelchair World Cup in 2007 and 2011 and has never been invited to the White House. The article notes, “Power Soccer is the fastest growing sport for power wheelchair users

Elsewhere

Check out this week’s Footy on the Telly for listings of today’s Europa League games.

Barcelona have been “Simpsonized.”

Sticking with the illustration theme, Alex Bennett has captured 160 years of soccer history into a single illustration called “Football Mishmash” that features “500 famous and infamous” incidents with 2,000 individually drawn characters. Pretty cool.

Proving once again that he really is special, Jose Mourinho says, “Lots of times at Real Madrid, the players would be queuing in front of the mirror before the game while the referee waited for them in the tunnel.” Good ol’ Jose.

10 Comments

  1. The Fred situation is kinda disappointing, both for him and the team. If we don’t end up with him, that’s another trialist that could have been signed.

    • It’s not like those trialists aren’t still bouncing around waiting to be signed.
      I suspect if Fred doesn’t work out another veteran presence will be found.

    • I feel like I read that it was between Fred and Keon, but I forget where. Anyone know if that was the case? If so, is Keon out when/if the Fred thing is resolved?

  2. ebradlee10 says:

    Are all non-Chelsea supporters sick of Mourinho’s yapping maw?

  3. So what is the process for non-US MLS returners who aren’t tied to a team? An allocation lottery? If so, who else would want Fred enough to take part in the lottery?

  4. Former Season Ticket Holder says:

    This Fred thing makes me think if LA or Seattle wanted him he would be there in a heart beat no questions asked. MLS could use some better transparency.

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