Daily news roundups

Sak on Hack firing and Curtin as interim, MLS, USA, and World Cup news, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

Sakiewicz said the turning point came when the Union failed to hold onto the the lead after coming back against Vancouver on Saturday.

Honestly, up to that point, I hadn’t thought about it. I was 100 percent in John’s corner and we were trying to figure out a way together how we were going to get some three-point games under our belt. Saturday night was a big disappointment. I know it was great entertainment for you guys and TV with three unanswered goals to get a point. But again, I go back to our fans. They don’t deserve ties at home; they deserve victories. They don’t deserve being near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They deserve a team that’s going to be near the top. And ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s why I made the decision…

It’s wins and losses — that’s it. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, a very classy guy and a good coach has to pay for it. That’s the ruthlessness of our business. Our fans deserve wins and our fans deserve the hope of winning a championship. And it’s my job to ensure that hope stays alive.

Sakiewicz said further,

In our offseason, our strategic plan is to win. And we’re an ambitious club. We want to win games. We want to win championships. And not making the playoffs is not acceptable. Not going deep is not acceptable, and John knew that. I think in talking to him along the way, he’s first-class and understands that accountability. In a lot of ways, the players also have to take accountability because I think john counted on a bunch of guys who are not having a great season. As a former player myself, you always have to look yourself in the mirror and say ‘What am I doing to help the team’ or ‘What am I not doing to help the team?’ But at the end of the day, it’s a cruel business. It’s a tough sport. It’s an unforgiving sport. And you’re measured by the results on the pitch.

Sakiewicz also said, “I don’t take that fan support for granted, and in a lot of ways this move was to continue to instill hope in the fan base that we have a shot at winning something. Mediocrity is not acceptable and I think professional sports teams that don’t think that way take their fans for granted.”

Sakiewicz said of Curtin, “He knows our culture. He knows what we’re trying to do. He knows our fanbase. He’s a Philly guy. And he’s got sharp teeth. So I imagine he’s going to put together a plan and this time gives him that opportunity to do that.” He added, “I handed Jim the keys this morning and said, ‘It’s your bus to drive and you let me know how I can help you.'”

Sakiewicz also said of Curtin,

He doesn’t stand for being number two and he has the right mentality, I think to take this group and kind of grab them by their shoulders and say, ‘hey guys, let’s win some games’. You’ve got to do that. And no matter what happens, we’re going to have a coach that is a top, top level coach that can coach in this league, which, by the way, has become one of the best leagues in the world right now. So we’ve got to be serious about winning games. We’ve got the be serious about the person that’s going to lead the club.

Sakiewicz said of Curtin’s chances of having the interim tag removed, “Jim will have an opportunity to prove himself and interview for the job every bit as much as anybody across the desk.”
Sakiewicz said of other possible candidates to take the job full time, “I haven’t even checked my iPhone, but the resumes are flooding in I’m being told. There’s a lot of interest in coaching in MLS [from] overseas – big coaches. You guys will hear some big names.”
Harrisburg City Islanders head coach Bill Becher said of Hackworth’s firing, “It’s tough. John was a guy I always had a good relationship with since we started this thing. He was always very easy to work with. It’s always tough to see somebody lose their job. I had a lot of respect for what he did and I wish him the best. I’m a little sad for that. We always had a line of open communication, even after he became head coach. He always was open to working with us and he let me come down to Florida. It’s tough. It’s disappointing to hear he was let go.”

Reports and reaction to PSP, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly, CBS Philly, Philly Soccer News, The 700 Level, Brotherly Game, Zolo Times, MLSsoccer.comPhiladelphia Business Journal, Penn Live, Soccerly, The Guardian (includes comments from PSP’s Dan Walsh), Soccer America, ProSoccerTalk, SBI, SI, ESPN, Goal.com, US Soccer Players, VU Hoops, TSN,

Dave Zeitlin says that, despite his flaws, Hackworth “left the Union better than he found them.”

At Soccerly, Kevin Kinkead has the most extensive list of possible replacement candidates that I’ve seen. Union Tally has another replacement possibilities post.

Three Union players are in this week’s Castrol Index Top 20 Performers list. At No. 4 is Conor Casey. Joining him at No. 5 is Vincent Nogueira. At No. 15 is Amobi Okugo. In the Full Castrol Index, the top five Union players are Casey (No. 8), Andrew Wenger (No. 29), Leo Fernandes (No. 57), Cristian Maidana (No. 65), and Okugo (No. 86).

The Union move up three spots to No. 15 in the latest power rankings at MLSsoccer.com: “So they’ve finally got that attack figured now. Now about the defense…”

At Brotherly Game, the good, the bad, and the ugly from Saturday’s draw with Vancouver.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road tonight to Pittsburgh Riverhounds (7 pm: NSCAA TV, YouTube). When the teams met on June 1, the game finished as a 1-1 draw.

Union loanees Richie Marquez and Pedro Ribeiro received honorable mentions in the latest USL PRO Team of the Week.

Reading United are on the road tonight to face Long Island Rough Riders with a 7 pm kickoff. Last weekend, Long Island roughed up Ocean City to the tune of three goals to one.

At the Washington Post, more on Beachwood, NJ’s very own Mark Geiger, the only US referee calling games at the 2014 World Cup. His brother is quoted in the article, ““He’s one who feels he’s always right about everything, and he usually is.”

MLS

Montreal host DC tonight in Eastern Conference play (7:30 pm, MLS Live), while Portland hosts Dallas in the West (10 pm, ESPN2). In US Open Cup play, Houston hosts PDL side Laredo Heat, while San Jose host ISL PRO’s Sacramento Republic.

Chivas USA announced on Tuesday that loan from Chivas de Guadalajara of Erick “Cubo” Torres has been extended until the end of the season.

Orlando City have released new renderings of their new downtown stadium, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 season.

The Miami Herald reports, “Less than a month after Miami-Dade County spurned a Major League Soccer stadium, the city of Miami did the same, telling David Beckham’s investment group Tuesday that he cannot build on downtown’s Museum Park and deep-water boat slip.” Meanwhile, cities in less glamorous parts of the country are ready to do somersaults to land an MLS franchise.

NWSL

Boston hosts Washington tonight at 7 pm (NSCAA TV, YouTube). At 7:30 pm, it’s Western New York at Houston (NSCAA TV, YouTube).

US

In Steven Goff’s Washington Post report of the first day of training for the US in Brazil, a reminder that the team will play Belgium in a closed door scrimmage on Thursday.

Michael Bradley says of the conditions in Brazil, “When you talk about playing in the heat, the travel, it doesn’t bother us. And not only does it not bother us, it excites us to see that now the other teams are so worried about it.”

News flash: SI’s Grant Wahl reports that, “statistically speaking,” it is important for the US to get points against Ghana in its first group game.

The AP reports Ghana is confident as they prepare to face the US on June 16. Said head coach James Appiah, “The United States are a very, very good team. It’s not going to be easy. We have to make sure our players are playing their roles well. We hope to give them a very good game…We’ve got different styles — three or four. The players have to decide which one they want to use, but we hope to showcase one of them during the World Cup.”

This just in from The Department of Just Stop It Already, Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley proposes a nickname for the US national team. “There is, in my opinion, one obvious and perfect choice for a United States soccer nickname: the American Dream. It works on every level. There’s no disputing that it’s catchy and memorable.” Let’s see, it’s neither obvious, nor perfect. It also does not work on every level. And while it may be memorable, that is because it is memorably bad.

At Goal.com, Seth Vertelney has some worthwhile advice during the World Cup: Be nice to the soccer newbies.

Another cool interactive post on the evolution of national team World Cup kits. Unfortunately, the post seems to think the US played in the 1954 World Cup.

How doesn’t want a evaluation of the relative value World Cup squads?

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “President Dilma Rousseff appealed to Brazilians to support the World Cup, using a nationally televised address less than two days before the tournament starts to rebuke the “pessimists” who complain the country shouldn’t be hosting the event.”

At NBC, Bill Neely reports on what’s gone wrong with Brazil’s World Cup preparations and notes, “Opinion polls suggest more than half the country’s population wish their homeland had never been awarded the tournament and that six in 10 people believe hosting the cup will be bad for Brazil. ”

From Reuters, “Simmering civil tension and the stench of corruption threatens to sully Brazil’s global soccer party when the World Cup kicks off on Thursday against a backdrop of protests, unrest and alleged political graft.”

FIFA has issued a three-page PDF available titled, “FAQ: Setting the record straight” that “seeks to clarify some of these misconceptions to promote a greater understanding among the public about Brazil 2014.”

Goal.com reports, “FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce says there is nothing that football’s world governing body could have done to prevent the travel chaos which has hampered the build-up to the World Cup in Brazil.” Boyce says in the report,

The people at FIFA have worked so hard along with the local organizing committee of Brazil and, quite honestly, I don’t think FIFA should be blamed in any way because Brazil was fully aware of all its commitments. Brazil applied to host the World Cup, as South Africa did and as Russia did. The federations know before they apply for the World Cup exactly what is expected of them. There have been a lot of internal problems within Brazil, and there have been a lot of internal problems within the Brazilian government. But no, FIFA could do absolutely no more.

Boyce added, “I am a great believer in the old saying ‘It will be alright on the night’.”

The pitch at Amazonia Arena in Manaus is looking terrible.

The AP reports, “In a stinging rebuke for Sepp Blatter, European football leaders told the veteran FIFA president on Tuesday that he should leave the scandal-hit governing body next year.”
UEFA executive committee member Michael van Praag said, “People link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boys’ networks,” and related that he told Blatter, “FIFA has an executive president and that means you are responsible. People tend not to take you very seriously anymore.”

Meanwhile, after first telling CONCACAF delegates they “an example for other confederations…Some of them think they are better. They are no better,” Blatter said, “I am at your disposal. My mission, our mission together is not yet finished. I’ll be honest with you it still burns, it still burns stronger than ever to go forwards.” Maybe Blatter should get that burning sensation checked out. I understand penicillin is quite the wonder drug for that kind of thing.

At the Guardian, Marina Hyde writes of Blatter, “Why have people assumed that Sepp Blatter is talking about Qatar when he accuses the British media of “racism” toward unnamed parties? I have another theory, given the persecuted tenor of the rest of the FIFA president’s comments: that he has finally gone the whole hog and perceives Fifa itself to be a race. For a man who has for so long characterized himself as noble yet besieged, you have to think FIFA-ism was always the next logical step.

The Inquirer’s Mike Jensen talks to Pele, courtesy of Santander Bank.

27 Comments

  1. Jimmy Trojan says:

    Let’s fire Brian Carroll too!!

  2. so… Sak was 100% in favor of Hack until Zac MacMath (sorry for the rhymes) made a clumsy slide and became human again for defending PK’s?

    That’s either a blatant lie (I hope) or a ridiculously stupid motivation for making this kind of change.

    • As someone noted in the comments yesterday, if Sak starts a sentence with the word ‘Honestly’, you can rest assured it’s a lie.

    • That was my exact initial reaction. I am a Philly fan living in Oregon, so I’m not to familiar with the daily business of Sakiewix but that seems like horrid management.

    • That statement can’t possibly be true, can it? I’d like to think a business executive would put more thought into a decision like this one, and not declare that it was a spontaneous reaction to a poor play from one match. I don’t doubt the decision, but please tell me that a bit more consideration goes into these things.

      • hobosocks says:

        The crazy thing is that it’s an indication of Sak’s poor GM skills either way.
        .
        If it’s true, who makes that kind of decision so quickly and who doesn’t consider firing a losing coach at at all?
        .
        And if it isn’t true, which it isn’t, why feel the need to be dishonest about it?

      • The Chopper says:

        I realize that statement makes the firing seem incredibly arbitrary, but think about it in context. How many times has this team under John Hackworth conceded a goal after 80 minutes that either turned 3 points into 1 or 1 point into none?

        Watching the game Saturday and seeing it happen again, may have just been the final straw. Driving home that realization that the results just won’t come under this coach.

      • james lockerbie says:

        +1

      • that’s a worthy criticism of Hack in general, but on a PK? That wouldn’t be my moment of choice to swing from “100%’ to 0%

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I’m gonna go ahead and assume that he meant the fact that they didn’t get the full 3 points was the cause… and not one individual play. Please… please let me be right.

    • Exactly. Being down 2-0 wasn’t getting him fired. Coming back in monumental, crowd-swinging fashion, then having a poor decision by a player lose the lead… That thar is fireable.
      .
      Right after that line, we can resume never putting stock into anything Sak says.

  3. I’d love to get a look at these resumes that Sak claims are streaming in. Somehow I doubt the names are as prestigious as he alleges

    • What’s more… what if they are and he doesn’t choose one because the interm displays the poise and leadership to lead this team to middle of the table.

    • They probably still have Nowaks resume on their servers from when he applied for the Hearts job.

  4. I re-posted this because I think it has relevance to the main article. I appologize to those who’ve read it already.
    Does anyone know if Curtin was promoted to assistant to work directly with the defensive formation and individual defenders? If he had that input and was a major part in the Wheeler experiment then his title should remain interim. It would be interesting to know if Curtin was perhaps over-ruled by Hackworth with regards to defensive philosophy. I guess we will see now. It’ll also be interesting to see how the starting 11 looks. My problem with Hackworth and staff was those players that were brought in with a history of success with other organizations who struggled on the Union under Hackworth and staff. I’m referring in particular to White and Berry. Also all of those young players who could never seem to grow, maintain, or improve under Hackworth and staff. The failures of the Farfans, McInerney,Torres,Fernandez etc who all showed skill and talent but fell off for some reason under Hackworth and staff. Okugo and Gaddis are the exceptions rather than the rule. Hackworth was a nice guy. He was by no means suited to be a professional manager. Now we will see for the time being what Curtin and staff has to offer. I do however, feel that top priority should be someone from outside the Union organization. I honestly feel that this franchise needs to be reorganized top to bottom. I mentioned before that I would like to see new primary ownership brought in like comcast which could improve the organizations financial clout. It would also be great if they could partner with an organization from a top league like EPL,La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundes Liga similar to NYCFC and Manchester City. It would give the Union more options for the parent team as well as their academy system. A CEO with vision could get things like this done. I said before that Philadelphia is the 4th top media and sports market in the country and 2nd on the east cost. It should not be run like a 2nd rate outpost. Now we’ll see just how seriously committed this organization is.

  5. Wow. This makes me think Sak is even more inept at ownership. So this was a snap decision??!! He wasn’t even thinking about it until we didn’t complete an unlikely comeback win??!! WTF. This makes no sense. I hope he’s BSing us, because if he’s serious, that is absolutely ridiculous. I do not want a hothead as our owner. I want someone that thinks rationally about a long-term plan and doesn’t make knee-jerk reactions. Starting to see why he tanked the MetroStars.

  6. Union Fans says:

    Time for Sak to step aside from any role with the on-field or staffing decisions of the team. PLEASE hire a GM/TD, set a budget, and then get out of the way and focus on things like sponsorships, practice fields, media contracts, and other ownership/president responsibilities. YOU brought us Nowak. And Hackworth. And the stingy budgets from 2010-13. And the lack of focus on practice fields, parking lots, etc. Do your job and stop thinking that you are a sports leader.

  7. Sak reminds me of Joe Banner with that feeling of, “can’t someone in this organization see that this is the last person who should be in front of a microphone?” Unfortunately, and unlike the Eagles at the time, he is actually the designated public face of the franchise after the head coach.

  8. kingkowboys says:

    Sak is a arrogant prick. I hope he knows that everyone knows. Hack’s sacking was a knee jerk reaction!? Not someone I want leading my franchise. I’m looking at you Sugarman and other owners. You are all culpable for making this a$$hole have this kind of power.
    .
    I bet the Sak is a major deterrent for anyone who is more than qualified for this position. No one from any decent league in Europe or S. America is going to come here to work with this friggin’ guy. Philadelphia is a major market, yes we want to win, but a coaching carousel will make us like another major market team…Chivas USA.
    .
    If during the WC break a major European coach who is out of season is brought in I may accept this move. Otherwise Hack should have been given the remainder of the year. Any coach in North America who is brought in will have been out of desperation for a signing. If Curtain sees out the year, the firing was a waste (no offense Jim).

  9. Can we all stop being appalled at Sak’s comments? Do you really think Vancover’s final goal took him from “I never doubted Hackworth for a second” to “This is completely unacceptable”? Of course not. Every team’s front office is going to support their coach 100% until they fire him, at which time their tone will instantly change. That’s how this works. Do you want him to come out with a daily confidence meter? Do you want him to say “I woke up in a bad mood today. How about we hold a press conference and start issuing ultimatums?” If that’s what you want, good luck finding a coach who wants to work for you. No matter what goes on behind closed doors, you publicly support your guy until you reach the point where you tell him he’s gone. That’s called professionalism. You don’t throw someone under the bus while he’s still on it. That’s why Andy Reid spent press conference after press conference taking the blame on himself rather than publicly embarassing his players. That’s why Charlie Manuel would close the clubhouse doors before chewing out his team. You do this in front of cameras and people stop fighting for you. You do it behind the scenes and then come out smiling in front of the media, and your guys will back you up.
    .
    If you have a problem with that, you’re most likely going to have a problem with whatever they do. If you believe what he said, you’ll call him an idiot for making a snap decision. If you don’t believe it, you complain about him being a liar. He’d rather have you make that choice than go to the 3rd option. If he came out and said that his confidence had been waning over the past few weeks, people wouldn’t say “Gee, thanks for being honest about your feelings, Nick; I’m going to sleep easier at night having a better understanding of how you run your staff”. They would start asking why it didn’t happen sooner. They would bring out the whole schedule of games and try to get him to comment on his feelings after each one. They would ask why it didn’t happen after the Galaxy game (because you don’t fire a guy while you’re on a road trip and you’re two weeks away from a mini-offseason). They would ask why it didn’t happen after the New England loss (because they were on short rest after upsetting the reigning MLS champions in their own house). They would ask why it didn’t happen after DC (sure, let’s do this before facing KC and NE in the next 6 days). This would have been dragged on even longer, and that’s the last thing that needs to happen. The deed is done. Time to move on as fast as possible.
    .
    IF you’re not happy with his comments, so be it. Please take the time to bitch about it now, because there’s a lot that needs to be done and only so much time to do it in. Go ahead and get it out now. The rest of us will be watching the World Cup instead of caring about what someone said on a Tuesday night radio show.

  10. The Right Direction says:

    Great post Joe C. Spot on!

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