Daily news roundups

Notes from Curtin presser, new WC ratings records, FIFA bigwigs want US 2026 WC bid, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Unsurprisingly, the prime topic in Wednesday’s weekly Union press conference was, following comments made by interim head coach Jim Curtin after Tuesday’s training session, the club’s efforts to bring Carlos Valdes back from his loan to San Lorenzo. Here are some key quotes from Curtin’s press conference, a transcript of which you can read here at PSP:

  • Asked if Valdes is still under contract with the Union, Curtin responded, “Yes.”
  • It seems San Lorenzo has an option to buy Valdes. Curtin elaborated, “Yeah, I mean, I guess at its simplest, if MLS gets an offer — call it any club, you don’t have to call it San Lorenzo — if MLS gets an offer for $3 million to buy Carlos Valdes, then we’re probably out of the running, that’s the reality of the situation. But, a World Cup year, it makes things a little crazy, so it’s a little more complicated than that. But that would be the simple answer to that.”
  • The club is prepared to sign Valdes to a Designated Player contract. Curtin said, “Yeah. I mean, he’s a player that we value in that realm of money…just know that we would like to make him one of the top paid center backs in the league. The outlier right now is obviously the Omar Gonzalez contract, which is a bigger one, but, in that next tier of guys, we see him as one of those.”
  • Curtin said, “He likes the idea of coming back to Philadelphia…He likes Philadelphia — that’s a fact too — he’s comfortable here.”
  • Aside from whatever contract issues might exist such as an option to buy, Curtin underscored where Valdes is in his career, along with the fact that he’s playing on one of the top teams in the World Cup, are big factors. “So, he knows at his age — I think he’s the perfect age for a center back, I think it’s a prime age for a center back — his next contract is probably one he thinks is his highest value, so he’s going to try to cash in on the success he’s had. We’ve been aggressive and we want to be part of the discussions. It’s not a hundred percent that he’s going to come to us, but we’re in there and we’re interested in Carlos, for sure.”
  • Curtin explained, “Carlos knows where we stand with him. We’ve made an offer to him. He’s a guy that, like I said, he wants to be here. There’s still — there’s agents, there’s third parties, there’s a lot of different things that come up with these kind of…There’s also the fact that Colombia are still alive, and he could play in a big game and in the World Cup and then, you know, then you’re talking about even more clubs coming in.

For more on Valdes, see these articles from Philadelphia Union, MLSsoccer.com, Delco Times, Union Tally, and CSN Philly.

Other notes from the press conference include:

  • On Austin Berry, Curtin said, “Austin is in good form and good health right now. He’s been playing well in training, so that’s a very big positive to have a center back that is actually a center back healthy.
  • On Vincent Nogueira: “[I]t’s his first time ever having a groin injury, so it’s new to him. His frame of reference is kind of a zero, so I think he’s overcompensating a little bit for the groin and he has some tightness in his quad, but I don’t think it’s anything that is too serious…Is he a starter, is he a sub? I’m not positive on that yet, but we’ll assess that tomorrow and go from there. That’s a good player to bring in for 25 minutes at the end of a game, that is for sure. That’s exciting.”
  • On where Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will play, “Ideally you have two center backs that have played center back their whole career…I know it sounds cliché, but we’re going game-by-game. This game against Dallas will be a challenge. They’re a top transition team in our league, they have some speed out wide and they can get at you. So, I’ll sit down with the staff and we’ll talk about the best way to get through Dallas.
  • On the pressure of playing at home: “I think a little bit of it is, and the fans back us a hundred percent, but they feel pressure to play well in front of the fans, there’s a major feeling of pressure, which can get compounded by, you know, we had a couple of bad results here, this year. I won’t hide behind that, we’ve had some bad games at home this year, and I think that them putting a little unneeded pressure on themselves, wanting to impress the fans and play this beautiful, attacking style of soccer, we’ve kind of gotten away from what really wins in MLS, which is, sometimes even at home, grinding out a 1-0 win, because that’s what the fans really want at the end of the day, anyway. They don’t care if we win 5-4, or 2-0, or 1-0, they want wins.

Okugo said of the decision to switch his and Maurice Edu’s positions on the field, “[Curtin] just felt like that was needed for the win. We proved his case and we proved his decision right. So who knows moving forward?…Most importantly, we’re just focused on trying to get the win — whether he’s playing center back or I’m playing center back. We’re just trying to sacrifice for the team.

Edu said, “Being able to play multiple positions, it can never be a bad thing. I think at the end of the day, Amobi’s similar to me. He just has a passion for this game. He has a passion and a will to win.”

Curtin has shortened the Union practices. Okugo says, “For the most part, he has it short and sharp and get to the point and get rested.”

Look for our preview of Friday’s game in Dallas later this morning. In the meanwhile, here are previews from Philadelphia Union and Brotherly Game.

At SI, video of Edu, along with MLS Director of Player Relations Eddie Pope, discussing how the success of the USMNT will affect the popularity of MLS.

Kevin Kinkead was on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Jon & Sean show talking soccer.

Local

Reading United was on the road to Baltimore Bohemians on Wednesday evening, winning 4-2. Brett Campbell scored the third Reading goal and had the assist on the other three.

Here’s what local teams will be doing over Fourth of July weekend. On Saturday, Harrisburg hosts Charleston Battery at 6 pm, and Ocean City host NJ-LUSO Parma at 7 pm, while Reading host Northern Virginia Royals, also at 7 pm.

MLS

In Wednesday’s midweek games, Chicago came from behind to draw 1-1 with ten-men Toronto, and San Jose lost 1-0 at home to Chivas USA.

Kaka said of his decision to come to MLS,

In the end, I decided to come to America because of this serious project that I think is very good, and because of this vision I have about the American league. It will grow a lot in the next years. My expectation is that soccer is going to be the first sport in America…

I hope [MLS] can arrive as one of the top five leagues in the world. I want to have this target. For other players, I think I can show them that the American league is a nice place to play. You can enjoy your football.

In Europe, the players speak a lot to come to play in America. So I think European players start to think of playing in America, not at the end of their career…A lot of players can arrive in the next years, at a high level, to play in MLS.

He added, “MLS is making big steps, big progress. I’m not here to retire, I’m here to win…Yes, they are paying me good. I have to say this. But I had another opportunity to earn more than they are paying me here. This decision is not about money. I always think about the long-term project.”

Montreal announced on Wednesday they has agreed to terms with Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti as a Designated Player. Piatti will join Montreal from San Lorenzo after the Copa Libertadores “provided that the club obtains a special exemption from FIFA to return the player’s registration to MLS outside of the transfer window.”

DC United have parted ways with Spanish defender Cristian Fernandez.

NWSL

In Wednesday’s midweek games, Washington and Boston played to a 3-3 draw, and Seattle continued its season-long undefeated run (12-0-3) with a 2-1 road win against Western New York. The scheduled Sky Blue-Houston match was postponed due to inclement weather.

US

Reuters reports, “More people in the United States tuned in to the US-Belgium World Cup soccer match on Tuesday than they did for the World Series of baseball.” The game was the second-highest rated soccer game in ESPN’s history, with “about 16.5 million viewers,” while the 1.1 million who followed the game on WatchESPN is a new record. Some 5.1 million watched Univision’s Spanish-language broadcast for a combined ESPN-Univision audience of 21.6 million. The Reuters report notes, “The number of people watching the US and Belgium was likely much higher, given that scores of thousands jammed bars, restaurants and sports stadiums to view the contest. Nielsen, which provides TV ratings, measures only US households.” In case you’re wondering, 19 million watched the final game of last years World Series, compared to more than 22 million for the USA-Belgium game. 18 million watched the deciding game of the NBA final this year, with the average number of viewers over the five-game series coming to 15.5 million.

A press release from ESPN says, “ESPN’s telecast of Tuesday’s USA vs. Belgium FIFA World Cup match – a 2-1 U.S. loss in extra time – averaged a network record 9.6 overnight rating, making it the highest overnight rating for a World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2, according to Nielsen. ESPN’s television coverage peaked from 5:45 – 6 p.m. ET with a 14.1 rating while WatchESPN peaked at 1,500,000 concurrent viewers.”

Information released by FIFA, which covers data from before the USA’s Round of 16 game against Belgium, shows that US users makeup 20 percent of FIFA’s digital products, the largest national audience in the world.

  • Some 30 million users from the US, or about 23 percent of the global audience, visited FIFA’s website between June 1 and 26
  • US users were responsible for almost a quarter of the 25 million downloads the FIFA World Cup App, making the app more popular in the US than anywhere else in the world
  • 38 million Americans visited FIFA’s Facebook page, about 10 percent of FIFA’s global Facebook audience
  • Users in the US cumulatively spent 847 years and 143 days on FIFA’s digital content, more than the nearest rivals — Brazil, Germany, England and France — put together
  • Visitors from the US to FIFA digital properties have grown 207 percent since 2010, compared to an overall growth worldwide of 174 percent

Online viewership of the World Cup in the US is crushing previous records set during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

All of this interest in the US has been noticed by FIFA bigwigs like secretary general Jerome Valcke, who called the ratings numbers “staggering” and “unprecedented,” and FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who said, “The level of interest in the USA is very high. This World Cup is really getting under people’s skin — the quality of the football is incredible.” Valcke said, “I think after 2022, they have an interest in hosting the 2026 World Cup.”

Business Insider says it is the Premier League, not MLS, that is benefiting most from soccer’s rise in the US.

Jurgen Klinsmann, who said he was “Totally overwhelmed by the support of our fans at every game in Brazil,” advises fans who want to help grow the game, “Keep supporting us at every game. Keep watching us at upcoming competitions and supporting your local MLS team.”

Klinsmann said of the injury to Jozy Altidore, “Injuries happen to other teams as well. It’s not at all an excuse, but definitely it had an impact.” No word on what Klinsmann’s excuse was for not having a viable backup for Altidore on the roster.

Landon Donovan said on Wednesday after the US loss to Belgium, “I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday. I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”

Asked if he will be playing for the US in 2018, Tim Howard admitted he wasn’t sure. “I was watching some of the videos and I wanna be in the bar throwing beer around when Jozy [Altidore] scores.”

If you want to have some fun, go to Twitter and search the hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave. This has to be the best one:

The postgame quote sheet with comments from Klinsmann and Sunil Gulati came out after yesterday’s roundup, and you can find it here. Also, a final World Cup press conference quote sheet from Klinsmann, and another with Howard.

ESPN on how the US can improve.

ASN and ESPN rank the players on the the US World Cup roster, from first to 23rd.

This just in from The Department of Stop It, You’re Embarrassing Yourself, Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep and SI’s Liviu Bird have projected US lineups for the 2018 World Cup. How about we qualify before engaging in such nonsense. ESPN has a much more reasonable, “Who stays, who goes” approach that starts with the context of age.

At Soccer America, Paul Kennedy writes, “The USA will win the World Cup in our lifetime.”

This just in from the Philadelphia Bureau of the Office of Radio Broadcasters at the Department of Trolling, Al Morganti of the WIP Morning Show on the US at the World Cup:

Bottom line, and I enjoyed the hell out of it, U.S. soccer is a disgrace. It’s a complete disgrace. No, it is a worldwide—the United States soccer is an absolute disgrace. Most of the disgrace comes because they’re happy with what happened. They got hammered over there and it took an unbelievable effort by a goaltender to just get ‘em through and then everybody was happy and holding them up, like what a great effort. This is a big country with great athletes. This a disgrace that they’re happy with the outcome of the World Cup. It shows you how irrelevant the sport is, and fact of the matter is, you had to rely on Germans to get through even a little bit. If it wasn’t for the damn German kid that came in, you call him whatever you want—we have millions of people playing this sport. It’s never going to develop. It is an absolute national disgrace that they’re happy with that effort.

Elsewhere

The AP reports FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, “has said he’s ‘amazed’ by the levels of drunkenness in Brazil’s World Cup stadiums, reviving a debate over whether alcohol sales should have been allowed at matches in the first place.” The report notes, “Brazil banned alcohol sales at soccer matches in 2003 in a bid to curb fan violence. But Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor and the tournament’s organizer, FIFA, insisted Brazil lift the ban in order to host the month-long event…Valcke stated in 2012 that in-stadium beer sales were a key part of World Cup tradition and that lifting Brazil’s ban was non-negotiable.”

14 Comments

  1. I wonder if Tim Howard could save Jurgen Klinsmann from that shade thrown by Landon Donovan…

  2. Morganti’s rant just proves how little he understands the nature of soccer in this country and worldwide. It’s extremely common for teams to have duel nationals and to me, having immigrants and duel nationals on the team makes it more American, not less.

    If you want to gripe about the U.S.’s poor record of 1-2-1 and say we actually took a step back compared to 2010, I say lets look at the truth: Every team the U.S. faced in this world cup had a better roster from top to bottom including Ghana. There were no 2010 Algerias or Slovakias in our group this year. 10 years ago the U.S. would have gotten a grand total of 0 pts in this group and we’d have been lucky to score a goal at all. We beat Ghana straight up and were one mental lapse away from beating Portugal, and only lost 1-0 to probably one of (if not the) best team at the tournament. On top of it all, they did this while having to travel over 8,000 miles and play in the hottest and muggiest weather Brazil has to offer for all 4 games. You can debate all you want that Eddie Johnson should have been brought instead of Wondo or Johannson, but it can only be a debate because there’s no guaranteeing that Johnson would have done any better.

    These are not excuses at all, these are merely all of the pieces of evidence that must be considered before judging the entirety of the team’s performance. And we need to be honest and say that Belgium and Germany showed us how far we still have to go in developing talent in this nation if we want to seriously compete for a world cup because their benches are more talented than half of our starters right now. There’s zero shame, to me, in admitting that we got outplayed by vastly better teams.

    • He has a point though that it is ridiculous that we have millions of kids play soccer already for decades but our players are so much worse in ball control and skills than those of very small countries like Holland, Belgium & Costa Rica. Now we have these Development Academies that will not make things any better. I say that since my kid, who does not play DA, outplays many DA kids during the College ID camps. If we want to create players like the Dutch, Belgians & Costa Ricans then we need to revamp our whole development system and that starts with revamping the DA’s (who have mostly UK coaches – Lol; the English players’ ball control during this tournament was about as bad as the US players’!)!

      • I think the DAs are a great first step in what will eventually become a series of steps forward towards identifying and developing talent in the U.S. To say that the DAs won’t do any good is short sighted I think, and the coaches being british is irrelevant if they’re good coaches. Keep in mind that the academy system is still very much a work in progress but is already showing some dividends (Yedlin is a fantastic example for Seattle, and LA Galaxy’s academy is stacked with talent). Who knows if those players even get identified without the academy system in place in those areas. I think one of the biggest problems with the academies is the limitations placed on the areas they can scout. MLS rules limit their recruiting and scouting to 75 mile radius around the team’s home stadium. That still leaves a massive majority of the nation outside the recruiting grounds of any MLS academy. I think the biggest reason for that though is money. It would create a huge unfair advantage in MLS if teams with significantly wealthier ownership groups and larger revenue streams could scout where ever they wanted to on a first come, first served basis like the rest of the world. Sure there’s always the argument that even poor teams can identify players, sign them, then sell them overseas for money and repeat but that’s not a sustainable model for MLS right now. Maybe 10-15 years from now MLS will be there, but it just isn’t yet. We also need to keep in mind that Klinsman wants to see the development of the system that identifies and develops players, but he’s only been in charge for 3 years. I think it just needs more time to get up and running and for the changes planned to take affect.

      • Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan and many others all came thru the system before DA’s were in place. If DA’s were working a lot more players would now be stars and the US would have progressed further!!

  3. Curtin’s press conferences, post game quotes, and other communication all seem much more straightforward, direct, and authentic. I’m not suggesting we make him the full time head coaching hire, but it’s nice to no longer have an allergic reaction to Union press conference quotes.

  4. jwlockerbie says:

    Someone should tell Fifa to blow off, about 2026! Lets get it done in 2022 stop the Qatar tragedy before its too late

  5. I think the other issue is culture. The USA is geared to NFL and MLB. Soccer is just not taken as a serious major sport. Then the media knuckle heads make statements like that and people buy into it.Also most other countries don’t have 4 major sports to compete with.

    • Most other countries do not have so many people living in them! Here many millions play (and have played) soccer!

  6. Gotta love Landon’s jab at Jurgen. I don’t think he is wrong either.

  7. Funny how the right hand of FIFA is concerned with the level of intoxicated fans the Left hand of FIFA has allowed. YOU DID THAT! NO YOU DID THAT!

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