Daily news roundups

Union bits, All-Star Game tonight, MLS Deputy Commish on pro/rel, schedule, expansion, and more

Photo: Earl Gardner. The All-Star Game at PPL Park in 2012.

Philadelphia Union

The transfer window closes today, although I don’t know if it closes at 5 pm or at midnight.. After today, the next big date on the player movement calendar is the roster freeze deadline of 5 pm on Sept. 15.

Zac MacMath said the Rais M’Bolhi signing did not come as a surprise. “There’s always rumors out there so I always had an inkling that it might happen. Jim [Curtin] was honest with me and told me it was going to happen a few days before it did. It was good to know and mentally prepare myself for the week of training and the game in KC.”

So, what does the signing mean for MacMath’s future? The goalkeeper said, “I love Philly. I love the Union. And obviously this definitely puts a little change in that. But I’m not going to figure that out now. I’m going to wait and let my agent do that and kind of see what happens at the end of the season…You always have to be ready. As long as the coach calls my name, I’m ready.”

Chris Albright was only recently named the Union’s technical director after being appointed assistant technical director in January but he’s already pulled of two complex international deals in the signing of Rais M’Bolhi and the return of Carlos Valdes from loan to a new contract. Albright says, “To be honest with you, I had my mind in this part of the game for the last couple of years, so it’s been an easier sort of transition.”

More on the the return of Carlos Valdes from CSN Philly and the Union website.

Valdes’ return certainly complicates things for Austin Berry, who has struggled to find a place in the starting lineup after a season punctuated by periods of injury and illness. Berry said, “Finding a rhythm has been tough because I’ve been out for so long. I gain two steps and then I take two steps back. I’ve been a bit frustrated, but I know all I can do is keep working to get back on the field with my teammates. This is a great locker room and we have a solid group here. I’m a competitive person and I want to be on the field with them, helping the club earn points and putting us in the thick of the playoff race.”

Sporting a fetching sunglasses-headscarf combo for much of the competition, Maurice Edu defeated Bobby Boswell to win the 2014 MLS All=Star Game Vine Olympics.

Edu said of being called up for the All-Star Game, “It’s definitely an honor, and one that I’m very appreciative of. I owe a lot to my club and my teammates for helping me to achieve this accolade.”

Given the limitations of available information, Brotherly Game tries to parse the effects of this summer’s additions to the Union’s salary budget.

Also at Brotherly Game, a look at why the Union have been so bad this season, and why they have been so good.

The Sons of Ben have a song/chant contest that will run through Wednesday, Aug. 13. Five submissions will be selected and then recorded by SoB capos for members to vote on. More details here.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald talks to former Union man Shea Salinas.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders host New York Red Bulls Reserves tonight at 7:30 pm (NSCAA TV, YouTube). More on the game from Penn Live.

Mike Piranian, former assistant coach at Carnegie Mellon, has been named assistant coach at the Penn men’s team.

MLS

All-Star Game

Coverage of the All-Star Game against Bayern Munich in Portland begins tonight at 9:30 pm (ESPN2, UniMas).

Portland defender Liam Ridgewell has been announced as a late replacement for the injured Kyle Beckerman.

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola said of the minutes Julian Green will see in tonight’s game, “He’s going to play a little bit more [than 15 minutes]. For the fans, for the girls. He’s going to play even more [than 15 minutes], yeah.”

Different takes on what the All-Star Game format should be from a MLS players participating in tonight’s game.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald asks Kasey Keller if the All-Star Game matters.

League president Mark Abbott speaks on pro/reg, expansion, calendar, and more

MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott made a number of interesting comments at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Tuesday. Among them:

  • Based on current league plans, promotion/relegation is never going to happen. (Here’s Clint Dempsey’s take on the subject.)
  • League expansion remains capped at 24 teams.
  • Despite the league roster standing at 24 teams next season, the schedule for each team will remain at 34 games.
  • Conference realignment will happen “fairly soon.” (The entry of Orlando and NYCFC next season would, as things currently stand, give the Eastern Conference 12 teams, the West 9 teams.)
  • With CBA negotiations coming up, the league and Players’ Union remain committed to starting the 2015 season on time.
  • Because the league is still losing money, Abbott doesn’t expect significant changes to the salary cap or in the number of Designated Players allowed per team.
  • There is no time frame fro the sale of Chivas USA, although the league is looking at the site of Sports Arena, the former home of the Lakers and Clippers, as a possible downtown location for a new stadium. Abbott also said the franchise fee for purchasing the club will be “significantly higher” than the fee paid for Orlando to join the league, which was reportedly $70 million.
  • There are no plans to change the All-Star Game format back to an East-West competition.

Abbott also denied comments made by Sepp Blatter (audio here) that the league is about to move to a European calendar. MLS vice president Dan Courtemanche also repudiated Blatter’s comments. You will recall that MLS commissioner Don Garber said as recently as December of 2013 that the league would not be shifting its schedule.

More on Abbott’s comments from MLSsoccer.com, SI (1), SI (2), ESPN FC, Soccer America, SBI, ProSoccerTalk, Goal.com, and The News Tribune.

More league news

Marco Di Vaio was the difference as Montreal defeated El Salvador’s CD FAS 1-0 on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League play, ending a six-game losing streak in MLS play. Montreal played the final 28 minutes with ten men after Hassoun Camara was red carded. Apparently, visa problems meant that FAS arrived in Montreal on Sunday shorthanded with only 14 players, and with the club sporting director filling in as head coach.

It’s official: Manchester City have announced that Frank Lampard will join the team on loan ahead of NYC FC’s debut season in 2015.

Beginning with the premise, “if you want to know anything about a country, follow its soccer,” Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy looks at how demographic changes (“generational shifts”) have gone hand-in-hand with the growth of the game in the US.

The Sports Conflict Institute’s Ken Pendelton has written a white paper that examines why the increasing popularity of soccer in the US hasn’t translated in to better TV ratings for MLS.

League officials will go to Sacramento as early as next month to evaluate that city’s prospects as a MLS franchise.

The Las Vegas Sun has six questions about the financing of a possible MLS stadium in Las Vegas.

NWSL

Last place Boston is on the road to face second place Kansas City tonight at 8 pm and eighth place Houston is on the road to face first place Seattle at 10 pm. Both games will be streamed on YouTube.

US

The US lost 2-0 to Germany in its opening game at the Women’s U-20 World Cup in Edmonton (postgame quote sheet here). The team faces Brazil next on Friday at 10 pm (ESPNU, WatchESPN).

At SI, a look at how the US development system can be tweaked.

ASN has an opinion piece on why college soccer is vital for the success of “the United States program” and enjoys structural advantages over the European academy model.

Thierry Henry had some interesting comments on the disadvantages of the college system for player development. His comments on the kind of players kids should emulate were also interesting:

It’s funny how people sometimes look at the game. Especially now, the media and stuff like that, they love a guy who does step-overs and tricks. That’s not the game. The game is what Thomas Muller is doing for me. That’s the game. If I had a son right now playing, I’d say look at Ribery, look at Muller. Because what Ronaldo does, and Messi, they’re just freaks. Don’t try to copy those guys, because they’re just freaks. But you can copy from Ribery, you can copy Thomas Muller.

People talk about (Muller), but they don’t talk about him like they should talk about it. He plays the game the right way. He defends, he attacks. He controls the ball when he has to control it, he reverses when he has to reverse it. When he has to finish it, he will finish. He doesn’t do step-overs, but when he has to perform, he performs. I always liked that player since I first saw him, and he never stopped performing.

At ESPN, Rory Smith writes the interest by Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A teams in teams as evidenced by summer tours “tells us what the old world thinks of the new.” He continues,

These teams do not want to popularize football across the Atlantic. They do not want to teach the natives the best way to play. They see America as virgin territory, as ground to be conquered, as a canvas on which to paint their imperial dreams. They do not see it as a legitimate football culture.

There is a reason nobody goes on high-profile tours to Brazil or Argentina. There is a reason that South Africa has become less popular, too. In places where local clubs take precedence, there is a limit to how much money can be made. Yes, United would get vast crowds if they came to play in Rio de Janeiro, but they would not convert lots of new Manchester United fans. The cariocas would go on supporting Flamengo or Vasco or Fluminense.

That is not the case in the United States. The leagues of the old world see America as a place to be fought over and to be conquered — in that sense, some things never change. What they are doing is not designed to support the development of a healthy, native football culture. It is aimed at casting Major League Soccer into the shadows.

Elsewhere

While Sepp Blatter has backed Canada as a possible bidder for the 2026 World Cup, Fox Sports reports, “Less than a year until the 2015 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada, FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association are faced with a player revolt over the playing fields. More than 40 international players, aghast at the prospect of playing the tournament on the artificial surfaces planned for all six venues, have retained an international team of lawyers, citing gender discrimination.”

Alex Morgan, Heather O’Reilly, and Abby Wambach are among the players supporting the effort to switch the tournament to natural grass. Click here to download a PDF of the letter sent to the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA.

Asked why more women aren’t in leadership positions in FIFA, Sepp Blatter said,

Football is very macho. It’s so difficult to accept [women] in the game. Not playing the game, but in the governance…

It’s easy in basketball, it’s easy in volleyball, it’s easy in athletics. It is no problem. But in football, I don’t know. There’s something very reluctant…

If you look at the organization of FIFA, the president is elected by the congress, and all the other members of the executive [are elected] by the confederations. And the confederations never would have proposed a lady…

It took more than 100 years for FIFA to elect a woman in the executive committee. It’s not easy to change these attitudes.

It’s not easy for the ladies to have a position inside FIFA…One day they should make the chair of FIFA a woman and then this will change. I am sure.

English referee Howard Webb has retired to become Technical Director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the Premier League forerunner to PRO.

Reuters reports, “U.S. sportswear group Nike will supply shirts to more teams in the top five European soccer leagues this season than Adidas, but the German firm has cornered the most lucrative clubs, a study showed on Wednesday.

8 Comments

  1. Pardon my French, but Sepp Blatter is a fucking idiot. (And in other news, water is still wet, and the sun still rises in the east.)

  2. Ed, thanks for the SCI link. That article is really interesting. Especially if you look at it with regard to the Union season last year – winning, on occasion, ugly. It pinpoints exactly why despite loving the team, I found them unwatchable even in wins.

  3. The Chopper says:

    Since it has t been said elsewhere, I might as well say it. You need no more evidence that the MLS All Star game is a joke then to see the addition of Maurice Edu to the roster. It is one thing when fans select an undeserving player who is a big name, but when the league does it and slights dozens of far more deserving players, it’s a crock.

    I understand that he has played at a higher level than most players in the league and may be better suited to provide a quality effort against Bayern Munich. But he has not had anything resembling an All Star season.

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