Daily news roundups

Donovan to retire, Union ready for big week of games, Ribeiro up for Goal of the Month, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Hours after scoring the winning goal in the All-Star Game, Landon Donovan announced on Facebook that he will retire at the end of the season.

Donovan, undoubtedly the best and most important player of the modern era, singled out fans for thanks in his announcement. “You are the lifeblood of this sport and, without you, none of us would be fortunate to call ourselves professional soccer players in MLS.”

At a press conference, Donovan explained why it was time for him, at the age of 32, leave the game.

Last year I took a long break from the game, and that was really the first time that [retirement] was a real possibility. I wanted to get away and take some time to see how it would feel after getting away for awhile. I came back rejuvenated. I came back refreshed. But after a few months even of last season, I started to have some feelings of, you know, it doesn’t feel the same, there’s not that same passion, that same energy.

So I kept going, and there was some ebbs and flows and there were some good times through the summer – I felt great, I was playing well, we had the [CONCACAF] Gold Cup, it was exciting – and then as this year started, I was enjoying myself. I was, I think, playing well, doing well, and in the last few weeks I started thinking a lot about it again. I was talking to my family quite a bit about it, and my gut just told me it was right and it was the right time.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said of Donovan,

There is no doubt that Major League Soccer would not be what it is today without Landon Donovan. His decision to join MLS in 2001 was a statement to the entire soccer community, at the most crucial time in our history, that MLS could be a league of choice for the best American players. Landon is to MLS, what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL and Tiger Woods was to the PGA Tour;  a player who’s sporting accomplishments and popularity transformed their respective leagues and set a new standard for how the game would be played.

Some samples of the widespread coverage of the announcement from MLSsoccer.com (1), MLSsoccer.com (2), MLSsoccer.com (3), US Soccer, New York Times, LA Times, LA Soccer News, LAG Confidential, SI (Straus), SI (Wahl), ESPN, ASN, Soccer America, ProSoccerTalk, Soccerly, Goal.com, NESN, SBI, The Sports Network, Reuters, and The AP. Also at US Soccer, a quote sheet. You can view every one of Donovan’s 135 MLS goals here.

Philadelphia Union

Our preview of Saturday’s crucial game against Montreal (7 pm, CSN, MLS Live, MLS Direct Kick, DirecTV) will be up later this morning. In the meanwhile, check out our quick reference on the series history between the two teams and previews from Montreal Impact, Brotherly Game and David Murphy’s Union Blog. Also, the Montreal Impact website has three storylines for the game, and Brotherly Game has three questions for fellow SB Nation blog Mount Royal Soccer.

Jim Curtin said of Montreal, who are last in the league with only 14 points from 21 games, including six straight losses in league play, “We’re not going to take them lightly. We know that there’s no easy game in MLS. They have some dangerous attacking pieces. They have some guys that can score goals, so we have to shut them down and obviously, homefield advantage will be big.”

The Montreal game marks the start of another one of those three games in eighth days stretches, including Tuesday’s US Open Cup semifinal in Dallas, which will be followed by next Friday’s game in Houston. Curtin said of the grueling schedule,

It’s a tricky one (with the lineup), but I’m not resting guys. I don’t think we’re in a position to rest anyone. We’re trying to win every game and that’s how we’re taking it. We’ll put our best team out on Saturday, we’ll recover quickly, we’ll put our best team out on Tuesday and we’ll recover quickly and we’ll recover on Friday. It’s a (tough) schedule, I’m not going to sugarcoat that. But it’s what we have to do…

There’s no easy times at this point of the year. Everyone has little injuries, no excuses, we’ll have to go on the road in those two games after we hopefully can take care of business at home. You go on the road to arguably the two worst temperature places to play in the league in Dallas and Houston. It’ll be heavy legs but we have a deep team now. If you looked at our bench in the last game, you looked down and there’s tons of guys with a lot of experience.

There’s this from Dave Zeitlin’s Union Notes column at CSN Philly that gives pause to the thought that we’ll see Rais Mbolhi start against Montreal: “Although Curtin has already said that Mbolhi will be the Union’s starting goalkeeper, a question still remains of when that will happen…as Mbolhi tries to get back to 100 percent after a grueling World Cup.”

Zac MacMath will be ready if Mbolhi is not.

A post at MLSsoccer.com puts the Union’s odds of making the playoffs at 45 percent, same as New York: “All things considered, there’s no reason to think the Union can’t jump into fourth place (or perhaps even higher) in the East.” Sports Club Stats currently has the Union’s odds at 32.7 percent.

Another post at MLSsoccer.com includes the Union among the list of winners in this summer’s transfer window: “nobody navigated the window better than the Union.”

A post on the Union website considers the competition within the team’s defensive ranks.

You will recall that before Michael Lahoud left the US for his call-up by the Sierra Leone national team for an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, we spoke to him about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In last Friday’s roundup, we linked to news that the qualifier had been cancelled by Seychelles over concerns about the outbreak and that, before that, the Sierra Leone team had been prevented from boarding a flight from Nairobi to the island country. At MLSsoccer.com and Delco Times, Zeitlin and Matthew De George talk to Lahoud, now back home with the Union, about his experiences on the trip, which included the team being quarantined by Kenya immigration officials after they were prevented from boarding their flight.

“It was pretty bizarre,” Lahoud said, “We felt like fugitives. They banned us from their country. It wasn’t like they banned people from Sierra Leone; it was just us. When they did that, it became a political issue.” Lahoud and his teammates were released from quarantine after several hours following the intervention of the Sierra Leone ambassador to Kenya.

Lahoud explained, “I think the biggest thing for us was when you’re in a foreign country, they’re always trying to put a scapegoat, put a face to something like a disease or some tragedy. And we just didn’t want to be that and represent our country that way.”

Also in Zeitlin’s column, some appreciative remarks from Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams about Maurice Edu’s appearance in the All-Star Game. More on Edu at the All-Star Game at Daily News.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders host first place Orlando City on Saturday at 6 pm (NSCAA TV, YouTube) as they look to continue their playoff push.

Union loanee Pedro Ribeiro and his City Islanders teammate, and former Union trialist, Jose Barril are both up for USL PRO Goal of the Month, which you can vote for here. Also on the ballot is former Union man Matt Kassel, now with Arizona United.

At the Drexel website, a look back to when the men’s team won the national collegiate championship in 1958, going undefeated in their 12-game season with a goal differential of +59. That’s right, plus 59.

MLS

Early rumors suggested that Thursday’s Galaxy press conference would be about a player joining the team, not one retiring, but a deal to secure the arrival of Sacha Kljestan apparently fell apart. Bruce Arena described, “We were close. There were just forces in the league that prevented us from doing this. I won’t even go into the details, but that’s the reason. Our organization, we did everything possible to secure and player, and, unfortunately, there were forces fighting real hard not to let that happen. And, subsequently, it did not.” Forces, eh? Ominous.

DC have acquired forward/midfielder David Estrada from Seattle in exchange for a third round pick in the 2017 SuperDraft. The team has also announced a partnership with Sunderland.

Dallas have acquired 24-year-old Paraguayan defender Walter Cabrera on loan from Paraguayan Primera Division side General Diaz.

Columbus have won the rights to US youth international Romain Gall in a weighted lottery. The 19-year-old midfielder has dual US-French citizenship and comes to Columbus from FC Lorient – Lorient II.

With an eye toward their MLS debut next season, Orlando has signed 19-year-old Rafael Ramos and 18-year-old Valdomiro Lameira to multi-year deals from partner club Benfica.

At Quartz, “how advertising its biggest competitors” is paying off for MLS.

Remember when Flushing Meadows was the frontrunner for the location of NYC FC’s stadium? ASN pays a visit to the park.

More on the stadium possibilities as Sacramento looks to win a MLS franchise.

US

After losing their first group game to Germany, the US faces Brazil tonight in the Women’s U-20 World Cup (10 pm, ESPNU, Watch ESPN).

The US U-17 MNT faces Ecuador today in the semifinals of the Copa Mexico de Naciones. Three locals — Hershey’s Christian Pulisic, Allentown’s Danny Barbir, and Bethlehem’s Kevin Silva — have played big parts in the team’s success in the tournament.

At SBI, Caitlin Murray talks to USWNT coach Jill Ellis about playing 4-3-3 her efforts to re-energize the team’s chemistry with a mixture of veteran and new faces.

Elsewhere

On Wednesday, Celtic was eliminated from Champions League qualification. On Friday, UEFA announced they’re back in because Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player for the final two minutes of Wednesday’s game.

Soon. So soon.

18 Comments

  1. Looks like Jurgen was spot on. Landon Donovan. Great american soccer player. Good luck and thank you.

  2. kingkowboys says:

    I think it’s a shame we did not get to see LD in one last World Cup.
    .
    Bruce Arena seems like such a whiner to me. Every quote I see from him is some kind of whiney complaint. STFU Bro!
    .
    Ribeiro is constantly looking like he deserves 1st team minutes.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    A big thank you to Donovan for being the face of the sport in this country when it really needed someone to look up to. I agree with Garber, that if Donovan had gone to Europe as a kid, the MLS would have struggled even more than it did. And man… that goal against Algeria will last forever.
    .
    Love the Ted Lasso stuff too.
    .
    What’s with Arena’s claim of league forces preventing them from signing a player… it’s LA!?! I thought they got whatever they wanted?

  4. Not sure what to make of Curtin’s comments regarding juggling the lineup (or not) for 3 games in 8 days. Just going back to the last instance where they played in Chicago as the 3rd game in 8 days, they looked gassed and ugly. Traveling to Dallas and Houston in August should be even harder.

    What’s everyone’s feeling on what’s more important- winning US Open cup or getting to playoffs? While it will only take 2 wins for the cup (and can do it at home, no less) I still think going for that playoff spot is more important. Therefore I’d like to see him be more concerned with resting guys in the Cup game and whatever happens there, happens. Too late in the season, and we’ve dropped too many points to risk tired players coming up small in the league games that are left, in my opinion. No more margin for error there.

    • Agreed. It would be nice to get that first piece of hardware for the trophy case but the playoffs are more important.

    • Good question! My brain says go for the playoffs, but my heart would love to see us win some silverware at home. Can I have both?

      • Of course I’d love to have both too! But I’m thinking of what I’d prioritize in a tough stretch of games. Rob and George both bring up a good point that it’s complicated by the Union not yet winning any trophy. If we had a couple US cups and maybe a Supporter Shield season in our past, it would be easier to say go for the playoffs. If we were in better shape in the MLS standings and still looking for our first trophy, then I say go all out for the Cup. Similar to what George said, I think he can hold off on a decision until after the Montreal game at least. If they can’t beat a putrid Impact side, at home with our playoff hopes teetering, then he might as well go with best team possible in Dallas and accept that the rest of the league year will be experimenting with player combos and formation tweaks with 2015 in mind- for him or the next head coach.

    • Getting the US Open Cup should be a priority. I’d love to get to the play-offs and I think we will as spots 3-5 in the East are all achievable, but winning a trophy is really important for this franchise.

      All that said, I would put our best line-ups out there the next two matches and then reevaluate where we are on Wed AM. Curtin will probably have to mix & match vs Houston which isn’t a terrible thing since the Dynamo have had so much trouble scoring.

    • First team plays vs. Montreal. First team plays in Dallas. Second team plays in Houston. Points would be hard to come by anyway at BBVA Compass — maybe the energy of Ribeiro, Pfeffer, et al pull something out of the hat.

      • I like this plan. Play today and Tuesday with the best lineup you can put out. Evaluate Friday based on who’s available, taking into account the minutes for older guys like Casey.
        .
        Also, should they be staying in Texas, if possible, rather than travelling back and forth twice in a week? The generally leave the day before a game and come home the day after, right? If so, that would have them on a plane Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Finding someplace in Texas to practice would shorten – or eliminate – some of that flight time.

    • We’re not winning the title so THIS year I would take the trophy.

  5. It’s nice to see Andrew Weibe giving kudos to the Union for being the clear winner in the transfer market. Now, if only the results follow…
    .
    Also, Jason Sudekis! That was awesome.

  6. DC United signed a partnership with Sunderland. I have been saying for a while that the Union should look into doing this exact thing. NYCFC have it with Manchester City. I hope the Union will follow suit. If they do it should be with the EPL, Ligue 1, Serie A, La liga, or Bundesliga. Stay away for Mexico and South American teams. There’s all kinds of benefits in this to develop younger players, and loan options. They could send coaches to coaching seminars etc. It could also get the Union’s Academy and home grown players programs off the ground.

  7. Interesting speculation on why the Kljestan deal feel through here. I wasn’t paying much attention after we got Valdes, looks like I missed some stuff going on at other teams

    http://www.thegoatparade.com/2014/8/7/5980721/former-chivas-usa-star-sacha-kljestan-doesnt-join-la-galaxy-landon-donovan-retirement

  8. Had a chance to finally watch the Return of Coach Lasso. It’s hysterical! The character reminds me of Texas governor Rick Perry and Rep. Congressmess Louie Gohmert! Wanted to drive down from NY for the game. Unfortunately I have to chair a meeting. Just do it Union!

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