Daily news roundups

News ahead of Union in Toronto, Pfeffer scores for US U20s, Garber says no pro/rel in his lifetime, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Saturday’s game in Toronto (2 pm,TCN, Univision Deportes, MLS Live, MLS Direct Kick, DirecTV) will mark the first time since he joined the Union on loan that Maurice Edu has been in the city where he first played professional soccer. Edu said, “Hopefully, it’s a welcoming environment, but at the end of the day, I know how sports work. They’re passionate fans. They support their team, so I would expect them to support their team and obviously heckle the opponent, which is us, which is me. I’m just looking forward to being back there again, seeing some old friends, things like that. But more importantly, the focus for not only myself, but this team is to go up there and get a good result.”

Vincent Nogueira was a precautionary scratch from the Union lineup after picking up a groin injury. Will he be available on Saturday? Perhaps. Jim Curtin said after Wednesday’s game, “Is it something that will keep him out long-term? I don’t think so. The things I’m getting is positive. Does that mean he’s a sub in Toronto? Maybe. Does that mean he starts in Toronto? I don’t know. We’ll see. We need fresh legs obviously. He will be a pretty good player to throw in your lineup that’s for sure.”

How has Zac MacMath been keeping his head straight since the Rais Mbolhi signing? MacMath said, “Focus on myself and doing the right things. And knowing that if I do the right things, things will go my way and hopefully the team’s way. That’s what we’ve been doing the last few weeks of ups and downs for me, I guess.” He added, “I’m happy that I’m still playing and have the opportunity to help this team get to the playoffs.”

Saturday’s game is one of Soccer America’s three games to watch this weekend. “Both teams have 33 points, as does Columbus, and are locked in a three-way tie for fourth place. Toronto holds the first tiebreaker, most victories, and also has played one fewer game.”

Soccerly’s Toronto FC writer looks at what’s changed with Greg Vanney taking over the team. “Tactically, the biggest difference between Vanney and Nelsen was the aggressiveness of the team. They ran hard after the ball when not in possession, and had the fullbacks pressing up the pitch much more than we’ve seen in the past…The lone positive on the night from a Toronto FC perspective is that the team only conceded one goal. In their last four matches before Wednesday night, Toronto had given up a total of 11 goals.”

At The 700 Level, Dave Zeitlin writes that “Sebastien Le Toux is simply operating at a different level right now.” Zeitlin notes that only “the Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry, the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer, Seattle’s Obafemi Martins and D.C. United’s Fabian Espindola” have higher combined goals and assists numbers than Le Toux, who currently has 11 goals and six assists. Who else has 11 goals and six assists? Some fellow by the name of Clint Dempsey.

Curtin said of Le Toux after Wednesday’s win, “I’ll be the one to start the Best XI conversations for him. If you look statistically and you look at what he’s done, he’s hot right now. If he continues the form that he’s in, then he has to be in the discussion for Best XI of our league, which is probably the highest honor you can get. I think he’s playing that well.”

Le Toux said of the Best XI talk, “I don’t really care. I just want [our team] to be the best in MLS.”

Le Toux is No. 6 on a list at Goal.com of the “league’s best reclamation projects.”

Following Wednesday’s win over Toronto, ProSoccerTalk moves the Union up to No. 6 in its power rankings.

In related news, SportsClubStats.com puts the Union’s playoff chances at 49.2 percent after Wednesday’s win, an increase of 11.3 percent.

Want to see Union players who are away on international duty with their national teams? Tonight at 9 pm, Carlos Valdes and Colombia play Brazil in a friendly (beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Sports Connect). On Saturday, you can see Rais Mbolhi and Algeria take on Ethiopia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier (8:45 am, beIN Sports Connect), and then catch Michael Lahoud and Sierra Leone against the Ivory Coast (1 pm, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Sports Connect).

Zach Pfeffer scored from the penalty spot in Thursday’s US U-20 2-0 win over Racing Club Reserves in Argentina.

Sons of Ben

Don’t forget the fourth annual River Cup between the Sons of Ben and the Union Front Office kicks off on Saturday at 11:30 pm. You can stick around after the game to to watch the Union play Toronto on the PPL Park videoboard.

At the Sons of Ben website, a summary of the topics discussed at the recent SoB Supporters Summit.

Local

Harrisburg play their final two regular season games on the road this weekend, facing Charleston Battery tonight at 7:30pm before then facing Charlotte Eagles on Saturday at 7 pm (both games will be streamed on YouTube). The team needs to win one of the games to make the playoffs.

It’s West Philly derby time tonight at 7 pm when Penn hosts Drexel. Penn then hosts Central Connecticut State on Sunday at 4:30.

The Princeton men’s team opens its season tonight on the road at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

At the Inquirer, Kate Harman has a Southeastern Pa. preseason boys’ soccer Top 10.

MLS

Carlos Bocanegra has announced he will retire at the end of the season. More from US Soccer, which also has an open letter from Bocanegra in which he says, “When I finish my playing career, I’m looking to stay involved with soccer at the top level.”

DC United midfielder Chris Rolfe is out for six weeks after breaking his left forearm during a practice session on Wednesday.

Montreal Impact will field a USL PRO team to be called FC Montreal beginning in 2015. The club also announced plans for a new training facility.

Local community groups have announced their support of Vancouver’s intentions to field a USL PRO team in 2015.

The Gothamist has an interesting Q&A with Don Garber that touches on a number of subjects, including the league’s apparent relaxation of its desire for soccer specific stadiums, the state of the sale of Chivas USA and David Beckham’s Miami franchise (see below), and sports gambling. Speaking of the need for more transparency in how the league makes player allocation decisions following the draw that saw Jermaine Jones go to New England, Garber said, “We clearly need to look, as we go through our new collective bargaining agreement, to have more transparent rules. To have our fans, who are very committed to our league, understand them more. And probably be a lot more transparent about how we’re making decisions than we’ve made in the past. You can’t change midstream, because we’ve had rules in place, but we’re certainly looking, continually looking at ways that we can be more transparent.”

More from Garber at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York, who says the league is in a good position. ASked about the prospects of promotion/relegation being adopted by the league, Garber said, “I certainly don’t see promotion and relegation any time in the near future. What happens 50 years from now, I won’t be around to worry about.”

I’ve been saying it for years: All the those dinosaurs who call soccer “unAmerican” ignore the game’s potential in that most American of pursuits, making money. Peter Cohen, global head of the media and entertainment group at Blackstone Advisory Partners, said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, “The thing I’m sort of interested in is where soccer goes. It’s a lower price point in terms of a point of entry at least for [Major League Soccer].” Noting the continuing rise in popularity for the sport, Cohen observed, “It that trend continues, I think that could be a really interesting place to make a lot of money going forward.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, “Soccer has more potential for growth in media rights deals than the four biggest U.S. sports in coming years, as its popularity increases among young U.S. fans, a panel told the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit.”

You will recall that SI’s Brian Straus tweeted a few weeks ago that the league will unveil a new logo in 2015. Paste Magazine looks around the world to gather its 20 favorite league logos MLS can look to for some inspiration. I just hope the new logo isn’t this one.

Sacramento Republic have announced that Sacramento Kings owner Kevin Nagle will lead the team’s efforts to secure a MLS franchise. The announcement says Nagle “will lead its prospective Major League Soccer (MLS) ownership group. If the club is selected for expansion by MLS, Nagle will be its single largest owner.”

David Beckham has been invited to take a look at a downtown Miami site, the site of the former home of the Miami Herald, as a possible stadium location.

More on the obstacles in the way of securing public financing of the proposed downtown soccer stadium that would be at the core of efforts in Las Vegas to secure a MLS franchise.

US

Speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, Sunil Gulati reiterated that the US wants to again bid on hosting the World Cup but that it will do so only when FIFA reforms the bidding process.

Don Garber said, “The 1994 World Cup, which was 20 years ago, was the most successful World Cup that’s ever been held, in terms of the number of fans, in terms of the legacy that was left behind. That was a long time ago, before we became the soccer nation that we are today with all the excitement and euphoria and television ratings and the viewing parties being really the story of the summer. So imagine, if it was that way decades ago, what it will be the next time around. There’s no question that it would be a record-setting, unbelievable experience for the entire world, without doubt.”

The Sun Herald has a good profile piece on USWNT coach Jill Ellis.

Elsewhere

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

The Guardian reports, “UEFA is contemplating whether the away-goals rule should remain in force in European competition and is looking to change how Champions League clubs are seeded.”

An amateur player in Austria has been banned 70 games for headbutting a referee. The player’s club also kicked him off the team and banned him from the club’s grounds.

14 Comments

  1. What is interesting to me is the huge influx of 3rd and 4th level teams with grassroots supporters sections playing in front of 2,000 to 5,000 fans. We sit and watch as MLS expands but there is a whole other level of expansion going on stateside. I see the possibility of these supports owned teams generating the energy and funds necessary to begin moving up through the soccer ranks in this country over time and knocking on the glass ceiling. I appreciate the MLS and what it has done to help the game in this country but the single entity owned NFL type model, IMO, is outdated and nothing more than a business/monopoly meant to make money at least as it relates to this very different game of soccer. My hopes are- Chattanooga, San Francisco, other smaller sized cities with a vision and dream generate enough interest, rabid fan bases and economic feasibility to discuss the promotion relegation question in full as the years unfold so that some day when I take my grandkid to see Chattanooga’s first game in the Premier Division of US – having relegated another team, I will know it as the full expression of how the game “should” be.
    .
    What I like about the Premier Leagues is that yes while Sunderland may be a mid level team, they are still in the Premiereship which means they are a top 20 team in the UK and with that comes a certain amount of weight and respect. I imagine the fans from Sheffield Wednesday or Leeds would love to again claim they are a top team in the country – they just have to earn their way back, unlike say Chivas USA which is just a train wreck year after year with no ultimate penalty for the mismanagement.
    .
    Who Knows. My two cents.

    • i would say the penalty chivas is paying for being a train wreck is that they have no fan base and they never win and every player on the team is probably miserable and despondent

      • Exactly Kyle. So why should we be forced to watch them at the highest level of the game in this country. I would gladly replace a surging NY Cosmos/NASL Champion for the relegation worthy Chivas USA.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        +1. As laid out, the problem is the structure of the league and the still apparent monetary fragility of the league itself. It is more important now to get major markets for TV money, and expand player salaries, than drive teams to a lower tier. I get that but what I don’t like is the talk that it will never, ever happen. I believe that is what makes people the most mad.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Love what you said Joel and agree. The NASL continues to grow and do well, especially teams like San Antonio who are adding 10K seats to their stadium. To me it’s a real shame if MLS gives Beckham a Miami team (which they clearly will
      move heaven and earth to do) and doesn’t reward teams like SA and Sacramento for growing their base and earning the promotion. My opinion – That will come back to haunt them in the (not so distant) future. A shame the MLS is so against Pro/Rel, but I do understand their motives. I hope to see it one day. I’m 33.
      .
      Granted our team was created from nothing, but we are a major market, and it’s good for the league to have the 5th largest TV market in the US in their league… so I do contradict myself a bit, but I don’t think anyone would argue putting a Philly team in the league was a bad idea.

    • I agree that promotion/relegation would add certain drama, reward and penalty. It will also add some sort of excitement for the fans. The major problem is that investors and owners made significant financial investments, and relegation would not only upset these owners/investors, but render the team insolvent, bankrupt and eventually disappear. Also for the hometown crowd, if the Union were relegated would you renew your seats (maybe depending on size of price adjustment is my guess).

      Let’s not even begin to discuss players rights, salaries and the CBA. IT gets very complicated.

      I see the future of the league in expansion in taking some of these NASL and USL teams in as expansion teams and creating a dual conference league similar to baseball where cross conference games do not occur until end of season playoffs. Then those other NASL and USL teams become the farm system, again similar to baseball and what is organically happening now with MLS/USL partnerships.

      Is this going to happen overnite – no way. It’ll organically happen over the next 20 years.

  2. Please ditch the away goals rule. It certainly adds a certain level of drama, but it’s terribly cruel, at the same time. If teams are tied over two legs, play more extra time, or go to penalties. It’s not complicated.

    • Is it really any crueler than penalty kicks?

      • old soccer coach says:

        Away goals come from the run of play. Penalty kicks have nothing to do with the run of play. Tim Krul was not Louis van Gaal’s best goal keeper to play on the field in a game, but Tim Krul was his best penalty kick stopper. If it is tied, two 30s. Still tied, two 30s golden goal. Then five tries each to score in 90 seconds 6 v 5. Only then do you go to PKs.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      You can’t play forever, the level of play will be embarrassing. And I hate penalties. I don’t love away goals, but if you beat a team in their home stadium you should advance.

  3. While I never agreed with the away goals rule, I never felt like it was the worst thing in the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that it is harder to play and score on the road. That being said, the reason it needs to go is because of extra time. When two teams are playing in extra time and the away team scores, the match is all but lost for the home side. Hopefully they do away with it or at least get rid of it when matches go into extra time.

  4. Even though the World Cup bidding is a mockery- Mid East Desert oil apparently worth more than Texas oil. Can’t say I disagree. Would it be that bad if Texas ceded from The Union? I have nothing against Texas in general, just Jerry and The Cowboys.

  5. PS: I kinda like the MLS logo. I hope they don’t change it. Too much change doesn’t allow logo’s to become classic and true brand representation. Tweaks, maybe…

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