Daily news roundups

Player announcement, counterattacking, Meulensteen, Pfeffer scores again, Blake and Jamaica fall, much more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

The latest Daily Doop came out on Tuesday and the last line says, “Finally, be sure to check philadelphiaunion.com tomorrow morning as we announce first some breaking player news.” We will, you big tease.

More power rankings! At MLSsoccer.com, the Union move up one spot to No. 6: “They’re 11-2-3 in all competitions since Jim Curtin took over, and — with Andrew Wenger, Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey and Cristian Maidana — have a four-man attack bordering on “impossible to stop.” ProSoccerTalk has the Union at No. 7.

Three Union players made the latest Castrol Index Weekly Top 20 Performers list. Zac MacMath made the list twice, coming in at Nos. 13 and 13 for the two game series against Toronto, Andrew Wenger made the list at No. 15, and Amobi Okugo came in at No. 19. No, I don’t know why Conor Casey, who had a goal in both games, did not make the list.

In the Full Castrol Index, the top five Union performers are Conor Casey (No. 19), Andrew Wenger (No. 20), Sebastien Le Toux (No. 33), Amobi Okugo (No. 77), and Maurice Edu (No. 81).

Zac MacMath and Sheanon Williams were named to SBI’s Best XI for Week 26. Maurice Edu and Conor Casey received honorable mentions.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George has a fine read on the Union’s success on the counterattack. Sebastien Le Toux says in the article,

We have a lot of guys who can react very fast. After we win the ball, we try to go forward, and we have some tough, fast guys who can overlap with the right back or left back, myself and Andrew, who love to get the ball into space. It’s kind of like the first look we get when we win the ball, and luckily for us, it works…

We have good communication, especially between me and Sheanon on the right side … so we don’t have to run so much defensively. And they know that as soon as we get the ball, me and Andrew are off to the races and are ready to go forward.

Jim Curtin says of Andrew Wenger’s positional shift to the wing, which has sparked his recent fine form, “It’s different out there on the wing than it is being the high guy in the spot where Conor has been. You don’t have someone on your back all the time. He’s able to get the ball now, focus on just beating one man and going in. He’s really embraced that role. When he gets a head of steam running at you, he’s as dangerous as anyone in our league.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s home game against New York, Red Bulls defender Roy Miller has been called up by Costa Rica for the Copa Centroamericana. New York host Eastern Conference leaders DC tonight at 8 pm on ESPN 2.

Brotherly Game rounds up the weekend’s results in the context of the playoff race.

Picking up on tweets from Kevin Kinkead on Tuesday in which he wrote, “I’m hearing more rumblings that Rene Meulensteen will be the next head coach in Philadelphia,” followed by, “From what I’m told, Meulensteen would have been announced earlier, but the team was still alive in the U.S. Open Cup,” and adding, “Not sure when the Meulensteen hire would happen. Could be announced after the U.S. Open Cup final next Tuesday (9/16),” HITC Sport notes the the Union-Meulensteen linkage.

Taylor Twellman tweeted on Wednesday morning, “Hearing Rene Meulensteen has NOT been offered the @PhilaUnion job and that decision will be made most likely at end of @MLS season.”

US Open Cup

Jim Curtin wants The Cup: “First and foremost, I’m a Philly sports fan. I’ve lived and breathed Philly sports. To be a coach, to lift the trophy, in front of the Sons of Ben … there are no words to describe what that would be like. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would be like, to hand it over to our fans, being from here.”

Sebastien Le Toux wants The Cup: “It’d be a little special because it’s my old team. But, at the end, we are looking to win the first trophy and as a competitor, that is what I want the most. It doesn’t matter or not if it’s [Seattle] or another team. Seattle is a very good team, maybe the best in the league right now, so we know we have to play our best game. I just hope we can get the support from the fans and win the first trophy.”

In more US Open Cup news, Sigi Schmid has given Clint Dempsey an extra “five or six days off” ahead of the Cup final and end of the season stretch of games.

Union Internationals

Zach Pfeffer scored the equalizer in the US U-20 comeback 1-1 draw against Argentina on Tuesday. Pfeffer scored two goals during the camp in Argentina, in which the US went 2-0-1. At SBI, U-20 coach Tab Ramos talks about some of the difficult roster decisions he will have to make as the team prepares for the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships, which is just four months away.

Andre Blake and Jamaica were defeated by Canada 3-1 on Tuesday night in Toronto. Blake played the complete game but it appears that Brian Brown, who was also called up by Jamaica for the game, did not make the matchday 18. The win was Canada’s first since Oct. 12, 2012.

In an article at Red Nation Online posted before the friendly, Blake was asked about the importance of MLS for the development of the Jamaican national team. “Definitely [MLS is key to Jamaican soccer’s growth]. That’s everyone’s aim in Jamaica, to go out and play somewhere competitive. So for us to see a lot of player moving towards MLS, it’s a positive and it will only make the national team better.”

In a video in the Red Nation article, Blake says of his rookie season with the Union, “It is what it is. Everyone got to do what they got to do. I’m just another player going in trying to pay my dues. With time I’ll be no more rookie.”

Rais Mbolhi and Algeria host Mali today, while Michael Lahoud and Sierra Leone face Democratic Republic of Congo. Neither Africa Cup of Nations qualifier will be broadcast in the US.


Harrisburg City Islanders will face Orlando City in the USL PRO quarterfinals on Saturday and they will do so on the road. While Harrisburg defeated Orlando 3-2 at Skyline Sports Complex in regular season play, they lost 3-1 in Orlando, adding to Orlando’s 13-0-1 regular season home record. Head coach Bill Becher said,

Orlando’s always been a place that’s difficult to go and it’s a team that’s been difficult to beat — and they still are that way. But I think by getting the result here at home, it’s given us a little bit of confidence going there where in years past maybe we didn’t have that confidence.

We still know they’re 13-0-1 at home, so we’re up against it no doubt and we’re going to have to be very, very good. We’re gonna have to be on. We can’t make mistakes. We can’t give them goals. But we’re very capable of [playing well], we’re very capable of going there and playing with them. We know that.

We feel we can play with anybody. It’s just a matter of us digging down defensively and not conceding. We’ve been giving up a bit too many goals.

John McCarthy, the Cinnaminson native and La Salle alum who also played for Ocean City Nor’easters and Reading United before being signed by Rochester Rhinos, is the USL PRO Goals Against Average Champion. McCarthy averaged 0.722 goals per game while also leading the league with 10 shutouts in 18 appearances.

The Princeton men’s team opens its home season tonight against St. John’s at 7 pm.

Five area teams make TopDrawerSoccer.com’s boys’ high school weekly soccer Top 50. They are Washington Township (No. 6: Sewell, NJ), Haverford School (No. 7: Haverford, Pa.), Neshaminy (No. 32: Langhorne, Pa.), Lancaster Mennonite (No. 44: Lancaster, Pa.), and Salesianum (No. 48: Wilmington, Del.).

Seven area teams make TopDrawerSoccer.com’s girls’ high school soccer weekly Top 50. They are Lenape (No. 3: Medford Township, NJ), Pennington School (No. 5: Pennington, NJ), Cumberland Valley (No. 9: Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Immaculate Heart Academy (No. 22: Washington Township, NJ), Neshaminy (No. 30: Langhorne, Pa.), Villa Joseph Marie (No. 31: Holland, Pa.), and Eastern (No. 43: Voorhees, NJ).


There are three games tonight, two of which involve Eastern Conference teams. Of prime concern for Union fans is New York hosting DC (8 pm, ESPN2). At 7:30 pm, Montreal hosts LA (7:30 pm, MLS Live, MLS Direct Kick). At 10 pm, Vancouver hosts San Jose (MLS Live, MLS Direct Kick).

Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee’s season is over after undergoing surgery on his right hip.

DC United’s Eddie Johnson is day-to-day with concussion symptoms.

Chicago Fire have signed the well travelled French striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle.

San Jose Earthquakes have signed Uruguayan right back Pablo Pintos.

LA Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant is out for at least six weeks with a groin injury.

Houston Dynamo are working toward fielding their own USL PRO team.

The league is will soon release a new logo. ESPN’s Doug McIntyre wishes they would not.

Las Vegas councilwoman Lois Tarkanian explains why she asked for the vote on a nonbinding deal to build the proposed publicly funded $200 downtown soccer stadium.


Fox Soccer has a profile on USWNT captain Christie Rampone, who will soon turn 40 and, if the US qualifies for the 2015 Women’s World CUp, will likely earn her 400th cap during the tournament. My favorite quote about the key to he longevity and resilience comes from Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra: “She’s got magic beans or something.”


The AP reports, “FIFA’s medical chief wants to allow referees to stop matches for three minutes to asses head injuries when a concussion is suspected.”

Concerning FIFA’s desire to move the 2022 World Cup to the winter months, Goal.com reports, “The European Clubs’ Association says the world governing body needs to present ‘strong arguments’ if seasons are to be realigned for a winter tournament.”

Reuters reports, “The International Olympic Committee, contacted by Reuters, said on Monday it had received assurances from Blatter the 2022 World Cup would not clash with the [2022] winter Olympics, the world’s biggest winter sports event.”

Reuters reports, “FIFA needs an overhaul at the highest level including changes to the way its governing executive committee is elected to become a fairer reflection of today’s global football landscape, FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb said on Tuesday.” Webb said,

FIFA has some huge challenges and the image and perception is definitely the No.1 challenge.

With all due respect, I don’t think FIFA has done a great job communicating its message over the years and its image and public perception is affecting the game.

Obviously, we don’t see that when it comes to the revenue and the business side where Sepp Blatter and (secretary general) Jerome Valcke have done a great job, but from an ethics and moral standpoint we have got an awful lot of work to do to rebuild trust.

We have to have trust and confidence. We have to go further with reforms, the landscape of global football has changed. FIFA was formed in 1904 — that is far away from 2014. We should be bold enough and brave enough to reform the executive committee.

Speaking of trust, Graham Parker writes at ESPN, “I believe Sepp Blatter will run for another term as FIFA president. That’s about all I believe when it comes to the word of Sepp Blatter.”

More reaction to Sepp Blatter announcing he’ll run again for the FIFA presidency, this time from A Football Report: “The problem isn’t Sepp Blatter the individual, so much as FIFA’s structure as a whole.”


  1. It is very hard to come up with good solutions to the problem of concussions in soccer, but the FIFA medical officer’s suggestion of a mandated 3-minute match-stop might be the worst. Any option that can easily result in a team gaining an advantage by feigning a head injury should be dismissed out of hand.

  2. Any rumors on what the player announcement is? Anybody besides me pressing “refresh” on the Union page a bit too much?

  3. I for one can’t wait for a new MLS logo.

  4. Primary focus on tonight’s NYRB-DCU game should be to root for Olave to pick up a card and be suspended for Saturday’s game. If Miller is also not available, that would significantly deplete their defence on Saturday.

  5. Sak confirms Muelensteen is on head coach short list but search is suspended until after OC. So JC could hoist it & the next day the search to replace him restarts? I don’t get Sak’s idea of PR.

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