Daily news roundups

Playoff scenarios, international callups, Sak focus of criticism, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

That the Union need to win all three of their remaining games if they are to keep their slim playoff chances alive after last Thursday’s draw with Chicago is a given. A post on the Union website on Friday explained that if they do win their remaining games, they need three of the four following scenarios to happen:

  1. One (1) Columbus loss or tie
  2. One (1) Houston loss and one (1) tie
  3. Three (3) Toronto losses OR two (2) Toronto losses and one (1) tie
  4. Two (2) New York losses

Over the weekend, one of those scenarios did happen, with Columbus losing to New England. Parts of the second and third scenario also occurred, with Houston losing to New York and Toronto losing to LA. A Houston road win or draw against Toronto on Wednesday would thus be a great help.

So, how much did those events statistically improve the Union’s playoff chances? After Thursday night’s draw but before the weekend’s results, the Union’s playoff chances stood at 8.5 percent, according to SportsClubStats. After the weekend’s results, SportsClubStats puts the Union’s playoff chances at 9.6 percent. Small beer, but sometimes you take what you can get.

However slim the Union’s playoff chances, desire within the team to continue the fight remains. Speaking after Thursday’s draw, Amobi Okugo said, “We need to take care of our business. We didn’t do that tonight, but we have a chance next Saturday. I know that next week in practice, some people are going to get hurt. I know that for a fact.”

With MLS continuing play through the upcoming FIFA international week, Union fans have been wondering which players will or will not be available for Saturday’s must-win game against Columbus.

No Columbus players were called up by the US senior squad for the Ecuador game or for the US U-23 MNT mini camp in Brazil (see below) ahead of Saturday’s contest at PPL. However, Waylon Francis and Federico Higuain both received bookings that will see them watch the game from Ohio.

The manner in which the Union conceded the stoppage time equalizer against Chicago has seen a flurry of reports connecting the Union’s declining fortunes with the Nick Sakiewicz-led signing of Rais Mbolhi over the summer instead of reinforcements in the attack.

  • You will recall that on Friday morning we linked to a piece at Goal.com from Ives Galarcep that said when Sakiewicz’s “luxury signing committed the kind of mistake that might have just wrecked the Union’s season, it is tough not to blame the man most responsible for him being on the field.”
  • At CSN Philly, Ryan Bright writes that to many, Mbolhi “represents to many the Union’s mismanagement and lack of vision.”
  • At The 700 Level, Dave Zeitlin writes, Mbolhi “was never the right player to solve the Union’s problems this season, nor was this the right time to start him for just a few games,” and says the first mistake occurred “when Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz officially signed Mbolhi, trotted him out in front of the media and scoffed at anyone that didn’t praise the genius of bringing in a player that was coming off a great World Cup.”
  • The headline for Matthew De George’s article at the Delco Times says: “Mbolhi [sic] blunder epitomizes Union’s transfer missteps.”

Power rankings: At ESPN, the Union drop two spots to No. 10. “The Union — or goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, to be precise — threw away two points against Chicago, as the keeper’s errant outlet pass gifted the Fire its equalizer. Four points out of fifth place with three games to play, Philly’s playoff prospects are looking grim.”

Brotherly Game has game-changing moments from Thursday’s draw.

Union Academy

On Saturday, the Union Academy U-13/14s (4-1-0) defeated NJCSA 1-0 thanks to 74th minute goal from Tony Temple. The U-15/16s (6-0-0 and in first place) defeated their NJCSA counterparts 3-0. Alexander Soto scored opened and closed the scoring with Kalil Elmedkar scoring in between. The U-17/18s (3-2-1 and in fifth place) fell 2-1 to NJCSA. Mohamed Condi scored for the Union in the 40th minute before the team conceded 45th and 57th minute goals.


In Eastern Conference play, first place DC United’s (52 points) 0-0 draw with third place Kansas City (46 points) was enough for them to clinch a playoff spot. Second place New England (48 points) defeated fifth place Columbus (43 points), 2-1. Fourth place New York (44 points) defeated eighth place Houston (36 points), 1-0. Sixth place Toronto (40 points) lost 3-0 to LA. After drawing 1-1 with seventh place Philadelphia on Thursday, ninth place Chicago (33 points) was officially eliminated from playoff contention after a 0-0 draw with last place Montreal (25 points) on Sunday.

In the Western Conference, first place Seattle (60 points) defeated seventh place Colorado 4-1 on the road to eliminate the Rapids from playoff contention. Second place LA (60 points) defeated Toronto, 3-0. Landon Donovan notched his 136th career assist on the Galaxies second goal, a new league record. Third place Salt Lake (49 points) was defeated 1-0 by last place Chivas USA (27 points). It was the first win for Chivas in 12 games. Fourth place Dallas (48 points) lost 2-0 to fifth place Vancouver (43 points). Sixth place Portland (42 points) defeated eighth place San Jose (29 points) 2-1 on the road.

Maybe Thierry Henry will remain with Red Bulls for another season after all?

In the meantime, Tim Cahill says he doesn’t intend to miss Australia’s two upcoming friendlies, which would see him miss two games with New York. Meh, he got his first ever MLS red card after three minutes of play against Houston so he’d be missing a game anyway.

Former Union man Justin Mapp passed the 20,000 career MLS minutes mark in the draw against Chicago.

Marco Di Vaio has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

Frank Lampard said of rumors that his loan to Manchester City will be extended beyond Jan. 1, “There has been a lot said about when the season starts, but the only thing that can decide my future is how well I am playing. They will be kicking me out in January if I don’t play very well! I am just looking game to game and trying to play as well as I can.”

Is NYCFC trying to land Juan Agudelo?

In view of the upcoming CBA negotiations, Graham Parker writes at ESPN that “the latest salary figures might be viewed as one that captures the end of an era, while speculation around the curios of Kaka’s huge salary, or the arcane mechanisms that have David Villa on a $60,000 base, have to be seen in context of the rather many more sub-$100,000 figures dotted across the spreadsheet.”

At MLSsoccer.com, a look at Sacramento’s emergence into the expansion franchise picture.


Jurgen Klinsmann has announced his 21-player roster for Friday’s friendly against Ecuador in Connecticut. Klinsmann said,

We look at these two games as an opportunity to take a picture of the player pool as it stands now. Already the hierarchy starts to shift in some ways, which is normal at the beginning of a cycle. We are excited to look at this group against a very competitive team like Ecuador, and then we will have a chance to bring some different faces for the game against Honduras. Obviously, it’s going to be a special night on Friday as everyone in the U.S. Soccer family will have the chance to honor the amazing career of Landon Donovan.

With Friday’s game against Ecuador being billed as Landon Donovan’s send-off game, the Wall Street Journal looks at some of the aging stars of the USWNT team and wonders if it too is about to have a Landon Donovan moment: “With the qualifying tournament for the 2015 Women’s World Cup set to begin later this month, the top-ranked Americans are confronting the same questions that all great teams eventually have to deal with—when is it the right time for veterans to step aside for the next generation?” Looking at the 20-player roster that was released Monday morning for the upcoming Women’s World Cup qualifiers, it seems now is not that time.

The 21-player roster for the upcoming U-23 MNT mini-camp in Brazil’s U-23 MNT that will conclude with a game against Brazil on Oct. 13 has been announced.

After defeating Costa Rica 5-2 last Wednesday at the Panama U-17 International Tournament, the US topped Canada 2-0 on Friday. On Sunday, the team faced tournament host Panama. With the scoreline level at 0-0 in the 86th minute, Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Hershey, Pa.) scored a beauty of a goal for the 1-0 win and tournament sweep.


The International Business Times on calls for Qatar to be stripped of the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup because of alleged funding of terrorist groups.

The AP notes that the FIFA movie “United Passions,” which stars Gerard Depardieu, Sam Neill and Tim Roth, and was made with $27 million in FIFA funds, has made between $150,000 and $200,000 worldwide since its release in June. The AP report concludes,

FIFA is unlikely to see much return on its $27 million investment, though the loss is cushioned by having $1.5 billion in the bank. Still, that $27 million represents FIFA’s entire 2013 spending on its Goal development program, which targets projects in poorer member federations.

The money could also pay, several times over, to have natural grass surfaces put in six Canadian stadiums for the world’s best female players.

Former Brazil striker Romário, who was a member of the 1994 World Cup winning Brazil team, has been elected to the Brazilian senate.


  1. Classy comment by Klinsmann regarding Donovan considering the differences the two have had.
    Any word on which Columbus and/or Kansas City players have received call ups since that could affect the Union’s next two games?

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      No Columbus players were called up by either the US senior team or the U-23 MNT. I don’t believe there were any other callups that affected Columbus but Waylon Francis and Federico Higuain both received bookings that will see them miss Saturday’s game at PPL Park.

      Klinsmann is supposed to announce other callups for the Honduras friendly but with that game taking place on a Tuesday, Oct. 14, any Union or KC players who might be called up should be, barring injury, available for the game at PPL on Saturday, Oct. 18.

  2. Can you imagine Rais M’bohli only really playing 4 games in a Union uniform. What if the Union decide to move him this off season. Talk about a tumultuous visit.

    • even if he ends up being the savoir of a great team next year, it wasn’t the right move when it was made.

    • Overall, him not being there Saturday is a good thing. Can you imagine the boos that would rain down if he were here and starting. It could’ve been ugly, I think.

    • Does Nick Sakiewicz have the guts to admit he made a mistake in signing M’Bohli and not attackers? Zac may be gone in the expansion draft, so Rais may be the only option outside Blake. After Seitz, then MacMath I’m not sure if this team can handle another full-time goalkeeper project like Blake.

  3. Assuming they win their last three, which includes two against Columbus, that would take care of one of the three necessary scenarios described above.

    But you know what happens when you “assume” things…

  4. New York plays at Columbus on Sunday. Assuming we beat Columbus on Saturday, we root for them to beat NY then we beat them again on the 26th and all is right with the world.

  5. With the new round of international games coming up, I’d like to pose this question. How many players in the Union’s history have had their National Team standing improve as a result of playing for the Union? I feel like a lot have seen their standing decline. And others became visible to their team only after leaving the Union. But who has used the Union to vault *into* the national team picture? I can think of one — Jack McInerney. Either I’m forgetting a lot of names, or that’s a real disincentive for young players to join the Union.

    • It brought Edu back into the US picture.. It brought Mondragon back into the colombia picture. Valdes was brought into the fold for Colombia based on his time with the Union, they just wanted him closer to home in the Colombian league.

    • Freddy Adu, as I recall, seemed to briefly get back into the picture due to being here. The Olympic qualifiers come to mind specifically.

    • Aside from Valdes and Lahoud, I can’t think of any others.

    • How can you guys forget Keon “No Passport No Cry” Daniel

  6. Comment removed by managing editor Ed Farnsworth for abusive language. You don’t like it, “Fletch,” send me an email.

    • I don’t know what your problem is, but don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      • Comment removed by managing editor Ed Farnsworth for abusive language. You don’t like it “Fletch,” send me an email.

      • Hugs and kisses to you, too.

      • Standard Internet Troll says:


        You’re doing it wrong. When you try too hard to stir things up by posting multiple diatribes, you just end up looking silly and desperate.

        Take it from me…less is more. Follow my advice and you too will be a successful troll someday (just like me).

  7. The issue isn’t that the Union are eliminated from the playoffs. In fact, of the scenarios described, most of them are likely to happen — except the most important one, which is us winning our last 3 games.

    In other words, if the Union couldn’t take care of NYRB at home, nor Houston at home, nor Chicago at home, there is no reason to believe that they can take care of Columbus or KC at home (to say nothing of Columbus on the road).

    • old soccer coach says:

      Columbus without Higuain (sp?) is imaginable. And KC is also possible because Vermes plays a style that allows us to do what we do best when we are rested and healthy, look for the counterattack. But if the last game in Columbus is win or go home for both teams, it will be a challenge.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Damn… Christian Pulisic is good, and only getting better.

  9. The Black Hand says:

    You know, I thought that NYFC supporters would be made up of a bunch of people, who know very little about “soccer”, usually front-run their loyalty, live outside of NYC…yet claim to be a New Yorker’s because you own a Yankees hat and are a general embarrassment to themselves and anyone in their company. Who knew that they were loyal, intelligent supporters…with a way with words??? Way to go, Fletch…you guys are awesome!!!

    • You know, it’s a wonder this site doesn’t attract more trolls. Although your screen name continues to make me nervous…;)

      • The Black Hand says:

        You have nothing to fear…or do you???

      • Any time I see a comment from The Black Hand, I instantly think of it being said by Don Fanucci from The Godfather Part II. Just can’t get that image out of my head.

  10. When I think of Fletch I think of the doctor’s office and the rectal exam. Funny movie. Not so funny commentary.

  11. old soccer coach says:

    Has anyone seen or heard anything about the rules for the NYCFC/Orlando City expansion draft?

  12. It’s too easy & too soon to say Mbolhi signing was a bad deal. What high impact striker did we miss out on who would come before the permanent manager was announced? It’s Sak’s failure to conduct a proper search, like his failure to explain the GK picture, that leave the indelible impression he is the DCruz of MLS CEOs: all energy, not enough ability & the results speak for themselves. I owe DC an apology.

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