Daily news roundups

Reaction to Union win, #tifogate, league results, USWNT, more.

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

Well, given the way things have played out, Saturday’s win over Kansas City was certainly a nice way to end the home season. And as far as season-enders go for the Union, it was also only the second time the team has won its final home game, the first being the 2-1 win over New York back in 2010. History does not bode well for Sunday’s season-ending game in Columbus: The Union have never won the last game of the season. As a matter of fact, the last game of 2010 was on the road against Columbus. The Union lost 3-1.

Jim Curtin said the team put in “a good performance” and “showed some character” in holding on for the win. Curtin summed up, “So, happy with the group, happy the fans can go home happy in this game. I know we came up short and the focus now, the only word I use around the guys now is playoffs for next year. We’re not going to talk about championships or anything like that, we’re talking about the playoffs in 2015 and that is the goal.”

With Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux both unavailable for the game with injuries, Saturday was a chance for some young players to throw down their mark for 2015, and Brian Brown and Pedro Ribeiro both did that.

Despite scoring the go-ahead goal, Brown admitted, “The only thing I think I did good was score. It was not one of my best games. I think it was one of my worst games since I’ve been here. I’ve just gotta keep working and it’s going to be good.”

Curtin agreed, saying in his postgame press conference, “[H]e struggled — I’m not going to say he had a perfect game, I yelled at him at halftime — a lot. I said, I don’t care that you scored the goal, there’s a lot more movement, and running, and work, that you have to do defensively and offensively to be an option for guys. He understands that — young player, got to grow.”

Brown has enjoyed his time on loan with the Union, saying after the game, “I love it here. I love the team, the guys, the fans, the atmosphere – I love everything here in Philly. And I want to come back here next season, definitely. I hope they decide to keep me or get me on the next loan.”

Ribeiro said of the service from Cristian Maidana, who assisted both goals, “I couldn’t have asked for a better ball, he put me right in front of goal. I didn’t even have to ask for the ball, he made eye contact and saw me there and gave me a great ball between two defenders. I was fortunate to make a good touch and put it in.”

The futures with the Union of Brian Carroll and Amobi Okugo, both of whom are out of contract at the end of the season, are uncertain. Okugo said, “It hasn’t really hit me. It’s my 100th start, and I was happy to get that in front of the Union fans. It hasn’t really hit me yet. But you never know what the future holds. We’ll see what happens.”

Carroll said, “I don’t know what the future holds. I would enjoy and love the opportunity to still be here but we’ll see what happens…I still enjoy playing and I still think I can contribute. So we’ll talk with them at the end of the year and see if they agree with that. If they do, then hopefully I’ll be back. And if not, I’ll try to find somewhere else.”

One assumes that Zac MacMath will be in goal when the Union face Columbus on Sunday. Buried at the bottom of a report on Saturday’s game at CSN Philly was this: “Rais Mbolhi remained in Europe awaiting the birth of his first child.”

Jim Curtin made clear he’s eager to get working on the offseason. “I’m excited for my first full off-season, to be honest, to go through the process of a draft and bring players in. I am excited for that opportunity, if given. And, again, I think I can do it the right way, I know what works in this league.”

The operative phrase in the quote is of course “if given.” When asked about that, Curtin said,

I’m just operating as interim coach. I think there’ll be some decisions that are made in the near weeks and we’ll piece it together. Like I said, I’m going to be a part of it one way or the other and we’ll see what happens. I’m eager to get going on the offseason. Obviously, we have Columbus, and we’ll take that one very seriously as well and have the chance to judge guys and see where they stand for next year, who wants to be here and who is kind of maybe on the move. And, again, I do want to be part of that process.

Speaking to the Delco Times, Nick Sakiewicz once again affirmed that, even if their hasn’t been an announcement, Curtin is his choice to lead the club forward. “I’m committed to Jim Curtin long-term. He will be here a long time.”

Sakiewicz said of where the club stands, “We’re five years old. We started from a blank sheet of paper. So I think the club is focused on the next five years and making it better and being in the playoffs every year and winning some trophies…I think the club is heading in the right direction. And I think it is just a matter of time until we are lifting the MLS Cup.”

Recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union, MLSsoccer.comInquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly GameSporting Kansas CityThe Blue Testament, Reporting KC, SBIProSoccerTalkSports Mole, The Sports Network, and The AP.

Also here at PSP, video and transcript of Curtin’s postgame press conference, as well as video interviews with MacMath, Okugo, Andrew Wenger, Jimmy McLaughlin, Amobi Okugo, and Ray Gaddis.

Our photo essay will be up later this morning. In the meanwhile, USA Today has a photo gallery.

At the Union website, some numbers from Saturday’s game.

At Brotherly Game, game-changing moments from Saturday’s win.

In ESPN’s power rankings, the Union remain at No. 12. “Cristian Maidana set up both goals, and he has quietly amassed 11 assists on the season, tying him for sixth place in that category.”

#tifogate

Unless you were following social media while attending Saturday’s game, you probably missed a couple of incidents in which fans who had displayed banners critical of Nick Sakiewicz’s handling of the team were confiscated by Union representatives. If the banners in question — one banner showed Sakiewicz as the Grim Reaper, while two other banners spelled out “Death Be Not Proud” with images linking the Union to Sakiewicz’s past troubles with the New York Metro Stars and Tampa Bay Mutiny — hadn’t been confiscated, you may have missed them entirely.

On Saturday night, Jonathan Tannenwald asked the club for a statement on the removal of the banners (as far as I know, no fans were ejected from the stadium). Tannenwald tweeted, “A spokesperson for the Union referred me to the team’s policy on fan signs and told me the removed signs were ‘deemed not appropriate.'” When PSP asked a Union spokesperson for a statement, we were told the same.

The pertinent sections of the Supporters Code on the Union website state (emphasis added):

  • Fans are encouraged to cheer, sing, and otherwise support their team while remaining respectful and courteous to their fellow patrons, referees, opposing team fans and players.
  • Fans enjoy the soccer experience free from fighting, thrown objects, attempts to enter the playing field, political or inciting messages, and disorderly behavior, including foul, sexist, racial, obscene or abusive language or gestures.
  • Fans comply with requests from stadium staff regarding stadium policies and emergency response procedures.
  • Any flags, banners, or tifo must be pre-approved by the Philadelphia Union & PPL Park management. Please contact Fan Services at 877-21-UNION or [email protected] at least 48 hours before a game to make an appointment for banner approval.

One doesn’t need to see a banner at PPL Park to understand that many fans are frustrated with Nick Sakiewicz’s leadership of the club. All one needs to do is read the comments section of just about any recent Union related report on the internet or spend a few minutes on social media. But because fans do not have many avenues to present such frustration to the club — such as a scheme to allow fans to buy shares in the club and so have a shareholders’ voice in board meetings — banners are what some fans will use to get their legitimate views across.

While the Supporters Code makes clear that the club has the right to remove unapproved displays, the larger question is, of course, was the club right to do so? In other words, by removing banners — banners which, it must be said, used the same kind of wit and humor that make the best SoB banners so successful — did the club create more controversy than might have resulted from a few camera phone shots of the banners on social media?

That’s clearly the case when the Daily News runs an “Attytood” column under the headline, “The Philadelphia Union treads on free speech.”

More on the banners and their removal at Brotherly Game.

More Union news

With Chivas USA going on hiatus, the Black Army supporters group plans to attend Galaxy games next season as away support. In a Q&A at The Goat Parade, an unnamed Black Army member says, “We will use it as a platform to show that the BA stays alive, we are using the Sons of Ben as an example.” You will recall that the SoBs famously (and brilliantly) attended MLS games as away support before the Union first took the field.

Michael Lahoud spoke to the BBC World Service about the Kick Ebola in the Butt campaign. Lahoud is also quoted in this article at the Daily Mail about how the Craig Bellamy Foundation’s academy in Sierra Leone is coping with the Ebola crisis.

In related Ebola hysteria news, the BBC reports, “Greek club PAS Lamia have asked Sierra Leone’s John Kamara not to train or play with the club for three weeks due to fears over the Ebola virus.” The report continues, “The move by second tier Lamia comes despite the fact there have been no reported cases of Ebola in Cameroon [where the Sierra Leone national team played last week] and Kamara has not been to Sierra Leone in more than a year.”

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union Academy U-13/14s (6-1-0) rolled over World Class FC on Saturday, 6-0. Tony Temple had a hat trick after 20 minutes of play, Nikolas Sessock scored a brace win six minutes, and Fimbarr Teah added another goal late in the second half. The U-13/14s have outscored opponents 26-7 over seven games.

The Union U-15/16s (7-0-0, first in the East Conference) defeated Bethesda-Olney, 3-1, with Alexander Soto scoring a first half hat trick.

The Union U-17/18s (4-2-1, fifth in the East Conference) continued the winning weekend with a 2-0 win over Bethesda-Olney

MLS

In the Eastern Conference, DC (58 points) clinched first place with a 2-1 home win over ninth place Chicago (33 points). Second place New England (52 points) defeated eighth place Houston (39 points) 2-1 on the road. Third place Kansas City (49 points) lost 2-1 to sixth place Philadelphia (42 points), their sixth loss over the past ten games. Fourth place Columbus (49 points) defeated fifth place New York (47 points) 3-1 on the road. In a game that did not include Michael Bradley or Jermain Defoe but did include three red cards, seventh place Toronto (41 points) is out of playoff contention after drawing 1-1 at home with tenth place Montreal (27 points). So, I guess Nick Sakiewicz won that argument.

In the Western Conference, first place Seattle (61 points) drew 2-2 on the road with second place LA (61 points), setting up a dramatic finale for the Supporters Shield race when the Sounders host the Galaxy next Saturday afternoon. Third place Dallas (54 points) defeated seventh place Colorado (32 points) 1-0 on the road. Fourth place Salt Lake (53 points) drew 0-0 with sixth place Portland (46 points) on the road. Fifth place Vancouver (47 points) drew 0-0 on the road with last place San Jose (30 points). The fifth place playoff spot in the West is now the only postseason spot still in play going into the last weekend of the regular season. Eighth place Chivas USA (30 points) had the weekend off.

It was San Jose’s last game at Buck Shaw Stadium before the opening of their brand new stadium next season.

Using LA’s Gyasi Zardes as a starting point, Deadspin looks at the impact of homegrown players in MLS.

Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley and team captain Steven Caldwell have both backed the suit against the use of artificial turf at next year’s Women’s World Cup. Calling it an “alien surface,” Caldwell said, “I think that we should eradicate turf from football.”

NYC FC’s Frank Lampard, on loan to Manchester City, left Saturday’s 4-1 win over Tottenham in the first half with a thigh injury that will see him miss this week’s Champions League game against CSKA Moscow.

Why did Gareth Barry not join NYC FC? He says, “America was an option and there was a conversation about it but when I spoke to the coaches here they said, ‘If you are going there, you are retiring.'” The reference to “the coaches” is of course to his coaches at Everton. Barry added, “Obviously I did not agree it was retiring but I sort of agreed it would have been going to a league that is up and coming and not as big as the Premier League, so I could see their point.”

Juan Agudelo is not going to find a home with Wolverhampton. The club says it will not pursue him, citing fitness issues.

US

The USWNT faces Haiti tonight in its final group game of the CONCACAF Women’s World Qualifiers (7:30 pm: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go).

On Friday, the US demolished Guatemala, 5-0. Recaps from Fox Soccer, MLSsoccer.com, ASN, SIChicagoland Soccer NewsThe Sports Network.

Alex Morgan’s qualification tournament is over after suffering a left ankle injury in the win that will see her unable to play for four-to-six weeks. Morgan missed seven months after injuring the same ankle before returning to play in June. All of which means that Morgan’s injury is an opportunity for someone like Christen Press.

In a Q&A at US Soccer, Jurgen Klinsmann recounts the positives from the recent USMNT friendlies.

In other US national teams’ injury news, Goal.com reports Joe Corona broke a bone in his right foot in Club Tijuana’s 2-1 win against Queretaro on Friday and will be out for at least four weeks, meaning he will be unavailable for Novembers international friendlies.

In more hopeful news, MLSsoccer.com relates that the minutes for the US Soccer board meeting in June state, “[USSF chief commercial officer Jay Berhalter (brother of Columbus Crew head coach Gregg)] informed the Board that staff would be working with Nike on the process of rebranding, including the crest, with a tentative launch period of 2016 for the rebranding effort.”

A US Soccer spokesperson told MLSsoccer.com, “We are always reviewing and discussing our brand internally. It’s been an ongoing discussion for years, and something we’ll continue to explore.”

With Alexi Lalas’ contract with ESPN expiring at the end of the year, could he be on his way to Fox? According to “a World Soccer Talk source,” he just may be.

Elsewhere

Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, says, “I have not been identified by the British press as someone corrupt. If there is corruption, there must be a new vote.”

The Press Association reports, “A footballer has died of injuries he sustained after landing awkwardly while celebrating a goal during a state-level league match in India, the organisers of the Mizoram Premier League have announced.”

Reuters reports, “A referee in northern Peru halted a cup match eight minutes early after five players went down injured at the same time in an apparent bid to have a match they were losing abandoned.”

26 Comments

  1. You good men posted this *JUST* as i was sitting down here at work to eat my lunch… Brilliant! 🙂

  2. good god i’ve been waiting for like two hours for the daily post i feel like i’m going into withdrawal what is wrong with you guys?
    yes i have no life

  3. Still not happy with Curtin’s defeatist attitude. “We’re only going to talk about playoffs.” Yes…that makes sense, but this is MLS where the likes of DC United go from worst to first. If you consider yourself an average club…you will always be that!

    • The playoffs in the MLS are debatably the lowest bar in all of sports. If it weren’t for the NBA playoffs there wouldn’t be a debate at all.

      • Going by percentage of teams that get in, MLS has the same percentage as NBA and NHL (53%). You could also make the case that because 4 of those MLS teams are essentially in a play-in game vs a full two-legged series, the bar in MLS is higher than those other two leagues.

      • Yea but if you count quality of play… sometimes I think all you have to do is field a squad of non cadavers to get in the playoffs.
        So the Sixers are eliminated.

      • Sixers are a special case.

  4. I love how The Union Confiscating the banners ensured that their message got out farther and more efficiently than if they just left them up. Sure they had the legal right to take the banners, because the code is so vaguely written, but in doing so they seem petty, cowardly, thin skinned and it is assumed that the order was given by Nik Sak himself.
    .
    Not a good look by any means and does nothing to reassure the fanbase.
    .
    The Union should really look into the Streisand effect.

  5. The Union are fooling NO ONE! !! Now they’ll be under even more scrutiny. Not what Sakiewicz was hoping for.

  6. Old soccer coach says:

    Some years ago now, a zealous Union official in the section where I sit accused me of not having removed my hat during the national anthem a minute or so after the anthem was over and turned away. I grabbed him by the back pocket and corrected him, that yes I had put the hat back on as the word “brave” was finishing but that the hat had otherwise been off. Assumptions are made unconsciously all the time. Often they are correct, sometimes they err. An accusation needs to grounded in fact and the context of the action evaluated before it is made. Was this the first time in five years that a banner has been confiscated for being unapproved? Or have they been strict from the beginning and we are only hearing about this particular event because it looks like suppression of dissent? The other point to remember is that free speech is not violated to the same degree if, in a private property circumstance, advance notice has been given about curtailments and acts committed that accept those curtailments. Regulating dissent, to avoid possible public disorder is a legitimate activity by those responsible for maintaining order, which is why when the Pink Male Calves are here there is a wall of yellow jackets surrounding their supporters in the stands. Did tifogate look bad? You bet. Was it in fact as bad as it looks? We don’t know.

    • I guess what would make it ‘as bad as it looks’ would be if Nick Sak ordered the signs confiscated. It would interesting to see if we can get an answer to that question …

      • He admits he ordered it because he was told. He’s CEO & with everything he says he’s not responsible for, we now know TIFO must be it.

    • Even if they’ve enforced it consistently, which is a bit of an unknown, simple judgment would say that they’d create more headaches and reinforce the perception that they’re out of touch with fans by removing them. Leaving them up would have shown a bit more awareness of where fans’ heads are right now, and the signs weren’t vulgar or offensive. Even if done by the book, I think most of us expect rational, sound decision making from the FO. Removing TIFO looks a bit desperate in this case.

  7. Oh one last thing… Sak was quoted in the Delco times article “You can’t buy a striker for a quarter-million dollars,” Does that mean we got Rais on a free transfer or was he just refering to his salary? Because Letoux makes $250,000 dollars and Conor Casey makes $192,500 dollars. So effective strikers can be had in that price range.

    • That’s salary, not a transfer fee. A transfer fee should always be more than the salary otherwise you’re running a terrible business. Besides, if you bring a striker in do you want a Le Toux or Casey, or do you want a BWP? You won’t get that for $250k.

    • according to my web research (taken with a grain of salt), Rais’ transfer fee was $255,681. imagine his salary is in the $250,000 range. since he has only played 4 games (out of 19) since June 30 – and only totally scuppered one win, it looks like money well spent – thanks Sak! brilliant money management.

    • Well, he was a free transfer.

  8. Sorry SoB’s……….but real ultras would never allow someone to come take their tifo away…….can you imagine the Roma or Dortmund ultras caving like that? Didn’t think so.

    • Anthony Burgess says:

      Because you have seen the Ultras up close at Dortmund and Roma I imagine.
      .
      Those Ultras over there like a little bit of ultraviolence and hang out at the Korova Milk Bar?
      .
      Are you a Droog or a Nadsat yourself?

      • Yes….I have been to la curva norde, actually…….not for the faint of heart. Makes you guys look like school kids! The Yellow Wall I haven’t been to yet. BVB isn’t as easy a ticket as Roma…..unfortunately. But you probably already know this since your soooo witty and reference clock work orange? You not speaking over anyones head here son………SoB tool.

      • I’m not a SOB member sir and I agree about The Yellow Wall. I list it as one of the most important places i would like to see live some day- 20,000 people bounding up and down for 90 minutes. So cool.
        .
        As for me being soooo witty, you come off as rather crass and rapacious in your accusations of our local Supports/ SOB members and the Clockwork Orange commentary was in reference to the Ultras, not you.
        .
        People/Media say what they will about the Philly area, but most tend to use their head in these parts and not the reactive emotions of their heart in confrontation. Have a good day- hope to see you On The Wall.

      • Joel……while my comment seemed emotional….my larger point is that the SoB’s should stand up for themselves and they have every right to. They are the reason a team is here…..not Sac. They should show the power that they have over the organization, just like the Ultras in Dortmund and Roma exercise. Hope to see you on The Wall someday too!

      • I’ll even buy you a pint!

      • Fair points alicat215. Cheers.

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