Daily news roundups

Sak not bothered by criticism, USWNT advance to WWC qualification semi, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Dave Zeitlin caused something of a stir on Twitter on Monday when he tweeted a series of quotes from an interview he had just done with Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz. Here’s what Sakiewicz had to say:

Leaving aside the wisdom of responding to fan criticism by saying “those fans that are saying that are completely wrong,” his publicly reported involvement in the negotiations to sign Vincent Nogueira, Rais Mbolhi, the fact that the team still does not have a general manager, or that I have not heard the subject of Jack McInerney’s trade come up in conversations with fans in months, it is far too easy to conclude that Sakiewicz is merely deflecting responsibility to others. In doing so, he undercuts the praise he rightly deserves for things like helping to found the team, getting PPL Park built, securing a lucrative shirt sponsorship, navigating the messiness of local politics to get the new training facility built, and so on.

For example, in the article “Instead of pointing fingers, Philadelphia Union CEO needs to look at himself” at SB Nation, Ryan Rosenblatt writes,

Sakiewicz’s comments serve only himself and to cover his own behind, at least theoretically. The finger pointing will likely only lead fans to look closer at the man in charge of the club and wonder what type of leadership he provides, but more than that, it is throwing the staff under the bus. He’s asking the media and the fans to go after technical director Chris Albright and manager Jim Curtin, to harass them with questions about why the team isn’t doing better. That isn’t a healthy work environment and doesn’t set up Albright and Curtin well to turn the team around.

Sakiewicz also said of the removal of banners critical of his tenure as club CEO during Saturday’s game against Kansas City, “I didn’t even see the banner and I didn’t even know about it until someone told me.” He explained, “Our stadium policy is to remove that stuff whenever it appears. PPL Park is supposed to be a positive environment for all fans,” adding, “We don’t want anyone in the stadium promoting a negative environment. I think every stadium in the country has the same policy.”

At CSN Philly, Zeitlin has the latest Inside Doop. Zeitlin notes that Sunday’s season finale in Columbus could be the last time Zac MacMath, Maurice Edu, Amobi Okugo, Conor Casey and Brian Carroll could appear in a Union kit.

Cristian Maidana has been named to MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week.

In Soccer America’s power rankings, the Union remain at No. 12. At SI, the Union move up one spot to No. 12.

In an interview at Vol. 1 Brooklyn with the musician John Sharkey III (Clockcleaner, Puerto Rico Flowers, Dark Blue), Sharkey, who describes himself as “a fair-weather fan” of the Union, says, “They’re an interesting team. They tend to score a lot of goals really early, and then just piss that lead away immediately. That’s their MO. At least, it’s been since I’ve watched them…I’m astounded that they have such a supportership for being the poorly-run and poorly-performing team that they are.”


Penn freshman midfielder Austin Kuhn has been named Philly Soccer Six Player of the Week after scoring the game-winner in Saturday’s 2-1 road victory at Dartmouth. Villanova sophomore Will Steiner was named Philly Soccer Six Defensive Player of the Week. Drexel’s Erik Alexandersson was named Rookie of the Week.

Speaking of his team’s recent Panama U-17 Tournament championship, their fourth international title in the last 12 months, US U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams said of Hershey, Pa.’s Christian Pulisic, “Nothing surprises me anymore in terms of him creating goals and scoring goals. He’s a talented player and he’s done very very well for us. As a No. 10, he’s obviously been identified by big clubs around the world.”

Defender Emily Gray (Penn Fusion; Sewell, N.J.) and midfielder Mackenzie Pluck (FC Bucks; North Wales, Pa.) have been called up for the U-14 GNT camp that will run Nov. 1-9 at the US Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif.

From Newsworks,

Two men accused of shooting up a soccer tournament in Wilmington in 2012 could face the death penalty if a Delaware jury finds them guilty.

Opening arguments began Monday in the trial of Otis Phillips and Jeffrey Phillips, who are not related. Deputy Attorney General Ipek Medford said the men were out for “revenge, retaliation and elimination” when they shot and killed 47-year-old Herman Curry at Eden Park on July 8, 2012. Alexander Kamara, a 16-year-old soccer player was killed in the crossfire.

The AP reports from Pittsburgh,

A lawyer for the parents of an autistic high school soccer player in Pennsylvania who was duct-taped to a goal post in a prank this month says the parents don’t want charges filed against the two students involved.

Instead, attorney Phil DiLucente says, the parents want the two Highlands school students to apologize, do community service and get autism awareness training. He says a resolution is being worked out.


CONCACAF Champions League play returns tonight with DC United in Panama to face Tauro (8 pm: Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go), and Portland in Honduras to face Olimpia (10:30 pm:Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go). DC have already clinched their group. Portland will clinch with a win, tie or one-goal loss.

You don’t have to take an ethics course to understand that working for the same entity that one reports on presents at the minimum the appearance of a conflict of interest. And so, the fact that MLSsoccer.com, the most regular source of league news, also happens to be owned by the league presents the potential for serious questions about journalistic independence, first among them being whether writing for MLSsoccer.com is journalism or public relations. Such questions are the subject of a report at Deadspin on MLSsoccer.com’s Colorado Rapids beat reporter Chris Bianchi, who was fired this week after having the temerity to say in a tweet that the Rapids front office deserved its own share of the blame for the team’s disappointing season.

Rapids president Tim Hinchey, whose email exchanges with Bianchi about his tweet are included in the Deadspin story, declined to comment to The Denver Post on Bianchi’s firing, “saying only that Bianchi’s firing was an MLS decision.” On the question of whether his work was public relations or journalism, Bianchi told the Post, “I definitely consider myself a journalist. And that may have been my demise.”

Fox Sports on competing visions for MLS in Minneapolis.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle reports that Raul is about to sign with New York Cosmos. “The Spanish icon is expected to sign the contract as soon as this week and will join the NASL club in time for the 2015 spring season. He will also head up the Cosmos’ youth academy, which is expected to launch next year.”

The Guardian looks at the Cosmos.

Brotherly Game on the “dataization” of MLS.

Speaking of dataization, how about an “Age-Based League Rating” comparing the Premier League, MLS, and the A-League.


The USWNT defeated Haiti 6-0 on Monday evening at RFK Stadium to claim first place in Group A at the CONCACAF Women’s’ World Cup qualifiers. The US will face the Group B runner up — either Jamaica or Mexico, who face off in the Group B decider today (7:30 pm: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go) — on Friday at PPL Park in the tournament semifinals.

Recaps from US Soccer, CONCACAFMLSsoccer.com, Washington Post, SBI, SIProSoccerTalk, Soccer AmericaDC Soccer NewsUSA Today, and The AP.

Below are highlights from Monday’s win. Left back Meghan Klingenberg’s laser strike is a beauty.

SI profiles Lauren Holiday. “U.S. women’s national team midfielder Lauren Holiday and her husband, the NBA point guard Jrue Holiday, may play entirely different sports, but that doesn’t mean their playing styles have to be all that different from each other. Jrue is an All-Star for the New Orleans Pelicans, and if there was such a thing as a point guard in soccer, well, Lauren would be it.”

You will recall that recent reports have suggested that, along with the friendly against Ireland on Nov. 18, the USMNT was set to play Croatia at Craven Cottage in London on Nov. 12. The Washington Post’s Steven Goff tweeted on Monday that the Croatia friendly, which was never confirmed by US Soccer, is off and now it looks like the US will play Colombia at Fulham’s home instead.

Sporting News calls Jurgen Klinsmann “Eurosnob-in-chief” for his comments last week about MLS.


For listings of how to watch today’s UEFA Champions League games, check out the latest Footy on the Telly.

The BBC reports that former Chilean FA head Harold Mayne-Nicholls — and possible challenger to Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency — believes the World Cup could still be staged in the summer in Qatar. “You could play the first games at 7 pm, the second games at 10 pm and the third matches at 1 am.” That would make for 12 pm, 3 pm, and 6 pm start times for US TV viewers.

The AP reports that construction of the stadium that will host the final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia is ahead of schedule. Indeed, preparations for each of the 11 stadiums that will host World Cup games seem to be well in hand. The report also relates that the head of the local organizing committee said “Russia will try to ‘root out’ problems among football fans for the 2018 World Cup as the country struggles with hooliganism and racism.”

By the way, the official emblem for the 2018 World Cup will be unveiled next week.

At ESPN, Rory Smith on why Sepp Blatter is wrong to suggest “that football and politics do not mix, or that football should not be used to convey political message”:

Football is politics, and football is a political message. To believe, or even to attempt to pretend to believe otherwise is to ignore a vast swathe of football’s history, the part of it that makes the game so important, so symbolic, the bit that means that it transcends sport in a way that golf and tennis and most of its peers do not.



  1. To be fair I could always take or leave Clockcleaner.

  2. Why does Sak insist on continually proving how out of touch he is with the fans? The tifo thing IS a big deal. Worst response he could have possibly given. That’s the kind of thing that makes me wish I didn’t renew my season tickets for next year.

  3. So Sak’s management style is “The buck stops with someone else”?
    He should also take this opportunity (coming off a win) to hire Curtin full time, assuming that’s the plan.
    Regarding critisizing the GM, the fans are taking the wrong approach. I know this will strike many of you as wrong, but I’m a New York Ranger fan. In 1999 I was unhappy with coach John Muckler. I happened to be going to Boston the same time the Rangers were playing there (coincidence), got tickets to the game, and held up a “Fire Muckler” banner. Did I get asked to take it down? No. Did Kenny Mayne call me “a mean-spirited version of John 3:16” on Sportscenter that night? Yes. Did Muckler get fired? A couple of months later. So the trick is to go to Columbus Sunday and hold up the TIFO there (or just go to PPL Park, enjoy the womens’ games and ignore the Union altogether).

  4. It seems like Sak is just a natural BSer. He’s addicted to saying things that aren’t true, even when the lies aren’t even necessary. I think things would work a lot better for him in the public eye if he just talked less.

  5. I love it. Yes I am in charge but have no responsibility in any matters pertaining to club.
    Boy for a person to say so glibly a fan base is entirely wrong is troubling. NO recognizing of the reasons behind why the fan base would be so concerned with the direction the club is going.
    How about assuaging our growing discontent by explaining what it is we do not seem to understand behind the decisions. How bout a public forum with the Sons of Ben to answer some tough questions to enlighten us. Oh I guess they do not HAVE to do those things. Ladies and gentleman, we are in for a long long long bumpy ride. Damn.

    • FOOD FOR THOUGHT. If things derail next year- I strongly encourage the Sons of Ben to stage a coup d’etat by shunning the team and offering certain demands. It is only through the weight the SOB employ that change can be driven. The free market community is driven by dollars and ultimately if the dollars do not come in….. If the SOB and Supporters do not come to games the rest of us will tune in and follow suit. I recognize many of the SOB are season ticket holders and would be walking away from hard earned dollars but you are the voice of the community and one of the beautiful things that separate this great game from many others.
      I am not a member of the SOB but I recognize the importance they serve to the Union community and hope talks are underway amongst Ben Franklin, John Adams and the founding members to do what is in the best interest of the Football Republic.

    • By the way, ‘we don’t want anyone in the park portraying a negative environment’ says the CEO, with TIFO, well then start up a chant- sing it at the beginning of every game. The middle of every game the end of every game.
      What are they going to do kick The River End out of the stadium.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I agree. We can’t forget about this just because the off season is coming. This needs to luck back up the minute the season starts next year… HELL, isn’t the Super Draft here again this year? Making an appearance… I will be!!!

      • well Joel you have a good point, but so does Joel, so I’m going to stay neutral in this thread

      • +1

  6. O.K so, Wait? Nick Sakiewicz expects the River End to be the band on the titanic playing soft music till the ship has gone completely under.

    The other movie that came to mind is top gun. cough bull sh** !

  7. Kudos to the Highland parents for recognizing the importance in an eye for an eye not causing any real change in the perceptions and actions of people. Wow. I am impressed and hopeful for the state of our humanity today.
    and another thing. Here’s to Raul joining the NY Cosmos and heading up the youth development. Hope he scores 25 gols a year for next 2 years. He is Magic and a Brilliant player and I am stoked. Not that any of you care.

  8. What are the chances we ever see Christian Pulisic in a Union kit?

  9. Soooo…portraying a negative environment in PPL Park is no permitted. But throwing Curtin and Albright under the bus is permitted in the FO. That Mr. Sak is creating a negative environment in the work place which is far worse than a banner that was held in TRE for 8 minutes. I really think Sak is delusional.

    • It’s ironic he says the criticism doesn’t bother him…yet based on his comments, it seems to bother him greatly and he’s got some real issues with handling the truth.

      • old soccer coach says:

        Recall his words at the press conference introducing Rais M’Bohli, the ironic reference to the recent small tournament somewhere in in South America. He’s human, he doesn’t like being criticized. He was remarkably quick to defend a decision that was allegeldly someone else’s responsibility.

      • Colonel Jessup says:

        You want the truth? Sak can’t handle the truth!

  10. “Send in the clown. Don’t bother. (He’s) here.” Jay Sugarman is a smart, rich man. He must not think an incompetent, embarrassing, polarizing & irresponsible CEO will damage the value of his investment. That’s very bad. Worse it gets a Sondheim reference on a soccer page. And what might change his mind that you have the power to do?

  11. OneManWolfpack says:

    I genuinely can’t believe Sack had the, well SACK, to say the things he said. Even if he believed it, you don’t say it. His disconnect and contempt for the fans is disgusting.
    I’m starting to believe (and maybe I’m late on this) that Sack saw a business opportunity here in Philly because it is was a large market without a team, and he honestly doesn’t give a shit about this team, city, fans, etc. It is beyond amazing that this is the FO we got. I really can see this getting out of hand if we have another disappointing season next year.
    I REALLY need to hit the lottery and buy this team.

  12. Everything Sakiewicz said bothered me, but none of it surprised me. I’ve seen since the 1st year that this team is not properly managed, and we’ve gotten the same lip service (we want to win, yada yada yada) since the “re-build” of 2012. Just for kicks, here’s a brief timeline:

    2010-Team starts, everyone is excited to “finally have a team.”
    2011-Team makes playoffs, extending the honeymoon period an extra year.
    2012-Complete collapse, but firing of Nowak gains some respect back, much of which is lost with the hiring of Hackworth after a loss (not a shot at Hackworth, he was hired prematurely), though he does stabilize what was quickly becoming a train wreck.
    2013-Team gains some respect back with a quiet off-season, but a skeleton of a team ultimately over-achieves, falling short of a playoff berth.
    2014-High hopes for a team suddenly ripe with on-field talent, ultimately crashes under Hackworth, is rejuvenated under Curtin but yet again falls painfully short of a playoff berth.
    Then #tifogate and #Hackthinksweregullible.

    So after yet another meaningless season finale, offseason #5 will begin with the same uncertainty, frustration, mistrust and lack of respect that the previous 2 endured. I’m beginning to see a cycle here …

  13. I don’t think Sak is delusional. I just think he’s a stupid jerk.

  14. Sakiewicz, by virtue of sheer arrogance has guaranteed things will be ratcheted up even more against him and his front office cronies. It also shows he’s feeling the pressure from the fan base and media alike. No peace for the snake oil salesman.

  15. I think I’m gonna follow Tim Hinchey’s lead and start using the euphemism “enjoy the weather” as a way of telling people to p*ss off.

  16. It’s pablum: “next year,” “right direction,” “add a few pieces.” Sak sold the investors on the cost control MLS business model (that he knew), public financing for the team & the market as a “can’t miss” on the cheap. And that’s how it’s been run. Which might be OK if you had a vision on how to put out a good product on a budget (e.g., SKC). But they got what the paid for. Each year he finds a different way to fail. Now the stakes are higher – 2 new clubs in the conference, higher priced talent & another unproven coach. All Nick has on his side now are the odds. Ownership ‘ s patience is deeper than its pockets but not bottomless. The wild cards are the CBA & new TV money & Garber’s gameplan. And now the siege mentality is in full view. Run, Jim Curtin! Go to a well managed club as A/C – they’d snap you up. Learn. Then come back when the court -jester-who-would-be-king is dead to a savior ‘ s welcome. You can’t win hitched to a born loser.

  17. “… when the court jester who would be king is dead to a savior’s welcome.”
    Is that your original genius? Magic.

    • I feel for Curtin. As a transplant I see his all-consuming & native desire to make up for the wretched history of Philly pro sports with a more detached view. It will be tragic if when these Augean stables are cleaned he may be swept out by a Hercules he could have played

  18. He is right. Even when he’s wrong. When he’s right, he’s right and when he’s wrong we are wrong. And he’s right.

    Make sense?

    He’s right – he doesn’t make player acquisitions, except when he’s wrong and he does. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, except when he flies to France and signs Nogs. And he flies to the UK and gets Edu. Except he doesnt sign players except when he does. So he is right when he says he isn’t wrong being right. Except he is often wrong about being right.

    Glad I could clear that up.

    • I love this. There are some good thinkers on this site. Bending language to will and whim. Truth be told it is my most favorite part of this little experiment- aside from criticism and critique of the club.
      “Am I clear!” – Jessup

      “Crystal.” – Kaffee

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