Daily news roundups

Notes from Curtin’s presser, MacMath to start in Columbus, USMNT vs. Colombia confirmed, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

Some Union fans have called for Jim Curtin to field young players who have seen little or no minutes now that the Union’s playoff chances are over. In Wednesday’s weekly press conference, Curtin explained why that won’t be happening:

I have 30 guys that I deal with and it would not be fair that if they’re ahead [on the depth chart] for the first eight months, and they outperform in training every day, who am I to just say ‘eh, the season’s over, I’m going to throw them out; all your hard work meant nothing, we’re going to start these guys now. I don’t believe in that [way of thinking] and I don’t think it’s respectable to the other guys on the team…

[Look at players like] Jimmy [McLaughlin] and Zach [Pfeffer] who were rewarded by dressing for last game. I think it’s a process. Jimmy had a good season with Harrisburg and we were very happy with how it went. So the reward was to put him on the bench. Again, I don’t know if it’s best for a guy’s development to just throw him into the fire, especially against Kansas City or a Columbus team that is very good. They’re up for selection, but I don’t believe you just throw guys out there because they’re young and the season is over. Just because I don’t think that sets them up for success. It’s a gradual process where you work your way up…

We can’t really sacrifice games. Again, I don’t want to be the team that does that. I still think that every time you put your team on the field, you learn something from them. Could I start one of [those] guys? Yeah, that’s still an option, it really is. I’m not just going to throw three or four out there to get their butts kicked by Columbus. I don’t think that’s been beneficial for anybody. Can they get thrown into a game and pull off a play – could Zach [Pfeffer] or Jimmy [McLaughlin] score a goal? Absolutely. They’re capable of that. But does that guarantee they are guys that are pros and ready to start in MLS? I don’t believe that.

Frustratingly for fans (and yours truly, who transcribes these press conferences), the quotes above apparently came during some of the all too familiar audio cut outs that have plagued the streams of the club’s press conferences throughout the year.

In the press conference (video and, ahem, partial transcript here at PSP), Curtin addressed a number of topics dealing with the transition to the offseason. Of particular note was how the Expansion Draft interrupts the process of negotiating for transfers. Curtin explained,

Trade talks that would be going on literally the second our season ended are on ice right now. You kind of have to wait because the rosters are frozen but you can’t possibly discuss even trading a guy that winds up on a protected list. So, it’s challenging, it’s totally different, the timelines are out the window. The fact that there’s two teams drafting is a big, big variable.

Curtin said the Expansion Draft also affects his ability to inform players of their status with the club for next year.

Ideally, you’d like to let guys know as well where they stand right when the year ends. It’s what you’re accustomed to in a normal year. You know, have their holiday, have their family time so to speak at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and know exactly what the heck’s going on with their future. It’s unique. The discussions are different, they’re more vague.

Other highlights from the press conference include:

  • Conor Casey is questionable for Sunday’s game in Columbus, but Sebastien Le toux should be good to go.
  • Vincent Nogueira hasn’t been training with the team because of tightness in his Achilles tendon from an old injury. Nogueira thinks “he’ll possibly be ready to go for Columbus.”
  • Carlos Valdes is “kind of day-to-day” as he deals with a knee injury.
  • Curtin agrees that the offseason is too long.
  • Curtin acknowledged fans’ concerns about getting the expansion draft right. “You don’t want to be the team that’s kicking itself down the road, losing very talented players in an expansion draft process.”

We mentioned in Monday’s roundup that Rais Mbolhi remained in France following African Cup of Nations qualifying to await the birth of his first child. Curtin confirmed on Wednesday that Zac MacMath will be in goal when the Union close the season on the road in Columbus on Sunday.

MacMath said of his playing time since the arrival of Mbolhi, “I didn’t expect to play much at all really when the whole thing went down. To have the opportunity to play these games out with a bunch of guys I started the season with – and started my career with – it’s been really good to be out there.”

So far as his future with the club, MacMath said, “Not a lot of decisions have been made. It just happens with time. Unfortunately, you just have to wait and see how it all plays out.”

With general opinion being that MacMath will be going to a different club in the offseason, Brotherly Game considers if it is too early for the Union to move on from the young goalkeeper.

Another post at Brotherly Game examines the track record of teams under Nick Sakiewicz bringing in new goalkeepers: “13 years as general manager or president of an MLS team and 13 different starting goalkeepers.”

US Soccer Players uses recent comments from Nick Sakiewicz about his involvement in player acquisition to look at the murkiness of the division of responsibilities in MLS clubs.

Union Academy

The U-15/16’s and U-17/18’s sweep of Bethesda-Olney in US Soccer Development Academy Atlantic Division play last week is highlighted in the weekly “Across the Academy” roundup at US Soccer.

University of Maryland student newspaper DBX has an article on how Union Academy alum Zack Steffen has led the team.

Union Academy director Tommy Wilson participated in a panel discussion at the Soccerex Americas Forum in Barbados on Wednesday along with Chelsea head of international coaching Dermot Drummy and Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon.


Newsworks has an article on the Soccer Sisters United team in Germantown. Last week, a $1000 goal was stolen from their field at Vernon Park, something which is a huge financial challenge to replace for a small youth soccer club.


In their final game of the season, Real Salt Lake defeated Chivas USA 2-0 on Wednesday to move into third place in the West. They’ll have to wait for the weekend’s results before they know if they’ll finish the season in third.

In CONCACAF Champions League play, Montreal drew 1-1 on the road with New York. Former Union man Jack McInerney scored the go-ahead goal for Montreal in the 71st minute before Connor Lade equalized for New York in the 85th minute. New York was already eliminated from advancing to the tournament quarterfinals but the draw prevents Montreal from earning a top seed in the next round.

Kansas City is in Costa Rica to face Saprissa tonight (10 pm, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go). A win, tie, or one-goal loss will see Kansas City advance.

Chicago Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko is out six to eight months with a torn Anterior cruciate ligament and a sprained Medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

LA have re-signed defender A.J. DeLaGarza to a multi-year contract extension.

Reuters reports, “Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said there is no personal rift with Juergen Klinsmann and that he plans to have a discussion with the national team coach about the best way to work together.” Garber says in the report, “Somehow this turned into a personal Klinsmann versus Garber debate and I have seen some of those headlines, which I think are absurd and very unintended,” adding, “My remarks were never intended to be personal.”

MLS and US Soccer have announced they will partner with IMG to market media rights through 2022.

Orlando City have launched a new website as they prepare for their inaugural season in MLS.

The BBC reports that Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and the still to be named Atlanta MLS franchise, says David Beckham should consider sharing a stadium with an American football team to get his MLS franchise off the ground.

The New York Times on hopes in Las Vegas for a MLS team.


Fox Soccer talks to USWNT head coach Jill Ellis about the need to evolve the team’s style of play in order to keep up with increasingly sophisticated international competition.

The AP on how US Soccer has a huge opportunity to promote soccer with the biggest games at the 2015 World Cup in Canada being aired during prime time in the US.

It’s official: The USMNT will play Columbis in a friendly on Nov. 14 at Craven Cottage in London.

After two draws in the October friendlies, the US drops six spots to No. 22 in the latest FIFA rankings. Costa Rica dropped one spot to No. 16, Mexico one spot to No. 17.


Check out Footy on the Telly for listings of today’s Europa League games.

You will recall from Wednesday’s roundup that the Confederation of African Football issued a statement condemning comments from UEFA head Michel Platini suggesting in a television interview that the Africa Cup of Nations be postponed because of the Ebola crisis. The AP reports that Platini is “demanding an apology from CAF for getting comments he made in a television interview wrong and ‘insulting’ him.” The AP report describes,

In a strongly-worded letter to CAF President Issa Hayatou on Wednesday, Platini denied that and provided a transcript of the interview, where he said Morocco’s Ebola concerns were valid but repeatedly stressed it was CAF’s decision when to hold the cup.

“I now expect an immediate reaction of the statement in question, as well as a formal apology from the author of that statement,” Platini wrote in his letter to Hayatou. “Otherwise, I will react accordingly.”

Reuters reports, “Caribbean football officials believe a new regional super-league could be in place within two years but the ambitious plan faces major hurdles.”

Reuters reports, “Players with Brazilian top flight clubs Corinthians and Vitoria could not wash or shower after a match at a stadium used for the World Cup finals because the water system had broken down, red-faced officials admitted on Thursday.”


  1. The fact our new Coach is too dumb to play youth and who rather subject us to watching bums like Cruz and Carrol play is a joke.

    You can wrap it up in any coach speak you want the season is over, the fans dont care and you need to see what you have with these young kids.

    • why would anyone who hasn’t earned a spot get to play? isn’t that the opposite of what you want a coach to do? the young guys have done some things well, clearly, but let’s not pretend that Wheeler or Pfeffer actually took the world by storm when they made the starting 11. the whole bench against KC was youth, with the exception of Carroll, who has earned enough respect in his career to have a brief farewell, which he got after being subbed in. to play young kids for no other reason than they’re young and we haven’t seen them doesn’t serve a purpose, but instead could inhibit their growth by planting a seed of doubt in their mind about how unprepared they are. Being successful at U-whatever age groups or in lower divisions is meaningless without the appropriate development plan to adjust to top-level games.

      • Agree 100%

      • The question is under what circumstances does this staff deem someone has earned a spot? I doubt Curtin has a clue considering who has played in games. Whatever the criteria was for keeping some of the players on the roster in general is sketchy at best. Brown was given opportunities over McLaughlin and Pfeffer because he earned it? Really? In my opinion it’s just more of the same coaches BS. I don’t believe players earn playing time on merit or how they perform in training because of consistent missteps of the same players game in and game out and the inability of the coaching staff to make professional level adjustments. If anything those issues should warrant looking at McLaughlin and others. I think it’s nothing, more than a numbers game and Curtin not knowing how to manage the roster yet.

      • McLaughlin and Pfeffer are midfielders. If they had gotten the nod over Brown, we would have seen the 7 natural midfielder formation.

      • When has a players position mattered on the Union or even roster moves. The idea is to see them perform and slot them accordingly. There are players on the roster who shouldn’t have seen the 30 let alone been given playing time.

      • We have a lot more depth at MF. Brown was given more time this season out of need (Casey being injured and/or needing rest). Pfeffer has to compete with Maidana and Nogueira, and McGlaughlin with LeToux & Wenger. Brown is competing with Wheele & Hoppenot…that’s the key difference.

  2. Why would you risk serious injury to LeToux, Noguiera or Valdes in a meaningless game? This is where a GM would set policy: where a season is over, we’re going to look at younger players. But in SakWorld an interim coach runs the team & decides personnel while the CEO rules the TIFO, looks at half-filled glasses & pontificates. To quote JC after Mbolhi muffed 2 points, “You can’t make this s#!t up.”

    • Guys can get hurt during practice as well. In Curtin’s defense, you’re always evaluating your team for the future so why wouldn’t you play your best XI if no one is hurt or fatigued?

      Plus, when players are relaxed and just play, you might be able to see something different from your side. I’d love to see some of the young guys, but if Curtin doesn’t think that they’re equal or better than one of your starters, they shouldn’t get a start.

      • Agreed. But the 3 I named he missed matches recently due to injury and they’re important parts of next year’s team. Two also missed an offseason It’s the last chance to see them this year. If they make the 18, play the kids – at least as subs.

    • My hunch is the injuries to Casey, Noguiera, and Valdes are “clues” as to who won’t be playing on Sunday. Much like last week when Brown was in for Casey, Cruz for Le Toux, etc I would expect these three don’t start, and Curtin was telling you that without actually saying, “We’re going to sit those three vets since we already know what we have there.”

      • Agreed. And I suspect that guys like Pfeffer and McGlaughlin will coincidentally “outperform” guys like Fred and Lahoud this week and make the 18 again. I think we’ll see some youth this weekend, but out of pride or whatever, he doesn’t want to turn it into a full blown exhibition.

  3. This is where it would help to have an idea who is in the team’s future plans. If you’re looking to move MacMath (bad idea, IMO) then play Blake. If you’re looking to keep MacMath then play him. Likewise in other positions. If you’re going to try and hang on to Okugo, play him. If you think you have no chance to keep him, go with one of the young guys.

  4. Anyone going to be in the Supporters section this weekend for the women’s games? If so, can you bring a TIFO suggesting they fire the audio guy at the press conferences? That would be a good test to check the consistancy on the policy (and have other fans wonder what the heck you’re talking about) 🙂 🙂

    • good laugh. thanks.
      the phrasing would have to be on the line of- ISO new AV Dude- so as not to have it obviously negative.

  5. so we must play the best players but Mbolhi stays in Africa “awaiting” the birth of his kid? WTF

    I am now thinking Mbolhi will not be back next year, that one bad mistake killed him in Philly.

    And, if Blake is the future than why not play him today, let him get some experience.

    Maybe Zach’s Union days are not over………

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