Daily news roundups

Union bits, playoff results, Blazer wore a wire, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Andrew Wenger says fitness will be his prime focus in the offseason. ““I think this will be a big offseason, because I’m striving to be a different type of fit. There were times this year when I wasn’t able to run the way I would have liked to from minute 1 to minute 90. So I’m going to talk to a guy like Sebastien [Le Toux] and figure out what he does, because he’s one of the fittest guys in the league.”

Wenger said of his 2014 season, “Personally, I think my season kind of followed that of the Union’s in a sense. It was up and down. There were definitely some negative moments early on and even toward the end. But I think for me personally, I had one of my better years and was trying to show the glimpses of the potential that I have. Now it’s really about fulfilling some of that potential.”

Maurice Edu’s MLS season may be over but he’s getting work with Jesse Marsch as an analyst during the playoffs.

News out of Africa could affect two Union players, Michael Lahoud and Rais Mbolhi, who have both been playing in African Cup of Nations qualifiers for Sierra Leone and Algeria, respectively. Reuters reports, “The president of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), who has seen the sport come to a “grinding halt” in her country because of the Ebola outbreak, has backed host Morocco’s request to have the African Cup of Nations finals postponed.” SLFA president Isha Johansen — who, the report notes is “one of just two female football association presidents — says that the association has been using money from FIFA aimed at developing football infrastructure “to drive charity projects raising awareness of how to avoid contracting the deadly disease.”

Reuters reports, “A decision on whether the African Nations Cup finals will go ahead in January or be postponed because of fears over the Ebola virus is expected on Monday after the Moroccan government meets with Confederation of African soccer leaders.”

Brotherly Game considers what needs to change ahead of 2015.

The Union Academy teams were supposed to play their DC United counterparts on Sunday. While there’s no word on the Union Academy Twitter account, the DC United Academy Twitter account tweeted on Sunday that the U-13/14 and U-15/16 games had been canceled. Presumably, the U-17/18 game was also canceled because there’s no match report on the US Soccer Development Academy website.

Local

The Penn men’s team drew 1-1 with Brown on Saturday, with Ocean City Nor’easters alum Duke Lacroix scoring for Penn. The women’s team defeated Brown, 2-0.

The St. Joseph’s men’s team defeated St. Bonaventure 2-1 on Sunday. The win is the team’s seventh of the season, something they have not done since 2003.

The Drexel men’s team closed its season with a 3-0 home loss to UNCW.

The Philadelphia men’s team claimed its first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship with a 1-0 win over Wilmington on Friday.

MLS

The first leg games of the conference semifinals took place over the weekend. On Saturday, New England gained what is almost certainly an insurmountable advantage thanks the the introduction of the away-goals rule this year with a 4-2 road win over Columbus. Paid attendance for the game was only 9,040 — what’s up with that? Also on Saturday, RSL and LA played to a thoroughly unentertaining 0-0 draw. On Sunday, New York defeated DC 2-0 at Red Bull Arena. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the opener — bringing his tally for 2014 to 30 goals, three shy of the record set by Roy Lassiter in 1996 —  and Thierry Henry assisted both goals. Later on Sunday, Seattle picked up a valuable road goal with a 1-1 draw against Dallas.

The second legs of the semifinals take place this weekend. On Saturday, DC hosts New York (2:30 pm, NBC). On Sunday, New England hosts Columbus (5 pm, ESPN2), and LA hosts RSL (7:30 pm, ESPN2). Then, on Monday, Seattle hosts Dallas (10:30 pm, NBCSN).

Both DC and New England will be hosting their games in cavernous American football stadiums. As The Boston Globe notes:

Eight years after the Revs declared their intent to move out of cavernous Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and build a soccer-specific arena in an urban location, the project is not much closer to reality than it was in 2006, despite the current momentum of the team, league, and sport. That means one of Major League Soccer’s founding franchises is now one of the last without a tailor-made stadium.

Vice Sports on Lee Nguyen’s journey to being one of MLS’s elite players.

Montreal announced on Friday that it will not be picking up its option for the 2015 season on defenders Matteo Ferrari and Futty Danso, and midfielders James Bissue and Zakaria Messoudi.

Some preseason info from out west in Tucson. The 3rd annual Desert Friendlies (Jan. 31 – Feb. 12) will include Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Houston Dynamo and the Portland Timbers. The fourth annual Desert Diamond Cup (Feb. 18-28) will include Sporting Kansas City, Seattle Sounders FC, Real Salt Lake, New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids and PDL side FC Tucson.

The LA Times on how Chivas USA’s “long road to demise was paved with bad decisions.”

Soccer Gods looks at MLS and Brazil’s top flight and says it may not be long before MLS is “a better option than Brazil.” Interesting read.

It seems some members of the board advising the architects designing Orlando City’s new stadium are underwhelmed by the design.

San Fernando Valley business leaders want LAFC to build their stadium there. Meanwhile, City Lab on how “LA soccer fans are tired of schlepping to the suburbs.”

San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman tells the San Antonio Business Journal that a group of Japanese investors are “very sincere and serious”about investing in the Scorpions in a push to join MLS.

The Daily Mirror says “Rio Ferdinand could make big money MLS move with Premier League days numbered.” The evidence for this? The report says “it is understood an offer from US soccer bosses will be on the table when he leaves QPR.” Not sure who is doing the understanding.

The New York Daily News reports how the Steven Gerrard-to-MLS rumors “heat up as each day passes without a new deal for Gerrard,” The report then increases the temperature by speculating that Gerrard would make a nice replacement for Thierry Henry at the Red Bulls. But wait! The report continues, “The one wild card is the New York Cosmos, who play in a lower division but have already made a splash by signing former Real Madrid striker Raul.” Well, at least there’s just one wild card, right?

The comedy department at The Mail on Sunday continues the fun with a report that says the Cosmos “could be a possible destination” for Gerrard. The evidence for this? The Cosmos spent big on Raul and “Cosmos supremo Rick Parry knows Gerrard and his representatives well from his stint as chief executive at Liverpool.” The “report” goes on to describe that Raul is already the Comsos’ designated player and a Gerrard signing could present problems in terms of the NASL salary cap. Aside from the fact that the report presents no evidence to back the report other than the fact that Parry once worked for Liverpool, another problem in terms of taking this example of creative “journalism” seriously is the easily found fact that the NASL doesn’t have designated players or a salary cap. Moving on.

According to Soccer Lens, the Cosmos “are quietly making MLS nervous” with signings such as Raul.

US

Oguchi Onyewu has signed a contract with Championship side Charlton Athletic that will see him with the club until January.

ESPNW on how Mia Hamm, who was announced as a club ambassador for Roma only days before she was announced as one of the owners of LAFC, wants to help grow the Italian club’s brand in the US.

At SI, Michael McCann looks at the gender discrimination suit that women players have filed with the Ottawa Human Rights Tribunal in an effort to force FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association replace the artificial surfaces that will be used in next year’s Women’s World Cup with temporary grass surfaces. After concluding that if the suit was filed in the US it “would face very long odds,” McCann reviews why the suit might fail in Canada. He concludes,

CSA and FIFA have potentially persuasive defenses under the law. But fans, sponsors, broadcasting companies, politicians and other important constituencies may not care about technical legal distinctions. Simply put, if the public believes that women soccer players are being treated worse than their male counterparts, CSA and FIFA’s business could take a hit. This creates an incentive for CSA and FIFA to try to settle with the players.

Elsewhere

The New York Daily News published an article on Saturday that says disgraced FIFA executive board member, CONCACAF general secretary, and garden gnome model Chuck Blazer worked as a cooperating witness for the FBI and IRS beginning in 2011, wearing a wire to meetings with FIFA officials. The report is filled with all kinds of fascinating information, such as Blazer not paying taxes for more than a decade, running up $29 million in credit card charges, having CONCACAF pay for a $6,000 a month apartment at Trump Tower in New York City for his cats, and much much more, all the while misallocating CONCACAF funds funds and misusing CONCACAF assets. It makes for some breathless reading.

In Britain, Conservative Member of Parliament Damian Collins, who is campaigning for FIFA reform, says the news that Blazer wore a wire to FIFA meetings strengthens the argument for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate World Cup bidding. More from the BBC.

ESPN reports, “Emirates has opted against renewing its contract with FIFA while Sony has reportedly made the same decision, amid the ongoing transparency debate surrounding world football’s governing body. The two companies will not prolong their eight-year deals as one of FIFA’s six main sponsors, which are both set to expire on Dec. 31.”

The AP reports,

The coach of Russian Premier League team FC Rostov said Friday he will not sign black players and joked that Ebola had spread to the club.

Igor Gamula told local media the club had “enough dark-skinned players, we’ve got six of the things” when asked in a post-match news conference Friday about rumors Rostov would sign Cameroon defender Benoit Angbwa.

Reports now say that Rostov’s African players are refusing to train under Gamula “until such time as the situation has been dealt with.” By the way, Rostov is one of the host cities of the 2018 World Cup.

Reuters reports, “Thousands of weeping South Africans wearing red or black soccer jerseys said farewell to murdered national team goalkeeper and captain Senzo Meyiwa at a packed stadium in the Indian Ocean city of Durban on Saturday.”

The AP reports a suspect has been arrested and charged with Meyiwa’s murder.”

Brazilian club Corinthians have reportedly begun construction on a full-size replica of the club’s stadium that will house 70,000 burial plots. “Space on the pitch will be saved for Corinthian players, with fans being able to purchase a plot close to their favorite footballer.”

3 Comments

  1. The most shocking item in that Blazer story is that he weighs 450 lbs.

  2. Run Andrew. Lots. You run lots in your aerobic heart rate zone which is likely 145-150 beats a minute for you- mile after mile – then once after 3 or 4 weeks you run in the lactic zone 1 or 2 times a week for an hour- likely for you about 165 beats a minute- to create a stronger anaerobic threshold which will match your growing aerobic fitness and huge amount of mitochondria you’ve created by building a stronger aerobic base. Do this all offseason. By March you will be a new machine. Run. Run. Run. Low key Low energy workouts. Lots. Plenty of time for you to do it too.
    .
    So much of soccer is spent in the anaerobic or lactic zone- many athletes don’t have a strong enough base in the aerobic zone to compliment it — then by the 60 or 75th minute of lactic workload they are cooked, gassed, bonked, the wall. The reason Le Toux never gets tired is his aerobic threshold is huge.
    .
    Just in case you were wondering Andrew ‘Left’ Wenger. Have a nice workout.

  3. Just received an email that the Union is offering cash-back on referrals. The season ticket renewal numbers must have been real disappointing!

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