Daily news roundups

Report says Meulensteen to be named “a consultant,” FIFA clears Qatar and Russia, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

When Jim Curtin appeared on the latest edition of KYW Philly Soccer Show on Tuesday evening, one of the topics he spoke with co-hosts KYW’s Greg Orlandini of KYW and PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch about was the need for additions to the coaching staff and front office to better equip him to succeed as head coach. “Our ownership is doing things right now to put a structure in to support me as best as [they] can,” he said, adding, “The structure is improving greatly around me. There will be more on that as this offseason progresses.”

Listeners may have been surprised with news on Wednesday at how quickly news of such improvements would be arriving.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Union sent out a message to local media that a press conference for “a major announcement” would be taking place on Friday at 11 am

On Wednesday night, Kristian Dyer reported at Metro that, according to “A league source,” Renee Meulentsteen, long linked to the Union, would be joining the club as “a consultant ‘to assist with the sporting director structure’ of the club.”

Kevin Kinkead confirmed the report:

The news comes after Kinkead reported on PSP last week that “Sources tell me that Rene Meulensteen has remained in the picture since [reports of Jim Curtin’s impending hire as permanent head coach]. He would not be the manager, but he would be given some kind of executive role, such as a ‘Sporting Director’ or a ‘Director of Soccer Operations’.”

This was before Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said in the Curtin announcement press conference last Friday, “[W]e’re constantly evaluating our structure…We continue to look at making heavy investments in this club…We’re investing heavily in Jim and resources given to him to make sure we get this team continuing to move in the right direction…we are evaluating our structure, and whatever we can do to make the on-field product competitive.”

There is every reason to believe the Dyer report. He is, as Kinkead described, “on the Union payroll as a pregame and post-game television analyst.”As the Delco Times’ Matthew De George put it, “Person on Union payroll says Union will add Rene Meulensteen to payroll.” And Dyer was correct when he reported in September that Curtin would be named head coach, even if that didn’t happen until a month-and-a-half after he reported the deal would be happening “sometime this week.” Or,

So, assuming the Dyer report is accurate, details about what Meulensteen will actually be doing as “a consultant” who assists with the Union’s “sporting director structure” — a curiously constructed concept given the club does not currently have a “sporting director” — will hopefully emerge in Friday’s press conference. Dyer says the “bold move…will provide much needed support for current technical director Chris Albright.” And that is a good thing, even if Union fans can be forgiven for thinking that Meulensteen being named “a consultant” sounds like the Dutchman is interested in getting paid but not interested in moving to Philadelphia. Perhaps it is as simple as the Union being unable to afford to hire Meulensteen as a full-time member of the front office.

More Union news

Andre Blake was in goal for Jamaica in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Martinique at Caribbean Cup. Jamaica next faces Antigua and Barbuda on Friday.

In related news, Brotherly Game links to a report from last month that Peter Nowak is the technical director of the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association. Antigua & Barbuda are currently ranked 70th in the world and drew 2-2 with No. 93 ranked Haiti at the Caribbean Cup on Wednesday.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George has a Union to-do list.

Voting is open for the first of the “Best of ” moments for the 2014 season. In the first round, it’s Sebastien Le Toux’s goal against New England vs. Andrew Wenger’s goal against RSL.

At the Union website, a review of some of the numbers from the 2014 season.


Bayern Munich has selected Global Premier Soccer as its US youth soccer partner. GPS, which includes clubs in New Jersey and a relationship with Ocean City FC, said in a statement, “The exclusive partnership will bring FC Bayern Munich’s Youth Academy, including its coaches, curriculum, official uniforms and importantly its principles and culture to more than 55,000 kids and 5000 coaches organized into over 75 soccer clubs supported by GPS across 11 states.” More on the news from ESPNProSoccerTalk, and Bavarian Football Works.

The La Salle men’s team faces Saint Louis University in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament tonight at 5 pm at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

La Salle junior forward Joe Farrell was named to the Atlantic 10 second team. Sophomore midfielder/forward Matt Robinson and senior midfielder/forward Tom Baker earned spots on the All-Academic team. Robinson was also named Philly Soccer Six Player of the Week, with teammate Mike Kirk named Defender of the Week.

Drexel men’s team senior midfielder John Grosh has been named to the All-CAA second team, and senior defender Robert Liberatore to the third team. Liberatore is also on the CAA All-Academic squad.

University of Pennsylvania women’s team junior midfielder Erin Mikolai and senior defender Kaitlyn Moore have been named to the All-Ivy second team. Junior goalkeeper Kalijah Terilli received honorable mention.


On the MLS vs. Europe debate, Brad Friedel tells ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, “Is it good for one of our American players to sign with Real Madrid? No, because they’ll play zero. It’s better that they stay in MLS and play 100 percent of the time. That’s how you develop, that’s how you get better. You just have to make sure that you never in your career, no matter where you play, become complacent.” Friedel also says that coaching education must improve in the US.

Tim Cahill’s goal for Australia against the Netherlands is up for this year’s Puskás Award for Goal of the Year. You can view all of the nominees and place your vote here.

Will Thierry Henry play on the turf at Gillette Stadium, something he’s never done before, in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship? Head coach Mike Petke isn’t saying.

According to the Daily Star, Orlando City want to take goalkeeper and England Under-21 captain Jack Butland on loan for the first half of the 2015 season to fill in for Tally Hall as he recovers from knee injury.

Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti tells MLSsoccer.com the club has narrowed their list candidates to fill the head coach vacancy made by Dominic Kinnear’s move to San Jose has been narrowed to between four and six names.

Houston Dynamo defender Eric Brunner has announced his retirement.

Seven MLS clubs — Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC and Orlando City SC have partnered with Heineken, which recently replaced Budweiser as the official beer of MLS. The deal means that Heineken is either the official beer or official import of the clubs and will include “signage, intellectual property rights and retail activations as the brand works closely with the clubs to continue enhancing the fan experience in each city.” Corporate speak sucks.


Soccer America has three storylines for Friday’s USA v Colombia friendly at Craven Cottage in London.

At Soccer Gods, Steve Davis on “The Klinsmann Way.”

The US U-20 came from behind twice to defeat Russia 4-3 with a stoppage time penalty kick in the Marabella Tournament in Spain. Lancaster’s Russell Canouse captained the US, who were down to ten men for the final ten minutes of the game. More on the win at ASN and MLSsoccer.com.

Backheel has a fascinating oral history of American soccer and the internet.


FIFA has cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption charges in the bidding for the hosting rights of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Hans-Joachim Eckert, the head of the adjudicatory arm of FIFA’s “independent” ethics committee, says in a 42-page summary of 430-page report compiled by Michael Garcia that any ethical breaches were of “very limited scope, ” declaring, “the effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it.” Reports on Eckert’s summary from The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily NewsReutersESPN, SI, and SBI.

The Guardian notes, “Incredibly, Eckert described the bidding process – which Blatter has acknowledged should not have decided two World Cups at once – was ‘well thought out, robust and professional’.”

Speaking specifically of the Qatar bid, Eckert said, “The potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the report concerning the Qatar 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the 2018/22 bidding process as whole.” The report also notes that Russia could not provide Garcia with emails related to its bid:

The Russia bid committee made only a limited number of documents available for review, which was explained by the fact that the computers used at the time by the Russia bid committee had been leased and returned to their owner after the bidding process.

The owner has confirmed the computers were destroyed in the meantime. The bid committee also attempted to obtain access to the Gmail accounts used during the bidding process from Google USA. However, the Russia bid committee confirmed Google USA had not responded to the request.

Russia denies any wrong doing.

England has rejected criticism in the report of their bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Garcia, a former US Attorney, said in a statement, “Today’s decision by the Chairman of the Adjudicatory Chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report.” Garcia added, “I intend to appeal this decision to the FIFA Appeal Committee.” More from The Guardian, BBC, and ESPN.

FIFA said in a statement after the release of Eckert’s summary,

FIFA welcomes the fact that a degree of closure has been reached with the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber stating today that “the evaluation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups™ bidding process is closed for the FIFA Ethics Committee”…For the sake of further closure, FIFA supports the independent Ethics Committee with respect to their preparedness to potentially open future cases against officials based on the information obtained during this investigation.

As always, David Conn’s take on the report at the Guardian, is a must read.

In an AP report we linked to on Wednesday, Qatar’s sports minister, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, said the emirate would be introducing labor reforms “in the next few months.” The Guardian reported on Tuesday, “Six months after Qatar promised major improvements to its treatment of migrant workers, Amnesty International has warned that its progress so far is ‘woefully inadequate’ and accused the Gulf state of dragging its feet.”

Goal.com reports, “FIFA has confirmed that the Club World Cup will take place in Morocco despite the country’s removal as hosts for the Africa Cup of Nations.” The Club World Cup is set to start on Dec. 10.


  1. My first thought about the Meulensteen hiring was this would be great just so long as he was a full time employee with reasonablr over sight and not some phantom exective like Ricardo Ansaldi/

    Then My second thought was after I heard the term consultant was: Goddammit!

    My third thought was why can’t we get executives whom I am going to complain about often with easy to spell last names.

  2. Does FIFA think we are all idiots?? Seriously, this is just insulting.

    • There are two potentially correct answers to your question, I think. A) Yes. B) They don’t care one way or the other.

      • absolutely agree. it’s a case of “too big to fail.”
        who is seriously going to challenge FIFA before these cups? all the dirty laundry will be seen after them with little to no recourse

      • I know it would never happen, but I would love to see every country that plays a Fall-Spring schedule pull out of the Qatar WC and hold their own tournament during the Summer when it should be held.

  3. This isn’t intended to sound US snobbish, but are any American’s even contemplating going to Qatar 2022?

    If I am correct we were the #2 purchasers of tickets for Brazil behind only the home country which bought 60% of the tickets. So who’s going to be buying all theses tickets? Are they expecting Qataris to buy 60% of the tickets? Are they expecting Euro countries to make up the numbers since it’s closer? Or is money just no object and they don’t care about how many they actually sell and will host it at a loss?

    • old soccer coach says:

      If I am an ISIS planner, or an al-Qaeda one, how big a terrorist opportunity is the 2022 world cup?

      Further, how vulnerable is that world cup, and FIFA with it given its dependence on tournament revenue, to a European wide travel warning of a credible terrorist threat issued about a month before the tournament starts?

    • I would imagine ticket sales are such a small part of the profits that come in from the World Cup that the organizers could give away most of the tickets and still do fine. TV, mechandise, sponsorship probably account for most of the money coming in. That said, I wouldn’t go to the Qatar World Cup even if the USA was playing in the Final and they offered me free airfare and tickets.

    • Will they be allowing women to attend the games in Qatar? In the Asian Champions League final, it was apparently a huge deal that a woman wanted to attend the game in Saudi Arabia.

  4. I’m fatigued by my own cynicism these days so I will plan for the best in this announcement. Until the fatigue passes that is….
    …Okay, more myself. what most concerns me most lately is how strong the narrative has become that we don’t have money, investors, cash, bankroll as compared to other cities. I get it that some clubs are backed by mid-east pockets but come on. This city is huge. Why has this become?

  5. You’re right Sieve. This sport and team doesn’t get the promotion and respect it deserves in this town. It isn’t even considered the 5th team in Philadelphia. It’s a shame that sports radio and television in Philly have not opened up and given this sport a chance to shine like the rest of them here. Then again, maybe if the Union achieve a winning team that could change.

    • Hit post post on this twice to no effect. Hope I don’t triple post…
      This continues to fascinate me. I tend to listen to a lot of talk while I’m driving around — preferring podcasts from WTF to Extratime — but I’ll drift onto 97.5 where they have spoken about nothing but the Eagles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since August (that was when they officially ditched all baseball conversation). Occasionally, they’ll spend a little time on the Sixers or Flyers, but those are blips.

      During all that time, They missed the USOC Final, the playoff hopes and epic collapse and the feel-good hometown kid makes good as pro coach stories that should have at least cracked the constant is or isn’t Foles a good QB. The fact that a successful coach from Man. U will be involved in any way with the Union should be a story, too.

      This is not just Philly, though. Turn on Mike and Mike this Monday, and I doubt you would have heard about LA Galaxy’s shellacking of RSL, which was a pretty epic accomplishment featuring the one soccer player in the US that everyone knows. Why not? If MLS can’t even get it’s major playoff games some airtime on ESPN, it’s hard to imagine MLS “breaking through” or “crossing over” anytime soon. It’s getting better, but sloooooowly.

  6. “sounds like the Dutchman is interested in getting paid but not interested in moving to Philadelphia. Perhaps it is as simple as the Union being unable to afford to hire Meulensteen as a full-time member of the front office.”

    So what’s the point? Guy won’t even watch them in practice?

  7. Why can’t we stop guessing about ‘the dutchmans’ intentions????
    Depending on which reports you read over the last 4 months, he has either wanted the job, not been bothered, been seen house hunting, been about to start, on a short list etc
    So maybe it is as simple as the Union FO getting something right for once. Who knows? It may work for all groups, Curtin gets a shoulder to lean on, so does Albright, the FO looks ‘like it means business” and Meulensteen is working. After all, no-one here knows the terms of the consultancy, but I’m sure he be able to walk if another job gets offered. And that, like it or not, is the nature of life. Nothing about being ‘half-assed’ none of us know him to accuse him of that. It’s human nature, you need a job, you get offered a job, you take a job, and then a lot of times, you leave that job.
    But, as usual on here, there is no pleasing some people, is this a forum to hope we fail??????? I prefer glass half full than empty, Jeez, a glass half full, in Philly, I’d take that!

  8. I’ll be interested to see Sak’s body language in the PC.
    Last week he looked like he didn’t want to be there, I bet today he’s like the cat who got the cream, he’ll be all smiles. And if he is, then, it tells us he thinks he’s won all ways up. He ‘keeps the fans on base ‘ by appointing Curtin by popular demand. He gets Meulensteen on board and makes it look like he can attract big names, (or long names anyway).
    And from there, RM will have ‘MLS experience’ once it comes time to replace JC.
    Maybe Sak ain’t so dumb

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