Daily news roundups

We hardly knew thee, Union Academy YNT call-ups, more Expansion Draft and transfer news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Preseason, 2014. The Union are playing New York Red Bulls in Florida. What do you remember from that game? Me, the only thing I remember is new draft pick Pedro Ribeiro carrying a defender on his back for what seemed like 20 yards while charging to the box and thinking, “This guy is going to be something.”

Just like you, I had followed Ribeiro when he was at Reading United so when the Union selected him in the first round of the 2014 SuperDraft, I was very excited — certainly more so than when Andre Blake was picked No. 1 (that was more a “What the what now?” kind of moment). I followed his time on loan at Harrisburg, where he played all over the field — including a spell at center back — and I was excited when he got his first MLS start, even if it was on the road in Houston. I was over the moon when he scored his first MLS goal — how fitting that it came against New York — and when he scored the game winner against Kansas City in the final home game of the season. Yeah, he struggled at times playing out of position as a center forward; yeah, he wasn’t the fleetest of foot; yeah, he took up an international spot; yeah, he missed a scoring opportunity in the Open Cup final; yeah, he wasn’t a finished product. But the upsides — his size, technical ability, and vision — were plain to see. Even Jim Curtin said that Ribeiro was a player that would be with the Union for a long time.

Long story short, if ever there was a young Union player who I was looking forward to see develop, it was he. And as soon as he was left unprotected for Wednesday’s Expansion Draft, I knew — hell, we all knew — he was gone. And that really sucked.

As Matthew DeGeorge put it,

On the plus side, as noted on the Union website and by De George notes elsewhere, the Union will receive allocation money from the league in return for Ribeiro being selected so they are a little less poor. Just how much less has not been revealed. Anyway, I can’t help but feel a little Re-entry Draft pick-me up would be just the thing right now.

Orlando also selected former Union man Danny Mwanga in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft. So, in the span of three days Orlando acquired three former Union first round draft picks: Amobi Okugo, Ribeiro, and Mwanga. Kind of makes you think, right?

At MLSsoccer.com, Matthew Doyle thinks Danny Mwanga — “He’s on the Freddy Adu Career Plan” —  won’t be with Orlando by the start of the season given the system the team is expected to play.

More on the loss of Ribeiro from Philadelphia UnionPhilly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Brotherly Game, and Philadelphia Sports Nation.

Of course, that Zac MacMath was not taken in the draft was also news. With their first pick, Orlando selected Donovan Ricketts from Portland.

The Best Moments series at the Union website continues with a pair of Carlos Valdes goal-line clearances up against the last minute penalty kick save and follow-up shot stop by Zac MacMath against Chicago. Last week, MacMath’s penalty kick stops against Dallas in the US Open Cup semifinal won.

Union Academy

Sebastien Elney, the Union Academy U-18 team forward, has been called up for the US U-18 camp in Marbella, Spain that begins today and ends Dec. 20. While in Spain, the team will play Germany’s U-18s on Dec. 17 and 19. You will recall that we recently linked to news that Elney was on a training stint with Tottenham.

John Hackworth has named the roster for his first camp since being named the new head coach of the US U-15 BNT. Among those called up for the Florida camp is Carlos dos Santos (GK: Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.).


After Wednesday’s draft, NYCFC is “extremely pleased” and Orlando is feeling “really good.” At SI, a first assessment of the draft.

Here’s a look at where the rosters of both teams stand right now. Matthew Doyle does looks at how NYC and Orlando might play with said rosters.

Chicago Fire “acquired the Right of First Refusal” for defender Eric Gehrig, selected by Orlando in the draft, in exchange for the Fire’s natural selection in the second round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.”

Toronto reacquired midfielder Daniel Lovitz after he was picked by NYCFC in exchange for allocation money.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Paul Tenorio tweeted on Wednesday, “Per source, Orlando City will ship its third pick, Jalil Anibaba to Sporting Kansas City as part of the Aurelien Collin deal.” No official announcement yet.

After the Expansion Draft, a waiver draft for former Chivas USA players was held. Montreal selected Nigel-Reo-Coker, San Jose selected winger Leandro Barrera, and Colorado picked defender Bobby Burling.

Real Salt Lake has reacquired defender Jamison Olave from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for allocation money.

It hasn’t been officially announced, but it looks like the Red Bulls are sending goalkeeper Ryan Meara to NYCFC on loan and getting Expansion Draft pick Sal Zizzo on loan in return. More here.

LA Galaxy forward, and Canadian international, Rob Friend has retired. Friend spent most of his career in Norway and Germany.

ESPN has five storylines for the offseason.

At Soccer Gods: “What Major League Soccer can take from other sports to stave off full free agency.”

We mentioned in Wednesday’s roundup the increase in viewership numbers for the MLS Cup final. The league has issued a press release that notes it also set new postseason records for attendance, digital audience and social media engagement.

San Jose Earthquakes have announced that the newly formed Burlingame Dragons will be their PDL affiliate for the 2015 season.

At the Las Vegas Sun, a report on how one councilman change of mind may keep that city’s MLS franchise bid alive. The Las Vegas city council will vote on the proposed stadium on Dec. 17.

Minn Post has an interesting read on the many complicating factors surrounding the Minneapolis MLS bid that would build a soccer specific stadium, as opposed to the Vikings backed bid that would have a team play in their new NFL stadium.


The USWNT got off to an underwhelming start at the International Tournament of Brasilia, drawing 1-1 with China (highlights from the game here). Carli Lloyd scored the lone US goal in the 23rd minute with China equalizing in the 67th minute. The team next faces host country Brazil on Sunday.

Apparently, Jurgen Klinsmann remains the only person who believes Michael Bradley should be playing higher up the pitch. More from ESPN and SI.

Gedion Zelalem update! Writing after Zelalem’s appearance for Arsenal in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Galatasaray, Steven Goff acknowledges “he has not yet publicly committed to the American program. In fact, he and his family have yet to confirm he is even eligible.” He continues, “However, he was on a pathway to a passport, and according to those close to him, he prefers to play for the United States rather than Germany, which he has represented on the youth level…Said one source: ‘It’s going well’ with the citizenship process and there could be ‘some news in short time.'” So you’re saying we have a chance?


Could the 2022 World Cup and the 2022 Winter Olympics really be staged at the same time?

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

Will academia one day rule the world of soccer analytics?

Why, why,why, Delilah?


  1. Ho Hum says the sigh…… can’t tell if the spinning is from caloric deficit or the interesting changes. Peanut Butter. That helps.

  2. Get fired from the Union………..and then coach the U-15 BNT? Makes sense.

  3. It’s taken me a while to rap my mind around losing Ribeiro and protecting Fabinho. At this point in time this is just another move by an underachieving organization that makes no sense. It may all be too early to judge what has taken place so I’m determined to wait and see. On the surface not protecting Ribiero looks like he was just given away like so many others in the past. The Union is not a fan friendly organization. All I can do is say again to the powers that be at the Union. Take us for granted at your own risk. Before you existed there was and is a fantastic fan base who along with the SOB’s besieged the MLS for a franchise. If you can not represent this fan base and market the way it deserves and for any reason this ownership and front office feels itself not up to it financially then perhaps we the fan base should start organizing to bring in another MLS franchise and looking for an ownership that will. I honestly believe if the Union were to go under MLS would still want a franchise in this market without the baggage of Sakeiwicz and financial limits of the current ownership. If it takes a little longer to but it all together so be it. We’ve always wanted an MLS team we don’t necessarily need it to be the Union. I hope that this off season shows us all that we can again put our hope and faith in the Union. Thus far the early moves with regards to the expansion draft don’t look to promising. This is just my opinion please show me how wrong I am.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      What hurts the most about losing Riberio is not that he some superstar in the waiting (although no one knows the future), but that he was young, cheap, and developing. As Matthew DeGeorge stated – it’s the exact type of player the Union just got done telling us they want to keep. That’s what is really messed up.
      Also, I’m not hearing too much more about this supposed “handshake deal” for Orlando not to take our players. Way to go on that one FO.

      • Good points. I tend to be wordy sometimes, sorry. I have a lot to say and I’m really trying to take a wait and see approach but this organization truly pisses me off. I almost wish we could have waited for some other group to come along and start our franchise. We are a proud fanbase and for someone to tell us that we can’t compete and have to be run like some 2nd rate outpost just goes against the grain. Again I pray for someone to come along and buy out Sugarman and Sakiewicz so that we can truly go toe to toe with the league heavy weights. Running Philadelphia like a cheap small market franchise is just wrong. I’m not saying we have to be NY or LA, however we are Philly a top sports and media market. The fact that the Union are run like a poor relation hurts even more because of the inept way it has been managed and coached. I am hoping Curtin and Albright can turn things around but they need to have a GM with a strong soccer IQ and business pedigre in position over them. Again the Union appear to do everything ass backwards and below board and not worthy of this top market.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I think if the next 5 years don’t produce a title and a packed PPL Park, Sugarman may want to consider bowing out. Think about it: if MLS keeps moving forward, both financially and in popularity, and he has a disgruntled fan base, a half filled park, and no trophies… as a business man that might the time to get out while you can still make a profit. I’m not a businessman so I honestly don’t know, but I’m thinking best case… we are stuck with Sug and Sak for at least the next 5 years.

  4. What are the chances that Philly knew Orlando wanted Ribeiro and were willing to let him go for more allocation money? Rationale is: They knew from looks in game and in practice that he was too much of a project to convert into a target forward or CB sub. Midfield is shaping up to be too deep if Kvist is coming in and they feel like there’s better — or comparable — coming up in the “farm” system. In other words: take the quick cash now, deeming it worth more than Ribeiro’s uncertain future value.

    • thanks for this comment, would you also agree that if there’s no room for Amobi Okugo in the midfield, then there’s no room for Pedro Ribero either? might as well pocket a few MLS funbucks

      • Right, Osager. If there’s no room for Okugo….. There you go. Ribeiro isn’t worth protecting.

      • but Lahoud is…

      • They didn’t protect Lahoud until Ribeiro was gone.

      • Right. No need to protect either GK or CB depth or any of the strikers the Union is looking to drop. Best option.

      • Good point, though still, my little conspiracy theory is that they knew he’d be taken for the money. And what we know now is that you can;t give MacMath away. No one was going to take Mbolhi for that salary.

      • … Or that one team rated Ricketts higher than they did MacMath. To say that he can’t be given away supposes a little too much I think.

    • We’ve already heard from Dan Walsh that the Union have fielded several trade offers for Fabinho. They elected to protect him out of concern that HE would be taken for nothing. Now, the fans don’t like Fabinho (personally I think he’s not quite as bad as his eponymous sun-rocket would suggest), but if they’ve already had trade talks and have some idea of his value… and his value is higher than Ribeiro’s… and you can only protect one of them… then they’ve maximized value in this way. You can’t ever take away the fact that expansion drafts hurt.

      Assuming this is true, then the only other argument is whether Ribeiro should have been protected in lieu of someone else. The only reasonable candidate would be Ethan White. As much as I thought Pedro showed promise, I cannot justify a raw, unproven product over the guy who will presumably by one of our starting CBs next year.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Until Fabinho is traded I will not believe any of the rumors. Period. This FO hasn’t earned that yet.

      • Fabinho is a backup at a thin position who has reached his full potential making low-level starter money. Ribiero is a backup at a thin position who has yet to meet his potential making backup money. And we keep Fabinho and not Ribiero?

  5. Maybe, just maybe, it will be nice to go into this off-season with somewhat reasonable or even low expectations for once. I mean every off-season we seem to hit it out of the park, especially last season. So maybe…and I know its crazy…but maybe with a sub par off season and not alot of hype we might actually accomplish something. I know its crazy lol

    • That’s so crazy, it just might work. Sorry, I was channeling Sharknado for a momemt.

    • I think you nailed it. In 5 seasons when has the team proved that we should raise our expectations? We all want the front office to get it together, but at the same time maybe we should lower our expectations.

  6. More Ribeiro pining, really? He’s slower than my grandmother and turns like a battleship. Potential? He’ll be 25 next year. I doubt he gets much better than he is now, and his performances could also get worse, just like his new teammate Mwanga’s did. Okugo was a much bigger loss.

  7. The denouement of the Expansion Draft also shows tells us part of why Zac MacMath has been so diplomatic. The team has been shopping him, to no avail. His value in the MLS market is apparently not very high. He has doubtless been aware of this, and thus realized that he might be on this team for a while longer. I’m not taking away from the fact that he has handled his demotion in a very classy and professional manner, but it seems he had a specific interest in doing so. His value is low enough that he wasn’t even taken in the expansion draft by his hometown team when they were looking for a ‘keeper.

    At this point, Zac will just have to go back to the “young keeper paying his dues” phase of his career. It would be best for us to have him back on the team next year, since M’Bolhi and Blake will miss games for International Duty. That gives Zac some guaranteed playing time, and us a high-caliber backup. If M’Bolhi lives up to his billing, the appropriate move would be to trade Blake in mid-season to shore up an area of need.

    • Having $400k in salary cap wrapped up in the GK position is killing us. The expansion teams were happy to let us continue to twist in the wind. I’d be surprised if we could offload MacMath for free within MLS right now.
      The M’Bolhi move was a roster-killing mistake without having a deal in place to ship MacMath. I think Rais will play well for us in 2015 (if he stays), but the purchase was awful in terms of timing and execution.

  8. I don’t get how people are assuming that MacMath has no value. Even if the Union did shop him which is mainly speculation at this point, most teams are probably waiting to see how the expansion/re-entry/Super/etc. drafts go and what’s available. There are always a few good pieces to be had in the re-entry draft alone, and sometimes even at lower prices. Orlando and NYCFC also have a lot of resources to play with being expansion teams that just completed their expansion drafts and have a ton of allocation to play with. There’s going to be tons of wheeling and dealing between now and the weeks leading up to pre-season, and especially when the transfer window opens up. Now isn’t always the most profitable time of year to deal away a player with so many options coming up on the horizon.

  9. Old soccer coach says:

    With Okugo gone, and Edu in the back line, Nogueira is now the primary #6. With somebody else next to him if we play two DCMs. So who is depth there? Probably Edu with White or Wheeler slotting in next to Valdes. Maidana is the #10, but who is the depth there? Pfeffer? We need a serviceable #10 in addition to the best #9 possible.

  10. The Little Fish says:

    Would you rather feature Pfeffer or Ribiero for the upcoming season if you could only feature one of them? How about over a 3 year period? Tough call but I’m going to go with Pfeffer. You?

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