Daily news roundups

Union find real value in draft, report says Linc to host Gold Cup final, Altidore signs with Toronto, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Well, not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

Expectations may have been low going into Thursday’s draft given the Union didn’t have a first round pick, but they finished the draft with two very promising prospects in forward Dzenan Catic and midfielder Eric Bird, both of whom also happen to be national champions. If you consider CJ Sapong as the team’s first round pick since that pick was traded to acquire him from Kansas City, the Union’s draft can be thought of as being even more successful. And more picks are coming: The third and fourth rounds of the draft will take place via conference call on Tuesday.

Union head coach Jim Curtin said of Catic,

He’s battle-tested. He’s been in Europe before. This isn’t his first rodeo. To score the amount of goals, I don’t care what level it is, it’s good. I was talking with a lot of my former teammates that are now MLS coaches, and they’re all very high on him. So for him to fall to 31 is great…

He’s a guy who brings size and is very good in front of goal. We were talking with a lot of coaches at the combine and they saw him as one of the top players – not just the top forward. He’s a kid who’s an underdog and a kid who I’m high on.

That “amount of goals” Curtin referred to? As Dave Zeitlin put it, “a ridiculous 63 goals in two seasons at Davenport, winning the NAIA National Player of the Year and capturing a national championship.”

Catic said, “I’m going to work my butt off and hopefully I can play soon and show the city of Philadelphia that I want to win. And hopefully we can bring a championship to the city.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Matthew Doyle says of Catic, “[H]e lands with a team where he has a real chance of cracking the roster. Catic is good with both feet, knows how to be a target and has a nose for the goal. He could be this year’s Mark Sherrod.”

More on Catic from Daily News, Inquirer, Delco TimesCSN Philly, CBS Philly, Brotherly Game, and Michigan Live.

Curtin said of Bird, who was not at the draft as he recovers from a groin injury, which is why he was not at the Players Combine, “I think that hurt him a little bit. But he’s a guy who’s a winner and a guy who’s a two-way midfielder who we think can be a backup to Vincent [Nogueira] and can fight for a spot on the team.”

ASN says of Bird, “[I]njuries cost him most of the postseason and he didn’t play in the combine and that caused him to slip to Philadelphia at 41. If Bird can return to his pre-injury form, the Union may have gotten a bargain in midfield.”

At ESPN, Bird is listed among the draft’s “losers”:

While the Union aren’t the worst team for a rising college player to find himself with, Bird will find the going difficult in a midfield that provides head coach Jim Curtin with plenty of options.

A creative player that played in a box-to-box style in college, Bird will need time to adjust to the most intense professional game. For such a talented player to plummet deep into the second round indicates that teams are either unsure of his ability to do so or see other potential problems that could make the transition a rocky one.

More on Bird’s selection by the Union from Brotherly GameUniversity of VirginiaThe Virginian-Pilot, and NBC29.com.

Playing for 90 reviews the draft.

CJ Sapong was at the draft on Thursday. Asked about Jim Curtin’s statement on Monday that, in trading their first round pick for Sapong the team felt it had received a better player than what was available in the draft, Sapong said, “It means a lot obviously. I like to think my four years being in the league, I have experience and I know the ropes to the point where probably someone who’s just coming into the league would have a little more trouble. (Curtin) making that statement shows obviously they have a lot of faith in me.”

Brotherly Game wonders, when it comes to the Union’s offseason, when is it time to hit the panic button?

Local

Big news out of Thursday’s draft: Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald reports “a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations” tells him that Lincoln Financial Field will be the location of this Summer’s Gold Cup final on Sunday, July 26. He notes, “It will be the first time ever that a Gold Cup final has taken place in a U.S. market other than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.” Tannenwald reports PPL Park will also host the third place game on Saturday, July 25. How awesome is that!

Six Reading United alums — Fatai Alashe, Alex Bono, Skylar Thomas, Ignacio Maganto, Wes Charpie, and Oumar Ballo — were selected in Thursday’s draft.

Robert Hartman, former Pocono Mountain High School soccer coach, and current head coach at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, will receive the NSCAA’s national Coach of the Year award.

Lew Atkinson, who was for 19 years president of the Delaware Youth Soccer Association, will be honored by the U.S. Youth Soccer Association with the Thomas Fleck Award, and by the NSCAA with the Charlotte Moran Long-Term Service Award for Youth, this weekend at the NSCAA Convention.

Unequal Technologies of Glen Mills, Pa. is unveiling new head protection gear at the NSCAA Convention.

MLS

It’s official: Toronto FC will unveil new signing Jozy Altidore today at 11 am. In exchange for Altidore, Sunderland will receive Jermain Defoe.

LA Galaxy announced on Thursday it had traded midfielder Marcelo Sarvas and an international roster spot to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for the third spot in the allocation rankings and allocation money. So, do you think the Sacha Kljestan has signed with LA announcement will happen today, or maybe next week?

There are a gazillion articles about Thursday’s draft out there. You know how to find them.

Before Thursday’s draft, the league announced its MVP award will now be named after Landon Donovan.

Don Garber admitted the Frank Lampard situation was not well handled. “It could have been handled better. And it needs to be handled better going forward. We’ve learned lessons from this, and those lessons are that transparency is more and more important.”

Garber also said he would be visiting St. Louis soon to discuss expansion possibilities in that city.

More from Garber at Soccer America and the Washington Post.

On Thursday, TFC announced midfielder Jay Chapman had been signed to a Homegrown Player contract.

Disgruntled New York Red Bulls fans have started the website redbullout.com as part of a campaign to aimed at forcing the firing of new Sporting Director Ali Curtis and new ownership for the team. A message in support of fired head coach Mike Petke from the group will be displayed on an electronic billboard on the ramp on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel beginning today and throughout the weekend. More from the New York Daily News.

US

FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges has been called into the USMNT’s January camp.

Elsewhere

David Ginola, who played for France, Tottenham, and Newcastle, announced today his candidacy for the FIFA presidency. It’s unclear at present if he’s actually eligible to run. The Press Association reports “it has been revealed that he is being paid 250,000 pounds by a bookmaker to run.” More from Reuters.

46 Comments

  1. Interesting that the Galaxy are actually following the rules in the Kljestan sweepstakes; trading to move up in the order instead of pressing for a rule change. I would love to see Montreal claim him anyway, though.

    • Sasha is an Edu level talent. Just below the Santa Claus threshold. I am sure LA could have pushed the issue but that would be a bit loud, especially in a year when the league is negotiating a new CBA.

      • Lol @ “Santa Claus threshold”, well done. The level of player where Don Garber breaks out his white beard and red fat-suit, and bestows shiny new toys upon the favored children of Toronto, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Perhaps we should attempt to sign Santa Claus. A few months of conditioning and he may be match-fit. He is currently a FA and our season would not interfere with work.

      • +1
        .
        He can cover the entire earth in one night . . . just imagine what he could do in the midfield!

      • And imagine how fast Le Toux would run with some of that magic reindeer dust!

      • The Black Hand says:

        It’s settled…Santa Claus should be our number one priority signing.
        .
        This, somehow, has me feeling better about our club’s chances…seriously.

      • Maradona agrees with you.

      • I think I know where we can find him…paging Chris Albright and Renee Meulensteen. http://www.fcsantaclaus.fi/

      • I'm Sak, Please Fire Me says:

        I think Sak already did this. That sure was a gift from M’bolhi, no?

  2. I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere, so just curious if Catic requires an International roster spot?

    • He moved here when he was like 6. I would hope not.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I read that he has US citizenship.
        .
        Catic interests me. He has size and reported skill. I’m not sure where we are with Casey, but he would make a perfect player for Catic to study. Casey’s skill is often overlooked. He played, and still plays, the ‘big man’ game very well.
        .
        I know nothing about the midfielder, other than he is sand on the beach. A work in progress, maybe…

    • I saw it somewhere – PSP’s twitter feed maybe? – that he does not require an international slot.

    • Nope, Curtin said on the podcast he would not take up an international spot.

    • Cool Thanks!

  3. Ok here I go. I have this excited tingling in my stomach. I like the picks and I like Sapong. Curtin’s statements are making me cautiously optimistic. Of course I’m waiting to see what big moves they make over the next weeks. Oh the anxiety!!

  4. Union FO, Please Please Please address the LB problem. I dread another season of Fabinho. Besides, that rocket will be finished soon and then he’s out of here too.

    • Would you consider the problem addressed if Gaddis (or Williams, for that matter) showed up in training camp having learned how to put in a left-footed cross?

      • The Black Hand says:

        Wouldn’t even need the left-footed cross…though it is nice to have. A left-sided wingback’s cut toward the center of the pitch and cross/shot with his right can be deadly. I think that William’s adjusting to the left is the answer…or unload Sheanon and pursue a proper purchase.

      • That’s a fantastic question.
        .
        I think a lot of Union fans would howl about that, to be honest. They’ll label it as more of the FO’s talk without action. So it would require Gaddis/Williams to demonstrate an ability to play off the left foot consistently. If that does happen, you have a real dangerous player – one who can take it to the endline and whip in the cross, or who can very easily cut inside and drive the box.
        .
        So for me… yeah, if Gaddis proves his left is continuing to improve I’m good with keeping him and Williams as my FB options. But for this one, talk isn’t good enough. I’ll be like somebody from Missouri – show me.

      • Yes, I would. LB, to me, should be no more than the #3 priority for this team right now. Getting a high end MLS quality striker should be first, followed by obtaining a true starting CDM (assumes Edu plays CB as expected). The current forward situation isn’t good enough and we don’t have a replacement on the roster for Okugo (Lahoud and/or Carroll are fine as depth only). If there’s a true LB upgrade out there, by all means go for it, but could we live with Gaddis & Williams as our outside backs for another year? Yes.

      • I don’t care about the crosses. I just want our LB to good good at his primary job – defense. If Gaddis has to play there, fine.
        I’d like a natural LB, but we could do worse than having Williams/Gaddis on the wings.

      • Great points, everyone above me. A lot of people, including me, have been bitching and moaning about not having a left-footed left back, but most of those people, including me, will bitch and moan if Williams/Gaddis are splitting time at right back (assuming both are healthy at the time). I will take that Defensive Duo if one of them can improve his left foot, both in crossing and clearing the ball up the line when necessary.

      • Williams and/or Gaddis are not my worry. Yes they can both be acceptable. Especially when you take the speed of Gaddis into account. My fear is that combination is not who we’ll see. I’m afraid Fabinho will get substantial minutes again this year and that, in my view, is a problem.

      • Davis Russell says:

        I believe that almost every single appearance that he made last year came because of the injury, fatigue, or suspension of Sheanon Williams.That being said, he started 18 matches. I firmly believe that Williams and Gaddis are one of the best defensive combinations in the MLS so hopefully both players (particularly Williams) will be able to stay healthy this year.

    • No worries, Ives is reporting that Fabinho is the target of an 80 million transfer offer from Barcelona as they are in desperate need of the MLS most desirable Leftback. Union still aren’t budging though as they don’t know if they’ll be able to acquire another defensively liable and offensively limited left footed leftback. Curtin was quoted as saying “we’ve scoured Chester from Lots A thru C and we just can’t find anyone who does what he can do.” When asked exactly what Fabinho’s unique skills are Curtin answered “My God man can’t you see he’s left footed!” When pressed as to why The Union haven’t searched outside of Chester, Curtin responded “That’s just cray cray!”

  5. So the Gold Cup final will be here the same day as the Union play at DC United? Will Philly get another big game when the most rabid fans don’t show up?

    At least I know I can get to the game without getting stuck in 3 hours of traffic like when we went to the Meadowlands in 2009, arriving just in time to see Mexico line up for a PK, the first of 5 second half goals against the US.

    • I support the Union 100%, have had season tickets since 2010 and frequently travel to away games. But on that day I will get my tickets for the Gold Cup Final and catch the Union game on DVR afterwards. It’s just to big a game for me to pass up, and hopefully see a trophy raised by the home team in South Philly.

    • Andy, my daughter and I made that same trip. Traffic was unreal. We missed the whole first half but settled in to watch what we hoped would be a good second. Our jaws just dropped at how the flood gates opened. The sea of Mexicans we were sitting with were ribbing us good naturedly but after the 4th goal we’d had enough. We heard the crowd roar for the 5th goal just as we were getting into our car. We still laugh about our disasterous trip to the Meadowlands.

  6. During the draft I listened to SiriusXM and Sakiewicz was interviewed (after Union’s first pick). He said that they intend to sign 2 more key players before the end of the month. Let’s hope is it a left back and 1 more decent striker.

    • Conor Casey or Brian Carroll at reduced $$ for depth. And an out of work MLS vet GK for international Windows. Those will be the 2 signings.

    • I hope the soccer gods were paying attention to Sak’s comments and hold him accountable to that. That means an MLS quality striker and a left back to bolster the defense by 1/31/2015 or the soccer gods can strike him down.

  7. Apparently US Soccer doesn’t think we are a remote outpost with a dancing wolf named Two Socks. Well done Philly in hopefully landing Gold Cup final.

  8. Third place game is at PPL Park, not the Linc.

  9. 700 chopper says:

    Fantastic daft can’t wait for the season to begin just got me and my wifes tickets DOOP DOOP

  10. Giovinco is going to spin parables for Toronto FC against the likes of MLS. Yes he is 5′ 5” and MLS is a physical league. I understand. But he quicker than any player I have seen in italy so catch him if you can….
    .
    Here is a guy that makes something happen every time he steps on for Juve against some of the best in europe. What a coup for Toronto FC. I am truly a jealous man and am quite surprised he fell out of favor his Allegri.
    .
    Bradley, Altidore, Giovinco. Muck Fe.

  11. Leo Fernandes, off to see the Cosmos. Safe interstellar travel Leo. See you again soon maybe?

  12. Rene M in a very good interview with Tannenwald:
    .
    “Well, I think the most important thing for every club to be successful is to first of all have a clear vision. Then to put a strategy into place, which is investment and all that. Then to get the train rolling, and next to that making sure that you get positions filled with the right people to make sure that the strategy is put into place.”
    .
    VISION. PHILOSOPHY. PLAN.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      That really was a great article. It seems like this team, albeit slowly and with some very questionable decisions, might be on the path to doing things the right way.

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