Daily news roundups

Meulensteen on his role and fan expectations, Fernandes loaned to Cosmos, league news, more


Philadelphia Union

You can see Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi with Algeria as they face South Africa in their opening game at the Africa Cup of Nations today at 2pm on beIN Sports.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald has a transcript of comments made by Rene Meulensteen to reporters before his talk on Friday at the NSCAA Convention.

Meulensteen said of his role with the Union:

It’s not, as such, defined very clearly. I will definitely be with the first team a lot, to support Jim [Curtin] and Mike [Sorber] and Chris [Albright]. So therefore I’m going to go with them for part of the season just to have a good look, get a good feel for the composition of the team, the roster, the style they want to play, the training sessions.

And on top of that my extra time will be divided with the academy. So it’s a good setup in that respect, because people know exactly what their positions and their roles are. Mine is definitely to not create any confusion as such, but to be a good resource for them to tap in to…

I think it’s going to be a two-way conversation. At the end of the day, where I can help with my experience and expertise that I’ve built up over the years, I’ll probably have a different sort of look and insight, and a different opinion.

Like I’ve said, from my first period here, my first two months working with the guys, one thing I can say is they’ve got some good guys in the club, and the academy. I think they all want to do the right thing, and put it in the same direction. It’s challenging, because MLS brings its own complexity with it, to say the least. But it’s a good learning curve.

Meulensteen also spoke of what

I think you always need to aim realistically, and you always every year need to aim higher. Therefore you need to say, if we got to this point last season, what can we do to do better? And then, again, you come back to what is the club prepared to spend in investment on better players?

If that is not X amount of millions, i.e. for Steven Gerrard, you have to look and be creative in trying to find those players in a different pool to make the team better. Honestly, when I saw them at my first impression, I didn’t think the Philadelphia Union are that far off. I think they definitely should aim to get into the playoffs.

Jim Curtin said at the SuperDraft that Meulensteen had, thanks to a tip from a coach in Europe, recommended Dzenan Catic, the Union’s first pick. Meulensteen explained,

[W]e actually were quite pleased, because he was one of the boys that was pointed out to me by a coach that I know very well. The boy has always been a bit under the radar — he’s been away, he’s been in Germany, and obviously, the coach that I got tipped off by is a good coach, and understands.

So I said, “Let’s have a good look at him.” He showed some flashes, and something to work with. When we got to the point of picking, I couldn’t believe he was still there. I thought, and all of our staff said, that he was going to go in the first 10 picks. So we were quite pleased with that.

Curtin said. “When Catic fell into our lap, we were shocked.” Catic described his qualities as a player after being selected by the Union: “I think I’m good on the ball. I’m good technically so I like to play good possession soccer. I like to score goals. Let’s see what happens. I don’t know much (about the club) to be honest. I’m going to learn as much as I can heading into preseason and take it from there…I’m going to work my butt off. 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…I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but everything has been a good life experience for me which has helped make me the player I am today. I’m hoping to use all that to show everyone what I’m about.”

The Union announced on Friday that Leo Fernandes has been loaned to New York Cosmos. Union technical director Chris Albright said in a statement, “Leo is a player who we value and still feel has the potential to have a long career in MLS. To play games consistently with the Cosmos will be an important step in continuing his development.”

Fernandes said in a statement on the Cosmos website, “I’m excited to play in New York, I went to school there and have a lot of friends in the area. This is a great opportunity for me to play with a team that has an attacking philosophy and the Cosmos really impressed me when the Union faced them in the Open Cup.”

Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said, “Leo is a good addition to our squad. He’s been training with a lot of our players throughout the offseason and we expect him to fit right in as a good attacking option for us.”

Danny Cruz made some new friends during his two-week training stint with Ipswich Town.


At the Reading United website, a look at the six alumni who were selected in last week’s SuperDraft, a new club record.

Philly Soccer News has named La Salle forward Kelsey Haycook their Women’s Player of the Year.


TSN reports Toronto FC will announce the signing of Juventus and Italy attacking midfielder/striker Sebastian Giovinco. “Sources say Giovinco, 27, will join Toronto FC on a four-year contract worth $7 million USD annually. It is expected Giovinco will stay with Juventus in Italy until July, although the exact timing of his move has not been confirmed. It is believed that a multi-million dollar transfer fee will be paid for the player.” The deal would make Giovinco the second highest paid player in MLS after Kaka.

Vancouver Whitecaps have re-signed head coach Carl Robinson, assistant coaches Martyn Pert and Gordon Forrest, and goalkeeper coach Marius Røvde to multi-year contract extensions.

Columbus Crew have acquired Chris Klute from the Colorado Rapids as part of the SuperDraft deal that saw the Crew trade down the 14th overall selection and allocation money to the Rapids in exchange for the defender and the 19th overall pick.

Montreal have waived midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran.

Real Salt Lake have signed Brazilian midfielder Wellington “Pecka” Paeckart, who last played for Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

NYCFC have announced Wilmington Hammerheads as their USL PRO affiliate.

Chicago Fire have announced new USL PRO side new St. Louis FC as their USL PRO affiliate.

At Deadspin, Bobby Warshaw on why CBA negotiations could result in a work stoppage.

Reports on the meeting between New York Red Bulls officials and season ticket holders on Friday night from MLSsoccer.com, Empire of SoccerSBI, and Big Apple Soccer.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the obstacles to building a new NFL stadium in an attempt to keep the Rams in town, a stadium that also could house an MLS team, has obstacles that are easy to overlook.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on why Sun Life Stadium, which is about to undergo $350 million in renovations, would not make a good home for an MLS team:

This is way too large for a soccer stadium in Miami. I think we could dress it down, but I think they have their heart set on downtown Miami, if, in fact, it ever happens.”

I think we’ll really serve South Florida with the really great soccer games that I think they’re looking to see, which I think are far superior to anything the Major League Soccer can deliver.


The NWSL had its draft on Friday.

On Wednesday, the league announced the list of allocated players for 2015.


The US continued its effort to get its CONCACAF U-20 Championship campaign back on track with a 2-0 win over host country Jamaica on Sunday. Currently in third place in Group A, the US closes group play on Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago. “A victory or draw would assure the U.S. advances to the playoff stage. However, a Trinidad & Tobago win against the USA would equal the overall point totals, and Trinidad would earn the tiebreaker against the U.S. by virtue of head-to-head competition.”

Jozy Altidore has been called into the USMNT’s January camp.

Brad Evans has withdrawn from the USMNT camp due to tendonitis in his left knee.

At the Guardian, Tom Gottlieb explains why we should be concerned about the USMNT’s defense, not offense.


Tatjana Haenni, FIFA’s head of women’s competitions, said on Friday that all matches at the upcoming Women’s World Cup will be played on artificial turf: “[T]he topic should be over by now. There have been so many talks about it. There is no plan to change any turf.” I guess the recent letter from a group of Democratic US senators to Sepp Blatter is too little, too late.

One of the prime concerns among players has been the state of the artificial surface at Vancouver’s BC Place, which will host nine matches, including the final on July 5. The Province reports that a new artificial surface will be laid down starting in May.

The Guardian reports, “Jérôme Champagne, the former senior Fifa executive who is seeking to replace Sepp Blatter as president, has admitted that he has yet to gain the five nominations required from member associations in order to stand, and has hit out at his rivals describing them as ‘golddiggers’.”


  1. I honestly think Meulensteen is here as the club’s insurance policy should the team falter under Curtin. The front office was looking at Meulensteen while Curtin stepped in as caretaker. After Curtin rallied the team, the front office either felt that they had to keep Curtin or that they should give him a proper shot (he has to be cheaper than Meulensteen). Keeping Meulensteen on as a consultant let’s you test drive him a bit and, if the team underperforms, slide him right into the top spot with (hopefully) minimal disruption. If the team plays well, great, you keep Curtin and only pay Meulensteen for his consulting.

  2. “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.” – Meulensteen.

  3. I should just have been patient and waited to post my thoughts regarding these things- so now they just move over to the new article….anyway.
    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 is 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 with Allegri.
    Bradley, Altidore, Giovinco. Muck Fe.

    • I remember Giovinco being inches offside about 6 times in the 2012 friendly against the US. We were a little lucky that the Pirlo-Giovinco timing was just off that game, or Giovinco could have several good chances.

  4. Did anyone listen to the audio from the Red Bull townhall? Wow! It reminded me of how I felt about Nowack and Sak after they dumped a certain beloved frenchman from our team.

  5. If I have read the articles correctly, Toronto now has 4 DPs, and Gilberto is the one who will be moved. Is there any chance Union send a CB – White or Berry – to TFC? I haven’t seen him play enough to know if he fits what Union are trying to accomplish, but trading for a striker would save the transfer fee.

    I am struggling to find any reason to be optimistic about 2015. I know last year’s signings happened later, but at least there was buzz that the Union were looking (e.g. failed attempt to get Perez who went to Malaga). From a team that was not good enough in 2014 you have the subtraction of three starters – MacMath, Okugo, Casey – and only the addition of Sapong who I like as depth but not as the starter.

    If this were a young roster where you could expect improvement from year to year I would have a more positive outlook. This is an older roster where everyone is what they are, which frankly isn’t good enough. And that fact leads me to believe that at the end of 2015 another coach will be turning the roster over again to bring in his players.

    • It sounds like TFC has options to sell Gilberto overseas. If he stays in MLS, they’ll like send him to a Western Conference club (i.e. – Laba) so they don’t help a club that’s competing with him for a play-off sopt. I’d be shocked if they would trade him to the Union.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah I don’t see with all the money they’ve spent, not trying to sell him overseas, where they will probably get more money to help offset costs already.

  6. Imagine how good TFC could be if they were allowed to put their $20 million in salary that they’re spending on 3 DPs into 10 $2 million players. That’s the type of team that anyone would enjoy watching.
    I don’t understand how $20 million/year is sustainable in MLS, but the salary cap has to go up significantly. Maybe ramp up to $5 million for 2016 and continue to $10 million in 2021. It’s time for some real quality in this league.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah I agree. The money has to start coming. This is the time to strike. They have to make sure the average player is being compensated fairly as well though. Maybe a tiered salary cap type system, where teams have to pay certain guys, certain money, based on experience in and or out of MLS… etc. Of course it was have to be collectively bargained, but the league needs to pay the average, and younger players more… not just the stars.

      • Agreed- this CBA should be about improving the lot of the bottom and middle of the salary structure (thereby improving overall league quality), even though the DP rules/players are what attract attention from potential casual fans. Have to hope the DP stars of the league have that in mind as well. Sometimes the CBA negotiatiors have a tendency to look out for/negotiate for themselves and forget the collective group. I hope there is a mix of player salary tiers on their negotiation team.

      • Considering that 95% of the players are non-DPs, I would expect that the players’ union would be looking out for the interests of the low- and mid-tier players first and foremost. But who knows; the players’ union likely gets more dues from Dempsey than the entire Union roster combined.

  7. I think that Deadspin article is just so if a work stoppage happens, they can say they called it. Both sides have too much to lose so I predict there will be a fairly quick agreement without any stoppage.

    • Nah..The articles title is a bit clickbaity but the article its self is a pretty good primer on what is at stake in this series of negotiations.
      As opposed to their regular stable of “LOL MLS sucks writers.” Bobby Warshaw actually knows what he is talking about.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Agree with Sieve. Once you get past the headline, it is a very well-reasoned, pretty even handed look at the situation. Bobby Warshaw has some serious chops and I look forward to his written contributions.

      • Are you thinking a stoppage is likely then?

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I’m on the fence. I hope not and I don’t think there will be one. And I REALLY hope that both sides realize the crippling effect a work stoppage would have on the growth of the league.
        It is nice to read a piece from a guy who has seen the inner workings and has good access to both parties in the negotiation. That part makes it a good, comprehensive review of where we stand.
        Hopefully, they are well on their way to getting this sorted out.

      • There’s no good reason for a work stoppage right now. Things are looking up for both sides, and that should make for simple negotiating.
        That’s not to say it won’t/can’t happen, just that it’s mutually assured destruction.

      • I am a bit concerned. The league was willing to play chicken with the refs when they had no reason to. I think, they think they can call the players bluff. If the league strikes It would cause a mass exodus of movable talen out of the league… killing it.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    That Giovinco signing us great for the league. At least some teams are willing to spend. Whether or not it works for Toronto remains to be seen but it helps the league as a whole.
    The Deadspin article was interesting in that it was written by Bobby Warshaw who used to play in the league so at least it seemed credible. I do agree though, there is to much to lose to even consider a work stoppage. I hope it’s wrapped up quickly and fairly.

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