Daily news roundups

More Valdes rumors and other Union bits, CBA update, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

The annual offseason Carlos Valdes rumor mill continues to grind, this time with MLSsoccer.com linking to South American reports that the central defender is being courted by Uruguyan side Nacional, and Chilean club Colo Colo. At the bottom of the MLSsoccer.com report is a link to another report from FutbolMLS (the league’s Spanish language website; crappy Google translation here), that quotes sources as saying Valdes has received no offers and that he is committed to the Union for 2015. Jokes about the seasonal parade of Valdes rumors out of South America aside, if the Union were to receive an attractive offer for Valdes, why wouldn’t they seriously consider it, just as they would with any other player on the roster?

At CBS3, Kevin Kinkead wonders if the Union can take advantage of an underperforming Philadelphia sports scene to increase its profile. Noting the Union “hasn’t done a whole lot this offseason,” Kinkead explains,

It’s unfortunate really, because this team is in perfect position to make a splash, or turn heads, or whatever cliche you wanna throw in there. Philadelphia’s sports scene is a barren wasteland of bad play and bad contracts, so signing a superstar would catch the attention of people who otherwise would spend their summer waiting for Darin Ruf to actually see the field…the bar has been set so incredibly low by the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers, that the Union can make a big impression just by winning a few games this spring.”

At Brotherly Game, a review from the MLS Media Day in LA of comments from Maurice Edu on a variety of subjects. This passage stands out:

When asked “Center back or midfield?”, his response was “I plead the fifth” followed by a bit of a chuckle. “I don’t make those decisions. I just go out there and train, play hard, whatever role I’m asked to play and if it’s going to be beneficial to the team, that’s where I’ll play.” When asked if he had a preference, he admitted he was most comfortable playing midfield since that’s where he’d played his whole career, but acquiesced saying that he was more and more comfortable [playing at center back] as the season went on.

Rais Mbolhi and Algeria face Ghana today at 11 am (beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Sports Connect). On Tuesday, Algeria faces Senegal (1 pm, beIN Sports Connect). Sport 360 reviews Mbolhi’s career.

At the Union website, Kerith Gabriel has a breakdown of the team’s five-game preseason schedule.

Danny Cruz was in Jacksonville on Wednesday to help promote the upcoming preseason game against new NASL side Jacksonville Armada.

At Vavel, a offseason outlook for the Union.

Former Union man Corben Bone has signed with USL PRO side Wilmington Hammerheads, the team the Union loaned him to last summer. Bone is now training with NYC FC, with whom the Hammerheads were recently affiliated.


Harrisburg City Islanders’ final open tryout will take place at In the Net Sports Complex in Palmyra, PA., Feb. 18-19. Click here for registration information.

ProSoccerTalk has a profile on former Reading United goalkeeper Alex Bono, who is currently at the USMNT’s January camp and was selected by Toronto in last week’s draft.

Congratulations to Continental FC’s Ethan Manzella, one of 12 U-8 players representing the US in FC Barcelona Escola tournament in Spain this spring. Ethan, who lives in Downingtown, was selected from among 3,400 US players who participated in the FCBEscola training camps.


At the Washington Post, Steven Goff has an update from this week’s CBA negotiations meeting, which were scheduled to last two days but ended after only one on Tuesday. Goff quotes MLSPU executive director Bob Foose, “We remain very far apart on important issues. We will continue at it but it’s difficult to see a path to an agreement at this point.”

ASN’s Broke Tunstall quotes Foose, “I can’t imagine a situation where we would start the season without a CBA.”

DC United players union rep Bobby Boswell told Goff, “We thought we would be closer on some key issues than we are. They weren’t willing to move on a couple of our key issues, free agency being one of them. It was just a little disappointing. It could be a tactic. We are unified. The guys who built this league and make it what it is, we want to be treated properly. The proposals they had, we don’t feel like that is being achieved.” Goff added, “Nonetheless, Boswell remains optimistic of avoiding a work stoppage.”

MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement, “It is premature at this stage of the discussions to speculate about the possibility of a work stoppage. Although there are a number of issues which still need to be resolved, that is true of every CBA negotiation, and we are committed to continued negotiations.”

At ASN, Leander Schaerlaeckens has a commentary piece in support of free agency.

ESPN reports, “Shaun Maloney is set to join Chicago Fire on Saturday after the Major League Soccer club agreed a fee with Wigan Athletic.”

It’s official: Montreal announced on Thursday the club “the club has come to terms with central defender and Belgian international Laurent Ciman on a three-year contract.”

DC United have re-signed Fabián Espíndola is now to a Designated Player contract.

LA Galaxy have re-signed former Union goalkeeper Brian Perk.

Seattle has signed Ante Razov as an assistant coach.

At Soccer Gods, Steve Davis looks at Toronto’s big offseason signings and says, “A strategy of ‘buy big … and keep buying!’ just isn’t enough.”

San Jose will open the new Avaya Stadium on Feb. 28 with a friendly against LA Galaxy.

Fox Sports announced on Thursday it had secured John Strong’s “exclusive services to call play-by play for its coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS), FIFA Women’s World Cup, international soccer events and more.” Strong was the lead play-by-play announcer for MLS on NBC Sports.


The US will face El Salvador in Saturday’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship playoff game (5 pm: Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go). If they win, they qualify for the U-20 World Cup, which will take place in New Zealand in May.

So, more details on why Hope Solo was suspended for 30 days. The vehicle that her husband was driving and she was a passenger in, when he was arrested for DUI? TMZ reports it was a US Soccer van. SI and USA Today confirmed the report.

Bruce Arena has been named the recipient of the 2014 Werner Fricker Builder Award. Named after former United German Hungarians and USMNT player, and US Soccer president, the award is the “highest honor that an individual can receive from the U.S. Soccer Federation.”


Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

ESPN reports, “Football ‘super agent’ Mino Raiola has announced his intention to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency this year.” Raiola, who represents the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, and Mario Balotelli, told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, “It makes me deeply sick just to think about Blatter being re-elected. Do you want a dictator as president of FIFA or a democracy? Even a 15-year-old kid knows that the only good thing about FIFA is the video game. They need more transparency.” More on the news at ProSoccerTalk.

The Telegraph reports Castrol, Continental Tires, and Johnson & Johnson have decided to not renew their sponsorship deals with FIFA. You will recall that Sony and Emirates decided last year not to renew their deals with FIFA. More on the news at the Guardian.

The AP reports, “A group of Paris Saint-Germain supporters is challenging UEFA’s financial regulations in a French court. The fans are suing the French football federation and the league “to denounce the multiple infringements of European Union law caused by the UEFA break-even requirement.”


  1. I’m torn between rooting for or against Algeria. While I’d like to see Mbolhi do well, if Algeria wins the tournament, that would mean he’d miss a month of the 2017 season (assuming he’s still with the Union) playing in the Confederations Cup.

    • Let’s worry about getting to the playoffs in 2015 before we worry about the 2017 season. If he wins the tournament that means he comes to preseason on a roll and playing well. That’s far more important then him missing a month 2 seasons from now.

    • Mbolhi played a poor angle and allowed a bad angle shot to go in during stoppage time as Ghana got the 1-0 win. Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come in the upcoming season.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        His feet were not set when the shot was struck, I assume because he knew the center back would not recover and that he might have to charge. Replay did not show, at least to my eyes, whether he had the near post covered which is standard instruction, but he was not to his “base” when the ball was struck, which says the shot surprised him.

  2. Gruntled Fan says:

    So if the players go on strike and let’s say somehow the season gets canceled (really hope that doesn’t happen), does that mean we’ll finish tied for first place for the year? Does that count for silverware?
    Really getting annoyed at hearing how pretty much every other team in the league has signed a player or two or three in these daily updates and all we get is we might lose another starter.
    Can you guys just start a rumor of somebody we’re pursuing and maybe the Union will then pursue that player?

    • The Black Hand says:

      If the MLS were to go on strike, the effects would be irreversibly crippling to the league.
      I agree, the Essien to FC Dallas rumor had me in a fit. It is rumored that he turned down the offer. I have no problem with the ‘big’ names coming over. I think that it is a good thing. I just wish that we could get a sniff…

      • Essien is running on fumes at this point in his career, but understand your point.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Those fumes can put in 15 MLS goals with ease.

      • Are you saying that Essien would score 15 goals per season in MLS? I can’t see it, his legs are shot.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Score and set up. His legs may be aging, but he would still be able to regurely contribute out of the midfield. These aging midfielders, coming over, are going the benefit of letting the ball do the work for you.

      • The Black Hand says:

        *display the benefit

      • I’m sorry, but Essien isn’t that type of player. His strongest attribute is his work rate and engine. He’s a box-to-box midfielder. Nothing that I’ve seen from him makes me think that he can reinvent himself as a deep lying playmaker.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I agree with George Re: goalscoring and offensive production, but if the Union could pull off the move, I would still love a year of Essien at the 6. Even with his limited mobility, putting him in front of the defense where he can direct traffic, spread the ball and beat people up is worth it to me. Let Nogueira be the shuttler and Essien’s legs. I’d quickly sign up for a year of that experiment.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Ok. Only one solution. Who’s calling Essien’s agent???
        At the top level, Essien has faded. In the MLS, he could be a Pirlo…in my opinion, at least.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Not it. Let me know how it goes, George.

      • Fabian Piveteau says:

        That’s OK, fellas. No need to call me as reading PSP is already part of my daily routine.

        And BTW Eli, I love the podcast. Keep up the good work.

        Au revoir.

      • The Black Hand says:

        That sounded like a ‘done-deal’, to me.
        Finally, we have our physical, box-to-box, playmaking, attacking, defensive midfielder…who somehow needs to get 15 in the back of the net!!!!!

      • The Black Hand says:

        As will Drogba…he’ll be here soon.

    • Yea if the MLS season is cancelled because of a strike or lockout I’m not sure it would recover from that. I think both sides know that, and they don’t wanna stop the momentum they’ve gained since the last CBA was signed in 2010, so I trust they’ll get it done. For the owners to think free agency will ruin the league is a bit naive, especially if the salary cap remains low.

  3. Wilkerson McLaser says:

    I heard Guiseppe Rossi is looking for a career reboot. He was apparently in talks with NYCFC but those faded when it became clear Mix was going to work out. He also had preliminary talks with RBNY but those came to little when it was clear they weren’t willing to cover his hefty transfer from Fiorentina. Philly is rumored to have entered the picture when Sugarman directed the FO to pick up a striker “with a name” — though I also heard they’re talking to Chicharito.
    How’s that?

  4. I’m sure Albright is a nice enough guy, but his interviews and statements have been less than inspiring. And he clearly has been unable to get us any players this offseason. If we start the season with this roster, shouldn’t he be blamed? He had nothing to do with getting Maidana, Nogueira, and Edu last year. That was all Nick and Hackworth, right? Just saying…

  5. 7 days! This has gotten to the ludicrous point. The Union absolutely positively have to complete their signings in the next 7 days. Anything else is a complete and utter failure of the Union leadership.
    There is absolutely zero excuse for the fact that no signings have been made. ZERO!
    – This teams has had more time that half the league to do get a head start on building for the future as they failed to make the playoffs last year.
    – That of course is nothing new . . . This team has failed to reach the playoffs in 4 of their 5 years
    – This team has a total of one playoff goal in their franchise’s existence
    – Most glaring of all, every other Philadelphia sports franchise has been to the playoffs more recently that The Union. Think about that. Let that really seep in. For all the stomach puffing and complaining we do about not being included in the sports discussion landscape and on the radio airwaves we are literally the crappiest franchise in Philadelphia . . . during a very bad 5 year period for Philadelphia sports. If the Sixers are the local joke, what does that make The Union?
    -The Union have made the least signings of anyone in the MLS this offseason. For a team that failed to make the playoffs AGAIN . . . it’s just galling. If every single playoff teams can see the need to upgrade their roster, it’s frankly insulting that The Union continue to dilly dally on improving the squad. There’s no excuse, if the players they want won’t sign they need to move on to Plan B. It’s not December or early January anymore, fanbase concern and irritation is now rightfully justified. Your flight for FLA leaves in 9 days. It’s not a nice to have for your potential opening day lineup to be on that flight, it’s a necessity.

    The Honeymoon is over guys, 5 years in and multiple opportunities to snare the local fanbase and you’ve let it “go to waste” to put it mildly instead of the R-rated version that is rightfully deserved

    Why 7 days you ask? There are actually numerous reasons

    1) The European Transfer market closes on the 31st, and considering the moves being made by everyone else in the MLS, this is the playground that The Union needs to be playing in just to remain where they are (ie a non-playoff team on the fringes of the playoffs). This isn’t even about them getting to the playoffs, it’s just about treading water. Even if it’s Serie B, The Championship, Ligue 2, etc . . . the Union need to be using Europe as destination #1 for adding to their roster. Europe is where the talent flows and so that’s where the most talent is.

    But other leagues aren’t subject to the transfer window? correct, which brings me to point two.

    2) Fitness! How many times last year did Maidana get pulled or benched due to fitness issues? Maybe this will be easier to count, how many times did he go the full 90? You can get quality players from South America, but they need to go through training camp to get into game shape. The majority of leagues that are not subject to the transfer window are also not playing! Primera Division isn’t playing yet, Postobon isn’t playing. Union fly down for training camp on Superbowl Sunday and start the next day. So it’s imperative that we sign these players prior to camp to ensure they are there day one so that come March 7th they will won’t be huffing and puffing in the 60th minute vs Colorado (I can only imagine if the game was away!)

    3) Integration. Another lament early last year was the need to build chemistry between the players. We won’t even go into the Aaron Wheeler experiment, there were times especially early last year when the players didn’t seem to know each others names much less play and train with each other for a full month. How many of the late game failures were a result of players not knowing their job, or expecting other players to the job. Philly had the most corners kicks in the league last year . . . and yet had the worst conversion rate. That’s stuff you work on in pre-season and practice. Again for a team so far behind the league already in terms of talent it’s imperative that they take advantage of every little opportunity.

    Anyway rant over . . .

    PS I actually am a Sixers supporter and will be watching them as I always do tonight. For as much grief as they get most of the diehard fans can actually see a plan in place being executed. I wish I could say the same for The Union, but right now sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    • I agree about the Sixers. I actually find them fun to watch most of the time. And I am very on-board with their general plan of sinking before rising. They had two options: they could continue as-is and regularly finish somewhere between 5-10 in the East, sometimes making the playoffs and other times being a high (ie useless) lottery pick. Or, they could stink and improve their odds in the lottery. They chose the latter, and Hinke made the decision to go all in on that plan. I love it – it shows vision. Now, if they don’t ever leave the cycle of sucking and acquiring draft assets? Yeah, then I’ll yell and and scream. Next year is going to be interesting for them, I think. I foresee a playoff berth in 15-16 for the Sixers.
      Anyway… back to your regularly scheduled Union talk. 🙂

      • I’m both a Sixers and Union season ticket holder – Sixers just to hold my attention until soccer season starts up again – but yea I agree with what you said. The biggest difference for me is that the Sixers re-set themselves to build a team from scratch using youth, and they’ll fill in veteran pieces when they are ready to compete. The Union had the chance to build a team that same way, but instead they have jettisoned or alienated a lot of the youth that did help build the team from scratch, and they look like the old Sixers, always a playoff team, never a contender.

        The Sixers are slowly attracting more fans because there is a clear plan in place and at the very least they’re exciting, despite losing a lot. The Union may actually be losing fans (or will lose fans) despite winning once Curtin took over.

    • Ben you aren’t alone! I get sick of being told to trust that they are in talks. That BS is old! I want names and signings. Be patient and trust them? That ship has sailed. I hope that one of the things in the works is the sale of this team to someone financially competitive for this market. After the draft and the Edu signing I said it would be interesting to see what the Union do next…Well?

    • “This team has a total of one playoff goal in their franchise’s existence”

      And that’s still one more goal than a certain Canadian club that seems to announce a new signing every day.

      • Toronto has just set themselves a very high bar for accomplishment. Two remarkable signings for big $$. Missing the playoffs is not an option for them.

        Agree with Shane that the window for getting something done is not going to be open much longer. We need to add some pretty big pieces. I hope we have some news next week.

    • Curtain must have read Shane’s posting as this popped up on CSN Philly –


      In Curtain we trust or at least take a swig of Kool-Aid? I remain as anxious as all U fans to see what is on the pitch come March 7.

  6. Has there been any indication from the Union as to their plans regarding Valdes? I saw that Curtin mentioned looking for a striker and CDM or CB (whichever of the two they find a candidate of better fit) in Europe. Then they’d slot Edu accordingly. Is Valdes part of the plan? Are they comfortable with White, Berry, or Marquez locking down a starting CB spot?

    • The Black Hand says:

      I’d bet they’re shopping Valdes, but are struggling to find a suitor that will match his price tag. This would lead me to believe that their plan is to slot Edu at CB. It’s starting to look like deja vu, all over again…and again…and again…
      I’m not writing Curtin off. He did a lot right, last year. As for those above him, I’m writing them off. I would be surprised to see any more meaningful acquisitions. Sapong will have to suffice.

    • Fire Me. Now. says:

      We are looking to deal him for a high end international goalkeeper.
      – Sak
      P.S. Please fire me now.

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Only Athena, springing fully grown from the side of Zeus’s head, would happen fast enough for Philadelphia sports fans!! On a serious note, in your thinking about Valdes, remember one of the reasons he came back from Argentina, MLS checks arrive twice monthly and do not bounce. After two years of South American financial stability, can his family afford for him to return?

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    “Even a 15-year-old kid knows that the only good thing about FIFA is the video game.” — Great line!! He’d get my vote, if I had one!!

  9. Steve OMalley says:

    We should look at Bobby Wood in Germany pasey kind of tall and better than what we got here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *