Daily news roundups

Le Toux scores two in Union’s first preseason win, more on Aristeguieta

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Union 3-0 Costa Rica U-23s

Goals from Sebastien Le Toux in the 10th and 51st minute, and Cristian Maidana in the 22nd minute, saw the Union to a 3-0 win over the Costa Rica U-23 squad in the team’s opening game at the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic.

Le Toux, whose first goal came from the penalty spot, said, “I was happy to score two goals, but it was a good team win. We want to continue to progress with our fitness and play together and then win the two more games in our group.”

Jim Curtin said, “This is our third phase of preseason and is one we wanted to start focusing on results. The first two phases were about player evaluation and fitness. Now we have set a goal to win this competition, and to keep a clean sheet was something that we also talked about. We scored a couple of good goals today, too, so I was very happy with the performance.”

Curtin explained, “I thought our guys came out, were organized and were tough to play against. It’s starting to look like what we want it to look against Colorado come March 7…It was a good test for us. Young teams, especially national teams, are going to be eager to impress and represent their countries. So I thought it was a good exercise for our guys.”

The Union starting XI was: Rais Mbolhi; Ray Gaddis, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams; Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira; Andrew Wenger, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux; and CJ Sapong.

In the 61st minute, the Union swapped out the starters for a lineup of John McCarthy; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Mike Lahoud, Raymond Lee; Brian Carroll, Zach Pfeffer; Antoine Hoppenot, Fred, Eric Ayuk; Conor Casey.

Zach Pfeffer was replaced by Dzenan Catic in the 83rd minute after he “blocked a free kick below the waist.”

Speaking of Pfeffer, Dave Zeitlin tweeted this nugget on Wednesday: “The biggest battle in Union camp might not be what you expect. Curtin just told me Pfeffer is pushing Maidana for that starting No. 10 spot.”

Speaking of Catic, don’t forget he’s taking part in a Reddit AMA today from 2 pm.

Reports on the Wednesday’s win from Philadelphia UnionPhilly.com, CSN Philly, and Philly Soccer News.

At USA Today, a collection of photographs from the game, as does the Bradenton Herald.


After Kevin Kinkead’s report at CBSPhilly on Wednesday that the Union are about to acquire Fernando Aristeguieta on loan from Nantes, many fans are naturally wondering, can the guy play? In his reaction piece at the 700 Level, Steve Moore writes,

We won’t know that until at least May or June, and that’s fine. Personally, I would prefer taking a shot on a young 22-year-old player with potential over a 30- or 32-year-old “name” guy who costs five time as much (if not more)…

Sure, Kaka, Gerrard and David Villa get the attention, but you can’t tell me that nine goals in 45 appearances for Nantes is any less impressive than 1 goal in 42 games for Sunderland (Hi, Jozy!).

Very true.

BeIN Sports announcer Phil Schoen offered a number of observations on Twitter about Aristeguieta that are encouraging. You can imagine Ray Hudson bombastically interrupting Schoen as you read his comments:

  • Tweet 1: “If true, could be one of Union’s best moves ever…”
  • Tweet 2: “Partly because the Union haven’t had a boatload of good signings… ever, but he is a good, solid, honest center forward.”
  • Tweet 3: “Called a few of his Venezuela games. Not afraid of contact, good in the air. 22, still has upside. Fits system, & should improve.”
  • Tweet 4: “Only NAT caliber players Union had were Valdes (couldn’t run away fast enough) and M’Bolhi (lacing up sneakers now)” (OK, maybe that one isn’t encouraging and it obviously omits multiple Union players with US national team appearances, not to mention the likes of Jamaica’s Andre Blake, Sierra Leone’s Michael Lahoud, Venezuela’s Alejandro Moreno, Colombia’s Faryd Mondragon, Panama’s Gabriel Gomez, and — gasp — Costa Rica’s Porfirio Lopez.)
  • Tweet 5: “Aristigueta COULD be part of Venezuela’s attack for next 10 years. (Rondon, Miku, ???)”
  • Tweet 6: “Quicker than he looks, but he’s not fast. That’s not his game.”

Here’s a selection of reports picking up on Kinkead’s report at CBS Philly from Philly.com, MLSsoccer.comSBIBrotherly Game, Playing for 90, and MLSGB.


At MLSsoccer.com, Matthew Doyle on Andrew Wenger finding his best position: Target winger. “It is, perhaps, the spot he was meant to play all along – the right role for one of the league’s best talents.”

Want to know what observers in other cities make of the 2015 Union? PSP’s Dan Walsh wrote back in 2013: “Despite representing the nation’s fourth-largest television market, Philadelphia often behaves as a small-market club within the confines of Major League Soccer.” LA Galaxy fan blog The View from Avalon also has a look at the Union.


Harrisburg City Islanders will hold their final open tryout on March 15 at Rutgers Camden. For registration information, click here.

The Temple women’s team has announced the addition of six new players.

Camden Catholic have named Jim McBride the new head coach of the school’s girls soccer team.

At the Inquirer, Mike Jensen has a good read about the trip Kadir Burton, a 15-year-old student at KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy, took to Nicaragua and Colombia as the Starfinder Foundation’s representative in a US State Department program “for countries that try to use soccer as a tool for social development.”


Lots of preseason games around the league on Wednesday. At the opening of IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, Columbus began the day with a 7-0 win over London United, the last minute replacement for TP Mazembe made of of players looking for a club. The Union then defeated the Costa Rica U-23 team, 3-0. Next, New York Red Bulls drew 1-1 with Danish side HB Koge. Toronto FC finished the day with a 1-0 loss to USL side Oklahoma Energy.

At the Desert Diamond Cup, Colorado and Kansas City played to a 2-2 draw. New England Revolution lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake, and Seattle thumped PDL side FC Tucson, 6-0.

In other preseason games, Montreal defeated Mexican third division side FC Cuautia, 6-0. Jack McInerney scored twice in the win. San Jose defeated PDL side Fresno Fuego FC, 4-0. Houston Dynamo fell 1-0 to PDL side Austin Aztex.

DC United have signed 2015 SuperDraft pick and midfielder Miguel Aguilar.

SBI talks to former Union man Danny Mwanga about his fresh start in Orlando.

ProSoccerTalk has a Q&A with NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis.

At World Soccer Talk, Steve Davis says when it comes to taking sides in the CBA negotiations, “[I]t’s not so much picking the right side; this feels more like picking the wrong that’s more right. In my mind, the ‘wrong that is more right’ is that MLS probably cannot afford the potentially destabilizing undertow of true free agency.”

Mark Levinstein, acting Executive Director and outside General Counsel for the US National Soccer Team Players Association, says now is the time for the MLS Players Union to be resolute:

To refuse to continue to play under the current system, with the current minimum player salaries and the absence of free agency, is essential. It is perhaps unfair that MLS players may have to miss games and dramatically disrupt their careers, but they must be resolute and they must not waiver. They need to stand together for long-term change.

As much as MLS officials talk about the league’s vision for the future of major American club soccer, the players also have a vision. They make that clear every time a player discusses the goals for the next collective bargaining agreement. The players realize they have to act NOW. It’s not just for them. It’s for the fans, for the players who will come after them and, most important, for the development of the sport in this country.

The Boston Herald says the start of the league’s 20th anniversary season “should be characterized by excitement.” Acknowledging the possibility of a work stoppage, the Herald says, “Instead, the clock is ticking with anxiety.”

The Denver Post reports, “The Colorado Rapids are phasing out the Ciao Telecom logo and searching for a new front-of-jersey sponsor as the courts sort out who is on the hook for the failed five-year, $8.3 million sponsorship deal.”

David Beckham may be having trouble finding a location for a new soccer stadium in Miami but when (if?) he does so, there will be a “premier soccer school and sports complex” in North Miami Beach. Boca Juniors are partners in the project.


US Soccer has denied a report from Australia that the USMNT will play Australia on July 3 in a pre-Gold Cup friendly. The first US game at the Gold Cup takes place July 7.

At Soccer America, Paul Kennedy on why the January camp “has run its course.”

The Shin Guardian on the inconsistency of the US away kits.


At SI, Grant Wahl reports, “Multiple sources say it’s a done deal that World Cup 2022 will take place in November and December of 2022 in Qatar. A FIFA task force will meet in Doha next week and make that recommendation, and the FIFA Executive Committee is set to make the decision final at its meeting in Zurich next month.”

This just in from the Department of Those Are Two of the Dumbest Ideas I’ve Ever Heard: The AP reports FIFA presidential candidate Luis Figo “says he would consider expanding the World Cup if he is elected FIFA president in May.” The report continues, “Figo says the 32-team World Cup could be expanded to 40 teams or FIFA could stage two 24-team tournaments simultaneously on two continents followed by a knockout phase in one nation.” More at the Guardian.

Reuters reports,

The victim of a racist incident involving Chelsea soccer fans in the Paris metro did not know the incident had been filmed and widely broadcast and will now lodge an official complaint with police, he told French daily Le Parisien.

“I don’t speak a word of English … but it was clear to me they were picking on me because of the color of my skin,” the victim, identified by Le Parisien as Souleymane, 33, said.

The Guardian has info on some of the Chelsea supporters who have been identified in the video.

Also at the Guardian, Jeff Bradley observes that reports of “soccer racism,” such as the incident in Paris, harm the perception of soccer in the US: “For every soccer fan who chooses to focus on the game, there are probably twice as many Americans who still equate the term ‘soccer fan’ with ‘hooligan.’ Fair or not.” Bradley also worries that such incidents could pollute supporter culture in the US.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane. Stuck on the same plane.


  1. I’m a little surprised by just how poorly the Union are expected to be this season by Vegas odds and other teams.. I realize they haven’t added every position on the wish list, but I for one do see a lot of promise. The Union scored 51 goals last year, only 4 behind East leader NYRB. While offense was streaky at times, it should improve this year (Nando should add goals, Wenger’s progression and a full year with the team, Sapong chipping in goals, but also providing depth so Casey and LeToux’s minutes are better managed to avoid late season drop offs). I’d estimate the Union could knock in between 54-60 goals this season so long as they remain relatively healthy. The big issue last season was that their goal differential was even having allowed 51 goals as well. Between injuries and a neverending carousel ride along the back line its no surprise they allowed so many goals. Assuming there are no longterm major injuries the Union could decrease the goals against by anywhere from 4-8 goals at least, in my opinion. This roster should be able to absolutely contend for the playoffs and could potentially be dangerous if they get in. I know it sounds like wishful thinking, but I find that looking at the numbers from last season this way really helps in seeing what they can accomplish. There is obviously room for improvement, but I don’t think the Union are as far gone as most might think.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Unfortunately Mike, it is wishful thinking. What the glaring difference between the Union and other teams in the East is the lack of depth. Who fills in if Wegner or Letoux get hurt? Cruz? Innefective. Hoppenot? Innefective and a diver. Sapong? He wants to be a stiker. The 18yr old cameroonian on trial from thailand? who knows. Fabinho? ugh.

      Who fills in if Nogueira gets hurt? Pheifer? maybe it is his time, who knows. Carrol? Lahoud?

      I could go on and on. This team has some nice pieces and at times can be fun to watch but their is absolutely no depth at all. Most of our depth is filled by players playing out of position and that may do in a pinch, but the MLS season is torturous between travel and mid week games.

      Vegas is in the business of making money, those posted odds are all you need to see to know if your’e expectations are wishful thinking or not.

      • i’m not saying this team is perfect but i would say cruz and hoppenot can be effective as depth. mclaughlin can play on the wings and sub in for le toux or wenger. i would imagine that if nogueira gets injured they would probably bring in pfeffer (who is apparently challenging for a starting spot) or push mo higher and bring in carrol or lahoud. while agree that lahoud and carrol are not great i would say that they are alright as depth.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        Kyle, When has Hoppenot been effective since his rookie year? How do we know Mclaughlin can play well, we’ve never seen him at the MLS level. Why would we assume Carroll is ok as depth? He has gotten worse every year since he’s been here and I have no reason to suspect that this year will be different. Kyle, all of your arguments are based on wishful thinking and as my uncle used to say “you can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up faster….”

      • The Black Hand says:

        Hoppenot is effective as a late game substitution to run at defenders. It keeps opposing back lines on their heels and limits the layers of pressure on our defense.
        Like it or not, Danny Cruz is an effective player. His tenacity is tough to deal with…and he never tires. That’s a strong option, coming off the bench.
        Carroll? I have no defense for his inclusion. Player-coach?? Thanks, but I’ll pass. I have never been impressed with Carroll’s football IQ. He plays the game old-school American style…completely wrong. The skill of this league has far surpassed Carroll. It’s harsh, but true.

      • Personally, I won’t shed a tear if Carroll, Cruz, and Hoppenot never play for the Union again.
        Carroll’s best days are behind him, and the other two have a “style” of play that I find difficult to watch.
        Give me some young guys with skill and potential over those three any day.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Can’t say that I, completely, disagree with you. I would rather our options possess a bit more quality. That said, our options (sans BC) do hold some value.

      • good call Dan- depth seems to always be an issue. Hell it even cost us our first trophy. played Seattle toe to toe until they went to the bench and we…..

      • +1. That stated, stability and health will improve the U this year. They will make the playoffs.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        (from Joel’s comment)… Hit the post. Missed it by THAT much…

      • The Black Hand says:

        Yes we did, but their depth was Martins and Pappa…ours was the beer guy in section 128.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah I agree. I’m not making be case like we have or had depth… I was just saying. WE HIT THE POST?!? It will hurt for a LONG time

      • Mike H and Dan C,

        The epitome of a Glass Half-Full vs. Glass Half-Empty discussion. And you are both right.

      • Very few teams have good depth. Seattle, LA, and RSL are the only deep teams that come to mind for me.
        The difference is that the other teams in the East (except NJRB) IMPROVED their roster. Alternatively, we subtracted a starting-quality CDM while adding some depth at CF. The limited roster turnover is great, but we’re not keeping up with the Jones’ (literally or figuratively).

    • It’s a tough call. The team isn’t worse, given it’s the same lineup as most of last year plus Vitoria, but that also means they’re not necessarily better. I think the end of the season slide had as much to do with the bitter finish to the Open Cup as it did with the team not being good enough. They put all their eggs in that basket, and fell short and couldn’t recover. I think a fresh start to this season will help get things back on track, but management cannot sit pat and be pleased with the lineup until they fill the glaring holes that are depth and LB (for what it’s worth, Gaddis would be my starting RB over Williams).

      • The Black Hand says:

        Okugo loss takes away from the club. In my opinion, Okugo is better than Edu…both in cost and performance/potential. We have bolstered the club’s threat, in the attacking third (I hope).
        I agree with the call on Gaddis.
        Not sure if this club is any worse than last year, but I’m also not sure if the club was good last year.

      • This year, we find out what kind of game day manager the manager is. We find out if he is able to adjust. We find out if he is willing to change his style of play based on the teams he is playing against.
        Watching us give up possession to a mediocre or less team, at home with the hopes of absorbing pressure then counter quickly will lose my interest near immediately.

    • Perhaps the oddsmakers read PSP. The team in my eyes is improved. Curtin has built a bigger, more physical team, which pays dividends in MLS. I expect improved play from the midfield now having a full year together. There are more striking options, there is a better goalkeeper and the coach now has had a full camp to set things up his way.

      There may be more depth than we realize. This roster has versatility. I expect Pfeffer to be a big part of the mix coming off the bench. Guys like EDu, Wenger, and Sapong can play anywhere in a pinch. Fabhino and Cruz will make contributions hear and there.

      If this team eliminates last year’s propensity for late game gaffes, I think they should be a playoff team

      • good comment. I think generally you are pretty accurate and as I commented above, I think the real litmus to this season is finding out what kind of coach we have— over the quality of the team on the field– and whether he injects some youth at proper times.
        That said, I do have the reasonable hope that the product contains some aesthetic football and genuine emerging sophistication.

  2. “Toronto FC finished the day with a 1-0 loss to USL side Oklahoma Energy.” I guess Toronto needs to go spend more money.

  3. Steve OMalley says:

    Carroll sucks Fred is creative but slow Casey for his size and age is very good and the new guy has the strength of 10 men watch game clips

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