Daily news roundups

Aristeguieta arrives and scores a brace, grim CBA update, league news, Solo back, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Well, what a pleasant weekend in Union land.

On Friday, the club officially announced the arrival of forward Fernando Aristeguieta on loan from Ligue 1 side Nantes. A Union spokesperson confirmed to PSP after the announcement that Aristeguieta joins the club on a one-year loan.

Head coach Jim Curtin praised Aristeguieta’s abilities: “He’s a forward that has good feet…He can really shoot from distance. He has an incredible work rate. He’s a big, strong kid and a good person too when you sit down and talk with him…Heading the ball in the box, he’s as good as I’ve seen. We’re gonna be dangerous on set pieces. Fernando will really add to that…I don’t want to put too much pressure on the kid, but I do see him as a guy set up to score goals in MLS.”

Curtin said, “I think he fits our league,” and some of that is due to the league from which he is joining the Union and MLS. Curtin said of Ligue 1, “I think it’s a league where players translate quickly to MLS because they’re used to the physicality. It’s a more technical and more tactical league than MLS but the athleticism is similar.”

That quick translation was evident when when Aristeguieta scored two goals in the Union’s 6-0 romp on Saturday over London United in IMG Suncoast Pro Classic play in Bradenton, Fla. Sure, London United is a replacement team made up of out-of-contract players looking for a new home and were defeated 7-0 by Columbus on Wednesday, but big scorelines are always welcome, particularly when they include contributions from a player who joined the team only hours before.

Aristeguieta said after the game, “It was my first game, I was very excited to get working with the team. You can’t stop with that [two-goal game]. We have to keep working and I have to get to know them. It’s the same for me as for them, they don’t know me. And these games are for that – to be ready on March 7.”

We’ll have a chance to see Aristeguieta against MLS opposition when the Union face the Crew on Wednesday. Curtin said after Saturday’s game, “Obviously you like to get results and like to win. But at the same time, we know that there’s tougher tasks ahead and we look forward to Columbus.”

More on Aristeguieta’s arrival at PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philly.com, Daily News, Delco Times, CSN PhillyPhilly Soccer News, Brotherly GameMLSsoccer.comGoal.com, MLS Multiplexthe Sports Network,

Recaps from Saturday’s game at PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philly.comCSN Philly, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, and Vavel.

There were some comments on social media that Seattle were also interested in acquiring Aristeguieta. Sounder at Heart is doubtful.

USA Today has a photo gallery from Saturday’s game.

The annual fan trip took place over the weekend and judging from comments on social media, it was a good time (two goals from the team’s newest member in a 6-0 win can’t hurt). The Union website has a photo gallery from a dinner event that was part of the weekend.

Ethan White will be photo blogging on the league’s Tumblr account this week.

In reaction piece to the article we linked at MLSsoccer.com in Friday’s roundup from Matthew Doyle on Andrew Wenger, Brotherly Game’s Eugene Rupinski writes, “[T]here is a question that has never been asked: ‘Why was Wenger never used as a center back in Philadelphia? … no one in the Union coaching staff has thought to even give him an opportunity in the position while looking desperate for an answer to stabilize the back line.” Rupinski concludes by wondering what if Wenger could be converted into a left back.

Also at Brotherly Game, Heather Reppert says it’s ok to be excited for the start of the season.

Local

Jason Pelletier, Harrisburg City Islanders captain and Middletown native, is retiring after seven seasons with the club. He will be honored by the club at the home opener on April 18 when Harrisburg host Montreal FC.

Harrisburg begins preseason training today.

Former Ocean City Nor’easters midfielder Nicolas Perea has signed with Jacksonville Armada.

MLS

CBA negotiations

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle reports,

With less than two weeks remaining until the start of the MLS regular season, neither MLS nor the MLS Players Union are backing down from their respective positions as it relates to negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

While the issue of player compensation — both in terms of minimum salaries and the overall salary cap — is still to be hashed out, free agency remains the main sticking point. MLSPU executive board member Dan Kennedy indicated that the union membership remains committed to gaining increases on all of these issues.

Kennedy said, “I don’t think we can be bought on [free agency]. The players feel so strongly about it.”

In an earlier update on Friday, Carlisle reported the two sides “were able to find agreement on minor issues such as moving expenses when players switch teams as well as compensation for public appearances. This latter item includes charitable appearances as well as those on behalf of MLS and its clubs.”

Carlisle says the labor situation “looks increasingly grim,” adding, “So grim is the reality that, by my estimation, there is a better than 50-50 chance that there will be a strike.”

At Vice Sports, Jorge Arangure suggest free agency already exists for high profile players, while the “mid-level domestic player” has the least freedom of movement. Because MLS sees high profile players as essential for the growth of the league, unsurprisingly,

MLS is balking at a proposed free agent system that not only would undermine its current single entity status, but also would give the biggest financial boost to players whom league decision makers don’t believe increase popularity or quality of play. The strongest bargaining position from the league’s standpoint is that these mid-level players have minimal playing alternatives overseas. These are the players who most need a domestic league to exist in the first place.

Arangure questions the capacity of the MLSPU to sustain a strike: “Player unity could be undercut by the more than 200 foreign born players—who last year accounted for nearly half of the league’s players—who might not view this as a worthwhile fight…Owners could first target these players to cross the picket line. Also, scab-busting repercussions from the union might not matter to these players, since they might not be planning to stay in the U.S. long-term, anyway.”

Preseason games

Lots of games over the weekend. On Friday, Dallas defeated DC, 3-1. On Saturday in Dublin, LA Galaxy defeated Shamrock Rovers, 1-0. In IMG Suncoast Pro Classic group play, Toronto defeated Denmark’s HB Koge, 1-0, and New York Red Bulls defeated USL side Oklahoma Energy, 1-0, the winning goal coming from Philly-native and SuperDraft pick Manolo Sanchez. In the other IMG group games, Columbus defeated the Costa Rica U-23s, 2-0, and the Union thumped London United, 6-0.

At the opening of the Carolina Challenge Cup, USL side Charleston Battery defeated Houston, 1-0, while NYCFC and Orlando played to a 1-1 draw. At the Desert Diamond Cup, Colorado and New England drew 1-1, while Real Salt Lake defeated PDL side FC Tucson, 3-1, and Kansas City defeated Seattle, 3-2.

In Sacramento, some 10,000 were on hand to see USL side Sacramento Republic fall 1-0 to San Jose. In the opening game of the Simple Invitational, Vancouver defeated Portland, 1-0. Former Portland defender Pa-Modou Kah scored the lone goal for Vancouver against his old team in a game that saw “43 fouls, eight cautions, and two Timbers players sent off.”

Player news and more

Colorado have signed 21-year-old midfielder Juan Ramirez from Argentinos Juniors as a Young Designated Player.

FC Dallas have signed 23-year-old Colombian winger Michael Barrios from Uniautonoma.

Before his team’s game against Shamrock Rovers, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena met with Steven Gerrard in Liverpool. Arena said, “I was surprised to see how excited Steven is to come to Los Angeles.”

The Daily Mail on how David Beckham paved the way for the likes of Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

ESPN on how NYCFC came together during their training stint in England.

At the Orlando Sentinel, former Union man Danny Mwanga says joining Orlando isn’t a fresh start for him, his fresh start came when he arrived in the US from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The LA Times says it’s looking like LAFC are zeroing in on the site of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for their new stadium.

US

Jill Ellis announced her 25 roster for the Algarve Cup, which runs March 4-11. On the roster is Hope Solo. The roster will be whittled down to 23 players before the USWNT faces Norway, Switzerland and Iceland in Group B.

At USA Today, the quotes in a piece on Solo’s teammates “welcoming” her back to the team are mainly about the team’s ability to move forward from”distractions.”

SI says that, in on-field terms, Hope Solo’s return is a good thing.

Detroit Free Press has a look at efforts to create new laws offering referees more legal protection from assault that are making their way through the Michigan legislature in the wake of the death of John Bieniewicz last summer. Bassel Saad, the soccer player who killed Bieniewicz, agreed to a plea deal last week that will see him serve 15 years.

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “Brazilian soccer was hit with more violence on Sunday when police arrested more than 100 fans before the Vasco da Gama-Fluminense match, including many Vasco fans police said were fighting amongst themselves.”

Goal.com reports, “The start of Sunday’s Athens derby was delayed after several Panathinaikos fans invaded the field to try and attack the Olympiacos players.”

The Washington Post reports on efforts in China — led by President Xi Jinping, a big soccer fan — to improve its men’s national team. “In just the past few months, a high-level government working group has been set up to tackle the problem. Officials have declared soccer a compulsory part of the national curriculum. About 20,000 soccer-themed schools are to open by 2017, with the goal of producing more than 100,000 players. Study-abroad programs have been rolled out, as well as initiatives to lure 35 international stars to China in the next year.”

48 Comments

  1. It’s starting to sound like we going to have more time to incorporate our new players. I can’t see a way around a strike. It’s simply a question now of how long it will last.
    I applaud the players for their stance, and I think they are in the right, but they don’t have the ability to hold out as long as the owners do. It’s shame, but the league has the ability to completely crush the players on this one.
    Hopefully this work stoppage doesn’t cause too much destruction along the way.

    • I think it has a chance of doing a great amount of damage. For me personally it won’t change a thing. I’ll be back watching as soon as the strike is over.

      • That’s why the owners have the power. They are well aware that MLS is a niche league. A vast majority of us will come running back as soon as they start playing again. The owners will lose very little money, compared to the cost of a work stoppage in other sports.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah I don’t disagree. The players, who I whole heartedly agree with, really need to pick and choose this wisely. Strike if necessary, but do so with a plan. They should be willing to make a deal, so long they end up with free agency by the end of this CBA.
        .
        I’m not a mediator for a living, but there has to be some sort of compromise available.

  2. You know the players don’t have to strike….they can agree to play without a contract. They can continue negotiating and the threat of a strike right before the All Star game or the playoffs might really put the owners in a bigger bind.

    • I suspect our resident Labor lawyer can clarify, but I would think the liability issues would make playing without a contract impossible. What if a player gets hurt?

      • The PRO refs were without a contract for a while before thier strike. But I could be wrong.

      • I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that a collective bargaining agreement is different from a player contract. So many of those issues don’t apply.

      • he said in the podcast that the league will rarely allow something like this to happen because it puts too much power in the hands of the player’s union. i think he said if something like this happens they will likely be locked out instead

      • Well then the league will lock the players out so players can sign to other teams theoretically or be barred to do so and then the league will seem more like a single entity monopoly.

      • Speaking from experience with collective bargaining (not sure if professional sports unions and CBAs are different or not), employees can work out of contract and in fact do fairly frequently in the education system. Both sides continue to operate on the terms of the old CBA until a new agreement is reached. In this case, I suspect that the ownership group would stand to benefit way more than the players which is why the strike is being thrown around. As a side note, I get the feeling based on many other comments across the internets that the vast majority of MLS fans are on the side of the players. Maybe the SOBs should organize a boycott of the first game if/when a new CBA is finalized. Would definitely negatively effect the atmosphere of the stadium on game-day and remind the FO that the fans’ opinions are also important and not to be taken for granted.

      • See my issue with a boycott though is that I don’t necessarily staunchly support free agency. I definitely agree with a reasonable base pay increase, but if they want to live and die by free agency, I’m not as sympathetic.
        .
        They do have options to play in other countries. This isn’t a global monopoly.

      • I’ve mentioned this in another post before, but I don’t understand how free agency would screw up the economics of the league if there is still a salary cap in place. Any team that overpays for a player would end up hurting itself in the cap department and have less money to spend on other quality players. If a team chooses to do that, the only entity that gets hurt is that organization, not the league.

  3. Frasier v MLS II coming soon. it seems differences in league now versus time of first decision may change the outcome. will also likely screw the season and the league.

  4. Also, John McCarthy officially signed.

  5. My heart is almost always with labor not management, and yet, I look at the Parma/Serie A/Lega calcio (mis)management and think somewhere between the politburo that is MLS and the unfettered free market that is European Football must be the best way…could it be that MLS is at least a little closer to the right way of doing things?

    • Yep, there’s a real good chance MLS is closer to the way to go, given that sort of spectrum. But that doesn’t mean the players aren’t “more right” about getting paid better and having the ability to switch teams when their contracts are up.

      • ‘given that sort of spectrum’ – can you clarify John?

      • At one end of the spectrum, we have MLS, a league that basically controls all player movement and almost all spending. At the other end of the spectrum, we can see Parma, qualifying for Europa league but not permitted by UEFA because they couldn’t pay their bills. EVEN THEN, Lega Calcio does nothing. Parma doesn’t pay their own players, and STILL no action, and finally they can’t pay their security and everything hits the fan this weekend.

      • Gotcha. Thanks. Well said. I struggle with the monopoly that is MLS and it shades all my refractions of light. I guess I could lighten up a bit and I tend to agree, maybe between johns two examples a medium exists that is most beneficial.

      • I can’t take credit for Osager’s examples of the extremes, as much as I would like to think I was smart enough to put them together.

      • Yeah, what Osager said. “that sort of spectrum” was my shorthand for Osager’s, “…I look at the Parma/Serie A/Lega calcio (mis)management and think somewhere between the politburo that is MLS…” comment.

    • I hope the players get what they are after. I just don’t think this is going to end well. Looks like a long, bitter fight ahead. I have no faith that they will come to an agreement before the season. Nor do I believe that MLS has any intention of giving the players free-agency. I just hope there is a match before mid-summer.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that the free-agency issue should be shelved. The players should fight for a substantial increase in player minimums and then call it a day…for the good of the league. They will come out of this leg looking quite good and owners will be forced to bend towards further compromise…at a later date. A strike/lockout will hurt both of their causes.

      • The problem is that the players have entrenched themselves too firmly on free agency. If they give up that fight without getting substantial gains (meaning more than they are actually asking for) elsewhere, the owners will never bother to compromise.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Possible outcome. Or, they could show that they are willing to do what’s best for the MLS. That could make them look pretty good to the mediator…
        .
        FA is not a bad thing. The league just isn’t prepared to deal with it’s after effects.

    • My heart is almost always with management and not labor, but the lack of free agency is hurting the players and the league, IMO.
      .
      The least MLS could do (and I mean the absolute least) is to abolish the Re-Entry Draft. If a player’s contract ends and his old team doesn’t want him, you’re STILL going to keep him from finding the best situation for him and his family?
      .
      What I think MLS should do is set up restricted free agency, where the player can look for bona fide offers from any club, and if he accepts one, his old club can meet the terms to keep him. That would be a compromise that fits the players’ and the league’s needs.

      • i’m not trying to start a war in the comments but i never thought i would read the words that someone’s heart is with management over labor

      • Why not? There’s no political litmus test for being a Union (as opposed to a union) fan.

      • i wasn’t talking about being a fan of the team; i was just surprised because numbers-wise there are a lot more people in general who would be classified as labor rather than being management or ownership

      • All I’m saying is that in my experience and at the present moment, unions tend to make more unreasonable requests of management/ownership than vice versa. In this case, I think it’s well past time for some sort of free agency, and I’m quite happy to wait for the season to start if the players are forced to strike to make it happen.

      • Juest – that’s a good idea, but it would have to be carefully crafted to deal with potential collusion issues.

  6. If there is a strike to start the season, I might just give up my season tickets.

    Unions (no pun intended) are a joke nowadays – and if you can’t get this type of crap settled in the offseason – then that’s your problem, not mine.

    • Strongly disagree that unions are a joke.

    • with all due respect, this sounds like the position of young person- say 23 years old, a self employed person without a labor force or a person who thinks business operates in the best interest of the employee all the time.
      .

      • With all due respect, this sounds like the position of a person whose friends are on only one side of the political spectrum.

      • It is just a bit shortsighted to call unions a joke nowadays. It smells of subjectivity. As for me, I married a union backed teacher staunch liberal and am a non union backed RN tending towards the middle to right. I see both sides and use discernment as much as possible. The facts and truth of a matter almost alway lie near the middle- and that middle is not,–

        “Unions are a joke nowadays and because of this I am mad that I spent money on season tickets for a season that may not begin,” so shame on them- this sounds like something I would have said and felt when I was a younger person and that is why I made the comment above- could be I am totally misreading the original comment above- but chances are, I am not.
        .
        In this case, the league is still in its infancy, much to work out- much indeed.
        .
        Buying tickets is a choice that always carries risk when you have no control over the product you are purchasing.
        .

    • unions are actually not a joke and are really good

  7. I wonder if those London United players are sticking around the States, in case of a strike and a decision to field scab teams.

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