Daily news roundups

McCarthy signs, Blake out 4-6 weeks, CBA news, task force recommends shorter Nov/Dec 2022 WC

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

The Union announced on Monday the signing of local lad John McCarthy as the Union’s third goalkeeper. McCarthy’s local connections are abundant: He grew up in Mayfair in Northeast Philly, played youth soccer at Lighthouse Soccer Club, Philadelphia Soccer Club, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program, FC Delco, and Match Fit Academy; played college soccer at La Salle; and played in the PDL with Ocean City Nor’easters and Reading United. Love it!

Soon after the McCarthy announcement, the Union announced that Andre Blake had undergone “a successful partial menisectomy on his left knee” on Monday and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. After the announcement, Jonathan Tannenwald tweeted, “I’m told that Andre Blake’s knee surgery was a precautionary measure after some swelling earlier this month.”

What’s a menisectomy? Click here.

Reports on the McCarthy signing at PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philly.com, Delco TimesCBS Philly, CSN Philly, Cherry Hill Courier Post, Ocean City Patch, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, La Salle Athletics, Philly Soccer News, and Brotherly Game.

In Thomas Floyd’s preview of the 2015 Union at Goal.com, Jim Curtin emphasizes that he wanted to tweak the roster rather than blow it up:

We were close last year to winning a trophy. I didn’t want to now just blow up all of that work that we had put in and start totally from scratch because I think our guys got a great experience in that game.

You have to go through those tough moments before you can have the success of lifting a trophy. Anytime I’ve been on a team that won a trophy, you first had that moment where you groan and you learn together.

Maurice Edu says in the article,

It’s never easy to take over a team midseason. There is pressure on you to immediately turn the season around, to keep things going smoothly with how the team has been playing but, at the same time, implement your own philosophy. To now have a full season to put the team in the direction he wants to take it has been good. I think the guys have been buying into the system…

He wants us to be a team that can play and create chances, but at the same time we need to be smart defensively. It’s about being balanced. We’re a team out of Philly, so the demands on us are we have to be a hard-nosed team.

Floyd’s outlook for the season reads,

Much attention has been understandably heaped on the newcomers: If Aristeguieta scores goals, Vitoria stabilizes the back line and 2014 summer signing Rais Mbolhi is solid in goal, the Union should make some noise in the Eastern Conference — right?

Well, maybe. Much also will depend on the returning midfield of Edu, Nogueira, Wenger, Maidana and Le Toux. Those players seemed to all fall in the “good with flashes of great” category last season, and the Union need them to step up on a more consistent basis in 2014. If that happens, Curtin’s faith will be rewarded with a playoff berth.

At Brotherly Game, Andrew Stolztfus asks if the Union are a MLS Cup contender.

Fernando Aristeguieta’s brace on Saturday has been noted by Venezuelan news outlet El Segmento.

Former Union forward Aaron Wheeler is one of six players available in today’s Waiver Draft, which will take place at 3 pm via conference call. The Union are fourth in the draft order.

Union Academy

Union Academy forward Jerren Nixon has been called up by Trinidad & Tobago for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, the region’s qualification tournament for the U-17 World Cup. The CONCACAF tournament runs Feb. 27 to March 15 in Honduras.

Local

Several area players have been named to the US roster for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship: goalkeeper Kevin Silva (Bethlehem, Pa.; PDA), defender Daniel Barbir (Macungie, Pa.; West Bromwich Albion), and Christian Pulisic (Hershey, Pa.; Borussia Dortmund).

The deadline for nominations for the 2015 class of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame is March 1. Nominations are being accepted for Male coach of the year, Female coach of the year, Male player of the year, Female player of the year, Club of the year, and Referee of the year. For information on how to nominate, click here.

Main Line Today looks at the efforts underway at the Shipley School to reduce concussions.

MLS

Unable to get anything of substance out of Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko or head coach Greg Vanney about the CBA negotiations — recall that last week RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said talking about the negotiations could result in a $250,000 fine from the league — the Toronto Sun recaps reporting from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.

If owners, GMs, and coaches can’t talk about the negotiations, ASN takes the next logical step in talking to former DC United, AEG, and  TFC executive Kevin Payne to get management’s perspective. Asked if he thinks “players and fans today fail to understand what it took to make MLS a viable professional league,” Payne said,

Yes, I do. Generally speaking, I don’t think anybody has much of an idea of what really goes on behind the scenes in any sports league. The fans tend to take it for granted and the media tends to treat it as an abstraction. They don’t look at sports like it’s a business and they don’t consider all of the different factors that weigh on a team. They create this fantasy mentality, that there are no repercussions for the decisions that are made. And actually there are huge repercussions. There has been an enormous investment in MLS since the beginning.

It’s been a long, tough haul. The league is doing extremely well right now and everybody is very bullish about the league and the game. And they should be. And I am. But that doesn’t mean the league is out of the woods on a market-by-market basis. The majority of teams still are not making money.

Soccer America rounds up CBA-related articles. We’ve linked to all of them in the past week but it’s always good to have a different take.

Meh.

Meh.

Hudson River Blue talks to Soccernomics co-author Stefan Szymanski about why he thinks Major League Soccer is better described as Minor League Soccer. “I don’t have a problem with it as Minor League Soccer, but it will never be ‘Major’ League Soccer as I understand the term.”

Jozy Altidore says the “project” of helping turnaround “a club that, let’s face it, hasn’t had a lot of success since coming into the league” is what made him want to join Toronto. “There were a lot of options. People were saying I was forced to Toronto or something like that. I just thought at this point in my life it was something that I was ready to do.”

Montreal faces Pachuca tonight in CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play (8 pm, Fox Sports 2). SI previews the quarterfinal field, which also includes DC United. More at MLSsoccer.com.

Vancouver have unveiled their new first kit. Meh.

At Soccer Gods, Richard Farley looks at wage inequality between MLS and NWSL, and the USMNT and USWNT.

US

At US Soccer Players, J. Hutcherson writes that most promotion-relegation advocates base their view on the English model, which “is atypical even for Europe.” Hutcherson concludes, “Rejecting promotion and relegation as a concept isn’t anti sporting. Instead, it’s a realistic understanding of how professional sports can work. It’s also more future proof than promotion and relegation, better suited to the level of sports business that currently exists. Whether or not that’s a good thing is an entirely different question.”

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “A FIFA Task Force examining dates for the Qatar World Cup has recommended the Gulf state hosts a shorter tournament, staged over the cooler months of November and December 2022.” Click here to read FIFA’s statement on the recommendations, which will be voted on by FIFA’s executive committee next month.

A Press Association report published before the recommendation was announced quotes an unnamed task force member:

The leagues have been forceful in arguing that you only need two weeks’ preparation rather than the usual three or four, and that the tournament does not need to be as long as the 32 days it was in Brazil.

The players from northern hemisphere clubs, which is the majority, will be fresher than usual and the logistics of Qatar mean it will be less than two hours’ drive to every stadium so there will be no travel days for teams.

For example you probably don’t need five days between the semi-final and final – 72 hours should be long enough.

More on what the shift to a fall/winter tournament will mean at the Guardian, ESPN, and ProSoccerTalk. An opinion piece at ProSoccerTalk says the whole Qatar World Cup situation serves to strengthen FIFA’s “stigma of incompetence.”

Travis Waldron writes at Think Progress that moving the World Cup to cooler months “won’t address an even bigger issue with Qatar’s World Cup: that the $200 billion in construction projects the nation has planned around this World Cup bid is still largely reliant on migrant workers who work in squalor and, according to international human rights and labor organizations, slave-like conditions.”

24 Comments

  1. John McCarthy likes to retweet

  2. Am I the only one who continues to be just skeptical of the statement, “a majority of MLS clubs are still losing money”? How is that possible?

    They are selling tickets for more than 30 games a season. A soccer roster is not that large, and the salaries are so low compared to other sports leagues in this country.

    I accept the fact that it’s possible and I appreciate the league’s more conservative approach — tight control is often a good way to ensure growth happens at a pace that is manageable and that quality does not decline. But I have a hard time buying as truth that most teams in this league are still losing money. That just seems incredible to me.

    • Debt service on stadiums, possibly.

      Creative accounting.

      Empty stadiums.

      Bad management.

      I don’t believe it either. I believe some are still losing money, but not most. My guess on the losers: Dallas, Columbus, Chicago, Colorado, D.C. United, San Jose and Chivas USA (I think CUSA is still factored in when people talk about losing money). Possibly Philadelphia too, maybe someone else I’m forgetting. But I think those teams are losing money primarily because of bad business decisions. Dallas can’t schedule daytime games during the summer. Chicago and Dallas stadiums are in bad locations. DCU has a bad stadium deal. And so forth.

      • Also TV production. For example, the U produce local broadcast games. Doubtful all those quality Widener University ads cover the cost.

        Event costs for insurance, city related costs (taxes?).

        I wouldnt be flabbergasted to see a P&L for the U showing them underwater.

      • I thought they had a deal w/Comcast to broadcast 90% of the games. Are you saying we pay them to do so?

      • Yes

      • Creative accounting is something that management does in sports leagues. For example, players salaries are not only deducted as an operating expense, their contract is viewed as an asset which can be depreciated over the life of the contract.

        So if a player is making $100k per year over a five year deal, his total effect to the bottom line is actual $200k per year or $1M over a five year period. So essentially it’s double the owner’s actual cash outlay for the contract. If you do that for Giovinco’s deal (or any other DP), that number is fairly significant.

        The other thing that the league probably does is charge each of the teams for the backroom staff support that the league office provides to each team. My expectation is that the league collects more dollars from the teams that they actually spent for this overhead, but I don’t know enough on how that gets recorded at the league office level.

        Lastly, in the defense of the owners, building stadiums are not cheap so there are huge up front costs to do this. However, there are depreciation & amortization methods to limit the owners’ net cash flow so they do not show a book gain.

        I somehow hope that both sides can come to an agreement and avoid a work stoppage.

      • To be fair, “creative accounting” exists in a lot of industries, not just sports. Balance sheets and P&L statements aren’t always as cut and dried as “this is what I took in as revenue, and here’s what I spent, and here’s the receipts to document both.”

      • Very true, but most people are at-will employees so these things really don’t matter when it comes to how their wages get set. So sports has a special place here because their CBA’s are such a public process.

      • Can confirm from a pal that works for the league that much of what you said was true Dan, specifically about the teams that are in the red.

        Dallas is actually pretty close to zero since they run it so cheap (thanks Clark Hunt!) but they’re slightly in the red by year’s end. Columbus, Chicago, Colorado, DC all solidly in the negative $3-5M yearly range. SJ was a big loser the last couple years but that’s expected to turn around with the new stadium, think Houston’s change from loser to top-5 in profits.

        Biggest deficit every year? Red Bull. Austrians can be relied upon to soak up anywhere from $5-10M in losses each year. No doubt a big reason why they’re running it on the cheap now. One wonders what fate NYC has in store for them?

    • Not being argumentative here:
      -Behind the scenes costs including facilities, travel, front office overhead, medical/training, debt service all should be taken into account.
      -technically there’s only 18 home dates, not including US Open Cup. And the US Open up does not draw nor does it command equal ticket prices.

      • Another key factor is the upfront cost for expansion fees (or the total sum of money lost during the first 10 or so years for the original clubs). When you look at the total cash flow for the clubs, I’d be surprised if anyone has a positive return on investment at this point.

        The only place you could argue that they are making money is in franchise value. However, you can only realize that money if you actually sell the team.

    • Wilkerson McLaser says:

      Also worth mentioning that many teams are incentivized, tax-wise, to show that they are operating at a loss.

    • Keep in mind stadium management, including:
      Concessions
      Parking
      Any monies owed to local governments for leases/purchases/Taxes
      Staff (all the yellow jackets walking around games, and all the people selling concessions)

      Operating Costs for running a team are often overlooked, because everyone is used to thinking about the Billion-dollar-per-year NFL. MLS is not that.

    • Some teams may still be loosing money, but the owners certainly aren’t because they are all also partners in Soccer United Marketing (SUM). Every time I see Garber asked about this in a live interview, he always seems to dodge the question.

  3. old soccer coach says:

    As I try to think about examples of start-up endeavors, it is credible to me that original owners have not yet recovered the totality of their original investments. In a much more expensive but much more lucrative business process, it took Paul Brown’s sons a decade to buy out the Daddy Warbucks estate that had paid for the Cincinnati Bengals when Daddy himself died. I know that’s not exactly parallel.

    I doubt the Union are losing money severely, judging by their behavior. This is the first year that I have them significantly over the salary cap in terms of on-going expenses. They have had big single ticket items, but its the on-going excessive expenditures that are more problematic. The Wikipedia article about PPL Park gives hints at the degree of possible private capital exposure in the stadium’s construction. Dan’s instincts about debt service may well be sound.

  4. i feel like this was brought up in another comment thread but i can’t remember what the answer was. does anyone know what is going on with eric bird? was he cut or did he get injured?

  5. Thanks for the definition on menisectomy. That seems like a logical addition to Urban Dictionary with a different meaning, of course.

  6. most teams probably have to make playoffs to make money. also, probably an equity owner’s view (is there really any other?) that they are not making money (not paying out). and everyone tries to minimize taxes so that’s a non-issue. if you are a wealthy primary or limited investor with plenty of other income, the growth in asset value (long term capital gain on disposition) is probably worth more than than any ordinary income from operations. operating losses (with not yet taxed asset appreciation) may be preferable to offset other ordinary income that they still receive and which made them able to invest in the first place.

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