Daily news roundups

Sapong out with concussion and fractured cheekbone, Curtin on formations and Maidana, Linc, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

The Union announced on Wednesday that CJ Sapong has been diagnosed with “a concussion and a fracture in the zygomatic bone in his left cheek.” The announcement did not indicate how much time the forward would miss as he recovers from the injury he sustained in the first half of the season opening draw against Colorado last Saturday, adding, “Sapong will see a specialist this week to determine the length of his rehab.” For more on fractures of the zygomatic bone, which is the second most common facial fracture after a broken nose, click here.

Sapong tweeted after the announcement: “Thanks for the well wishes everyone. Truly warms my soul! Even broken bone fragments couldn’t stop the smile on my face right now”.

In his first press conference of the new season (full transcript here at PSP), Jim Curtin said again that the 4-4-2 used in the first half against Colorado was “to take a little risk” and also to gain experience in playing different formations:

Whether it is in-game or at the start of the game, we can give teams different looks. We can’t become this one-look team…good players can adjust to things and handle them as long as their roles are clear and defined during the course of the week of training. I don’t want to be a team that’s tinkering, I’m not going to over-coach and over-tinker, and change every week, week in and week out, that’s not what this is about…It just will be a situation that will come up though again in the course of the year: maybe you’re down a goal and you’re pushing, and all the sudden you have to throw a second forward on there. It’s familiar now. We know how to play it, the roles that are involved in it. Was it perfect? No, absolutely not. I’m not saying that all. But, just to have a little more flexibility in the group and, like I said, good players adjust to these things quickly on the fly on the field.

What might we expect against Real Salt Lake on Saturday? “[W]e’ll pick a lineup that is one that gives us the best chance to win there and be aggressive going forward when we do break on the counter. And the counter will come up a lot against a team like Salt Lake because they play so many balls side-to-side, they pin you deep. And then when we pick one off, we want to break quickly and go at them.”

Curtin also explained why Cristian Maidana did not start in the opener.

Chaco is a guy who had some very good games in the preseason, specifically against the Costa Rican Under-23 team and the London United team. But, I’m honest and upfront with Chaco, and I had a talk with him. I thought against Columbus and New York, when he played at the end of that game, I wasn’t happy with his performance. And then training was up and down. This week, to his credit, he has looked as sharp as ever. I thought in the 45 minutes that he came into the game he was excellent. So, the selection wasn’t based on, you know, “We’re not playing this guy, we’re playing this guy,” it was more we played the best group that had the best preseason and had a chance to maybe take a little risk playing with two forwards and a new formation…Chaco has had a very good week of training, which we’re happy with.

More on the press conference at Delco Times.

At CBS Philly, Kevin Kinkead reports,

The referee from the Philadelphia Union’s season opening match has been suspended for one week, sources tell CBS Philly.

Silviu Petrescu reportedly missed two penalty calls during the Union’s 0-0 draw against the Colorado Rapids on March 7th. According to those close to the situation, he was also reprimanded for allowing James Riley to stay on the field after a dangerous play on Union winger Andrew Wenger.

Kinkead notes, “Each week, Major League Soccer compiles a highlight segment of the week’s controversial calls on its official website. All of the Rapids’ infractions from Saturday’s match are featured on the reel.”

Maurice Edu received an honorable mention in SBI’s Best XI for Week 1.

At Brotherly Game, Andrew Stoltzfus takes a look at the start of the Union season from an optimistic and pessimistic perspective.

World Soccer Talk wants Union broadcaster JP Dellacamera to call more MLS games. Nice snark with the “since the Philadelphia Union won’t be scoring many goals this year, Dellacamera won’t be calling many goals this year” line. Here’s some snark from me: The uncredited photo of Dellacamera used to illustrate the article was lifted from a PSP photo essay from Nicolae Stoian of the 2011 SuperDraft. You’re welcome.

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph notes the release of the schedule for the finals of the Generation adidas Cup. Drawn into Group C, the Union Academy U-16 team faces Brazilian side Palmeiras on March 29, German side Eintracht Frankfurt on March 30, and San Jose Earthquakes on April 1.


CONCACAF is holding a press conference at the Linc this morning in which it is expected to be announced that the stadium will be the site of this summer’s Gold Cup final. Stay tuned.

The Comcast Network is launching a new morning sports show called Breakfast on Broad. I can’t help but wonder if the name is an early indication of how much the show will ignore the Union.

The University of Michigan Athletics site has a Q&A with Meghan Toohey, the Philly native and Phil-Mont Christian grad who is now playing professionally in Sweden with Kvarnsveden.


NYCFC has its first game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Yankee’s first baseman Mark Teixeira told the New Yok Daily News of baseball and soccer sharing the same grounds, “It’s going to suck, but you have to deal with it. It’s going to tear up the infield, but there’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ll deal with it.”

The Wall Street Journal reports the Yankee Stadium grounds crew “will always have at least three days to change the field from baseball to soccer and vice versa, with the exception of one two-day midsummer window. They plan to use mobile lighting to regrow field grass between games, and the pitcher’s mound will be far enough from the pitch that it can remain during soccer games.” NYCFC will play two games before the Yankees home opener in April.

Yankees Left fielder Brett Gardner was more accommodating of the shared usage. “They have had a couple [games] there in the past, and that doesn’t mess it up nearly as much as a concert, or a boxing match because the guys are just playing on the field, and there’s not 40,000 people trampling on the field.”

The ratings for all four of the opening weekend games that were nationally broadcast on UniMas, ESPN2, and Fox Sports 1 each showed dramatic increases compared to last year. More at SI.

At the AP, Ronald Blum’s report on the new CBA includes this eye-catching opening sentence: “Turns out Major League Soccer never had a finalized labor contract for the last five years, a situation players and management hope to rectify following their agreement in principle last week on a new deal through 2019.” The report also includes several details about the new CBA:

  • “The new labor agreement increases minimum salaries but cuts the roster size of each team from 30 to 28. The union says the last few players on each side never saw much time on the field.”
  • “the union estimated the average salary for the first 20 roster spots on each team, not including high-priced designated players, will rise from $126,000 last year to $186,000 by 2019.”
  • “a key to negotiations came on the final day, when the league dropped its demand for an eight-year contract.”

At ESPN, Rory Smith has an excellent read on the growth of soccer and MLS and perceptions of that in Europe. Read it.

FC Dallas have re-signed Jamaican defender/midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson.

DC United general manager Dave Kasper has signed a contract extension that also sees the title of Vice President of Soccer Operations added to his job description. Imagine that, not only having a general manager, but then extending his contract and also giving him a new title. Someday, dear Union fans, someday.

ASN reports, “Minneapolis has emerged as a near-lock for one of the two expansion teams. Further, several sources said that a group headed by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire—and backed by the owners of the NBA’s Timberwolves and MLB’s Twins—are preferred to an ownership bid led by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.”

At World Soccer Talk, Kartik Krishnaiyer says if the Miami franchise bid is dead, that spot should go to another Florida market.

Atlanta Business Chronicle has an interesting Q&A with Andy Smith, president and general manager of NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks, who is confident a MLS and NASL team can co-exist in the same city. “I know NASL has higher aspirations in some of the market places, but I don’t think that is the aspiration in every market. I think there is an ability to have a 5,000 to 10,000-person facility in this market that can support another team for sure.”

At World Soccer Talk, former PSP contributor Earl Reed says there’s plenty of room for MLS, NASL, and USL to each be successful.


The USWNT defeated France 2-0 in the Algarve Cup final on Wednesday, the same score by which the US lost to France in February. Defender Julie Johnston scored her first-ever goal for the team (video here), Christen Press made another statement on why her name should be written in ink in the US starting lineup for the World Cup with a great run and cool as you like, clinical finish (video here), and Hope Solo stopped a PK (video here). France was without several starters, including center back tandem Laura Georges and Wendie Renard.

It was the team’s tenth Algarve Cup championship. Soccer America notes no Algarve Cup champion has won the World Cup the same year.

More reports on the game at Fox Sports, SIThe EqualizerSBI, ASNSoccer AmericaProSoccerTalk, Yahoo Sports, and the AP.  Quote sheet here.

A win or a draw against Jamaica on Wednesday evening in their final group game at the CONCACAF U-17 Championships in Honduras would have been enough for the US to claim the top spot in Group A and an automatic qualifying berth for the U-17 World Cup. Instead, the US lost 1-0 and, dropping to third place in the group, now will have to win their playoff game against a to be determined opponent on Sunday to reach the World Cup. More at CONCACAFSIMLSsoccer.com, and Soccer America.

In the latest FIFA rankings, the US drops one spot to No. 32. Costa Rica remains at No. 13, Mexico remains at No. 21.

Oh, Julian Green.

The AP reports Fox Sports 1 is getting into the shirt sponsor game at the youth level: “The network, which has rights to the next three World Cups and to the European Champions League through 2017-18, announced a five-year partnership Wednesday with the American Youth Soccer Organization. ‘Fox Sports 1’ will be added this spring to the right chest of AYSO jerseys, which have had AYSO logos on the left chest for a half century.”


The AP reports, “Choosing the playing dates for the 2022 World Cup is at the top of the FIFA executive committee’s agenda next week, with the 2026 hosting contest also under discussion.”

The Guardian reports, “The South Yorkshire police officer who commanded the 1989 FA Cup semifinal at Hillsborough when 96 people died has admitted that, as the disaster was happening, he lied about a crucial order he gave to open a large exit gate and allow hundreds of supporters in.”

The Press Association reports, “Zimbabwe have been expelled from the qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after not paying an outstanding debt to their former coach.”

Goal.com reports, “Having looked into an incident involving Chelsea fans denying a man access to a Metro train in Paris, police have served five men with summonses” to appear at a magistrates’ court in London.

Reuters reports, “The Greek Cup quarter-final, second leg between AEK Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus was suspended in the 90th minute due to crowd trouble on Wednesday.”

Vice Sports on bubble soccer’s “improbable rise”: “the idea was hatched by Norwegian comedians/television hosts Henrik Elvestad and Johan Golden in 2011 as a joke, which makes sense because it’s the world’s sport being played by people encased in bubbles.”


  1. In glad the league has something in place to review ref performance. I think the Union could have had at least two goals on PKs.

    • For me the handball would have been a pretty harsh call, but I agree that Nando was clearly fouled for the other penalty shout. Also how that flying kick to Wenger’s back went unpunished is incredible. Obviously we shouldn’t need all those calls to go our way to beat a team as awful as Colorado, but it sure wouldn’t have hurt.

      • I think it would have been harsh if Serna was by himself, but he has Sheanon and Fernando closing on him, and either could have made a play on the ball if Serna’s arm isn’t there to knock it down to his own feet.

      • The issue for me is that the ref allowing those calls opens the door for other incidents. The flow of the game changes dramatically if he sends him off for the karate kick, but instead he sends the message “anything goes” and actually backed that up. I think that plays into player’s minds a bit, and it starts to feel like an uphill battle.

      • The Riley one was the worst. when I saw that I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a red. And when the ref just strolled over to him and lectured him I almost had a conniption fit.

      • Ray Gaddis was called for a PK for the exact same thing when we played RSL either last year or the year before, in the 97th minute, no less. It was an unintentional handball, but it changed the flow of play, so a foul certainly should have been called.

  2. Well guess I was wrong about WNT seems they figured some stuff out- temporarily.

  3. This is just my opinion and it’s really just something that is in the back of my mind so I’ll give it time and keep my eyes and ears open. It’s concerning Maidana. In the back of my mind is a question that asks if he will be this years Union coach’s chosen doghouse player aka Okugo, M. Farfan, Danny Califf….etc. There seems to be one or two every year which ends up strange circumstances where the player is scratched for bizarre reasons , made an example of, all of a sudden ostracized and eventually sent away for picks or allocation money. In my mind it all starts in the same manner in which Curtin is appearing to openly single out Maidana. I could be reading more into it then there is but I’m not the only one to mention it among my group of Union fans. If this isn’t my imagination then Curtin and the Union are fooling no one. It could also be that Maidana needs to constantly be motivated. We’ll see how it plays out. I like Curtin but still not sold on his “in game” subbing, adjustments and strategy. He can put the lineup and formation on the field but it’s between whistles that we have yet to see a whole lot IMO.

    • The Black Hand says:

      You mean that this could be a case of a stubborn manager that refuses to abandon trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?? No way! Not a Union manager…inconceivable.

      • “You keep using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      • Yes because a lot of US coaches have what my friend form Barcelona calls that “knucklehead syndrome” style of coaching and practicing where the “system” stifles creativity. Trying to force a lot of international players into the rigid American way of practice doesn’t always help those players excel as expected. Coaches who can creat and think outside of the box can set up practices and training to fit a talented players skill set. Players with less on no professional skills tend to need the “knucklehead Syndrome” method of practice because it doesn’t require instinct or creativity. Then again some coaches don’t have a clue about how to feature talented players skill sets. That was a huge issue with JH. It may not be the issue with Curtin and Maidana but it sure looks odd. It appears as if the coach is messing with the talented players head yet again.

    • We’ll know for sure if he starts Carroll and Cruz next game because as John Hackworth reminded us time and time again, those two are the greatest practice players in the history of soccer!

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I think if Maidana doesn’t start Saturday then LCBline is 100% correct.
        If Curtain is as honest with himself as he apparently is with all of us, then there is no way he can say the Union weren’t better with Maidana. And now with Sapong out, he must start.

    • I can’t agree. Maidana is definitely one of the Union’s most skillful players, but he also seems to be tactically deficient (or at least singly minded) and short on physical tools or fitness.

      Yes he looked great in the first 5 minutes of the second half, but then where did he go? Against a terrible, 10-man Colorado team, our skill players must shine.

      Just because no one else seems to be able to hit a dead ball I’d have him out there, but let’s not make this into something it’s not.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Chaco was in the middle, with the rest of our skilled players…watching balls get launched over them.

      • Exactly TBH! Example, during a Union try in Maidana moved into an open position to easily receive the ball and Gaddis ignored him and through the ball up field giving the Rapids possession. The Union do this way to much.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The entire back line was guilty, as well as Edu (I must defend Ray!). It was a flashback to the worst of the Union play and I hope to never see it again…however, I fear that Curtin is a Rt 1 style of coach…

      • I was using that as an example and said so. Curtin mentioned the back line doing it as well. Which makes me wonder how much is stressed in practice. Although to be honest the Rapids weren’t trying to play soccer. They just got slammed with a whole lot of fines and more suspensions. The league is sending a message… finally.

    • James Lockerbie says:

      I am not happy with this thought, especially it coming to mind in the middle of week two. It’s a money thing, and this is not a slight against Zach Pfeffer. But suddenly after several of my fellow commentators on this site have asked for, begged really to see Pfeffer in the line up he has an outstanding off season and is challenging Maidona for minutes. So Coach pushes Pfeffer out onto the feild holds Maidona back a little. If Pfeffer delivers on this new found game Coach gets value out of him and can save money next season when we let Maidona go. Fans are happy Pfeffer is on the field contributing and Albright is happy off loading an expensive player. holly cow talk about half empty!

      ~ Half full Nah Coach isn’t really doing this and Maidona will be out there on the field as he should be and yes Zach will get some much deserved off the bench minutes late in the game, hopefully not too late in the game

      • I don’t like it either,however this organization is all smoke and mirrors about player movement especially ones who are singled out in a questionable manner. Whether it’s the 2nd week or not doesn’t matter. This is something that the fan base is beginning to catch on to. If the Union want our trust and support then this kind of shady dealing needs to stop. “If” that’s what’s going on. If they keep this up they are going to risk alienating the top fan base in MLS. If home grown Zach is given (like you say)adequate time to develop at the pro level then great. However appearing to make Maidana a scapegoat is unacceptable. 2nd week and all I’m still hoping a real GM is brought in and the Union get more financially competitive so the appearance of robbing Paul to pay Peter won’t be an issue.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Yeah, god I hope we are wrong on this one.

  4. In the Julian Green story I love how it’s all ripping him for being an overhyped American . . . yet I bet if he were playing well the story from the German publication would completely ignore his American ancestry.
    He may have dual citizenship, but bottom line is all the negative traits and work ethic issues are a reflection on his German upbringing since his mother moved him back there when he was two.
    All the negative anti-American soccer European BS really gets on my nerves sometimes

    • and it seems the sentiment is growing too………unfortunately.

    • Last summer we played Germany really well in the group finale, nearly survived an onslaught from Belgium, and advanced farther than Spain, England, Italy, Portugal, Croatia and Russia. Let them think what they want about U.S. and soccer here. They’re just mad that soccer is actually catching on here, but we don’t do it “their way.”

      • Germany could have scored 5 if they wanted.
        Belgium should have scored 5 were if not for our goalkeeper.
        Spain and Italy are transitioning- we should not even be mentioned in the same breath as them.
        England is a mess but way more advanced.
        Portugal has been a mess since Figo retired.
        Croatia and Russia? I got nothing.
        We are a laughing stock by European media – it’s up to us to change that and it won’t be happening anytime soon. They could care less about US Soccer.
        Real Madrid advanced and are being crucified for how badly they played. The lense the media uses in Europe is WAY different IMO.

      • The Black Hand says:

        The USMNT is well behind each of the aforementioned programs…without question.

  5. I’ve never heard of a gaffer putting his team in a “what if” scenario in the opening match of the season. That makes little sense to me…………

    • Thought the same thing. That would be like experimenting with the line up during an Open Cup final. No manager would do that. What? Oh. Never mind.

      • instead of coming out and concentrating on your brand of footy……lets put them in a fire drill for the entire match………..wtf? With every interview….I get a funnier and funnier feeling about this guy.

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    The two striker set is a high pressure defense. Conor Casey is now the second striker and cannot last in a high pressure defensive role as a striker for any significant length of time. We will find out Friday in Harrisburg’s second scrimmage whether Catic will be available in Utah. If anyone happens to see who boards the plane tonight, that would pre-empt the HCI scrimmage info. RSL is a better team than Colorado and is playing at altitude at home. I would guess we will play a single striker reserving the two striker for late in the game is we need to score, or if the game is decided and we want to practice the set under game conditions.

    • why would you switch to a two striker set away if your are tied? That makes no sense. Again, they are not going in there for three points….they are going in for 1….and if the opportunity presents itself…..get the win. If they are tied with 20 minutes left….and they bring on a second striker….instead of just closing shop and getting a point……….we know that Jimmy has NO clue what he’s doing…….and I will have to remove my pint glass from the TV!

    • The Black Hand says:

      We definitely don’t want to leave our middle exposed. Not with the likes of Beckerman and Morales drifting around in there. I think that Curtin would be wise to drop the 4-4-2(??).

      • exactly…..you need three in the middle to match their 3….otherwise we get overrun in the middle of the park……..if we show up in 4-4-2 or 4-2-4( I still laugh at even writing that!)….as so eloquently stated above….we will get smoked!

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