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Recaps and reaction to Union’s loss to Dallas, league wrap, NT’s news, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

The bad luck continues for the Union.

As described in Friday morning’s roundup, the Union seem to be experiencing more than their fair share of bad luck to start the 2015 season, the scheduled Friday night kickoff was moved to Saturday, be it coming from Mother Nature, or the mother-something referees.

Friday’s snowstorm soon saw the home game against Dallas postponed until Saturday afternoon. While social media was filled with predictable grumbling about the postponement, Saturday’s sunny and comparatively mild conditions were, for most, proof that the moving the kickoff to Saturday was the sensible decision, inconvenient though it may have been for some (like myself, for example, with the postponement meaning I had to take off another day from my weekend bar job, so that between the two days, I lost somewhere in the range of $400 in wages and tips).

Cristian Maidana’s injury after a fine showing in Salt Lake was tough, but it’s probably safe to say fans were excited to see Zach Pfeffer get an opportunity to show what he could do with a start in central midfield. And while the start may have been predictably shaky at times, that it would end after 41 minutes with the Homegrown Player’s ejection from the game for elbowing Mauro Diaz in the face was not something anyone expected.

Was it the right call? Jim Curtin, while acknowledging he needed to see tape of the play to be more certain, expressed his doubts in the postgame press conference (video and full transcript here at PSP) after the Union went on to lose, 2-0, noting that the fourth official indicated to him that he thought the right call would have been a yellow card rather than a red.

PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch tweeted after the press conference, “Just spoke with @PhilaUnion coach, Jim Curtin. After having watched the replay, he agrees w/ referee Jose Carlos Rivero’s red card decision.”

Pfeffer said of the play,

I watched the replay in slow motion plenty of times, and I realized on the replay that I don’t think it looks great. I explained to my teammates that there was absolutely no intent whatsoever. As I was going, I was going so fast, I don’t think there was time to slow down and I slipped a little bit and he tried to cut it back. It was something where, I think he just kind of turned into my arm, which was extended more, for whatever reason. There was no intent. I was trying to get around him and bump him off the ball. I don’t think it helped either that he was a shorter player. If it happened to a guy like Blas Perez, I might have just hit him in the shoulder or something like that. That was the play. It’s unfortunate and I’m just gonna move on from it…

I was expecting to just go shoulder to shoulder with him, and bump him off the ball. That’s not what happened. I slipped a little bit, he tried to flick the ball back, we just collided and the ref pulled a red card. You can’t change it, so you’ve got to move on from it.

Sebastien Le Toux said, “I know Zach and I know he’s not the type of guy who would throw an elbow to show something or be the man. That’s not him. The referee had an early reaction and gave the red card, maybe he should have taken a step back, talked to the official on the side.”

While the question of intent, or lack thereof, might have meaning in terms of Pfeffer assuring his teammates, and Diaz,  that he did not mean to break his face, it is meaningless in terms of the foul itself, enforcement of which is aimed at protecting players from serious harm. As Curtin mentioned in the postgame press conference, contact to the face is something that referees have been told to focus on this season. Indeed, as far as I’m aware, the idea of intent enters into the Laws of the Game in two instances: deliberate handballs, and in delaying the game. (More on intent in the Laws of the Game here.)

Perhaps, as Curtin and Le Toux said, the ref should have been less quick to reach into his back pocket and instead consult first with the other officials before making a decision. But I’m not sure how the question of intent would have entered into their deliberations. More on the red card at CBS PhillyDelco Times, CSN Philly, and Playing for 90.

Regardless, that the red card was pivotal is undeniable. As Curtin said, it “was a good game, a real game, up until that point.” Still, as Curtin explained, “Having said that, I still think that the chances we gave up on the day were self-inflicted. Silly mistakes.”

Le Toux concurred, saying, “I think if we stay at 11 [players], we see some goals late in the first half or in the second half. But being one man down, it’s not easy. We know we can score goals. I think the story of the game was the red card. We know we can score, I’m not worried about that.”

Le Toux may not be worried, but surely fans are after 180 scoreless minutes at home from the now 0-1-2 Union.

Recaps and reports from PSP, Philadelphia Union, MLSsoccer.com, Philadelphia Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly,  Main Line Media News (recap), Main Line Media News (player ratings), Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game (recap), Brotherly Game (analysis), Vavel (recap), Vavel (analysis), Between the TouchlinesFC Dallas, Big D Soccer (recap), Big D Soccer (analysis), SBISports Mole, MLSMultiplexGoal.com, The Sports Network, and the AP.

Our photo essay from Saturday’s game will be up later this morning. Im the meanwhile, photo galleries from South Jersey TimesUSA Today, and Getty Images.

Needless to say, the loss did nothing to help the Union in the world of power rankings. At ESPN, the Union drop two spots to No. 19: “The Union’s penchant for self-inflicted injuries seems to have carried over from 2014. Zach Pfeffer’s red card was bad enough, but then Fabinho’s giveaway gifted FC Dallas its opener. It has been an ulcer-inducing start to the season for manager Jim Curtin.” Your words to etc., etc. MLSGB has the Union at No. 16.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George talks to Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz about his return to PPL Park. Seitz said,

It’s a tough place to play. I always enjoyed playing for the Sons of Ben. The Sons of Ben are notorious in this league for being a very well-supported group and at the same time a very clever group. They never get old with the chants. They’re a group that’s raucous. And you love playing in environments like that, either home or on the road.

Shame his first PPL Park clean sheet came at the Union’s expense.

Union loanee Leo Fernandes talks to NASL.com about how special it is to play for New York Cosmos. “It’s amazing because I’m Brazilian. Playing for Pelé’s club is a really great accomplishment. When you go back to Brazil, everyone knows about the Cosmos.”

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders, who begin the 2015 season on the road in Pittsburgh on Saturday, defeated Georgetown 1-0 in a preseason friendly on Sunday. Georgetown was originally scheduled to play a Philadelphia Union squad on Saturday, but that game was cancelled when the Dallas game was postponed.

EPYSA reports, “The Penn Fusion 98 Elite boys team qualified for the United States Youth Soccer National Championships over the weekend after its final match day in Henderson, Nevada. Penn Fusion earned a spot in nationals thanks to a 2-1 win over Michigan Wolves 99 that clinched the USYS National League Red Division title for the club.”

MLS

In Eastern Conference play, first place NYCFC (5 points) drew 0-0 on the road in Colorado. Second place NYRB (4 points) opened their home season by defeating sixth place DC (3 points), 2-0. Third place Orlando (4 points) lost 1-0 at home thanks to a 96th minute goal from Octavio Rivero. Fourth place Columbus (3 points), and fifth place Toronto (3 points), had the weekend off. Seventh place Philadelphia (2 points) lost 2-0 at home after going down to ten men against Dallas. Eighth place Montreal (1 point) drew 0-0 with ninth place New England (1 point). Last place Chicago (0 points) lost 2-1 on the road at San Jose.

In the Western Conference, first place Dallas (9 points) remains undefeated with their 2-0 win over Philadelphia. Second place San Jose (6 points) opened their new stadium in league play with a 2-1 win over Chicago. Third place Vancouver (6 points) defeated Orlando, 1-0, on the road with a stoppage time goal. Fourth place LA (5 points) drew 1-1 at home with fifth place Houston (4 points). Sixth place Seattle (3 points) had the weekend off. Seventh place Portland (3 points) drew 0-0 at home with last place Kansas City (2 points). Eighth place Colorado (2 points) drew 0-0 at home with NYCFC. Ninth place Salt Lake had the weekend off.

Colorado Rapids have signed Premier League veteran and Ireland international Kevin Doyle, currently with Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers, as a Designated Player. Doyle will join the team in July.

Could Frank Lampard be joining NYCFC before the end of the month? The Daily Mail thinks so.

Colorado also have signed defender Ben Newnam from USL affiliate Charlotte Independence.

New York Red Bulls have signed midfielder Marius Obekep. Midfielder Michael Bustamante has been waived.

DC United have loaned midfielder Collin Martin, defenders Jalen Robinson and Luke Mishu, and goalkeeper Travis Worra to USL affiliate Richmond Kickers for the 2015 season.

Kansas City have loaned goalkeeper Jon Kempin to NASL side San Antonio Scorpions.

Don Garber said on Sunday of expanding beyond 24 teams, “We’re really evaluating going past that. We’ve got a couple more decisions we need to make. I imagine some time in, you know, the next year or so, we’re going to lay out the plan for how large this league can be.”

Speaking of expansion, Howler has a fascinating in-depth piece on David Beckham’s Miami franchise partner Marcelo Claure.

Las Vegas Review-Journal on how the stadium plan in that city continues to be an issue in the ongoing mayoral race, despite MLS announcing it would not include Las Vegas in its current expansion plans.

Sacramento Republic president Warren Smith says funding shouldn’t be a problem for that team’s proposed new stadium.

The Indianapolis Star reports, “The Indy Eleven’s proposed $82 million soccer stadium, rolled out with glitzy renderings of a modern Downtown facility, would be replaced by further renovations to its current home under a plan in the state Senate.” More at Indianapolis Business Journal.

US

Jurgen Klinsmann has announced his 23 player roster for the upcoming friendlies in Europe against Denmark (Wednesday, March 25 at 3 pm: ESPN2, UniMas, Univision Deportes, Watch ESPN) and Switzerland (Tuesday, March 31 at 12 pm: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, UDN).

Also announced are the rosters for the first US U-23 MNT training camp of the year, which will take place in Bosnia & Herzegovina and include friendlies against the Bosnia’s U-23 National Team (Friday, March 27) and Denmark (Tuesday, March 31). The US U-20 MNT roster was also announced — Zach Pfeffer is not on it — for the training camp in England that includes friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur’s Under-21s (Friday, March 27) and England U-21s (Sunday, March 29). None of the US U-23 and U-20 games will be streamed or televised as far as I can tell.

It was announced on Friday that the US U-20 MNT will play Qatar’s U-20’s on April 21, and Croatia’s U-20’s on April 25, in Linz, Austria.

At US Soccer, there are Q&A’s with Klinsmann, as well as U-23 coach Andi Herzog, and U-20 coach Tab Ramos. Another post at US Soccer breaks down the three rosters.

More on the rosters: senior team (ASN, Soccer America, ESPN, SIGoal.com, ProSoccerTalk), U-23 (ASN, Soccer America), and U-20 rosters (ASN).

On Friday, Jill Ellis named the USWNT roster for the upcoming friendly against New Zealand in St. Louis on April 4. It’s the same roster that was used for the recent Algarve Cup tournament.

Following Abby Wambach’s announcement last week that she will skip the 2015 NWSL season to focus on the upcoming Women’s World Cup, Soccer Wire reports that, according to multiple sources, “upwards of half a dozen current USWNT members are likely to retire or go on sabbatical after the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, leaving the league missing many of its most recognizable faces as it looks to capitalize on the nationwide exposure of Canada 2015.”

Following a recent report of racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior by some of its members, the American Outlaws have issued a statement affirming its mission to be “the world’s most inclusive supporters group. A group free of discrimination, racism, sexism, and homophobia. We want our chapter bars, our events, our stadiums, and our online communities to be places of tolerance.”

Elsewhere

Jeffrey Webb called again for a CONCACAF country to host the 20226 World Cup and has backed the return of continental rotation. With FIFA announcing the vote for who will host the 2026 World Cup will take place in May of 2017 among all 209 of its members rather than just the executive committee, Webb said,

It [football] is booming in North America, in the US. Definitely we’ve had expressions publicly from Mexico, from Canada and of course from the US. When you look at the infrastructure that’s in the US, in North America, I believe there’s no infrastructure like this in the world, in any parts of the world. I believe the US could host the World Cup next year…

I think when you look at it the rotation policy is the best and most fair and equitable for the 209 member associations of FIFA. It’s unfortunate that rotation was stopped…

I believe rotation is in the best interests of the game and I believe it should be returned. And obviously when you look at the stoppage of that rotation the confederation most affected by that was CONCACAF.

The AP reports,

The World Cup’s commercial power led to record revenue of $2 billion for FIFA last year, with $337 million in profits coming from the four-year cycle leading up to the 2014 soccer tournament in Brazil.

FIFA, which pocketed $140.7 million in profit in 2014 alone, added $91 million to its reserves, which now stand at $1.523 billion. The revenue of $2.096 billion in 2014 raised the four-year total to $5.718 billion.

Goal.com reports, “The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) has insisted it will support any legal action taken by an individual division following FIFA’s decision to hold the 2022 World Cup final in November and December.”

Goal.com reports, “German Football League (DFL) president Dr Reinhard Rauball has slammed FIFA’s unwillingness to properly resolve its ‘major error’ of selecting Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. Rauball said Friday that FIFA’s confirmation that Qatar 2022 will be held in the European winter had failed to deal with “fundamental problems” associated with holding the World Cup in the West Asian nation.”

Sky Sports reports, “UEFA has announced it wants an extra place to be given to a European country at World Cup finals.”

The AP reports, “Pele is supporting Sepp Blatter’s bid to continue running world football as the FIFA president prepares for his toughest-ever election battle.” Ho hum.

33 Comments

  1. We are not a good team.

  2. The most amazing thing to me, is that this is literally John Hackworth 2.0.

    Yet we convinced ourselves that, for some reason, this American coach with 0 professional coaching experience, who had a honeymoon period when he took charge but was quickly exposes, will be different.

  3. The season is still early and we have had a really crazy amount of either bad luck or incompetent referee decisions depending on how you look at them. Let’s see how we do when we play the Eastern Conference teams. Those games are what will really decide our playoff fate. Win against the Fire this weekend and we are still in a decent spot. However, lose against the Fire…then it might be panic time.

    • how about a draw against the Fire, that way we can be one of those mid table teams at the end of the season with 8 wins 16 draws and a ‘bag of dicks’ as someone from Deadspin so eloquently stated last week.

  4. Union have been most remarkable for their turn of really bad luck. Quality of play for a lot of teams is pretty bad. We didn’t get outplayed by any of the teams we’ve faced in the first three matches — and that’s not for lack of trying.

    Is the offseason too long? The spring training period too short?

    On one hand, I don’t want to blame Curtin for just bad play from players and a lack of options and depth. It’s hard to criticize the job he’s done on personnel not knowing how much leeway and budget he has to get things done. I think the draft and signing made have largely been good.

    On the other hand, a lack of quality and/or fitness on the field is on Curtin. The that look of lack of direction out there is Curtin.

    I’m not giving up on the season yet. We face Chicago, the one team that is definitely worse than us, next week (knocking on lots of wood as I type that). But I could really use a good reason to be hopeful.

  5. Card was definite red and I’m glad Curtin owned up to it after the fact.
    .
    Biggest issue with me similar to last year is guys hitting the target. Nando missed high and wide with an early header and then had a perfect opportunity that sailed over the bar into the River End. Dallas got a similar opportunity later from almost the exact same angle and their guy put low it into the corner past M’Bohli. You don’t have to score with your shot but you absolutely need it to be on frame. To borrow a golfing analogy 100% of off target shots don’t go in! LeToux had a similar opportunity in either game one or two and tried to postage stamp it. Just do what Mo did and blast it and at the very least make the goalie make a save. I know it’s early but I have visions of Pajoy 2.0
    .
    To end on a positive note, I thought Ayuk looked pertty good although I will admit I started tuning out towards the end

    • Seriously? Pajoy? Really? Pajoy never tracked back to his own box. Pajoy never looked like he could work with teammates. Pajoy never endlessly chased down opponents. So Nando missed some shots. It happens. Plenty of players put the ball in the stands in the EPL. Saturday’s debacle had nothing to do with Nando. I’m not saying he’s Messi, or CR7, but by no means is he anywhere near Pajoy. Thats just ludicrous.

    • The Union – despite being down a man for more than half the game – had more shots and more shots on target than Dallas.

    • Shane,
      The best way to gain one of your coveted shots on target is to put it in the middle of the net and on the ground. There is one major problem with that. It’s called the goalie. Many shots that start seemingly way off target spin back into the target after passing the goalie. Those shots generally hit the corners and edges because spinning back into the center is really difficult. However, many of those shots struck incorrectly sail way over the net or to the sides. The ones that are close to the posts/cross-bars are still good shots they simply don’t have enough “mustard” on them. Yet they aren’t considered shots on goal. Soccer is all about nuances. That’s why I love it.

      Oh and by the way I’ll take a golf shot that settles 6 inches to the side of the hole over one that hits the pin and flies off the green. Your analogy makes very little sense. Only 18 shots in all of golf go in the hole. So right off the bat 80% of my golf shots “don’t go in”.

  6. We’re not “punching above our weight!” We’re elbowing below our weight.

  7. “In Eastern Conference play, first place NYCFC (5 points) . . . Second place NYRB (4 points) . . . Third place Orlando (4 points) . . .”
    .
    It’s like daggers to my eyes!

  8. How much rope will Curtin get before he hangs himself. He already looks out of his depth, and though he is not drowning yet, the first lung fulls of water are there.

    I truly believe this current semblance of players would be better, as well as our academy with a European coach. A coach who has a true/strong footballing culture, some semblance of a CV for the job, as well as how to work and help develop/implement our youth academy.

    This season is proving that with what we have in the first team is only going to produce more of the same for our academy. The Union’s footballing Philosophy cannot and shouldn’t be ” Run around with Ball at the Feet.” This is what we currently have, and a huge change needs to happen.

    I will refuse to be a part of the next Chivas USA disaster. The Union draw or Lose all of the next 8 matches…….we will be on our way in becoming Chivas USA. If this does happen ( Union losing and or Drawing the next 8 games ), I want Sugerman to have a press conference and personally fire ALL Responsible for this, state that they are actively pursuing new ownership partners to help fund the club alongside his group, as well as new proven coaches coming in from abroad, and that he will personally help do anything to set this right for the fans of this club.

    I personally do not see Curtin lasting beyond Memorial Day

    • Can Sugarman fire himself? I don’t blame Curtain for being chosen, it wasn’t his choice. But what European coach would want to be a part of this mess? Almost hoping for a Chivas debacle so we can start over (not really, but I’m so frustrated).

      • The one thing that is the great equalizer is Money, but most importantly… Friendly Tax structure…lol Any European manager or player is attracted to the US/MLS based on Tax Structure and Incentives (better life style, schools for families, etc.) There is a lot we as American’s take for granted because we all for the most part have never been an expat in another country to experience the taxation and land entitlement issues. More to the point, ANY coach that is languishing in any European league would take a chance in the MLS because of the incentives as well as able to become a “change agent” in a league that has been growing steadily. There is more of an upside coming to MLS, if you are a coach that hasn’t cemented himself in Europe.

        Sugarman is the owner, he is getting a nice paycheck from the fans. He will either be forced to sell, or take on another Majority Owner and share the pie. Yes Sugarman has a big say to dictate policy and finances on what the club can/will not do, but because there is no real “Director of Football” he is going off the intel he is fed.

        Rene is our “consultant” with (in my opinion) the Intent to Hire as Manager should Curtin crash out. Rene would be a vast improvement over what we have, and though he hasn’t the best track record as a manager, we was the assistant to the greatest manager of the GREATEST Club in world football (I am biased of course), and with that experience alone Curtin cannot hold Rene’s jock-strap!

        Curtin will not see Memorial Day #thenoseknows

      • I know Sugar is the owner, I was being sarcastic/slightly hopeful. I hope what you say about European coaches is true. And maybe when Curtain gets fired mid season we actually get one.

    • “I truly believe this current semblance of players would be better, as well as our academy with a European coach…who has a true/strong footballing culture”

      Does Tommy Wilson, the current director of the Union Academy, count? He seems to garner a lot of praise from the soccer community. The only real negatives I’ve read are comments complaining that he’s “some European guy.”

      • Tommy Wilson NEEDS to be our Academy coach, and the Union need to not hire within. Tommy needs to work with another Manager which share the same philosophy and build that footballing culture. Our footballing consult Rene Meulensteen and Tommy Wilson have a solid relationship. Our consultant might become our manager if results do not go Curtin’s way.

        Jim Curtin doesn’t know his asshole from his ear-hole and that is becoming even more apparent especially with in-game management and substitutions. Moreover, it comes to how he is training our 1st team. Our first team plays like academy lads and not as the professionals they are billed to be. Hmmm hire an academy youth coach/ Former Player to coach Professional Talent….Looks like we got what Curtin used to manage….Children.

      • Ian. This is good thought. I get tremendous pause and have writtena few times about our manager literally training children just a few years ago. But hey, maybe it will work.

      • It Just Does My Head In. How has Edu ever made the USMNT roster with how he has played over the last 3 years to be honest.

        The Union has a striker who is intelligent, makes great runs, puts himself in great positions to score….yet the build up play around Fernando (especially without Chaco) is absolute garbage.

        Please Please give me something that shows progress and not regression.

        Curtin replaced before summer transfer window if not before Memorial Day weekend.

        Union out of playoff race before July 1

  9. So I’m starting to get tired if the whoa is me attitude. Yes the union have had some bad luck. But they have had some incredibly good luck too. It is not the bad luck’s fault that the union are where they are. In the home opener they didn’t score despite being up a man for 20 min. Yes there should have been another red and a PK or two but still one goal wins that game and they couldn’t do it. Against RSL the union were gifted three goals and couldn’t find a way to win the game. Yes it was a bad PK call but if they don’t let RSL score two other goals it doesn’t matter. And this week the union had some good chances to score goals at 11 men and didn’t. They will never win a game at home if they don’t figure out how to score. This is not about bad luck, but about a team that has not yet figured out how to be a winner.

  10. The players are doing whatever they want on the field, and the players have no clue. If this new coach does not learn to control these guys and force them to stop playing so poorly, this will be a long season.Right now, the players are not being told what to do, and what NOT to do. All good coaches are somewhat tyranical. He must take back control.

    • These players are playing poorly because certain players are just poor, and the coaching/training is equally as poor. How you train is how you will play. I feel all Curtin knows is how it WAS Done, and not how it can be done. He has “hard working” / “Philly Style” players, Washing Machines work hard too!

      LeToux and Wenger can run……and that is about it. Edu consistently comes in and out of games and really never asserts himself. Nogs tries to build from the back, but unless he can play 1-2 with Chaco the whole game all his yeoman’s work goes out the door. Fernando depends on the wingers for service into the box, however most often than not that service is absolute shit.

      The managers responsibility is to take what talent he has and get the best from each player. These players look like they are just making it up as they go. Nothing from the past 3 games tells me the players nor the manager has a actual fucking clue on how to play, or why they are playing. Fernando knows he is the striker, Chaco knows he is #10, Nogs is the #8, and Mbohli is the GK. Everyone else just runs around the pitch.

      This will be ugly until major football cultural changes happen

  11. PSP could re-post every comment from last year possibly the last 3 years. Right now I just don’t have it in me to rant and rage against the system….ditto 2014,2013,2012. Goodnight nurse.

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