Daily news roundups

Notes from Curtin’s press conference, injury report, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The theme from Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference (full transcript here at PSP) on Wednesday was disappointment — with the team’s performance in the loss in Chicago, in decision making on the field both in the attack and in defense, the continuing string of “silly,” and costly, fouls, in the month of March generally — and hope — in the fact that no team is running away with the East, that injured and otherwise absent players will soon be returning, that April is a chance to start afresh.

On the injury front, things continue to look bleak in the short term. Curtin said that both Cristian Maidana and Sheanon Williams are “a week to two weeks away” from returning. Conor Casey was not discussed, but he remains listed as out on the league’s latest injury report. CJ Sapong has returned to training but he still needs to satisfy the criteria of the league’s concussion protocol before he can return and it is unclear if he will do so in time to face his former team when the Union play Kansas City on Sunday.

Curtin said that only 13 players were in training on Wednesday, the team’s first training session since returning from Sunday’s loss in Chicago. Some of this is due to some unexpected illnesses. Steven Vitoria is away (where, I do not know) to be with his wife for the impending birth of their second child. Asked if Vitoria will be available for the Kansas City game, Curtin said, “The hope is yeah. They haven’t had the baby yet, but the hope is that he’ll be available for selection for the weekend. That’s the plan right now.” Not exactly encouraging.

Curtin discussed the possibility of Sebastien Le Toux playing as the No. 10 against Kansas City.

Seba does give you a guy that, if he plays beneath Fernando, can do the running defensively to shut down their holding midfielder, but then also can make a run out of there to try to get in behind the other team’s back when we do break.* So, he is a candidate for playing in there. He’s not, trust me, he’s not the prototypical No. 10 that’s going to get a ball played into his feet, hold it, turn, and dribble three guys, that’s not really his role. But, if you look at the options, I think that could be one of the better ones. We’ll see as the week goes.

We later tweeted:

Curtin also agreed that Le Toux and Andrew Wenger may be feeling too much pressure. “[T]hey both want to score goals. That’s what they’re paid to do, that’s what they want to do for the team, they want to help the team. So, maybe there is a bit of pressing right now in trying to, every time they get on the ball, do something that leads to a goal……I’m confident in both of those guys, I know they can do it in this league, they have for a little while now. So, the chances will come. We need to shore up defensively; we’re a team that when we’re organized defensively, that’s usually when our attackers get going the best.”

Curtin acknowledged “there is definitely a sense of urgency from the coaching staff and from the players. We know that you can’t dig yourself into a deep hole; we learned that last year, it’s hard to dig out of. It’s four games gone by, we’ve lost twice, we’ve been beaten twice. We’re not happy with where we sit in the table, at the bottom.”

He explained,

We’re frustrated, we’re angry, for sure. But, we also know that this is a good group, this is a good team, and the points that we’ve gained so far haven’t really reflected what we’ve put into it. We think we’re deserving of a couple more points, which changes the outlook on things. My message to all of them is to stay positive. Take a look in the mirror at yourself, and know that you can do better each day in training, and that will translate to the game. We’re in this together, we have to fight our way out of a tough spot. But the month of March is behind us, and it was a bad month, for a lot of different reasons, for the Philadelphia Union. But, it’s in the past now. We’re on to April, and we need to get some results in April.

Andrew Wenger said, “We’re not pleased with where we’re at. You can probably look at it and say we’ve had a month of weird things happen that it normally might take a full season to see, but we’ve also had some poor performances. And that’s the thing that we can control.”

While acknowledging the team is only four games into the season, John Smallwood writes at the Daily News that so far, the 2015 Union “is starting to look like the same, old Union – a group that rarely comes through in the big moments, drops points in the most maddening of manners and doesn’t match up with the top-echelon teams of Major League Soccer”:

For the past two seasons, the Union has missed the playoffs because of a point or two lost here or there.

Given the Union’s history over the last three seasons, an early hole seems about three times deeper than it actually is.

And, given the Union’s history, is anyone confident the team can pull things together and not end up having another slow start lead to it coming up short in the playoff race again?

PRO has announced the referee assignments for the weekends games. For the Union’s game in KC on Sunday, they are REF: Ismail Elfath will be referee, Adam Garner and Kevin Klinger are the linesmen, and Younes Marrakchi is the fourth official.

ASN notes the Union’s scoring problem.

Brotherly Game has an optimist-pessimist look at the loss in Chicago. Also, a guesstimation of where the team is with the salary cap.

A late match recap at US Soccer says of Zach Pfeffer’s play with the US U-23s in Tuesday’s loss to Denmark:

The U.S. began threatening with Zach Pfeffer, who twice combined with Khiry Shelton for good opportunities, but Denmark’s goalkeeper did his job; first with a fantastic diving save on a shot from 16 yards out, and then with a header from 12 yards out that went just wide.

A final chance to equalize came late in the game but Pfeffer’s attempt inside the six was cleared, and a rebound shot taken by Ariel Lassiter was saved by the goalkeeper.  

Google Maps has an interface that allows you to play Pac-Man on street maps. A Reddit user has compiled a list of links to Pac-Man interfaces for MLS stadiums, including PPL Park.

From the Union website: “To kick off their partnership, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer team based in Chester, Pa., will offer an exciting opportunity for children ages 6-14 to win a first-class, week-long Union Soccer School camp scholarship. Ten lucky winners will have the opportunity to attend the seven-day camp for free!”

Union Academy

The Union U-16s defeated San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on Wednesday with goals from Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Justin McMaster in their final group game at the Generation adidas Cup. Out of championship contention with a 1-2 record, the Union face Aspire Academy from Qatar today at 3 pm.


At the Harrisburg City Islanders website, a preview of Saturday’s road game against Charleston Battery (7:30 pm, YouTube). More previews at Charleston Battery and Dynamo Theory.

Several area players have been called up for the joint US U-16 and U-17 GNT camp. Called up for the U-16s are Emily Gray (D: Penn Fusion; Sewell, N.J.)and Mackenzie Pluck (M: FC Bucks; North Wales, Pa.). Called up for the U-17s are Sydney Zandi (D: Penn Fusion; West Chester, Pa.) and Rachael Dorwart (M: Penn Fusion; Mechanicsburg, Pa.).


At MLSsoccer.com, a roundup of some of the April Fools’ Day pranks pulled by players and clubs around the league.

NASL commissioner Bill Peterson spoke to reporters on Wednesday on a variety of topics. On the topic of a NASL players union, he said,

They control their own destiny. They know our clubs will look out for their best interests as it relates to other opportunities in this country or other countries. So the concept doesn’t seem to fit in. But by all means if there was an approach we would have a conversation with them and look to do what’s best for the players and the league itself…I don’t see it happening. Our owners are treating our players very well. They’re slowly increasing the amount of money they’re paying those players each year. our roster numbers are going up, but going up at a steady rate. I think a fair rate based on the revenues we’re generating.

Pretty hilarious stuff. More on Peterson’s comments, including his continuing belief that the league should have an automatic spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, at Soccer America (1), Soccer America (2), and Empire of Soccer.


At SI, Liviu Bird reviews the tactical setups of the USMNT in its recent games.

At Soccer Gods, Bobby Warsaw has an interesting take on why Jurgen Klinsmann seems to rub so many US commentators the wrong way: “[T]he European football culture where Klinsmann was raised revolves around individual ambition. Personal success means more than team accomplishments”:

It’s a funny feeling around a European locker room. Everyone is happy to be on the team, but everybody also wants to be on a different one. A lot of the players have one foot out the door as soon as they step in. If a European player could pick between a trophy at the end of the season and moving on to a bigger club, he would choose the move. And it’s all perfectly accepted. It’s a strange way to conduct a team.

The US defeated the Bahamas 6-2 on Tuesday to finish atop of Group C at the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship in San Salvador, El Salvador. The team faces Jamaica tonight at 7:45 pm in a quarterfinal game that is being live streamed at Beach Soccer Worldwide.

A state senator in Florida has introduced a bill that “requires coaches who get kicked out of games involving children 12 years old or younger to be benched for the rest of the season. It also includes a provision for those organizing the leagues, like Pop Warner, the YMCA and others, to set up an appeals system for coaches to make up for ‘overzealous refs.'”

At the Guardian, Michael Lewis has a good read on the tour by the original NASL’s Chicago Sting of Cuba in 1978.


Reuters reports, “A group of U.S. senators has written to the international soccer association FIFA, urging it to consider removing Russia as host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup because of its role in the Ukraine crisis and occupation of Crimea.” Among those signing the letter were Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Bob Menendez (D., NJ).

The AP reports FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer “rejected the notion that it makes sense to strip Russia of the World Cup.”

A few years ago, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the European Club Association, called for a “revolution” against the “corrupt people” who run FIFA. Now, the BBC reports, Rummenigge “believes Fifa is changing ‘in a good way,'” and that Sepp Blatter is “ready to change.”


  1. I’m disappointed that I have to keep hearing about how disappointed the players/coaches are with the results. Just figure it out. If that means giving other guys a shot I’m OK with that. I’d rather they try something new and lose than keep doing the same shit and still lose.

  2. Nobody should expect anything but failure against KC this weekend. We’re still decimated by injuries and self-destructive suspensions. When we get beat by KC it will not tell us anything that we didn’t already know. The question is what we can do when Maidana and Williams and Sapong come back. I didn’t think it mattered a whole lot to the team’s immediate prospects when Sapong went down, but with Casey injured, Cruz loaned (?!) and Le Toux and Wenger woefully underperforming, we really need him.

    • If they were playing anyone but SKC I’d agree with you. But the Union’s history of going to full-on bunker ball and getting results in KC tells me they have a chance. As long as Mbolhi doesn’t throw a ball at Dom Dwyer’s head or something.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It depends on the ‘bunkering’ personnel.
        I don’t think that we are coming our of KC with any points and that’s fine…I guess. (KC is a real club. We aren’t. A loss is likely).
        If Curtin can put XI on the pitch, that can complete some passes and look remotely cohesive, I will consider it a victory. Show something. An idea, a philosophy, a game-plan…something!!!

    • 4-0. 1 gaffe by white, 1 by mbolhi, and 2 pressure goals after someone is red-carded.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Relax. 4-0?!? Union have a decent record in KC and they’ll be missing Zusi. They have a shot at a draw – albeit prolly a 0-0 draw – but a point on the road right now would feel like a blowout win.

  3. John Smallwood’s article in todays philly.com. He calls the Union Coaching and players out on their same old BS year in year out.


    • Also in spite of it being only 4 games, the Union have a pattern of this crap and it starts with the cultur of cheapness and BS of the ownership and front office namely Sugarman and Sakeiwicz!

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Agreed. I enjoyed that article. It doesn’t bode well to attract the all important casual fan, but facts are facts. Maybe things like this will spur ownership to start giving a s—

      • John Ling says:

        That’s the kicker, ain’t it. The Flyers and Sixers (ha!) are both going to miss the playoffs. The Phillies are a joke. The city’s sports consciousness is there for the taking this spring – no NHL or NBA playoffs, bad baseball. They’re pissing it away; the market is there, right now. They have a chance to engage the casual Philly sports fan who otherwise won’t have much to do between now and Eagles training camp.
        Even losing entertaining games would help draw fans. Instead, we get games with no shots on goal and a goalie who makes funny faces and shows up his teammates…

      • Oh John, there is plenty to do- how many different permutations of the Marriotta talk that must still exist.
        Then there is the draft.
        Then there is the third day of the draft, when the important Final Draft Pick, Mr. Irrelevant rises from the tomb.
        And of course then there is life after the draft discussion.
        I agree. Missed opportunity- but hey least we can gear up for The Masters.

      • John Ling says:

        I love the smell of sarcasm in the afternoon…

  4. ” this is a good team, and the points that we’ve gained so far haven’t really reflected what we’ve put into it. We think we’re deserving of a couple more points”
    Thanks Jim for proving you are nothing but Hackworth 2.0. That quote could have been taken from any one of Hacks pressers . . . particularly during his 2-7-6 final 1/2 season.
    To paraphrase Dennis Green “You are who we thought you were”

  5. I noticed the theme of disappointment in said press conference. I also notice the manager not taking a particular stance of responsibility either. Is it just me?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Seems like the theme was to blame injuries and “freak red cards”. LOAD OF GARBAGE. you’re a bad team, with no management, and no clue on the field. I said above they can earn a draw this weekend, but that is if everything goes right and somehow our possible #10 (Frenchy) learns how to serve a ball.

    • I don’t think you are the only one. I think the question needs to be put to Curtin in a way he can’t dance around with talking points and cliches. If he starts doing that call him out for the misdirect. Example Coach what is it that you and your staff need to do better? You are known during your career as a solid defender, why is the Union defense not living up to expectations? Coach you said that before, what specifically do you see as the problem…etc.

  6. The Black Hand says:

    The fact that there is a chance that Sebastian LeToux could be selected to be our #10 horrifies me. If that happens, our COACH is shit…S.H.I.T.

  7. Did the NASL commissioner just threaten to get rid of any players that try to organize?

  8. If the theme were anything other than disappointment it would be ridiculous. defiance would show an extreme lack of reality. calm re-assurance would indicate that Union are just a bit away from making results better, again unreal. anger would be understandable but unhelpful – but maybe needed – just tell the media to eff off.

    the fact that only 13 trained does not even allow them to “rest” some guys this weekend. the perspective from here is like the vanishing point in art .. it is there and you see Union are trending towards it, but unfortunately not there to the vast emptiness yet. buckle up.

  9. Jim Curtin could learn something from the ex-NFL coach Bill Parcells who once famously said, “you are what your record says you are”.

  10. “I am not going to speak for another person’s body language. I haven’t noticed anything.”

    Sorry Jim, but I do not believe this statement for one second. The tension and the blame game is front and center between Rais’ and Steven. His sour relationship toward his CB’s is killing our back line. “it’s not my ball” was a perfect example. Instead of pointing fingers he should be stepping up and organizing his back line. He was hired because he is a “world class” keeper, shouldn’t he be the one to instill his knowledge and experience on lees traveled players?

    You pushed Zac aside in favor of Rais’ based on what? his snapshot performance in the world cup against Germany? Well I hate to be the one to break it to you but that’s not the keeper you got. Since arriving he has been indecisive, flat footed and confrontational with his defense. Say what you will about Zac, but at least he was committed, made decisive movement to protect his box, and his heart was only matched by that of Danny. Sitting behind Zac listening to him organize his defense was always the best part of sitting in the river end, now it is mostly quite until the time come to pass the buck.

    So lets all admit that this didn’t work and and try a different approach. For a team that has a stable of keepers akin to an MLB bullpen it escapes me why his lack luster performance is relied upon as if we have no options. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. I understand there maybe some crow to eat at various levels, but the long term stability of the club, hopes for a payoff level team, fan support, and pride far out weigh having some egg on your face.

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

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