Daily news roundups

NYCFC previews, McCarthy on playing for Philly fans, Mbolhi signing the worst, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

Right then, time to get a win.

Previews for Saturday’s game against expansion side NYCFC at PSPBrotherly Game, Vavel, MLSsoccer.comManchester City,  NYCFC Watch, Bookmaker. Brotherly Game and fellow SB Nation blog Hudson River Blue also exchange ideas on how the Union and NYCFC can defeat each other, and why one hates NYC, and the other hates Philly.

All eyes will be on local lad and new starting goalkeeper John McCarthy on Saturday. At MLSsoccer.com, McCarthy talks about attending the Union’s open tryout in 2010 when he was 17, even though trialists were required to be at least 18: “What were they going to say? You can’t make the team? I was going to college anyway, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I just wanted to experience it.”

McCarthy also talks about what it means to be playing in front of hometown fans: “Being able to clap to the fans and see them clap back and know they have your back at all times, it shows great support. That’s who we play for – we play for the fans and the supporters every single day. It’s just a great feeling to know they have our backs.”

More on McCarthy being named the starting goalkeeper at Delco TimesLa Salle AthleticsPhilly Soccer News, Cinnaminson Patch,

At CBS Philly, Kevin Kinkead writes,

It seems as though we won’t get to hear from Rais before he’s inevitably transferred this summer…Rais Mbolhi should not have been signed in the first place…The solution seems simple enough. You sell or loan Rais when the summer transfer window opens up. What other choice is there?…It makes so much sense to sell Mbolhi and use the cap relief to beef up areas of need. Because right now, this looks like the worst signing in franchise history.

At the 700 Level, Dave Zeitlin writes of Mbolhi,

Simply put, it just wasn’t a good fit. Mbolhi never seemed particularly happy to be in Philly and Curtin never seemed particularly keen on starting him in his net. And what was obvious from the beginning has become even more glaring now: he should never have been signed…

Union head coach Jim Curtin made it clear that benching Mbolhi was his call, and also said that he’s “responsible for all the decisions that are made here.” But if he was alluding to the Mbolhi signing, those were probably just marching orders. Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz has tried to say that it was Curtin that made the final decision to acquire Mbolhi last summer, but it’s important to remember that Curtin was only an interim at the time and that it was Mbolhi himself who said in his introductory press conference that he chose the Union after meeting with Sakiewicz. And, of course, in that same press conference, Sakiewicz gave his famous “He played in a little tournament in Brazil” line, showing just how proud he was of the acquisition and how annoyed he was by those who’d dare question it.

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep’s list of the worst DP signings in MLS history begins, “Barring a serious turn of events, Rais M’Bolhi will go down as the worst signing on the relatively brief history of the Philadelphia Union.”

There is no other way to say it but M’Bolhi has been terrible. As in one of the worst goalkeepers in the league terrible. The fact that he’s also eating up a significant chunk of the Union’s salary cap only serves to magnify the severity of the Union’s mistake…Barring a movie-like turnaround, M’Bolhi’s signing will remain the worst in Union history and arguably one of the worst in MLS history.

You’d really think it’s the sort of thing someone ought to lose their job over.

At Fox Sports, Kyle McCarthy observes,

M’Bolhi’s budget hit reinforces the importance of prudent acquisitions. Philadelphia struck gold with the arrival of Nantes forward Fernando Aristeguieta during the close season, but the Union could stand to improve in several areas after a poor start. The prospect of using seven percent – give or take – of the salary budget on the out-of-favor M’Bolhi hamstrings the Union as the primary transfer window closes (May 12, according to the FIFA TMS) and the summer beckons.

It is why Curtin must grapple with the costs of his frank assessments. Philadelphia dipped into the market last summer in a bid to improve its goalkeeping situation despite the in-house options available. It is a gamble that simply did not pay off. The fallout from the failure of that decision lingers now as the Union attempts to reverse course and set the club back on a path toward the playoffs over the next few months.

ProSoccerTalk says, “Is there a way back for Mbolhi? That likely depends more on the locker room than his on-field play as he’s a talented keeper who should find his form somewhere.”

Brotherly Game says following Jim Curtin’s “declaration of power” in Wednesday’s press conference, results will make or break his status with both the fans and the owners.

6abc plays footgolf with Antoine Hoppenot.


La Salle’s Kelsey Haycook has been nominated for this year’s John Wanamaker Athletic Award, “presented annually to the athlete, team or organization that has done the most to reflect credit upon Philadelphia and to the team or sport in which they excel.” Cast your vote here.

A Philly Soccer Six Play Date will take place at Penn Park on Saturday night.

At Brotherly Game, a preview of AC Crusaders, who kick off the second half of the 2014-15 ASL season on April 19.


At the Washington Post, Steven Goff reports that Eddie Johnson will likely have to retire because of a heart condition.

No one will speak on the record about Johnson’s future — not team officials, not his agent, not Johnson himself — and the specifics of his case have been kept private. But those familiar with the situation said this week that, in order to enjoy a healthy and happy life, the 31-year-old forward is almost certainly going to have to retire.

Goff notes that league rules state that, in the case of a season-ending injury, “a club may replace the player on the roster while remaining responsible for the salary and its cap implications,” the unique nature of Johnson’s situation means that DC United will likely get salary cap relief.

Vancouver have acquired 22-year-old Uruguyan midfielder Cristian Techera on a season-long loan from Club Atlético River Plate Montevideo with an option to buy.

Montreal Impact sold more than 35,000 tickets for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Club America in less than 24 hours. Well done.

SI looks at MLS’ increasing footprint in Brazil. Interesting read on the state of soccer there.

While state officials remain opposed to the use of public funds to build a downtown stadium for the expansion Minnesota United franchise, the team will begin meetings with said officials next week. More at Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

At ESPN, Graham Parker look the NASL’s place in an increasingly crowded soccer marketplace.

The Indy Star reports, “The Indiana Senate on Thursday approved a $20 million bond package to renovate IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, home of the Indy Eleven.”


At ESPNW, Julie Foudy has five burning questions ahead of the start of the 2015 NWSL season.

8 by 8 on how Portland Thorns are “bringing women’s football into the mainstream.”


At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep reports Jozy Altidore will miss next week’s friendly against Mexico as he serves a one-game suspension for the red card he received against Switzerland. “The U.S. could have chosen to play Altidore in the Mexico friendly, but would have been subject to fines and potentially a forfeiting of the match result.” Not sure anyone thought he wouldn’t miss the Mexico game, but there you go.

The $62-million project in Kansas City that includes the proposed US Soccer National training center has been approved by the local Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

At World Soccer Talk, Simon Evans has an interesting read on the tension between those who intensely support soccer as a kind of mission aimed at “building the sport in the U.S, growing its influence, creating converts,” and those motivated by what Evans says “could be called ‘soccer-nativism’ or ‘American soccer exceptionalism’…the sense that ‘we are building soccer in America and it is going to be ours, it is going to be American soccer.'”

At Northern Pitch, Joe Leyba makes the case for changing the rules for electing inductees into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Leyba notes that the election of Kasey Keller to the 2015 class — the only player elected for 2015 — represents a mere 3 percent of the 31 players who were eligible, which means some very worthy nominees were passed over:

The rules to become eligible for the Hall of Fame are pretty straightforward. (You can read about them over at US Soccer.) The hard part is actually getting elected into the Hall. The catch is you must appear on at least 66.7 percent of voters ballots to earn election. Why is this bad? It is because voting committee members may vote for up to 10 players. It’s less about if a player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but how they rank against others on the list.

Washington State soccer historian Frank MacDonald makes the case for recognizing worthy contributors to that state’s soccer community.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald has more on the US Open Cup draw.


Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

Reuters reports, “The new Indonesian Super League season will be suspended after only two games as officials try to negotiate a deal with the government to allow two title contenders to participate after issues arose over their ownership.”

Vice Sports on how Israel and Palestine are taking their fight to FIFA. That ought to turn out well.

The AP reports, “Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has received a four-match suspension from the French league’s disciplinary commission following his criticism of a referee last month.” Oh, Zlatan.

This just in from the Department of Please Be Real, Please Be Real, Barcelona’s Martin Montoya shoots some hoops:


  1. Snake Sakiewicz. Or is it weasel.
    Get back to you later on that one.

  2. 700 chopper says:

    Hey our new keeper John McCarthy played for my high school North Catholic so I love him already so go Union DOOP DOOP

  3. Nuck Few York!

  4. Today’s glass-half-full thought (or at-least-the-glass-is-quarter-full thought): That Curtin could orchestrate a swift end to the Mbolhi Debacle is a good sign. I’ve known many similar signings in other sports where a team will simply just live with a bad decision and just prolong the agony. I applaud taking this one out behind the shed and killing it — if that indeed is what happened here and it likes like it is. God speed Rais. May you find a club that’s a better fit. (Maybe the guy was just homesick?)

    Now we get to move forward and guess if McCarthy is actually ready for the big show tomorrow afternoon. My feeling is that it can’t possibly be worse (famous last words in Philly, I know) but I’m cautiously, hesitatingly, optimistic.

    Finally, there’s no way that Mbolhi is NOT 100 percent Sak. Please. Good soldier work from Curtin taking the blame here, and he should. But we all know better.

    Let’s get some points!

    • “May you find a club that’s a better fit. (Maybe the guy was just homesick?)” he’s been on the road to various clubs, none of them home (France), for the past 9 years – 11 clubs total. never seems to catch on – hmmm … maybe its a trend.

      • He also never had a baby at home while he was away with those 11 clubs.
        But it’s still weird that this is the same guy that stood on his head in that Disney Cup final against the Red Bulls. Maybe he just likes those short tournaments, while the long season with no payoff in sight just makes him, I don’t know, forget to care?

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I think he likes the on time paychecks of MLS. And that’s about it.

      • everyone has a good game now and then.

      • All work and no playoffs make Rais something something…

      • … and if he really wanted to be with his kid, who he know was on the way when he signed with Union, wouldn’t he have signed with a team in France, unless, of course, he couldn’t.

      • The Little Fish says:

        France’s 3rd or 4th tier?

  5. The Simon Evans article is interesting particularly the point about soccer nativism and us Americanizing the game.
    I hope we become a better team in the international scene but there is a part of me that appreciates the fact the game belongs to the world and we cannot force our hegemony over it no matter how we hope to do so. The right to be great is earned.
    Maybe the world is a better and safer place cause the Americans can’t dictate the terms of football too — which truth be told, in my opinion will never happen anyway- cause only America would take the worlds game and rename it – thinking we were smarter or different than the rest.
    I love this country but sometimes we are a bit smug.

    • We didn’t rename it. It was called soccer in the UK first (Association Football was shortened to “soc”er. I wonder if it was pronounced as sosher at one time) Soccer is still the preferred term in other places like South Africa and, I think, Australia.

      • Fair correction then. Thank you. I stand by the point though.

      • I agree with you, too. Lots of things stand in the way of soccer dominating US Sports scene including the fact that it’s not suited for billions of dollars in TV advertising like the NFL and the sports media complex takes pride in being ignorant of the game in general. Tough obstacles to fight. But, it gets more popular every year….

      • Dunno. FoxSports1 ads are now shrinking the entire screen down and putting that huge banner ad in the bottom/side. It’s only a matter of time before a full-fledged commercial is running in that space while the soccer-screen gets progressively smaller. I can’t stand it!

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      “Force our hegemony” – what? How, exactly, do we do that with other sports? The US only has ‘hegemony’ over baseball, basketball, and hockey in the sense that the top leagues are primarily US-based, but (international results-wise) we’re only perennially dominant in basketball (though Kobe claims those days are coming to a close). The US has never won the World Baseball Classic (Japan has won twice and DR won most recently; best US has ever done is 4th) and the US is only one of several elite hockey nations (arguably on the bubble).

      I’m just trying to understand what you mean, because it just reads like uninformed self-hatred.

      • if i had to guess i would think he meant more of a cultural hegemony

      • Hey WM thanks for comment. I responded to your post down here under this spot. Kyle that is what i meant yes.
        The view that we are the enforcers, policers, busy bodies, do gooders, helper scoundrel, imperialist of the world whether for good or bad depending on the worldview of those judging.
        If we were soccer God’s too maybe that would be a bit too much I do take a modicum of comfort knowing the world’s game generally belongs to the world- recognizing the point about us not dominating all the sports as well.

      • like hellenization?

    • How dare they leave off Fabinho in their list of Brazilian legends. How dare they! He’s the most valuable leftback in the history of the game, much less Brazil!

  6. I don’t get McCarthy’s reference to the transfer window closing … it only pertains to incoming players. Or can the Union terminate his contract before that date?
    No comprende.
    And what’s up with Ives’ article? He’ll say that M’Bolhi could be one of the worst DP signings in MLS history, but then excludes those who spent less than a season in the league. Wouldn’t that, then, by his rationale, exclude M’Bolhi from consideration? He’s such a hack.

    • i think the idea is that we need some players to come in but we can’t do that because mbohli is taking up so much cap space

  7. I’d like to point out in the 6abc plays footgolf video, that Hoppenot hits the ball 3 times on his first drive and it should be scored as such. What organization do I call do vehemently demand that his scorecard be nullified like any good armchair golf viewer would do!

  8. I love how the Hate Philly article is a nonsensical mess. I love how a New Yorkers favorite baseball and football teams aren’t from New York, despite having more than enough options for both. I love how they obsess over pizza like they invented it.

    New Yorkers are scummy people with no culture and no real loyalty.

    • That guy is from new York like the coneheads came from France.

    • I think it’s supposed to be a funny article, but I agree, it’s more of a mess. There are many reasons to hate Philadelphia, but they’re not found in that article. The thing is, the bad things about Philadelphia (trash, hostility, corruption) are actually worse in NYC. Even their pizza’s incrementally worse since the real Ray’s closed, and our pizza has gotten better. So New Yorkers who profess to hate Philadelphia are fraudulent. They are much more successful when they just ignore it.
      (Full disclosure: I lived there for three years. Loved every minute.)

      • I currently live in Brooklyn, going on 5 years, and you are 100% right about most bad things about Philly being worse in NYC (except crime…but that’s another story). NYC has around 10x the population of Philadelphia, so take the number of assholes in Philly and multiply that by 10 and you start to get the picture.
        I have to say I take immense comfort in belonging to the Union fanbase in contrast to the whiny, cheeseball Energy Drinks “fans” I’ve met during my time here.
        Not sure I agree on the pizza getting worse though, there’s a whole bunch of awesome spots that have opened up in the past few years to fill the Ray’s void.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks for ruining my day, folks. I hadn’t realized until now that Ray’s closed! I loved to go there when I was living in Northern New Jersey.

    • That’s all well and good, but how do you REALLY feel? 🙂

    • Not that Philly fans are perfect, but perhaps he ought to clean the “Latin Nazis” (whatever they are) out of his house, first.

    • I at least appreciate he got the date right for the Santa incident . . . You never hear the national guys explain that man 1st walked on the moon more recently

  9. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long overdo change of direction and philosophy. I still say hire a savvy GM and let Curtin just coach. Albright should assist the GM. This franchise needs to be sold to a competent and financially competitive owner. I will keep championing this as long as I draw breath. Sugarman and Sakiewicz need to go!


    • I agree here. Also, they really should hire an experienced guy that Jim trusts to serve as an assistant coach. That’s like Coach Hiring 101 – when you hire a younger, inexperienced coach you think is going to be a big thing, give him a mentor.

      • He has that in Mike Sorber (well, I don’t know about the trust part of course).
        Former national team player and world cup vet, assisted with Bradley’s national team and in Marsch’s Montreal. I suspect that Curtin leans very heavily on Sorber when making decisions.

      • Huh. Didn’t realize Sorber had that much experience. Thanks for the correction.

  10. On M’bolhi – I’m frustrated that the team can’t get replacements because there’s no money, but hear me out. He’s a DP. Are we to be so naive that there is literally NO OTHER CASH to fill voids? No other partner or minority owner can “step up” and thrown some money into this mess? It’s what investors do with failing businesses all the time. It’s BS! Here’s a thought, why doesn’t Sak, who clearly orchestrated this move, do the right thing and donate HIS salary to the team to correct HIS wrong that JC seems so intent on covering up. If he’s a “partner/owner” he should have enough cash to live for a year. Better yet, the other investors/owners should demand his removal from the team. He should be a silent partner, a roll he’s most surely playing now as JC is saying it’s all on him.

    • Well Said! We can post about the on field issues and the media can continue to barely scratch the service of calling out the ownership and FO, but the real issue with this team IS the cheap ownership!


    • Are we sure he’s a DP? I’m pretty sure he was a DP last year only because of the transfer fee. His salary this year is something like 235k, which is below DP level (and less than what Le Toux makes, for instance).
      The only DPs on the Union right now are Edu, who is a true DP, and Aristeguieta, who is signed under the “young DP” rule.
      So M’Bohli’s salary is entirely paid by the salary cap, which means that the lack of flexibility it inflicts on the Union has nothing to do with how much the owners want to spend. (and everything to do with poor decision making)

    • I’d like to see Nicky Sak go as well. But this is mis-aimed. Sak could dump $20 million on the team’s budget as an “oops, I’m sorry” payment, and it won’t resolve the matter. Because MBohli’s salary remains on the books, which means most of it is being paid by MLS and counts against the team’s cap. And no amount of cash infusion from any of the partners will change that.

      • And… Hobo made my point 10 minutes before I finished typing. Which is what I get for answering somebody’s question at work, instead of ignoring it to rage on the internet properly…

      • I get what your saying, and I thought Rais was a current dp, but if someone dropped $20 million to payroll we’d be better than we are now. Just a general frustration that the team is payroll maxed yet LA Seattle and NYCFC can spend freely. We deserve better.

      • Jim Presti says:

        They can’t spend freely. They also have a cap. They can, however, spend freely on three players on their roster. More importantly they can spend freely on training, coaches, facilities, scouting, academy development etc

      • Even if the $500,000 salary that was recently speculated is true, it’s possible the Union used Funny Money to buy that down to under DP level.
        And I don’t think I agree with you about a rich owner dropping money. If the cap is full, it’s full. It doesn’t matter how much they have if there’s no room under the cap – and no special rules forthcoming from the league because we’re not LA, Seattle, or NY.

  11. With MBohli gone, I’m assuming he took his goalkeeper coach (Paul Grilo) with him? So, do we have any GK coaching now?

    • Nikolov was supposedly at Union practice recently wearing a suit. Of course, there could be a million reasons for that, but still.

    • i don’t know that this is true. i feel like i saw him in pictures taken at practice this week

  12. “You’d really think it’s the sort of thing someone ought to lose their job over.”
    Well said.
    Won’t happen, but well said.

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