Daily news roundups

“Things didn’t go as planned”: Mbolhi on his status, new Union jokes, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

Several French language outlets are quoting comments from Rais Mbolhi to L’Equipe about his current status with the Union. Mbolhi says, “Life changes, things change. My personal situation has changed. I’m still under long term contract with Philadelphia. Things did not go as planned with the club.”

Mbolhi added about the possibility of leaving the Union, “If proposals come to me (in Europe), I’ll think inevitably, yes.”

I have not been able to find the original report on L’Equipe, perhaps because it is a video report or a pod, perhaps because the website is in French and I don’t know French. Mbolhi’s comments are reported elsewhere at AfricaTopSports.com (crappy Google translation), Le Buteur (crappy Google translation), and Afrik.com (crappy Google translation). The Le Buteur report notes, “This plight currently facing Mbolhi is not really unusual for him, since he had to confront similar situations in the past,” and suggests, “Termination by agreement of the contract is feasible.” Afrik.com writes, “Rais M’Bolhi approaches a departure during the summer transfer window.” Stay tuned.

The look back on last weekend’s games at SBI says the Union are “in big trouble.” It continues,

Jim Curtin’s side had only 38.5 percent of the possession in the match, and were down 3-0 before the halftime whistle even blew. Curtin talked after the match about how some of his players kept grinding through the match while others “bailed out,” which is not exactly a great development when you’re only in the second month of the season.

Look, Curtin deserves some blame for what has gone on this season, but it’s not entirely his fault. He was handicapped by the disastrous and, still to this day, head-scratching addition of Rais Mbolhi and never got true replacements for the solid starting duo of Amobi Okugo and Carlos Valdes.

Curtin has promised to make changes to the lineup next week, but there’s just not a whole lot for him to work with on the squad right now. Throw in the fact that it sounds as if some players are already losing hope, and it’s shaping up to be a terrible season in Philadelphia.

The MLS week in review post at ASN has a “Who’s Not Hot” section. This week’s review begins, “Why, yes, the Union. After that drubbing by the Crew, Philadelphia is 1-5-3 and has allowed 17 goals. SEVENTEEN!!!” The passage continues,

Somewhere in Colorado, former starting goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who was shuttled this winter, is probably laughing. Meanwhile, Andre Blake, the Jamaican international goalkeeper whom the Union traded ­up to take first overall in the 2014 draft, has started one career MLS game—and that was last year.

While the Union’s defensive woes aren’t all on the goalkeepers, at some point team management needs to find out what it has in Blake. It certainly couldn’t be much worse.

Seventeen goals allowed in 810 minutes of play. In the latest Inside Doop at CSN Philly, Dave Zeitlin notes, “In the 178 minutes that Carroll and Lahoud have been on the field together this season, the Union have allowed eight goals and scored only two.” Mercy.

Noting that Columbus “put a beatdown on the Philadelphia Union Saturday night,” Empire of Soccer’s week in review post continues, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Union’s keeper made some mistakes.”

The Crew’s Ethan Finlay has been named Player of the Week at SBI and ProSoccerTalk for his two-goal performance against the Union last Saturday. Fabinho is the punchline for both awards, with Finlay “dusting” the Brazilian at SBI, and ProSoccerTalk writing, “Rumor has it that Fabinho tried to catch some Z’s on the Union’s short flight back to Philly, but kept waking up in a cold sweat after nightmares of Finlay racing past him played over and over again in his head.” The joke is on ProSoccerTalk, of course, because everyone knows the reason Fabinho couldn’t get any sleep on the flight back to Philly was because he had already caught some Zs on the pitch at Mapfre Stadium. Zing! (Sigh. At least the press is coming up with new jokes to replace the goalkeeper jokes that have been circulating since Mbolhi’s arrival, right? Always look on the bright side, and all that.)

In the power rankings at SI, the Union remain at No. 19: “Put anybody in the Philadelphia goal–it’s not going to matter if the defense doesn’t vastly improve in front of the man between the sticks.”

At Soccer America, the Union drop to No. 20: “The Union is not inept in front of goal (10 goals scored) but it can’t stop anybody. A 4-1 mauling in Columbus upped its goals allowed total to 17, five more than any other MLS team. Collectively and individually, Philly didn’t measure up and should expect a harsh reception if it can’t get off to a good start at home Saturday against TFC.”

Brotherly Game notes the sighting of Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz on the broadcast of Bournemouth’s win over Bolton to gain promotion to the Premier League. A team spokesperson confirmed to Brotherly Game that Sakiewicz was at the game, saying, “Sakiewicz has a lot of connections with teams overseas and that Bournemouth extended a personal invite.” If he’s there for fun, it better not be on the Union’s dime. If he’s not there for fun, what is he there for?

More on Saturday’s loss in Columbus at The Sports Quotient.

Union Academy

The Union Academy’s Rayshaun McGann, with the US U-15s at the Tournament Delle Nazioni in Slovenia, went the full 90 in Sunday’s 6-2 win over Croatia. McGann did not dress for the tournament opening 4-1 win over Costa Rica on Saturday. As you know, the US U-15s are coached by former Union head coach John Hackworth.

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph rounds up some recent college commitments from Union Academy players.


The Royal Gazette notes the equalizing goal from Harrisburg City Islander Dante Leverock, a Bermuda national team defender, in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Charlotte Independence. More on the game from Port City Daily and Brotherly Game.

The Georgetown men’s team has announced its 2014 season awards and winning Most Improved Player Award was senior forward Austin Martz (Mechanicsburg, Pa.). Keegan Rosenberry (Ronks, Pa.) and Josh Turnley (Beaver, Pa.) were among a quartet of defenders named co-captains, a position that Rosenberry also filled in 2014.

St. Joseph’s Prep’s Jim Murray is stepping down as the school’s athletic director (and from teaching math) to retire but will continue to coach the varsity soccer team.


With CONCACAF confirming that no mechanism exists in the Champions League tournament rules for Montreal to appeal the yellow card that will see starting goalkeeper Evan Bush miss Wednesday’s deciding game of the final (unless he had been shown a card that should have gone to another player), the Impact have acquired goalkeeper Kristian Nicht from NASL side Indy Eleven. Nicht had previously twice been on loan to Montreal. More at Montreal Impact, Montreal Gazette, Indy ElevenIndy Star, and MLSsoccer.com.

The Telegraph on the support the Impact have received from across the league.

Former Union man Michael Farfan was named to the MLS Team of the Week after earning his first start at central mid for DC.

Albuquerque Business First on a nine-year plan to get PDL side Albuquerque Sol FC into MLS.

Could Hartford, Conn. soon be the home of a new NASL franchise?


The AP reports, “French prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that construction company Vinci gravely mistreated migrant workers in Qatar as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.”

At ASN, Brian Sciaretta talks to New York native Jack Stefanowski, the head coach of the Nepal national team, about the devastating earthquake that struck the country on Saturday.

At SI, Jonathan Wilson on what would have happened if the Uruguay team that won the 1930 World Cup had played Austria’s “Wunderteam” of the same era.


  1. I’m not even mad at Rais anymore. In his absence the entire team has bee playing like he played in goal. We can’t send em all to France. A couple yea but not all of them.

  2. i wonder if sak is in england to try to facilitate one of those goofy adu-kleberson type swaps where both players terminate their contracts and the other teams picks up the other player. i thought i remembered that being a thing that can happen because both teams cancelled their contracts rather than selling them

  3. el pachyderm says:

    Juventus ceded their first goal in 14 matches I believe against Torino this week – matter of fact the last team to score a gol, score a gol mind you in league play was Parma about six weeks ago.
    Never mind that I think the game could have been fixed to produce a lowly Parma beating mighty Juve storyline – which is not above Serie A mentality – but can you imagine a team only allowing one gol in a dozen or so games?
    1 gol – roughly 1260 minutes for Juventus
    17 gols – 800 minutes for Onion
    I get it we are certainly not Juventus but come on. Clean sheets are a part of the game – they are a part of what displays quality in a team – that is greater than 2 goals EVERY game.

  4. If you want to boycott the Union but want to watch some nice soccer (that is more fun to watch than the Union) then come on Saturday at 4pm to Tee’s in Conshohocken. The LMSC Lightning U18 team will play one of their last games in the area (except for some State Cup games later in June) before the players go off to College (except for 3 juniors on the team). Quite a few players on the Union’s U18 team used to play on this team and the team is coached by the Haverford College soccer coach, Shane Rineer, and the Shipley soccer coach, Thom Shauerman. The game is part of US Youth Soccer’s Champions League. Full schedule and more details can be found here: http://events.gotsport.com/events/schedule.aspx?EventID=41412&ApplicationID=2609469

    • Guido, thanks for the input. But, lets be honest with ourselves. Club ball……LMSC, Coppa, etc………….is now “B” division footy. The DA is the “A” division, your EPYSA clubs are now “B” division. Are there a few decent players here or there that opt out of the academy for whatever reason……yes, is the general quality what it used to be……before the DA…….an emphatic NO. Club ball is going the way of high school ball………..its just providing a recreational outlet. The academy is the future, like it or not. I think in each state, you’ll find one good club where the kids who didn’t want to go to the academy…all come together to play…..outside of that squad………….B and C division footy.

      • Thanks for the negative feedback. Instead, you should have come to the game and given feedback afterwards.
        Also, FYI the U18 DA is playing away. So for anyone who wants to be entertained and boycott the Union, this is the game to watch this Saturday!

      • Having said that Guido, they produce a lot of the kids that are in the local DAs and do one of the best jobs around at the younger age groups, so if I came of as a prick……I apologize;)

      • Ali a prick???? Impossible!

  5. Fun to remember the days when Sakiewicz was (supposedly) giving up on the technical side of decisionmaking. Looking like same ol’ Union again…

    • Well the first rule of any job is to make yourself indispensable. Who else in the Union organization has the contacts Sak has? Albright has MLS contacts but not much more than that. This is why Nicky can be such an insufferable shit, he know that unless the Union hire a GM or a Technical Director with comparable contacts they will always need him and he swill always be able to influence player acquisitions. eeing that Sak is in charge of hiring GM’s and Technical Directors that will never happen.

      • this is spot on and makes a lot of sense. and it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that this team will fix its problems

      • Plus he is entrenched by being one of the owners – see below – tough to change that, unless the other owners have a majority share and are motivated to do so…
        The Union is owned by Keystone Sports & Entertainment, a group of investors led by Jay Sugarman, chief executive of iStar Financial. The other investors include Christopher Buccini, Robert Buccini, and David Pollin – co-founders of the Buccini/Pollin Group; William Doran, a Philadelphia lawyer employed by the SEI Investments Company; James Nevels; the founder of the Swarthmore Group and a long-term veteran of the securities and investment industry; Paula Mandle, the chief executive officer of the Swarthmore Group; and Nick Sakiewicz, a Major League Soccer veteran formerly employed with the New York Red Bulls and the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny

  6. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    PSP: I love you guys commenting on the financials of Sak’s UK trip. Can we have more of this? I am serious. If the club is always claiming poverty, they ought to be open to some concerted scrutiny of what they *are* spending club money on rather than, say, a left back. Maybe good fodder for a regular series?

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agree. I think that it’s about time to start calling “Rats”, “Rats”. Yeah, the Union brass might not like it…but FUCK THE UNION BRASS!

    • Maybe he had a business rendevous with Rene Meulensteen . . but pictures of that meeting are NSFW

    • I commented this same thing over at BG. If it was a “personal invite” and not related to the Union, I hope he’s not writing off his Presidential Suite, First Class round trip tickets, etc. as a business expense for the Union. Follow up PSP!

      • The Chopper says:

        It is possible that Sak is in Europe seeking additional investors for the team.

        Several European Clubs and investors are toying with the possibility of some kind of investment in MLS after seeing Man City jump in.

        I would not be surprised if he was not looking for players, but looking for dollars.

      • Awesome we’ll end up with Mike Ashley, since we’re essentially Newcastle east already.
        “You mean I don’t have to improve the team AND can’t possibly be relegated? Where do I sign?”

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    “Things didn’t go as planned” – Who knew?

    • el pachyderm says:

      My guess? My best guess on what went wrong……
      …. Rais spent 30 minutes trying to navigate The Roosevelt Boulevard and said WTF is this – I can’t play here.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        To this day the crossovers from the inner to the outer drive (and vice versa) are the most bat shit insane thing I’ve ever come across on a roadway. Love ’em. Haha

  8. Is it the most Union thing ever to be starting a guy at keeper who wasn’t even on the team when M’Bohli was signed last year? And he was signed to take over for a first round pick and wasn’t playing terribly, but had the #1 overall pick looming in his shadow.

    To recap: The team dumped Seitz and Knighton to get Mondragon (huge upgrade), then drafted Zac to replace Mondragon, who was chased away by Nowak and the pathetic excuse for a front office. We drafted Blake #1 overall to, supposedly, replace Zac at some point. We then got M’Bohli for no real reason, and spent a lot on him, only for him to be maybe the worst of all the above (I’ll give Seitz a pass, he was young and it was an expansion team, and he’s playing well now). We then pick up a good USL Pro goalie to back-up Blake, but he is starting because M’Bohli sucks and Blake was hurt and because it’s just a very Union thing to do. So we’ve basically come full circle, dumping 2 franchise goalies in the mean-time, over-spending on a mediocre World Cup vet, and starting a back-up over the #1 pick in the draft. It’s becoming so easy to get behind this team …

    • james Lockerbie says:

      M’bohli was Nick ‘s look at the big fish I got. You know he was in a little tournament last summer. We were supposed to be impressed. Instead the announcement went as well as a fart in church

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Mondragon wasn’t chased away, he left, wanting to finish his career at home. But I see your point.
      What’s beyond absurd is that goalkeeper is usually the most stable position. We were set at multiple times (Mondragon, Zac, Blake) over our short six year history at goalkeeper… yet somehow it’s a complete mess now. It takes work to undue and F up something that is basically an after thought.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        At the time we were told Mondragon wasn’t chased away…After what happened next (Le Toux, Califf, Mawanga), that became a somewhat less believable statement.

  9. While these guys are playing terribly (especially in Columbus without their leading goal-scorer and a few other key pieces, but I keep thinking about those first two games where the refs blew calls that cost us four points in the standings. Two missed penalties against Colorado) and a phantom penalty to RSL. The U would be sitting on 10 points and many fewer punchlines. I tell my kids that you play with the referee you got, but it is truly a game where subtle changes are everything.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Bollocks. Ref, or not…this team sucks! If we were sitting on 10 pts; we would be a very poor team…with 10 pts. It all comes out in the wash, eventually. This team was waiting to be exposed.

    • I hear what you’re saying, and the RSL call still pisses me off, but at the same time I’m also of the opinion that if you need to depend on referee’s decisions to beat Colorado, you’re not in a good place to begin with, ya know?


      Ultimately, this team was going to be found out for lack of depth. We have injuries to Nando and Nogs, Pfeffer with the U-20’s and we are incapable of fielding a competitive squad. Even by MLS standards, that is a staggering lack of depth. 10 points though 9 or 6 points through 9, this was always gonna rear it’s head. I suppose better now than later though. Hopefully we can at least start to incorporate the young guys – Pfeffer, McLaughlin, Blake, Ayuk – give them a decent amount of time to acclimate and see what we’ve got.


      Or, we could always just keep starting Fabinho….

  10. Current European goalkeeper playing for Bournemouth, on loan from Southampton (whom Sak also has connections to) … would NOT be shocked if he was making a play for Artur Boruc.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      If he comes here I’m gonna puke. Literally puke.

      • el pachyderm says:

        A goaltending turnstile to rival the Philadelphia Flyers. No truer words have been spoken.

    • If Sak has connections to Southampton, than it seems he isn’t listening to a word they have to say. What that club has done is amazing……..they are hard not to like.

  11. James Lockerbie says:

    I know my fellow psp readers are pretty smart and talented so I am going to ask, Can someone out there edit tomorrow’s press conference with some timely Statler & Waldorf on what the fans are thinking as the presser goes on.

    I think that would be pretty entertaining.

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