Daily news roundups

Time for Blue and Gold to see Red, Konopka could start for TFC, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Jim Curtin said earlier this week that it’s too early to talk about “must-win” games but Saturday’s home game against Toronto (4 pm, 6abc, MLS Live, Direct Kick) surely feels like one to most fans. Curtin said changes to the lineup that “bailed” so miserably against Columbus will be coming as the team battles for confidence to return to the squad. Speaking of the confidence issue, Curtin said, “The only way you do it is to go through the 90 minutes and come out on top.” Fans could use a return of confidence — as well as a win — too.

Previews from PSP, InquirerPhilly Soccer NewsBrotherly GameMLSsoccer.com, Toronto FC, Prost Amerikathe GuardianSky Sports, and MLSGB.

Michael Bradley said of facing the Union, “We have a lot of respect for them. In this league sometimes the most dangerous teams are the ones that haven’t been playing particularly well…Physically they’re a strong team and they’re dangerous when they win the ball and are able to counter…We have to go in there with total respect for them regardless of the way they started and know that it’s not going to be an easy game.”

The latest injury report at the league website lists for the Union:

OUT: M Eric Bird (hernia repair recovery)

F Antoine Hoppenot (left hamstring strain, DNP 4/25)

F Fernando Aristeguieta (left quad strain, DNP 4/25)

M Vincent Nogueira (right ankle sprain, DNP 4/25)

QUESTIONABLE: D Steven Vitoria (right groin injury)

For Toronto, goalkeeper Joe Bendik is questionable for Saturday’s game with a foot injury (although he’s not listed on the injury report). Head coach Greg Vanney said, “It’s nothing serious…It’s an opportunity, should Joe not be able to go, for somebody to show us what they have and what they’re capable of doing.”

If Bendik can’t play, who is likely to start? Former Union goalkeeper Chris Konopka, according to a tweet from the team. His last MLS start? For the Union in the 1-0 road loss against Toronto on May 26, 2012 that turned out to be Peter Nowak’s last game in league play as Union head coach. More on Toronto’s injury status and options at Toronto Sun and Waking the Red.

At ESPN, the collection of storylines heading into this weekend’s MLS games is click-baitingly headlined, “As Eastern Conference powers collide, is it curtains for the Union’s Jim Curtin.” Under the subheading “Curtains for Curtin?”, Doug McIntyre writes,

It’s not as if anyone expected the Philadelphia Union to be world beaters this season…but few could have predicted that Jim Curtin’s team would be quite this bad two months into the new campaign…Now, after last week’s embarrassing 4-1 loss in Columbus, Saturday’s home match against free-spending Toronto FC feels like a must-win.

Curtin has promised lineup changes. But no matter who takes the field for the home side, wresting three points from a TFC team that’s also trying to turn things around won’t be easy. The Reds’ high-priced trio of Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco impressed in last Sunday’s morale-boosting road win in Orlando. If Toronto’s big three are truly beginning to find their groove, it could be another long day for the hosts.

Another loss probably wouldn’t mean curtains for Curtin — not yet, anyway. But it would also keep his name atop the list of MLS coaches who might not survive 2015 with his job.

The Guardian notes the contrast between Toronto, “on the face of it so far, a unified force,” and “the now-ironically named Union”:

For both clubs, this is a high-pressure affair. A loss for TFC to the lowly Union would likely reignite concerns over Vanney, whilst another collapse at home to an ostensibly beatable team will only add to the furore at PPL Park.

The New York Times on Toronto having to open the season with seven road games because of renovations at BMO Field.

Fellow SB Nation blogs Brotherly Game and Waking the Red ask one another three questions ahead of Saturday’s game.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George examines how Zach Pfeffer is becoming an important part of the Union’s midfield. “He’s entrenched himself as the reserve option to both Nogueira’s No. 8 role and Cristian Maidana at the No. 10 as well as an alternative on the wings. The former role, which he’ll likely occupy against Toronto FC this week, has forced him to accelerate the development of his defensive game, a major facet of his projected growth this season.” More on Pfeffer at CSN Philly.

SBI’s projected 21-player US roster for the upcoming U-20 World Cup does not include Zach Pfeffer. Local lads Zack Steffen and Russell Canouse are on the projected roster. The US begins play in Group A at the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand against Myanmar on May

Also at Brotherly Game, Matt Reppert considers how the Union are “squandering their chance at relevance in the Philadelphia sports scene.”

ESPN’s look at the MLS season so far says, “Bringing up the rear, Philadelphia can be grateful that Montreal have been distracted by Champions League commitments and leaves of absences to keep them off the bottom. It’s looking like another long season for the Union faithful.”.

Philadelphia Union Foundation executive director Rick Jacobs on the team’s ongoing support of Chester’s Community Safe Corridors program: “We’re a big stadium, but we’re not a big organization. We try to do a lot of little things that add up to something big.”

There’s video of the Union Foundation’s recent Cocktails and Cleats fundraising event up on YouTube.

Sons of Ben

The latest newsletter from the Sons of Ben notes board members will be available for informal meetings at the SoB tailgate before Saturday’s game. “If you believe the Sons of Ben should make a statement about the state of the team, come tell us your suggestions and why you feel that way.  This will be relatively informal, but depending on the demand will depend on how everything is addressed.  If you have something to say in a respectful manner and have some ideas, we would like to see you.”

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road again this weekend, this time to face Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday at 7 pm (YouTube).

The La Salle men’s team has released its 2015 schedule.

MLS

At Vice Sports, Jorge Arangure Jr. writes of the league’s efforts to rally support for Montreal in the CONCACAF Champions League final,

During the buildup to both legs of the final, MLS focused its social media effort (#MLS4Montreal) on getting league fans to root for Montreal by suggesting that an Impact win would propel the league to international respect. Of course, the notion that a single victory in a single tournament could do wonders for MLS’s reputation belies a vast inferiority complex; more pertinently, the idea that winning the absurdly constructed CONCACAF tournament—which matches club teams from the region in a UEFA Champions League-type competition that mirrors UEFA’s competition in name only—is downright laughable…

MLS’s strength should be measured via its growing economic muscle: new stadiums, higher expansion fees, and increased television revenues. Each year, the league attracts better players. Attendance keeps rising. Worrying about how a handful of teams perform in a silly tournament should be beneath MLS. Only it isn’t. And that’s a problem. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t make yourself a joke.

Yep.

At ASN, Brian Sciaretta says MLS has itself to blame for its CONCACAF Champions League failings. ESPN  and ProSoccerTalk believe it all comes down to money.

The Washington Times on how former Union man Michael Farfan is helping to stabilize DC’s midfield.

Questions are again being raised about NYRB’s commitment to the US Open Cup tournament. The team is scheduled to host Chelsea in the International Champions Cup tournament, which is more money-making exhibition than a legitimately meaningful tournament, on July 22. The US Open Cup quarterfinals — which, of course, the Red Bulls may or may not reach — are scheduled to be played July 21-22. More at New York Post and Big Apple Soccer.

New Didier Drogba and Ronaldinho to MLS rumors – huzzah!

Minnesota United president Bill McGuire says building a stadium for the new MLS franchise will be “very difficult” if tax breaks aren’t secured this year. However, McGuire says the team will be flexible in how it gains the tax breaks, including the possibility that the stadium could be publicly owned. More at MPR, Pioneer Press, and Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Outgoing University of Miami president Donna Shalala believes the school’s American football team sharing David Beckham’s MLS Miami stadium, wherever that might be, is an idea worth pursuing.

US

USWNT defender Ali Krieger talks to the Washington Post about recovering from the concussion she recently suffered during NWSL play ahead of the upcoming World Cup.

Fox Sports details the studio analysts who will be a part of the network’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup.

According to the FIFA website, the USMNT will play Guatemala in Nashville on July 3 in what would be the final warm-up game before the start of Gold Cup group play against Honduras in Frisco on July 7. No confirmation yet from US Soccer but the latest American Outlaws newsletter says to expect an announcement on Monday. More at the Nashville Post, The Tennessean, and WSMV.

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “A new Spanish law governing the sale of television rights to broadcast football matches and the distribution of the income, was approved by the government on Thursday.” The new law means Barcelona and Real Madrid will no longer be able to negotiate their own TV deals, and that’s a good thing.

Checkout the latest Footy on the Telly for the upcoming week’s listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio.

32 Comments

  1. el pachyderm says:

    Drogba and Ronaldinho to MLS would be the disgrace…not hoping we show well in CONCACAF Champions League.

    • Agreed. It can’t be bad to have an MLS team play in Japan for that little champions tournament. On the other side, it would be fun watching Drogba or Ronaldinho injured on someone’s bench. Of course I’d never put it past being ours! Also I would love to read the comments on this site if they were here! Side note. Not wishing an injury to anyone.

    • The Black Hand says:

      They’re all coming. We are the retirement community, for fading stars.

      • alicat215 says:

        easy paycheck. Its the footballers 401K……..Stevie G: $6 million for what?…….18 months?

      • el pachyderm says:

        totally bat shit insane crazy.

      • The Black Hand says:

        If it raises the quality (overall) of the MLS, I don’t mind it. However, it appears that only 4 or 5 teams are going to benefit from these “stars”…and we ain’t one of ’em.

      • alicat215 says:

        I actually like the idea of not being a destination of the world’s fading elite……youth, youth, and more youth…….be THAT club!

      • alicat215 says:

        then SELL, SELL, SELL! (Think Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack……..”everybody’s selling?….then BUY, BUY, BUY!)

      • alicat215 says:

        It also sells tickets. Case in point, my father and brother are life-long Reds, we do not play LA at home this year. I am planning on joining my pops and bro to either DC or NY….just to watch their beloved Stevie G…….I’m sure their not the only ones…….Reds from all over the country will go to watch Stevie G. Shit, half the stadium will be in red wherever he goes!

      • The Black Hand says:

        I wouldn’t mind a Gerrard, honestly. He’ll still have enough left in the tank to bust seams.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I’m going to. Stevie G is my guy. Phenomenal player…pure class, throughout his storied career. YNWA.
        .
        He and Keane are going to light it up.

      • alicat215 says:

        I don’t think he’s too happy at LFC right now………he should be starting more matches than he does. Especially since their interior hasn’t looked that great……….Stevie G or Joe Allen? Really? BR has Reds scratching their collective heads this year. My pops wants to strangle Brenden Rogers…..

      • The Black Hand says:

        Here lies the class and loyalty of a Steven Gerrard; His self-awareness, of his footballing form, are so keen that he knows that he can no longer deliver what the Reds need from him. Instead of hanging around and taking away from the club (No manager is going to keep Gerrard on the bench…and he doesn’t have the form that we need…nor does he have an actual position-of-strength, anymore); Gerrard opts to leave (the entire continent). That’s loyalty. Gerrard is Liverpool…and that will never change. Pure class.
        .
        In his current form, Stevie can no longer hang, as an attacking-mid (We’re stacked there). He really can’t cover the DMid, effectively. His choice to leave is best for both sides. Rodgers had nothing to do with that. Gerrard recognized it and made the call.
        .
        As for Rodgers, I’d give him another year. John Henry needs to give Brendan the cash needed to hook and bring in the big-fish…a top-level striker (No CL will hurt the cause). Rodgers has, actually, done well with his signings (Coutinho, Sturridge*, EMRE CAN, Alberto Moreno). His ‘misses’ will come around. Lovren will come back to form. Lallana is dead nasty. MArkovich will come to fruition. I don’t even hate Balo, though he doesn’t fit our system (High Press). Tell the Old Man to hold steady…we are going to be very formidable next year.
        .
        Key injuries (Daniel Fucking Sturridge) and adjusting players has doomed us this year.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Watch Joe Allen’s game closely. He’s actually very effective…just small.

      • alicat215 says:

        I hear most of what your saying TBH……except the Joe Allen part! Is he good footballer that would make a lot of clubs happy, yes. Do I expect better from LFC ( and this is from a Gooner!) as far as an impacting CM, yes. As far as Stevie G, I think the last couple matches…..besides the stomp….he played well and was an impact guy out there. But, I also agree that he handcuffs you ….you have to hide him in there now too….and compensate so you don’t get exposed. But yeah, class……he is LFC through and through. Balo cost you a goal on Tuesday……

      • alicat215 says:

        easy money……if they can deal with shyte footy, small pitches, and half empty stadiums……..

      • The Black Hand says:

        Yep.

  2. Looks like the Injury Report has changed a bit, for what it’s worth…
    OUT: M Eric Bird (hernia repair recovery)
    QUESTIONABLE: F Fernando Aristeguieta (left quad strain, DNP 4/25)
    M Vincent Nogueira (right ankle sprain, DNP 4/25)
    D Steven Vitoria (right groin injury)
    M Brian Carroll (left calf strain/right hamstring strain)
    D Raymond Lee (left quad strain)

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/injuries

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    At the end of the paragraph on the U-20 World Cup, the date is missing.

  4. el pachyderm says:

    I love when Shaka Hislop talks about MLS. I give him some credit, he studies a bit and is capable of carrying on the conversation…I mean it is ESPN FC- wholly American so he better…. but I wonder what he really is thinking…. Cascadia Cup? Is that a beer too?
    .
    .
    .
    I’m just freewheeling now for something to talk about. I’m a bit bored.

    • alicat215 says:

      Joey Barton is the best…….he’s lived it too. I love when him and Wynalda get into it. The look on Barton’s face is priceless…….like dude, who are you talking too, where did you play again? At least that was the look a few years ago………I think their drinking buddies now…….

      • George H says:

        Warren Barton. If Wynalda got into it with Joey Barton, he’d get a cigar in the eye.

      • alicat215 says:

        yeah, wtf was I thinking? Hahaha…..yeah, Joey would have stabbed him on camera!

      • pragmatist says:

        Ah…let me dream of Joey Barton on the Union. We may not win many more games, but we’d win all the fights!

      • alicat215 says:

        Joey Barton is probably the only type of DP we could get here……and we would love him. Our chant would be……yeah, you won…..but can you kick our DP’s ass?

      • alicat215 says:

        He would have full ownership of the locker room within ten seconds……….Mbohli would be sitting in France with two black eyes…….Wenger would have concussion symptoms for “an unknown reason”, Le Toux would be catatonic and just not speaking to anyone, scared shitless, and Casey would be a “top bloke”and those two would be best friends…….

      • alicat215 says:

        Oh yeah,……and he would have head butted Ayuk for celebrating 3-0 down! Probably on the pitch…..and gotten another red card!

      • Yea, we’d have the “Philly Tough” angle covered…

      • The Black Hand says:

        Joey Barton…from Northeast-east-east-east-east Philly!!

  5. The Black Hand says:

    Kolo Toure would look nice in the Union CB pairing.
    .
    Does Jeff Parke have a club???
    .
    Can somebody do something!!!!

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