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Mbolhi is…back? More Union news

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

PSP readers may have encountered some site outages on Tuesday. PSP uses the WordPress content management system. A message we received on Tuesday from the company that hosts the PSP website says, “After the last WordPress update, some sites were experiencing issues with this Varnish cache error. We have since corrected the issue and everything is up and running the way it should be.” Hopefully, the outages will now cease.

Philadelphia Union

“What could possibly happen next,” has been a question in the minds of many Union fans as head shaking moment after head shaking moment piles up in this cursed 2015 season. A tweet from the Union on Tuesday was just one more head shaking moment:

Reaction among fans on social media, to put it politely, was not favorable.

While we wait for comment from Jim Curtin in today’s weekly press conference (12:30 pm, YouTube), here are a few things to consider:

  • Jim Curtin’s part in Mbolhi’s return is unknown but doubtful. Nevertheless, Curtin said in the Mbolhi benching press conference on April 8, “As the head coach, I’m responsible for all of the decisions that are made here. It’s not up to the players, it’s not up to Nick, it’s not up to Jay Sugarman. I have the final say, I make the decisions to move this team forward.”
  • Still, Curtin also left the door open to Mbolhi’s reurn in the same press conference. Asked when the goalkeeper could return, Curtin said, “That’ll be up to me, also…he’ll take some time away, reflect on some things, things he can do better, things he can improve on — just like I do after we lose, you know? He’s a professional and I expect him to come back better than ever” (emphasis added).
  • Various reports have underscored the assumption that the Union will do everything possible to find a taker for Mbolhi in the summer transfer window, with interest in him already reported from Turkish clubs. The question of who was behind Mbolhi’s return aside, given the Union’s obviously poor bargaining position in negotiating a transfer, Mbolhi returning to training with the Union — and, who knows, perhaps starting a game or two — is likely necessary for simply maintaining whatever transfer value he has.
  • Related to the transfer issue is Mbolhi’s position within the Algeria national team. The roster for Algeria’s friendly against Seychelles on June 13 was announced today and Mbolhi is not among the 23-players named (crappy Google translation here). An Mbolhi that, in addition to not playing for the Union, is not playing for Algeria, is a far less valuable commodity. Of course, one factor in Mbolhi’s return could simply be that he knew he would not going to be called up by Algeria.
  • Nevertheless, whatever short term value there may be in Mbolhi returning if the club does intend to transfer him must be weighed against whatever damage might be done to the process of establishing Andre Blake as the team’s starting goalkeeper in the long term.
  • Of course, his return to training doesn’t mean he will be starting.

If Mbolhi’s return was not endorsed by Curtin, is an under-fire head coach working to get a struggling side back on track being undermined by forces above him? If so, consider the following passage from ASN on Tuesday:

At some point Union ownership needs to look for the common denominator in the club’s perennial failure and under-achieving. Head coaches and players and technical directors have come and gone while hands-on CEO Nick Sakiewicz remains. The problem for Union fans is that Sakiewicz has sweat equity in the club and that gives him an ownership stake that makes him hard to remove.

But the Sons of Ben are some of the best fans in MLS and deserve better. If Sakiewicz can’t orchestrate a turn-around, he should fall on his sword and realize the club might be better off with others running things, at least on the soccer side of the business.

The quote is from a Week in Review post and not about Mbolhi’s return. But, as the saying goes, it’s all connected.

The latest Union Injury Report from the league:

OUT: M Eric Bird (hernia repair recovery)

M Vincent Nogueira (right ankle sprain, DNP 5/2)

D Steven Vitoria (right groin injury, DNP 5/2)

M Brian Carroll (left calf strain/right hamstring strain, DNP 5/2)

D Raymond Lee (left quad strain, DNP 5/2)

M Michael Lahoud (lower body injury)

More on the Toronto game at Brotherly Game.

In MLSsoccer.com’s power rankings, the Union sit last at No. 20. ESPN has them at No. 18.

In case you missed it, Zach Pfeffer was the guest on Tuesday night’s 90th Minute Radio Show.

Danny Cruz made his Tippeligaen debut with Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt on Sunday. Some 17 minutes later, he was out of the game after receiving a boot to the face. If that wasn’t bad enough, he got another boot to the face in training on Sunday. Glimt press officer Kent Andre Aagnes told MLSsoccer.com, “Unfortunately, it happened again in training the day after, so he got to go to the hospital to get some more stitches. He will not miss any games.” Glimt face FK Mjølner in NM Cupen play on Wednesday.

Has former Union head coach Peter Nowak been named head coach of the Antigua and Barbuda national team?

Local

Harrisburg’s Ken Tribett, who scored two goals — his first ever professional goals — in the 4-0 win over Wilmington last week, has been named to the USL Team of the Week.

Philadelphia Union Academy alums Darius Madison, Brett Campbell, and Colton Storm will return to Reading United this season. Reading start the 2015 season on the road on May 16 against new PDL side Lehigh Valley United.

The Temple women’s team has announced their 2015 schedule.

MLS

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young reviews the new roster rules.

Sebastian Lletge to LA Galaxy?

Are Crystal Palace looking to make a move for Montreal’s Nigel Reo-Coker?

Kevin-Prince Boateng is reportedly considering a move to MLS — and not China.

US

Looks like Fox will win the English-language rights to next year’s Copa América Centenario.

Elsewhere

A German documentary crew was arrested, interrogated by police and military intelligence, and their equipment confiscated, in Qatar at the end of March. The documentary crew were working on a film about working conditions in the construction of infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. The crew was finally allowed to leave the country on April 2 after the intervention of the German embassy. More at Reporters Without Borders.

Reuters reports, “Diego Maradona launched a blistering attack on Sepp Blatter on Monday saying that FIFA had descended into anarchy with the 79-year-old Swiss as president.”

31 Comments

  1. i don’t understand why this organization can’t just keep it simple. why is there always some ridiculous drama or extremely boneheaded decision being made. it drives me up the wall

  2. It would be ironic if Mbolhi ended up starting again and playing well, thus somehow justifying the decision to sign him. Please, please don’t.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Mbolhi can be Blake’s backup. Then they’ll find a buyer for him 2 days before the start of the Gold Cup.

  4. Run Blake, run!!!!!

    Joking aside, and this being a cheaply run club, they weren’t going to pay mbolhi to sit in a Parisienne cafe. And besides, at this point does it really matter?

  5. Soccer is supposed to make me happy… this team no longer makes me happy and hasn’t for a while now. I’m actually glad that i will be missing the next two home matches (first ones i’ve missed in about 2 years or so). To Hell with them…

  6. News this morning that both Blake and McCarthy aren’t practicing because of injury was nearly too much to take. This team is (at best) a red rubber nose short of being a total clown car. I have no idea who is going to step out of it, or disappear within, on any given day.

    The crazy thing, is that Mbolhi being back and starting is not bad news. We saw absolutely nothing better out of McCarthy in his starts. Blake’s absence continues to be a mystery to most fans and observers. Perhaps Sak did ask for Mbolhi to return, and given what we’ve seen during his absence, that actually makes sense. The opportunity to replace him was there and Curtin failed to fill the position.

    I still think 90 percent of the blame for this disaster is on Sak. Investing in Mbolhi, even if he played well, was at best a poor decision. This team clearly needs that money invested elsewhere. That the signing has quite literally exploded in our faces is ultimately his fault as well. This team has been absolutely paralyzed by this nonsense. It’s truly agonizing.

    The gentlemanly thing for Sak to do is fall on his sword, acknowledge that he was not successful over these last five years, resign his position (he doesn’t have to give up his ownership stake) and find an experienced executive who can take his place and build a decent organization. The fans want a winning soccer club, not a circus act.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Swords cost money.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Listening to the press conference and both are out this week. Blake is out long term with a knee injury (will need surgery). McCarthy had a concussion so is out until he is symptom free for 6 days.
      .
      Curtin is not committing to starting Mbolhi Saturday. They need to get someone on loan as a backup anyway, so the loanee may start.

  7. Bring Mbolhi back has to be one of the dumbest possible decisions the team could make. If Blake and McCarthy are out, sign a short term contract with the Islander’s keeper. Anything to keep Mbolhi from playing for the Union again. He seems to be miserable and played like crap. The players doesn’t appear to like him. The coach has no faith in him. The fans hate him and will never be behind him. It’s not going to work so cut bait. Let it go.

    Or to paraphrase Futurama, “This decision is so terrible I think it gave me cancer!”

    • The Chopper says:

      They may have had no choice but to allow Mbolhi to come back. Curtin said as much in his press conference. He is healthy and has not violated any team rules and is under contract. If he wants to train he has to and perhaps his agent suggested he did. They have no basis for keeping him away from the club. He is easier to transfer or loan if he is training.

      The Fact that he now has to play is part of the incredible cosmic disaster that is the Union.

  8. Tell the boys in Antigua and Barbuda to start hydrating now.

  9. I’ve come to the realization that the only reason I continue to support this team is out of morbid curiosity of what happens next! Hollywood writers couldn’t dream up crap like this on a regular basis

  10. Let’s be completely honest…mbolhi is a better keeper; McCarthy gave himself a concussion throwing a pass! Signing Mbolhi was epically bad but he is not the reason this club has its fans creating support groups to help deal with the insanity

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agree 100%. They got worse since M’Bohli left, so it could be said that he was/is not the reason for the club’s current standing. I’m not defending Rais’ speculated childish behavior. I’m not making him the scapegoat, either. M’Bohli finding his form is good for the club. We need SOMETHING good!

    • If M’Bohli is the best option at keeper then he should start. It’s been 5+ years of head-scratching lineup decisions and questionable personnel decisions. I desperately want this team to win, so at this point I will take M’Bohli and his crap over McCarthy if it’s the best chance to win.

      • M’Bohli can be a beast between the pipes. Just watch the 2010 World Cup game, Algeria vs USA, or the 2014 World cup + Africa Cup of nations. The talent is there, but he seems to suck at the club level for some reason but lets stop being so short sighted. Not too long ago, Mourinho (when he was at Real Madrid) benched Casillas for most of a season for poor form. This kind of stuff happens and hopefully it will be enough to light a fire under M’Bohli’s ass.

    • John Ling says:

      So here’s a question I don’t think anybody has asked yet, sort of related to this.
      .
      If McCarthy had a concussion, why was he allowed to remain in that game?

      • John Ling says:

        Alright, after reading Marc Narducci’s article about the press conference over at philly.com, it sounds like McCarthy sustained the concussion at practice yesterday.

      • The Chopper says:

        According to Curtin, McCarthy took a ball to the head in training and felt woozy after that.

  11. Dr. Union says:

    While there was no great improvement in the net with Mbohli gone there was team improvement they actually won a game and tied can’t say that for Mbohli. However, the team overall is still horrific. Still think it is a terrible idea to bring Mbohli back even with the injuries. Lets hope he isn’t starting. The question is “to watch the joke that is the union or to not”. I can’t believe it has gotten to a point where I am considering not even watching a soccer game let alone a game from a team I followed since they started. Really can’t stand M’bohli though terrible attitude, slow movement, no organization, bad reactions, horrible distribution, and never cares. Really Union stop hurting your fans and get things right for once.

  12. I have been following sports for 20+ years, and I’m not sure I will ever understand how the people in charge of these teams have such a hard time identifying talent, and why they always feel their way will work no matter what. They drafted Zac MacMath to be the long-term keeper, and he was steadily improving each year, and they drafted Blake. So at that point this team had 2 long-term options at keeper, so the natural next step is to focus on other areas of need, and bring in more youth to grow and develop with the keeper. Instead, the areas of need have gotten worse and another keeper was brought in. For reasons I will never be able to identify or explain, simple logic rarely seems to apply when building or re-building a team. Andy Reid and Chip Kelly are 2 perfect – and opposite – examples of that.

  13. Friends, There is zero chance Mr. Sakiewicz will step down. Only a coup from within or MLS can save us. Or a renewed commitment.
    .
    I firmly hope for a renewed commitment- almost a rebirth.
    .
    It is all just really disheartening for me because I despise Reality TV and when it comes to this team it’s like a Reality TV show in its 6th season – where plots and characters are manipulated in order to create controversy and draw or maintain viewers. It’s a hoax. The only weapons we have are our words and our dollars.
    .
    Maybe next home game I will see even more of the Union in yellow letters in the stands as they tell us the official attendance is 17,345.

    • The only problem with boycotting the game is because of that official attendance – 17,345 means that’s how many tickets they’ve already sold, so even if no one shows up they’ve already made that money. The real way to show the team dissatisfaction is to go there with signs, or chants or literally voice our disapproval, and don’t buy food or merchandise or support the front office outside of game day. I have a hard time with the boycott issue because I go there to support the players on the field, but regardless of what we do it’s been 5 years of this, so I doubt the front office will get the message anyway.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1 The FO already has my season ticket and parking money. I’ll go and support the team. But I sure as hell am not buying any merch or food or other items and services where the money can be funneled to the FO

  14. OneManWolfpack says:

    PSP guys – FYI – Could be just me, but I am still having issues with the “Varnish cache error” you described above. I use Chrome, so could be an issue there. Just wanted you to know.
    .
    This team is a car crash. I want to, but just can’t, look away. It is truly amazing how things just keep happening, and NONE of them are good.
    .
    We must protest at the home games. Staying away will do nothing. We have to make our voices heard. And with everyone, outside our fan base that is, believing the SOB’s are so great… they must be the ones to lead the charge. They would win this fan base FOR LIFE if they made a tifo that (respectfully) trashed Sug and Sak. I know, I know it will never happen, which is why we must lead the charge.
    .
    FREE OUR FRANCHISE. SUG AND SAK OUT!

    • I saw Varnish Cache Error open for Guns ‘n Roses back in the ’90s. Lot of unfilled potential there.

  15. I emailed my ST guy and told him I’m not going to re-up my tickets for next year if Mbolhi plays again for the Union. My kids can’t stand him and don’t want to go see the team play if he’s on the field. (Mostly bc they love Gaddis and objected to Rais blaming Ray for a goal once… And of course bc they loved Zac.) I can’t decide whether to watch the Vancouver game this weekend – if my daughter won’t watch it with me I think I’ll do work or read.

    Sak isn’t the only problem. Curtin can’t coach – this team has no plan offensively, and just plain sucks defensively. The training is horrible – everyone gets injured.

    Albright kept assuring us transfers would come through offseason and preseason. Then they get here and they are mid-level MLS players at best. And they don’t have enough time to integrate with their new teammates.

    This team will never be any good until it’s blown up and new technical staff, new FO, and (almost) all new players brought in.

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