Daily news roundups

Union face NYRB today in USOC quarters, Pfeffer selected, Nowak lawsuit dismissed, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Union at Red Bulls in US Open Cup quarterfinal

The Union play New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup today at 4 pm (YouTube). And they do so with serious roster concerns.

On Monday, Jim Curtin said it is unlikely Andrew Wenger (concussion symptoms) and Richie Marquez (ankle) will be available for today’s game after their injuries in Saturday’s loss in Toronto. This on top of CJ Sapong being unavailable after being shown a howler of a red card, and Brian Sylvestre being unavailable because he is Cup-tied after appearing for Carolina RailHawks earlier in the tournament.

Curtin said the team tried to appeal Sapong’s red card “but there was no process, really, that goes on in the Open Cup, so they would not listen to any … as bad as the call was, they didn’t want to hear anything.”

Who will take Sapong’s spot? Curtin said, “Not having C.J. is big. But we have to have a next-man-up mentality with Conor [Casey] and Fernando [Aristeguieta] that are back now, so they’ll both play a significant role in this game.”

John McCarthy will be in goal, but with Sylvestre being Cup-tied, Andre Blake with Jamaica at the Gold Cup, and Rais Mbolhi being persona non grata, the Union was without a backup goalkeeper as of Monday afternoon. Could they try to make due with just one goalkeeper? Curtin said, “That would be the worst case. It’s a possibility obviously, but John [McCarthy] will be called upon to play a good game for us. We do want to try to find a solution. We need to have a second goalkeeper.”

If these player-selection concerns weren’t enough, Matthew De George notes at Union Tally tournament rules limit teams to only five international players on the 18-player gameday roster. “Those spots are used up quickly by the Union, especially with three Americans (Wenger, Marquez, Sapong) absent. Assuming that Vincent Nogueira, Maidana, Fernando Aristeguieta and Eric Ayuk make the 18, that leaves Curtin with a choice between Steven Vitoria and Fabinho. A back four (left-to-right) of Fabinho-Ethan White-Maurice Edu-Ray Gaddis or Sheanon Williams-Vitoria-Edu-Gaddis seem to be the two options.”

As you know, the game is taking place at 4 pm because NYRB agreed to play Chelsea on Wednesday night as part of the International Champions Cup nonsense (backstory here). This of course presents NYRB with some difficult decisions of their own.

Curtin said of his opposite at NYRB,Jesse Marsch, “I know Jesse well. They’re going to play their guys. That’s how I expect him to handle it. It’s a major competition in our country, and it’s one that I know from being a teammate of his that he takes very seriously. They will take this game seriously. We’re going to get the best lineup that they can field.”

The New York Post agrees: “the Red Bulls will play their strongest lineup Tuesday and a makeshift squad against the EPL champs.”

Marsch said of his intention to play with something approaching a regular starting XI, “It’ll be a version of it, it’s just trying to see on a hot day, with a quick turnaround, what fresh legs on the field help us. But you know the strategy is to go in with a really good team, go after the game with our best team that we think is fresh and ready to go. We’ll get through that and move on to the next day with Chelsea.” He added, “[O]nce you get to the quarterfinals, you know you’re three games away from a cup. So we’re going to go after it.”

Sacha Kljestan said, “I don’t think Jesse needed to send a message, everybody in the whole group said that they’d rather be playing on Tuesday than playing some friendly against Chelsea. The game against Chelsea is fun and it’s nice to test yourself against one of the best teams in the world but in the end means nothing towards winning. Tuesday is very important, some of us are going to be watching the game on Wednesday. Like I said, the game on Wednesday doesn’t really matter…For a team that has never won the Open Cup, it’s nice to take it seriously. We’re going for the cup and obviously we’re playing at home so we have a homefield advantage and we want to take full advantage of that.”

NYRB captain Dax McCarty said, “It’s not going to be easy, an Open Cup quarterfinal. I know they really want to win this competition, and so do we. It’s an important game for us, and we need to just make sure that we take care of ourselves.”

Mike Grella said, “We’re an enthusiastic and energetic young group. No question we’ll be 100 percent ready.”

Previews from US SoccerMLSsoccer.com, Daily News, Delco TimesBrotherly GamePhilly Soccer News, and Philly Sports Network.

More Union news

Zach Pfeffer has been named to the roster for the team of Homegrown Players that will be coached by Landon Donovan and will face Club America’s U-20 team on July 28 as part of the MLS All-Star Game week. Pfeffer will be the only Union player participating in All-Star related games.

Jim Curtin said on Monday that Rodolfo Zelaya’s trial with the club has ended and, with Dallas having a discovery claim on him, “we’re not going to move forward with him.” However, he said possibly signing Chiliean midfielder Santiago Dittborn, who was on trial with the club a few weeks ago, is “still something we’re looking (at).”

In related news, Curtin said Andre Blake has received his green card, which frees up one of the team’s eight international spots for the transfer window.

Power rankings: At SI, the Union drop three spots to No. 18. At ESPN, they drop one spot to No. 17.

Brotherly Game looks at the Union’s salary numbers.

The Union Academy was named Most Comprehensive Club in the US Soccer Development Academy End of the Year Awards.

Nowak suit dismissed

Law360 reports U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin has dismissed the Peter Nowak lawsuit, ruling “the suit lacked subject matter jurisdiction because there was not diversity of citizenship as both Nowak and the MLS can be considered citizens of Pennsylvania.” The report explains,

The judge said that the citizenship of a Limited Liability Company, or LLC, the structure of the MLS, is determined by the citizenship of its members meaning the MLS is a Pennsylvania citizen since it’s a member of the Pennsylvania Professional Soccer LLC, the owner-operator of the Philadelphia Union MLS team.

Nowak had argued the MLS should be treated as a corporation for citizenship purposes under a different line of cases involving the structure of the National Football League.

But the judge said those cases did not apply to citizenship issues and that the plaintiff’s argument “disregards the distinct structure of MLS as compared to other professional sports leagues.”

PPS is an owner-operator member of MLS. The company is incorporated as a Delaware LLC but Nick Sakiewicz, who owns a 50 percent interest in PPS’s sole unitholder, is a citizen of Pennsylvania.

I don’t understand what most of that means but the bit about Nick Sakiewicz owning 50 percent of Pennsylvania Professional Soccer LLC is kind of interesting.


Carli Lloyd. She scores when she wants to.


Sporting Kansas City have acquired former Union man Amobi Okugo from Orlando City in exchange for midfielder Servando Carrasco.

Seattle Sounders have announced Marco Pappa was arrested on Sunday morning “for driving under the influence and speeding,” and will now “undergo an assessment by Major League Soccer’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) Program doctors pursuant to the SABH Policy.” More at Seattle Times, News Tribune, KIRO 7, MLSsoccer.com, and Sounder at Heart.

Didier Drogba to Montreal?

Soccer America reports, “After almost two-thirds of the 2015 season, Major League Soccer is averaging 21,142 fans a game, up 10.4 percent over last season’s record average of 19,149.” The Union is averaging 17,608, down 2 percent from last season.


Andrew Jennings, the investigative reporter who has done yeoman’s work reporting on FIFA corruption, has called for the removal of US Soccer president Sunil Gulati and federation CEO Dan Flynn. “There’s got to be a revolution in US soccer against the leadership of US Soccer, recalling Mr. Gulati and sending him back to Columbia University to teach Economics, sending Mr Flynn into retirement and getting a whole new organization…Let’s get Flynn and the current directors out because they’re doing nothing for the for the reputation of America and the management of American [soccer].”

Alex Morgan will share the cover of EA Sports FIFA 16 with Lionel Messi. Christine Sinclair will do the same in the Canadian edition of the game. This will be the first time women have been on the cover of the game, with FIFA 16 being the first edition of the game to include women’s national teams. More at US SoccerHuffington Post and AdWeek.


Sepp Blatter confirmed on Monday that he will not run for re-election: “On Feb. 26, FIFA will have a new president. I cannot be the new president because I’m an old president.” He also said he would like to work as a journalist after he is replaced: “It is easier to speak than to write. There are so many radio [stations] in the world, I am sure that somebody would be happy to listen to my voice.” More at SI and Vice Sports.

Reuters reports, “FIFA will set up a new task force to propose reforms aimed at cleaning itself up, a move critics said was an inadequate response to the worst crisis in the 111-year history of soccer’s governing body…Similar reforms were proposed by an earlier independent governance committee set up in 2011 but were quietly shelved three years later. Critics pointed out that the 11-member task force would be drawn from the continental confederations whose members have been blamed for much of FIFA’s recent troubles.”

The AP reports, “Prince Ali bin al-Hussein wants Sepp Blatter to leave now as FIFA president, and let a leader from outside the sport oversee the next election and reforms of soccer’s scandal-scarred governing body.”

Reuters reports, “A group campaigning for reform of world soccer’s governing body FIFA have called for former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to be put in charge of an independent reform commission.”

A British comedian showered Blatter with phony dollar bills as the FIFA president addressed media members in Zurich. More from Sky Sports, MLSsoccer.com, and ProSoccerTalk.

In further bling news, “Former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb has provided 11 luxury watches to secure the $10m (£6.4m) bond that provided his release from custody, along with his wife’s wedding ring, three opulent cars and 10 properties.” More from the AP.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Finally something good coming out of Sakiewicz! Getting a lawsuit dismissed on a technicality!

  2. Amobi is single-handedly moving up the table.

  3. Also how many years in a row has the Unions attendance dropped?

    • Every year, usually by about 200/game each season (except for 2010 to 2011 because of the games at the Linc). The 2% drop from last year is only for games up to this point in the season though. The Union had a couple midweek games last year in Sept. and Oct. with poor attendance (14-15K). Since there are no remaining midweek games this season, they could potentially record an increase over last season.

    • I would venture to say every year since 2011. I love what a crock of shit sports attendance figures are. There hasn’t been 17,608 people at a match since 2011.

    • Soon we will be like Dallas: leading the League but having the worst attendance record! It is just incredible how other markets (like Seattle, NYC and Orlando) rock while Dallas can not get anyone to come to their games. And their U18 team just won the Academy Championship so it is not like no one plays soccer down there.

      • I’m curious about how soon you think the Union will be leading the league

      • Well, he said leading the league AND worst attendance. So going by last year’s numbers (and losing 200/per game each year) it would take us 13 years to have the worst attendance. Sounds about right. MLSCup’28 here we come! We can all take our self-driving, flying cars down to Chester.

      • correct 😉

      • Alicat215 says:

        They can ball in Texas, look at how many academies are down there….they pretty much have their own division……..them and SoCal are the current hotbeds of talent……..and good ole NJ still seems to punch with the best too……..PA was always in that conversation when I was growing up too…..I think we are still respected……but not like the 90’s…..

  4. Wow @ Okugo trade. Didn’t see that coming. Good move for Amobi. Hope he finds more playing time.

  5. On the keeper situation for today…
    MLS pool keeper Trey Mitchell tweeted something about getting on a long flight last night.
    Also, I do not see anything specifically noted in the MLS rules stating that pool keepers are only for MLS games but it appears as more of a roster numbers rule (http://pressbox.mlssoccer.com/content/roster-rules-and-regulations).

  6. Better than Sak says:

    Is there a reason why they can’t bring back Andre Blake to be the backup (other than being extremely cheap). With the green card he’s no longer in an international spot and charters can make it an easy flight.

    Even if he has to go commercial (because, you know, Union), coming up there’s a 11:35 United (2 pm arrival) or a 12:35 Delta (2:58 arrival). Going back there’s 7:35 Delta flight and a 9:15 United flight.

    Either way, he’d only miss one afternoon with Jamaica. And it’s not likely that he plays at either end…

    • I read somewhere they tried to recall Blake for this game, and Jamaica refused to let him go.

    • Yeah, Jamaica is playing U.S. tomorrow (next day). I’d like to see Blake get some minutes, though. I don’t, however, expect the Union to move on to the next round of the Open Cup.

  7. Damn, there’s goes my only rational reason for getting an Orlando jersey. Lt blue is nowhere near as cool as purple.

  8. The Chopper says:

    So Amobi Okugo starts the year as a starter in Orlando, loses his job and is dealt away in about half a season from an expansion team.

    Maybe the Union weren’t so dumb.

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    If you look at the salaries of Okugo and Carrasco, especially the total compensation figures, it looks like a salary dump by Orlando, $300 K for $85 K,
    or $150 K for $42.5 K since the season is roughly half over and half the contracts have been fulfilled presumably.
    Three hundred thousand dollars is expensive for a bench player, even a multiple position one.

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