Daily news roundups

Barnetta! Nogs out at least 3-4 weeks, McCarthy named USOC Player of the Round, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Barnetta!

The news broke through a report from SI a shortly before the official announcement, but the Union have signed Swiss international Tranquillo Barnetta.

At Union Tally, Matthew De George ranks Barnetta signing as the the most impressive in the history of the club: “In the end, there’s no competition from the others. Adu’s name may have generated more buzz, Mondragon’s may have constituted a more fitting marriage of need to availability, but look at the CVs and there’s no comparison. I mean, the BBC targeted him as one of the top 10 free transfers of the summer in the world, assuming that a team in a top-5 league would land him.”

Reports from PSP, Philadelphia UnionMLSsoccer.comPhilly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer NewsBrotherly GamePhilly Sports Network, Sons of PennESPNGoal.com, ProSoccerTalkOmnisport, Vavel, and MLS Multiplex.

What’s next? We shall see. Hopefully, the unloading of Rais Mbolhi, who is no doubt in no hurry to move on since he’s getting paid by the Union whether he’s playing or not. In a Q&A with Metro (more on that below), Nick Sakiewicz said of Mbolhi, “[W]e are working very hard to make the right deal for both our club and the player. If we are unable to make the right deal then he will remain a Union player until such time we can make a deal to find him a good club.” Not exactly the most encouraging statement at the end there.

Noguiera out

Perhaps the most important news to come out of Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference on Wednesday (full transcript here at PSP) is that the quad injury Vincent Nogueira picked up in last Sunday’s loss in DC will see him out a minimum of three to four weeks. Reading Curtin’s comments, it’s easy to conclude that is an optimistic assessment: “I’m hoping that it’s three to four weeks, hopefully. Maybe it’ll be tight, if we’re fortunate enough to get to the Open Cup final, possibly, maybe for that one. Obviously, a devastating injury to a top player on our team.” The Open Cup final, if the Union are fortunate enough to reach it, will take place Sept. 29 or 30.

Nogueira said,

I felt pretty good before I got injured. Now I have to wait like three weeks or four weeks and I hope I will be ready by the end of August. It’s a bad thing for me. I started to feel very healthy and it was a very good thing to be on the field, and now I have to stop for three weeks…

For a soccer player, actually it’s the worst thing. Not playing, being on the side. We know that August is very important — we play a lot of important games against teams for the race for the playoffs.

It’s never a good moment. But actually this this is the worst moment of the season. So it’s even worse because I felt very good before I was injured. Very bad feeling.

Very bad feeling, indeed.

Curtin said Zach Pfeffer is an option to replace Nogueira but noted he hasn’t trained with the team this week because he’s been in Colorado for the Homegrown Player game. Pfeffer is expected to be back with the team today.

A few other nuggets from the presser:

  • It seems Andrew Wenger and Richie Marquez, while making progress in recovering from the injuries the suffered in the loss to Toronto, are at best questionable for Saturday’s game against NYRB. We’ll see.
  • Curtin expects Brian Sylvestre’s loan will be able to be extended, citing the good relationship the Union have with Sylvestre’s club, Carolina RailHawks. He said the a decision will be made at the end of the season about whether the team will try to buy Sylvestre.
  • Steven Vitoria is still behind Ethan White in the depth chart.

Sakiewicz Q&A

Metro has an the recent Soccer Morning interview in which he described the “We deserve Better” protest in May as “ill-thought of” and “with all sorts of lack of information,” confirming a column that ran at PSP that explained, as a Leukemia survivor, he was deeply affected by the death imagery in the protest.

It’s a wide ranging Q&A but, honestly, while welcome, there’s nothing headline grabbing about its contents. This line about the club’s plans regarding a USL team seems to backtrack abit from some of his recent comments that the team will launch its own USL operation next season: “Over the next 12 months we will invest millions more into our USL strategy whether it is in partnership with Harrisburg City Islanders or other options we are currently exploring.”

Regarding spending big on player acquisitions, Sakiewicz said “there is no doubt we have the financial resources to execute an acquisition if we truly believe in that player and the plan to use that player.”

What stands out to you from the Q&A?

More

John McCarthy has been voted Player of the Round by the staff of the US Open Cup website theCup.us and writers from the North American Soccer Reporters. It’s well deserved, as PSP’s Adam Cann explains in the announcement.

At CBS Philly, Kevin Kinkead has a video breakdown of last Sunday’s Union’s loss in DC. Brotherly Game has an optimistic/pessimistic take on the loss.

SBI has the Union at No. 19 in their power rankings after the loss.

Union Academy

The Diamond Back, the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, has a nice profile on Union Academy alum Sebastian Elney. He’ll play his first season with the Terrapins this fall.

Local

Carli Lloyd. She scores when she wants to. And now she’s scored in seven-straight games, beginning with the last four games of the Women’s World Cup.

Former Union consultant Rene Meulensteen has some some interesting observations for parents of young players about youth soccer.

MLS

First things first: Do yourself a favor and read “The Birth of a League” at SI. It will make you laugh, shake your head, and maybe even tear up a little bit. An absolute must read. Do it right now. The outtakes are worth your time, too.

The MLS All-Stars defeated Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, 2-1. Kaka, who was named MVP, scored from the penalty spot in the 20th minute after a handball in the box, with David Villa making it 2-0 in the 23rd minute, assisted by Kaka and Clint Dempsey. Harry Kane got a goal back for Spurs in the 37th minute.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said the league is supportive of implementing instant replay: “[W]e think it can work, we’d love to see it work…We’ve got to talk to U.S. Soccer, we’ve got to talk to FIFA, we’ve got to make sure the technology works, but you should know that MLS is a supporter of the idea.”

Garber also said the league is considering changing the format of the All-Star game: “I think there was a time when we needed to show the world that we could play against them. Now the world is kind of looking at us and wondering how can [they] be a part of it. So doing an East vs. West with all the great players we have probably makes sense, and maybe it’s time for a change. But we’ll go through a process through the year where we’ll try to figure that out.” Make it happen.

LA Galaxy and goalkeeper Jaime Panedo have mutually agreed to part ways. Apparently, he wasn’t happy with his contract.

At World Soccer Talk, Steve Davis says MLS is now “a two-tiered league…of Big Spenders and Hard Triers”:

MLS has long been a league of parity…Ostensibly, anyway. We all know a couple of teams were given a leg up in player signings back in the day, but the pretense of parity served as guidewires, at least.

Now it’s like all the other leagues of haves and have nots. We will now march predictably into every season essentially choosing among a handful of big brand clubs as the real title contenders. Everyone else will fight for the scraps.

Yep.

US

In an interview with Fox Rochester on Wednesday morning, Abby Wambach said of whether she will play for the US at next year’s Summer Olympics, “I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but I’m planning on playing in Rio next summer.”

In an interview published at the Washington Post on Wednesday afternoon, Wambach clarified: “I haven’t made a decision about the Olympics next summer and I would have to make the 18-player roster, first and foremost. It’s not a foregone conclusion I would be chosen. I will be 36 years old and there are a lot of things that have to happen between now and then before I come close to making that decision. I am planning to play at this point, but I haven’t decided and the coaching staff hasn’t made that final decision yet.”

A little soccer history for you: A good read at MLSsoccer.com on the Caribous of Colorado, the team in the original NASL, and their crazy fringed jerseys.

Elsewhere

The FIFA presidential races is heating up following Michel Platini’s announcement on Wednesday that he will stand for the office. Support for Platini is emerging with England FA chairman Greg Dyke announcing his organization backs Platini’s candidacy, while Asian Football Confederation head Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa praised Platini as “unique,” although he stopped short of endorsing him.

Meanwhile, former FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein said “Platini is not good for FIFA. Football’s fans and players deserve better.” Liberia Football Association president Musa Bility called Platini’s candidacy “unacceptable”: “Platini would not represent change, [he] has been FIFA vice-president for eight years.”

South Korean billionaire Chung Moon-Joon, a former FIFA vice president himself, described Platini as Blatter’s protege: “Mr Platini enjoys institutional support from the current structure of Fifa. Mr Platini is very much a product of the current system,” adding, “Platini is good for football, but whether he can be a good FIFA president? I don’t think so. He is a product of the current FIFA system.” Moon-Joon, who says he will formally announce he will run for the top spot at FIFA next month and, if elected, will serve only one term, also said, “President Blatter is like a cannibal eating his parents and then crying he’s an orphan. He tries to blame everybody except himself.”

Reuters reports, “Argentine football great Diego Maradona said on Wednesday he wants to fight the ‘mafia’ responsible for the corruption scandal that has rocked FIFA, but he stopped short of saying he wants to be the next president of global soccer’s governing body.”

The AP reports, “The CONMEBOL soccer body will begin publishing the salary of its president and executive council members after being plunged into crisis by the FIFA bribery scandal. The South American governing body published the anti-corruption measures Wednesday. They also include the creation of a new post for an independent expert overseeing its implementation.”

68 Comments

  1. So Wenger, Marquez, Nogs out, Barnetta, Pfeffer in. White starting over Vitoria?
    .
    I’m fairly certain Pfeffer will get the start with Barnetta as well, but I would really rather so Mo in Nogs spot for a month with Vitoria at CB and Pfeffer first guy off the bench with Ayuk.

    • I’d be really ok with this if it was Marquez and Vittoria. White and Vittoria is scary to me. And according to Jim, Vittoria is behind White right now. That really makes me wonder what shape Vittoria is in.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Typical Union: one step forward (Barnetta), two steps back (multiple injuries)… this team just can’t get its best 11 on the field. Beyond frustrating…

      • I am inclined to think this is just a case of misfortune…which generally speaks to your point. Some seasons are like this for all teams though.
        .
        Sure will be nice to see Nogs, maidana and The Calm play.
        .
        The Calm. Exactly what this team needs.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        The Calm… solid.

  2. How is Vittoria behind White in the depth chart? Is he that bad? Or am I supposed to assume he’s not fit enough yet because of his injury. Going to go with the latter.
    .
    Still thrilled with Barnetta. I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic the Union will surprise us with a fullback signing following a transfer of Mbolhi.

    • I mean did you not see Vittoria in the beginning of the year I would put him behind White too. No good in the air even though he is 6’5″ and has no ability to position the backline and he is way to slow both on the ball and foot speed. I’m not saying White is a good option, but on who is in what spot in the depth chart I actually believe White has been better throughout the season as a whole.

      • I’m not sure I’d be ready to say White’s been better based on games I’ve seen. What’s striking to me is that the second, soon to be third, highest played player on the roster is riding the pine behind Ethan White. That’s a little nutty.

      • Dr. Union says:

        I’ll agree with you there but then I think Vittoria is way over paid as is Edu.

  3. The Chopper says:

    When Marquez is available for 90, I would like to see him with Vittoria and Mo in for Nogs I like that you have to earn your spot, but there is a lot invested in Vittoria. Let him play. Not sure I want to see him paired with White.

  4. I love Noguiera but it seems like the slightest gust of wind and he’s injured. It’s a darn shame and it’s annoying. Hoping for his speedy recovery. It would be nice for once to see this team have all hands available to play. I still say it has something to do with training and practice. White over Vittoria is more Union/Curtin BS. We’ve seen this crap played out way too much and not one member of the media calls them on it!

  5. Its pretty horrible that Vittoria is out of favor because Edu could cover for Nogs until Barnetta is ready to go.
    .
    And you can tell it is Sakiewicz Groundhogs Day. If he pops out of his hole sees his shadow and gives lengthy quotes to preprepared softball questions with no follow up the Union are are going to have a major transfer or someother good news. If he pops his head out and doesn’t see his shadow or the Union are losing he goes back in and isn’t seen for another 2 months.

  6. Also another appearance of He plays well in training.

  7. Link for the Metro article with Sak?

  8. What’s wrong with the current MLS all-star game format? I found last night’s match to be very entertaining (particularly the first half) and, in general, I think the MLS all-star games are much more competitive and interesting than the offerings in other professional sports leagues.
    .
    Returning to an East vs. West format will allow more MLS players to claim all-star status, but is that necessarily a good thing? Seems to me like the result would be a watered-down product.

    • I think they should return to an I Don’t Care About Any All Star Games format, which is actually what I already have done.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      I agree that it was fun to watch, but symbolically, I’d rather have the All-Star game mean something and be an MLS-only event. Getting bigger overseas teams in on their pre-seasons seems like we need or want Euro and Eurosnob attention. That may, in fact, be true, but I’d rather it weren’t so obvious.

    • I still vote for MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX All-Stars.

    • My dream all-star game would be MLS versus Liga MX. The ratings would be super high and it would probably be a high-scoring fun affair.

      • The Little Fish says:

        You could easily sell 100,000 tickets at the right venue if marketed properly. That would be cool. Do it Donnie do it!

  9. Hey Union, great signing in Barnetta. Now let’s be serious. Let’s forget about the playoffs this year and build a core to play together. Decide who your keeping and play them so they have time together. For one season, I’d like to start the year looking at a team that doesn’t look out of position or like they’ve never talked before the game started. I think it will be more important to come out of the gates stronger next year than giving us this playoff talk. We know better. (Now watch and they’ll run the table and squeak into the playoffs)

  10. Jeremy Lane says:

    “Now it’s like all the other leagues of haves and have nots. We will now march predictably into every season essentially choosing among a handful of big brand clubs as the real title contenders. Everyone else will fight for the scraps.”

    This is only true to a point, because MLS has playoffs. Playoffs are the great equalizer, especially since so many teams make it in. Yes, the bigger teams have an advantage in that their teams are better, man for man, and if we played best-of-three series at each round, the big teams would almost always win. but we don’t.

    That’s one of the beauties of MLS playoffs, if you can call it that. The best team won’t always win. See our Open Cup runs of late. Be good for four games straight? Win the Cup. That’s one of the reasons we won’t ever go to a straight table or pro/rel. US fans won’t tolerate shitty teams forever—at least not so much that those clubs wouldn’t fold. (Think of the Sixers. Profit-sharing allows them to not sell many tickets while they rebuild. Such a strategy for too long would kill the Union, even with MLS’s version of profit-sharing.) The draw of parity and playoff possibility is what staves off that hopelessness.

    • Strong point. It seems anymore in sports it’s the team playing well at the right time that is successful. This is what I mean by my comment previously about Barnetta being a 2nd Tier star…on a team with some other 2nd Tier players and you never no what may happen (short of constantly faltering then puking up leads).
      .
      I don’t begrudge the Union and what they are trying to accomplish I just ask for a damn director of soccer operations to oversee it all…that is the final missing piece to the Union puzzle…cohesion.
      .
      I can even tolerate a smug FO. They’re wealthy and owners of a professional sports team without a general clue how the average person lives anymore. Be smug. Be arrogant. Just get it right.
      .
      If this team wins the Open Cup and squeezes into playoffs and wins a round…the joke is on us for berating them.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        With Nogueira out for a month, and three of the last four on the road, I doubt we’ll see either the cup final or the playoffs.

    • 3 of the last 4 MLS Cups went to the LA Galaxy. The other wnet to Kansas City. Since the the haves have gotten havier and the have nots have gotten havenotless. So despite the playoffs being the so called great equalizer the have not only have the luxury of great players but great depth. Expect the same teams to compete over and over.
      .
      Also you cited the Open Cup as an example? Really?
      Teams with a legit chance of the MLS cup rarely even try. It is more of a consolation prize for the bottom half of the Table. With the exception of Seattle.

      • Jeremy Lane says:

        I wasn’t saying the Open Cup is as good as MLS Cup, I was saying a team like us—the crappy Phila Union—nearly won the thing by being good for particular games, rather than over the course of a season. MLS Cup is the same idea, just compressed.

        Your point about depth is a good one, though. It’s not so much that Seattle has Martins and Dempsey, per se, it’s that they have Lamar Neagle, too, and others to pop in when first-teamers can’t play. That’s definitely one of the Union’s biggest issues.

        Still, I think my overall point is sound. With our first eleven fit and firing, we could win a game against any team in MLS. String a few together and that’s MLS Cup. LA’s better than us and so is KC, so their odds are better, but it’s still the case that teams like the U stand a much better shot under the current system than in other leagues.

      • Jeremy Lane says:

        If you’re saying that the Open Cup isn’t relevant because the teams aren’t as good or aren’t trying as hard as they are in MLS Cup, that’s true, but cup football is hard to predict, regardless of the quality of the opposition, and allows for upsets. That’s my point.

      • No NASL team has one the Open Cup in modern memory. LA has won 3 of the last 4 MLS Cups. Can you predict with 100% certainty? Nope.
        Can you make a damn accurate educated guess? Yes.

      • Good being relative in our run last year in the open cup.
        Good enough against NASL teams? Yes.
        The argument isn’t what the league is with the playoffs it is what the league is Becoming with the haves and the have nots.
        .
        Even with the playoffs our chance of winning is an academic possibility along the lines of winning the lottery.
        Can it happen? Yea.
        Will it happen to you? Probably not.
        .
        So here we are. I am all for a MLS wide luxury tax for the higher budgeted teams to the lower budgeted ones.

  11. So I read the Sak interview and a couple of things struck/bothered me. First, it occurred to me that if Sak hadn’t come off as a bumbling boob, pretty much in everything he’s done since the beginning, I would have thought that was a very insightful, positive, come out of it feeling good, interview. I even almost felt bad about the coffin thing. But it’s Sak. I distrust almost everything that comes out of his mouth. He’s still trying to put the blame on Jim and Chris for M’bohli.
    .
    Second, it struck me as odd that when he went through all of his co-workers, their responsibilities, and how great they all are, He didn’t mention Albright. Brain fart?
    .
    Third, not that he mentioned it, or made any specific allusion to it, but, I get the sinking suspicion that they will forgo a real Director/G.M., in favor of keeping the Jim/Chris arrangement going.
    .
    And finally, he mentions the teams vision and philosophy, and there’s no real substance to it. No depth. Is it some kind if national secret that can’t be known by the general public? This makes me even more believe they have no plan.
    .
    If I were some poor schmo living in another city reading the interview, I’d think the Union had the right guy in charge. I’m glad I know better.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Freudian slip, not brain fart, which is actually Sak’s usual modus operandi

    • You know he was coached and practiced for the last few weeks to make that interview go “right”. I can see him in the morning fixing his tie and looking in the mirror saying “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and people and players like me”. Then he makes plans to have dinner with his new BFF Ruben Amaro!

    • The Chopper says:

      I hope the Albright omission was just oversight. Could be he is trying to keep him under wraps so he stays on if a new top director is actually acquired.

      MLS regulations are some of the most difficult to deal with in all of soccer when it comes to acquiring and signing players. On that end of it, Albright appears to be really good at getting the transfers executed and keeping the cap space and player spots managed. That is a real commodity in an MLS front office.

      • For the most part I agree with you and have liked what Albright has done. But I don’t want the job he has done so far, to confuse or dilute the need for an actual Director of operations.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      For the life of me, how much money would a GM cost? My god… just find someone and give them a chance. Enough with the never ending search. I think I’d rather have a bad GM right now, than continuing to have no GM

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Have we heard anything as to the chances that Barnetta plays Saturday (with the paperwork and international roster spot issues to get cleaned up between now and then)?

    • Curtan said in an interview he’d be available for selection, but wasn’t sure if he’d be good to go for 90 due to when his flight lands.

  13. Atomic Spartan says:

    We are making a big mistake with Mbolhi. He should be required to be here in the States, working his ass off away from the team, maybe with HCI. Maybe a hard labor summer will make him press his agent to get him transferred somewhere, anywhere, as long as it is not with us.

  14. I really hope that the USL team isn’t pushed back and that we do in fact form our own team. It’s just necessary at this point and the Harrisburg relationship is outdated

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Why would they not keep the affiliation even with “U2” as a separate team in USL? HCI just signed a striker who has scored three in two games, and they have some good players on their roster besides, Valles, Plumhoff. Harrisburg could provide developmental opportunities in addition “U2”.

      • As I understand it, MLS rules allow/require MLS teams to form their own USL team or to form a partnership with an independent USL team, but that they can’t do both. Correct me if I’m wrong. I mean, they could keep some sort of relationship with HCI, but they wouldn’t be able to have Union players play for them and stay as official Union players. I guess they could do it as individual loans.

      • Great One says:

        This is how I understood it as well. If that’s not the case then definitely keep HCI. I just meant that U2 would serve us more than HCI

  15. Bernetta *JUST* updated his Facebook page… off to the US, etc… “Stand For blue! Quillo”… Nice! 😀

    • He also says he’s only signed through 2016.
      .
      Only thing I haven’t liked about this so far.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Yeah but a year and half is better than nothing… might help us get a Cup this year, and who knows… this is Philly, “there’s ALWAYS next year!!” HA

  16. Santiago Dittborn on trail with NYRB.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      At this point, the Barnetta signing and getting rid of M’Bolhi would be the greatest summer transfer window this team has ever had. HA

  17. I am personally very excited about the prospect of some sort of instant replay if done correctly. I know it threatens to upset the long cherished tradition of screaming and crying about bad calls ruining games, but something tells me the game of soccer will survive. Let the game be decided by the actual quality of the respective teams!

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree…but it needs to be used properly and limited to certain types of plays – offsides, goal / no goal for example. Baseball actually isn’t bad, and I was convinced it would be dreadful. In my opinion, it would need to be quick, concise, and used sparingly to be successful.

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