Daily news roundups

A must win vs. NYRB, Barnetta unveiled today, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

How important is Saturday’s home game against New York Red Bulls? Jim Curtin said in Wednesday’s press conference (full transcript here at PSP),

[I]t’ll be a situation where we have to do anything for three points. I don’t care if we win 1-0 off of an own-goal, I don’t care if we score off a corner kick, I don’t care if it’s off of a free kick, I don’t care if it’s the most beautiful goal in the world: We have to get a win at home, and that’s our mindset and our mentality. We have 12 games left, six at home, six away, and you guys are all smart enough to realize we have to win at a minimum six — at a minimum. That’ll be something we’ve never done as a club, to win that many games in this short of a spell. So, it’s a tough task but it’s a task that’s reasonable; we’ll have to get on a run again. Same hole we dug ourselves in last year.

Previews from PSP, Philadelphia Union (preview, scouting report), MLSsoccer.com, InquirerBrotherly Game, Once a Metro, and MLSGB.

The practice update at the Union’s Behind the Crest blog says Brian Sylvestre did not take part in drills blocking close range shots on Thursday “as he recovers from his hand injury.” Yes, my eyebrows raised, too. Is it Andre Blake time?

At Delco Times, Matthew De George notes Saturday’s game will be the 100th Union start for Ray Gaddis. Gaddis said, “I want to thank all the Philadelphia Union fans for believing in me, and the coaching staff for believing in me to be able to get to 100 starts. Every time I put on the jersey, I never take it for granted. I always give my best for the Gold and Blue.”

Before Saturday’s match, Unified Soccer of Special Olympics will hold an exchange match at PPL between teams representing the Union and Red Bulls. Gates at PPL will open early at 5:30 pm for those attending the 7 pm game who would like to enter early to cheer the Special Olympics sides on. The Sons of Ben are shutting down their tailgate early to cheer on the teams.


Tranquillo Barnetta will be unveiled to reporters in a press conference at 11:30 am today (live stream on the Union’s YouTube channel).

Will Barnetta play in Saturday’s game? It seems he’s unlikely to start. Jim Curtin told Dave Zeitlin at MLSsoccer.com, “We don’t want to rush it and have him getting off a plane and playing in his debut. I don’t think that’s smart. Just physically we don’t want him to break down. Debuts are special and we want to do it the right way.”

Talk about a coaching dilemma. You need to win on Saturday. But with Barnetta jetting between Philly and Switzerland in the course of just a few days this week, you’re concerned about the risk of some silly injury getting him off to the wrong kind of start. It’s an even more important concern given how long it looks like Vincent Nogueira will be out (Zeitlin notes: “When Nogueira starts, the Union are 6-6-4 with a +1 goal difference; when he comes off the bench or isn’t used, Philadelphia is 0-6-0, getting outscored 16-6 in the process.). What do you think? Do you start Barnetta now or play him 15 or 20 minutes on Saturday to ease him in?

Where will Barnetta play on the field? Curtin said, “One of his best qualities is how versatile he is. We thought we needed to add just a quality player. He gives us that. He’s kind of like a hybrid between a No. 8 and a No. 10, but also has the ability to play out wide.” It’ll be interesting to see if Barnetta plays ahead of Zach Pfeffer, who was away from the team for most of this week to play in the Homegrown Player game in Colorado, in place of the injured Nogueira

Barnetta says he’s with the Union on a year-and-a-half contract. He posted on his Facebook page,

Happy to tell everyone from my end that I just signed a contract with MLS Club Philadelphia Union until end of 2016.

Moving to the US and get in touch with an all new world and Soccer League is a long term dream which is now becoming true. This will be an outstanding experience which I really look forward to! The increase on popularity and awareness within the US Soccer due the past years was really impressive and I’m excited having the opportunity to help our Sports proceed growing in the States. Can’t wait to join the Team on the pitch and to help Union on trying to reach the playoffs. Furthermore I’m stoked to see some gents later on who I already played against back in the days.




Brotherly Game reviews the Union’s July.

Bimbo is sponsoring a game at PPL Park featuring youth teams representing the US and Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 9.

It was published on YouTube back in May by SB Nation NYRB blog Once a Metro but was just picked up by USA Today’s For the Win via MLSist. All you can say is, well done. 17 times.


Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road this Saturday to face Richmond Kickers at 7 pm. Previews at Harrisburg City Islanders and Richmond Kickers.

At Penn Live, a good read in a series about life in the minor leagues that focuses on Harrisburg’s Jose Barril and Enric Valles, who are both from Spain, and Shane Johnson, from Virginia and on loan to the City Islanders from Richmond Kickers. The three share an apartment together.


In an interview with the AP, MLS commissioner Don Garber says average attendance is at a record high but the league is still losing money: “We’re still in investment mode. But there’s a lot of momentum for the sport of soccer in the U.S. and Canada and that is empowering.”

The combined viewership numbers for this year’s All-Star game against Tottenham were down nearly 35 percent compared to last year’s game against Bayern Munich.

Columbus Crew have signed Ghanaian international Harrison Afful. The defender joins Columbus as a Discovery signing.

Following the release earlier this week of Jaime Penedo, LA Galaxy have acquired goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from Orlando City. Orlando receives a second-round selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft in exchange, replacing the pick they traded to the Union in exchange for Amobi Okugo. Ricketts won the 2011 MLS Cup with LA.

Didier Drogba said at his official unveiling to Impact fans on Thursday, “I am a man of challenges and there is a beautiful one before me.” He also said, “I’m not here to change the way players play or the system — that’s up to the coach. I think what I can bring is a mentality. I came here to win. Believe me, if I wasn’t able to do that I wouldn’t be here.”

Drogaba also said fans may have to wait before they see him play. “It’s almost been two-and-a-half months that I haven’t played. I’ll need time. We’ll see with the coach…I will eventually play, but I want to be able to contribute to the team and not be kind of a burden. I need to get ready.” More at MLSsoccer.com.

Interesting read from Harry Gray at The Guardian, reprinted from These Football Times, on the symbiotic reasons behind why aging European soccer greats are coming to MLS.

The Atlantic considers whether the current influx of aging stars hurts or helps the league.

Sun Sentinel reports “an MLS spokessperson confirmed MLS told the owners the league is supportive of David Beckham and his partners plans for a soccer specific stadium at the former Orange Bowl site.” The message of support happened at the Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday in Denver before the All-Star game.

Following the publication of SI’s Birth of a League oral history, J Hutcherson notes at US National Soccer Players that the league has “the fan groups that organized to try to legitimize their MLS teams as real soccer clubs” to thank for the league’s authenticity.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports, “Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Minneapolis, which are stalled over tax and public assistance issues, could get a boost from mechanisms already in place for the nearby Minnesota Twins stadium, Hennepin County commissioner Peter McLaughlin said.”

The BBC on the NASL. One is left with the impression that the league’s identity, outside of links to the buzzy days of the original NASL through resurrected team names from that era, is largely one of “We’re not MLS.”


At SI, Brian Straus on why Jurgen Klinsmann needn’t worry about job security:

Klinsmann can continue to coach with ultimate confidence despite a fourth-place finish at a frenetic Gold Cup because he knows he wasn’t hired to win a given game on a given day, or even a given tournament. Results are important, sure. And they certainly are to the players, whose effort shouldn’t be questioned. But if the U.S. Soccer Federation wanted a coach who focused on devising a plan to win the match in front of him, it would have stuck with Bob Bradley.

Former USMNT great Hugo Perez wants to coach the El Salvador national team.


Following some shocking referee performances in in the Gold Cup, CONCACAF has announced “Acting President Alfredo Hawit will personally oversee a review of the Confederation’s Refereeing Department.” The announcement continues, “The review, which is already underway, includes a detailed evaluation of refereeing standards throughout the region in addition to an assessment of processes for determining referee assignments for each match.” More from Reuters.

Fox has announced its broadcasting plans for this year’s Bundesliga season:

The Bundesliga season consists of 306 matches played from August to May. In addition to the 58 games telecast on FOX Sports 1, 60 are earmarked for FOX Sports 2, and the remainder offered via FOX Soccer Plus. On the Spanish-language side, FOX Deportes is set to televise 105 matches. Additionally, every game televised on FOX Sports 1 or FOX Sports 2 is being streamed live on desktop computers via FOXSoccer.com as well as the FOX Sports GO mobile app. All FOX Soccer Plus matches are being streamed on the FOX Soccer 2 GO app.

The first game, this Saturday’s German Super Cup game between Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, airs at 2:30 pm (Fox Deportes, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Soccer 2Go. Kind of a soft launch, don’t you think?) More on Fox’s Bundesliga schedule at Philly.com.

Speaking of Germany, what the hell is this?

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of the rest of the week’s live soccer broadcasts on TV, online, and on satellite radio.

Reuters reports, “Italy’s soccer federation (FIGC) will support Michel Platini’s bid to take over at FIFA, president Carlo Tavecchio said on Thursday.”

Also from Reuters: “Zico has been promised the backing of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) for his bid to run for the FIFA presidency if he can show he has the support of four other federations.”

Reuters has background capsules on the eight known possible candidates to run for the presidency of FIFA.


  1. So Barnetta can play? We have all the Necasarry international slots and everything? Just checking.

    • Wondering the same thing. They must know something we dont.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      When asked directly about the international slot issue, Chris Albright refused to explain the details asserting baldly that Barnetta is available Saturday, including a question over the phone from a PSP reporter whose name I failed to catch. Either Albright likes to keep secrets, or he’s not allowed to explain. The last time the issue came up he had a half smile on his face.
      As I am not a scientist by training, I am allowed to formulate explanations without any evidence, substantive or otherwise. THE FOLLOWING HAVE NO BASIS IN FACT OR EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER.
      I am guessing that MLS has held up the transfer or outright release of Rais Mbohli because they do not want to write off the money they put into the original deal, likely the transfer fee. The easiest way to create the international spot would be to waive Mbohli and eat the money, which the Union are already doing. Probably Curtin/Albright have gotten a temporary extra-legal dispensation from the league office to carry an extra international to save that office from having to write off its investment in Mbohli as a complete loss. Of course if other teams found out, they would scream bloody murder as they demanded the same dispensation!
      Being a veteran of decades of Cold War denials between the USA and the USSR, i will interpret any and all levels of denial of my speculating as direct confirmation of its truth!! 😉

  2. Atomic Spartan says:

    “Same hole we dug ourselves in last year.” Aka WSSM.

  3. That goalkeeper short film is devastating and spot-on. Can’t believe a NYRB fan actually gave enough of a crap to put that together. Well done, indeed.

  4. Wait, how does Matthew De George know that Gaddis is going to start on Sat night…oh right, never mind

  5. I can’t wait for the Bundesliga on fox. Bout time!

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    With Nogs out a while, Barnetta almost has to see time Saturday. They are going to need it. As Curtain said, they need to win every home game, plus a road game or two, to even sniff the playoffs. Must win Saturday night.
    The pics on the back of the Union jersey’s actually look pretty cool. Well done

  7. Big news that Marquez trained fully today. Does this let Edu move into midfield?

  8. Anyone catch this news conference? Union scouting at its finest. The ONLY reason we got Quillo was because Nikolov knew him and told him about us.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Nikolov for GM. Start the campaign now. (smirk)

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Multiple surveys in the world of education point out that the best admissions recruiting tool is word of mouth from consumers to potential ones, hands down.
      I have the same impression for the handyman business, but only anecdotal experience thereof.

  9. SpringCityPhil says:

    Gee another must win game, who would of thought?…we’ve been hearing that for the past few season’s.

  10. How about a 37th minute goal stellar lock down defense till 87th minute then a sealer for smooth tidy 2-0 win. Is that mouthful so much to ask.

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