Daily news roundups

US Open Cup final host determined today, tick-tock on the transfer window, Lahoud and Marquez back to full training, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

US Open Cup

The host of the 2015 US Open Cup final will be determined today at noon. An announcement on the US soccer website says,

In order to determine hosting rights, individual cards containing the names of the Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City will each be placed into separate envelopes, shuffled and then selected at random. The chronological order in which the four envelopes are chosen will determine the hosting priority for the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

The final will take place on Sept. 29 or 30. Today’s draw will be live streamed on US Soccer’s YouTube channel.

Incidentally, Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference is scheduled to be streamed today at 12:30 pm on the Union’s YouTube channel.

Transfer window almost closed

At the time of this writing, a less than 36 hours remains before the closing of MLS’ summer transfer window on Thursday at 5 pm ET. Some useful information from this year’s roster regulations:

The Allocation Process is the mechanism used to determine which MLS Club has first priority to acquire a player listed on the Allocation Ranking List. The list will consist of (i) select U.S. Men’s National Team players, (ii) elite youth U.S. National Team players, or (iii) former MLS players returning to MLS after joining a non-MLS club for a transfer fee greater than $500,000…Once the club uses its allocation ranking to acquire a player, it drops to the bottom of the list. A ranking can be traded, provided that part of the compensation received in return is the other club’s ranking. At all times, each club is assigned one ranking. The rankings reset at the end of each MLS League season…

Players, SuperDraft picks, Allocation Money, Allocation Rankings and International Player Spots may all be exchanged in trades approved by the MLS League Office, provided all of the necessary rules regarding roster and salary budget compliance are met and the trade is completed during a valid trading period. During the season trades that involve players must occur during either the Primary Transfer Window or Secondary Transfer Window…

An MLS player may be transferred or loaned at any time to a club outside the League (subject to that club’s Federation’s transfer window), and subject to the consent of the player. Upon loaning a player, Clubs will receive roster relief and budget space, subject to the terms of the loan.

The Union are currently No. 4 in the allocation ranking order (behind LA, Chicago, and Houston), which was last updated on July 17.

One other thing: “MLS teams may still sign out-of-contract players up until the roster freeze deadline of September 15.”

More Union news

Michael Lahoud and Richie Marquez were full participants in Tuesday’s practice. Presumably, Andrew Wenger is still suffering from concussion symptoms because he is not mentioned as a participant in the practice update at the Union’s Behind the Crest blog. Indeed, he is listed with such symptoms on the injury report published on the league site on Tuesday.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George on the perplexing sense of optimism that remains within the Union even after a loss such as the one that happened on Saturday to Red Bulls:

[T]his self-enhancement bias, this unfounded optimism, is being disproven game after game. And clinging to the notion that the Union have assembled a team even remotely capable of competing over the length of an MLS season only validates staying a course that perpetuates losing…

Here’s the dose of honesty that seems to be terminally lacking: The Union are bad. They have six wins in MLS — two against injury-battered Pacific Northwest sides that shuttled JV squads cross-country, one against D.C. United reserves that had 10 men on the field when a last-gasp winner was netted. That leaves three of 23 games in which the Union have prevailed toe-to-toe over full-strength MLS foes.

But instead of those inconvenient realities, the company line seems to fall back on injuries and suspensions, missed chances and bad calls, stars misaligned and referees much maligned.

Drowned out by the cacophony of soccer black cats and broken mirrors is a less palatable truth: Good teams make their own luck. The Union have been serially unlucky.

You draw your own conclusion.

I will, as soon as I stop crying.

The Philadelphia Tribune reports on a free soccer camp being held throughout this week that is being hosted by the Philadelphia Union Foundation, along with Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation, for children aged 15 and younger at the S.T.E.M. Soccer Fields.

MLS

Real Salt Lake defeated Municipal 1-0 in Guatemala City on Tuesday night in their opening CONCACAF Champions League group game. Joao Plata scored the lone goal in the second minute.

Montreal hosts NYRB tonight in league play (8 pm, MLS Live), and Toronto hosts Orlando (8 pm, MLS Live). In CONCACAF Champions League play, Vancouver hosts Seattle at 10 pm after defeating them 3-0 over the weekend at CenturyLink Field (Fox Sports 1).

Seattle have signed 31-year-old Austrian international attacking midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz from La Liga side Levante.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in talks to become head coach of Toronto FC? OK, maybe not.

New LA signing Giovani dos Santos was unveiled to reporters on Tuesday. Asked what he thought of critics of MLS, dos Santos replied, “Simply…they should watch more soccer…I don’t think they know MLS very well. We must remove the label of it being a small league. I honestly have been here two days training with my teammates and they have exquisite quality that any team could have in Europe. The truth is I think that this league in a few years will be one of the most important in the world. For those who criticize me, I just bless them and hope they are happy.”

At ESPN, Doug McIntyre on why no Mario Balotelli to MLS today, but maybe someday.

Charlotte Business Journal on why soccer boosters in that city are increasingly confident it will land a MLS franchise.

US

At the Washington Post, Steven Goff reports Jill Ellis has agreed to a new “multi-year contract” to remain as coach of the USWNT.

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “Qatar’s top diplomat on Tuesday promised that his country would host a successful World Cup in 2022 and suggested that criticism of its successful bid was partly based on racism.” Yawn.

Reuters reports, “A Brazilian Senate committee investigating corruption in soccer will send three of its members to Switzerland and Miami to interview key players charged in a massive bribery scandal.”

A commentary piece at ESPN weakly suggests Tokyo Sexwale’s relative lack of involvement in soccer may be the best thing to recommend him as a candidate for the FIFA presidency.

57 Comments

  1. De George dropping knowledge 🙁

    • It’s always been that way. Or at least its been that way ever since Nowak left. (I actually miss Nowak now how insane is that!) Hackworths coulda, woulda, shouldas were maddening. The Unions dependence on luck rather than good team construction is pretty insane.
      .
      That being said the Unions injury luck has been horrible. But despite that, because this is the MLS East, As of two weeks ago the Union were in the hunt. So the Union more or less weathered the worst of the injuries/suspensions/referees and still had a shot.
      .
      Part of me refuses to believe that the team is this bad, last place bad. But for this team to move on there must be a change. And I am starting to believe firing Curtin must be part of that change just because he is a direct line decendant of the Unions FUCKED legacy. There is going to have to be an honest objective reassment going forward. Unfortunatly any objective judgement of the Union, its players, or culture must come from the outside and that just doesn’t seem likely.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Regarding firing Curtin, haven’t we gone that route enough to know that we typically end up back in the same exact spot a couple of years later?

      • That is the point really. Every coach we have gotten has come out of the Nowak>Hackworth>Curtin line. Each coach with their own plusse and minuses all seem to inherit the same Union cultural biases. And this team needs and outside perspective starting with a sporting director(well starting with the departure of Sak, but thats not happening.) and probably the installation of a new coaching front office group. It’s probably unfair to Curtin and Albrite the Union have been spending money at the same rate as a midtable MLS team and yet we are in last place. We are getting nowhere.

      • i don’t think firing curtin will solve anything and getting rid of him just because he is a descendant of a fucked legacy is magical thinking. as if some kind of years long curse was passed down to him when he got the job. he probably wasn’t the ideal candidate to begin with but the reality is that he is a young coach that is learning on the job and he inherited a terrible roster with absolutely no depth.

      • I tend to agree. A new coach is not going to fix a bad roster. Get that GM in here we were promised. Spend more money on talented players. We were promised moneyball moves and have made exactly one in the last year.

      • The first thing a GM might say, and I argue would say is to get a new coach. I think things are so bad that getting someone…anyone from a sporting culture outside the Union would be an improvement.

      • If a new GM make that recommendation, I’m a lot more inclined to accept the reasoning than I would be if it were simply left to Sak.

      • Stop with the “Fire Curtin” talk.
        .
        What coach in their right mind will accept a job with the Union after the previous two were fired for, ostensibly, missing the playoffs in their first year with a flawed roster?
        .
        The Union should have up to $1,000,000 in cap space and one or two DP slots. This should buy a lot of depth on the roster, something that has been sorely missing for a few years.

      • I think pretty much everyone would agree that the roster and not having a GM is the biggest problem with the team.
        .
        That and reviewing Curtin’s job as a manager are not mutually exclusive. I don’t think he should be fired right now, but it’s certainly fair to look at what he’s done and say it hasn’t necessarily been outstanding. He should 100% be reviewed at year’s end and determined whether he can move the club forward.

      • Sorry, you can’t stop the fire Curtin talk………it needs to be discussed……..we are the worst in MLS………that has to be on the table and it would be with any club in our predicament……get a whole new staff from outside the Union…….have a coach come in and clean house……take what he wants….that fit his philoshy……and unload the rest of the players…..and start all over again……something through three coaches we haven’t done……..burn it down and start over again……otherwise……more of the same for the near and distant future….and we’ll just keep trying to win the Open Cup……I bet any outsider would say the same thing………you only have to be an average footballer or businessman to see this cluster F for what it is………

      • That objective judgement from the outside did allegedly come in the form of Renee Muelensteen’s consultant report. Hilariously, Sak tried to claim that the gist of the report was the Union are on track and doing all the right things. Nothing really changes until Sak is completely gone from this organization, no other changes matter until then.

      • I agree with Mikex nothing changes till new ownership and FO and we all know thats not happening. Firing Curtin does nothing but thin the coaching staff more and then anionts Mike Sober as the new head coach cause we always hire assistants. I don’t think Curtin has been a great coach and I think the team lacks organization and structure, but firing him does not give this team those things.

      • You are all such downers…
        .
        … have you forgotten already that ‘little preseason tourney’ we won.
        .
        Jeeze.

      • Like I said Union for what it is worth was a Hackworth guy. HAckworth was a Nowak guy. and all of them were Sak guys. As was ALbrite. We need a permanate outside perspective because this isn’t working.

      • Concur.
        .
        Hoping they figure it out faster than Flyers.

  2. I love. Love. that LA is number one on allocation list. So funny. So not.
    .
    I appreciate the De George piece appearing in a more popular circle yet fully recognize the impossibility of original genius in modern culture … clearly he visits this page often as the article is a concise synthesis of what can be read here ad nauseum.

    • LA gets its players through so many outside mechanisms it never needs to use the allocation list. The allocation list is for the poors.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        True, but they now have an asset that will bring them value at some point. LA continues to play chess in comparison to most of the rest of the league and they have money which makes them even more dangerous.

      • Knight to Queen 4.

      • Garber should realize he doesn’t need to cater to the big boys anymore. They have this whole thing figured out. LA doesn’t need the top spot… just stop rigging the game for them, they’re gonna be just fine.

  3. I would love to know what the league average for passing percentage is and the 5 highest percentages and the team’s responsibile for them: 65% is putrid. If a single player has an average that low they we not worthy of competing in the highest level of sport let alone a team of players manipulating a number like that.
    .
    I know I know do my own homework…

    • Zizouisgod says:

      65% is a terrible team average which is never seen at the professional level.

      Per Whoscored, top 5 teams in completion percentages:

      Orlando 82.3
      Columbus 81.2
      MTL 79.9
      Seattle 79.7
      Portland 79.6

      Union are 16th at 75.2. SJ is worst at 73.8.

  4. Anyone who mentions P***offs the rest of the year should have their tickets revoked. Worry about the Open Cup and only the Open Cup. People keep talking about bad luck. Maybe its because we are just bad, have little depth and continuously put ourselves in bad positions tactically or otherwise. Bad teams make excuses, good teams don’t. We are the former not the latter.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t know about that. The Union have an outside chance of making the playoffs sometime between now and when Qatar hosts the World Cup. Please don’t revoke my tickets for saying that.

      • Lol. Nice one Andy. I’m pretty sure that if they don’t make it by the Qatar World Cup then there won’t be a team here anymore.

      • The Chopper says:

        The Union do have a theoretical shot at the playoffs. And if they push hard, they probably won’t be eliminated until the closing weeks of the season, just like last year. And that will amount to another wasted season.

        Now is the time to play for next year. Chaco, Barnetta, Edu, Nogs, Sapong and Aristiguetta That is a decent group of players. Pfeffer, Ayuk have some potential. So now is the time to try and find shapes in which they fit.

        For all of their contributions, we don’t need to see Carrol and LeToux on the pitch. They should not be starters next year and the only reason to play them now is the mythical playoff push.

        And by all means, play Andre Blake

      • yes and also start mclaughlin for every non open cup game. he needs to be evaluated to see if he is worth keeping around at all and he needs more than five minutes at the end of a game to show that

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        while I like Jimmy and what he has done in USL, he is not ready for MLS yet. Too easily knocked off the ball.

      • i think you might be right but i personally would like to see what he is capable of in a bigger game than is available to him in usl. i also think that an honest assessment of his future can only be made from watching him play with the first team in a real game

      • Yep. It’s the Sixers mentality, or the NBA mentality at least. You’re great, god-awful, or you mIre in mediocrity… making the 7-8 seed every year, stringing your fans along, making them think you have a chance every year. I’m not saying the Union need a Sixers level blow up, but to make the playoffs this year, would just string us, and the FO, along and make them think the disgraceful job they are doing is actually good.
        .
        Well maybe not “us”… but the casual fan

  5. Matthew De George, telling it like it is.
    .
    We are in last place, with games in hand. Everyone take a step back, look at the facts and say it with me… THE.UNION.ARE.THE.WORST.TEAM.IN.MLS. Once you accept that fact, it’s easier to start looking at positives and negatives and where we can go from here.
    .
    Play the young players and change formation/tactics. Every ounce of effort should be focused on the Open Cup and for next year.

    • But we have no direction or plan, so we will continue to act like we can make something of this season , until sometime in late September when we’re mathematically eliminated, and then the excuses can come out about how many injuries we had, BLAH BLAH BLAH

  6. I like Curtin and think he took over a poor team with limited financial backing. However, that said, we are the worst team in MLS by merit. We should be looking for upgrades across the board. No one’s job should be safe after a last place finish (which is where I assume we will finish). That includes players, coaches, Gm’s (if we had one) and (please God) soccer CEO’s/Amex card-holders/part-owners. If an experienced manager with a good track record becomes available in the off-season then we should certainly make that move.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Sign a new coach if there is someone specific to hire but don’t just make a change for change’s sake.

      • Yeah agreed. But that’s the problem. We need a direction. We need a GM to bring in a guy to execute a plan. Don’t fire Curtain for the hell of if, but don’t exclude firing Curtain as an option.

  7. DeGeorge essentially says that 3 of the Union’s 6 wins were lucky (playing against travel-weary second-stringers), but then says that good teams make their own luck. The best teams in the league only have 6 more wins than the Union, and while 3 of the Union’s wins may have been lucky, I can think of at least 3 cases in which a loss or a draw was largely unlucky (Colorado, RSL and SKC come to mind). With 9 wins the Union would be in the thick of the playoff race. Whatever role luck plays, it does cut both ways.

    The Union are at the bottom of the table and it would take a monumental effort to overcome all of their bad luck, but I would rather they went into each and every game thinking they can win, than pack it up and play for next year.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I would rate the first DC loss worse luck than SKC. SKC was the Union falling asleep. DC was the ref ignoring an obvious red card (it happened right in front of him AND the player got suspended).

  8. Andy Muenz says:

    If the Union win, they could travel to RSL or host Sporting KC.

  9. I was asked once in my career if it would be better to be lucky than good, obviously if you are asked that question and can’t back it up then you should be shown the door. The union have shown that they can’t back it up and someone should pay the price even if management is driving this bike with training wheels.
    For laughs during the next presser someone should ask the lucky/good question.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Sounds like Edu is having groin issues. Just what the Union need.

  11. The Union should have a talk with their buddies over at the Philadelphia Eagles and get a crash course on Chip Kelly’s sports science stuff. Take that information and then perform some independent research on the salient points. “Moneyball” doesn’t mean buying cheap players and crossing your fingers that something works; Moneyball, at its core, is finding inefficiencies in the market that teams with limited funds can exploit. In the case of the Oakland A’s they opted to exploit two factors they felt would help them win: on-base percentage for hitters, and “true” outcomes for pitchers (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed – often considered the only three things a pitcher actually controls). They found players with good on-base percentages that other teams weren’t willing to hire; they found pitchers with good HR/9 ratios and BB/9 ratios that other teams weren’t willing to hire. They won a lot more than a team with their payroll might be expected to win.
    .
    The Union have an opportunity, maybe, to do do similar things via sports science. Can you actually reduce injury by monitoring a player’s sleep schedule? By checking hydration levels before practice? By hiring nutritionists to devise meal plans for individual players? I don’t know. But it sure seems some folks over at the Eagles FO have information. Are the Union unlucky when it comes to injuries? Or can they do something to help prevent them – something other teams aren’t doing? Can the best practices be applied at the academy level, giving them a long-term advantage? Or do the best practices really only work with adults due to development stages or whatever?
    .
    The Union don’t have to be a team that gets a $5-7 million a year player. (However, I’ll argue they should be able to do so, in this market, if they chose to be such a team; that they can’t – rather than don’t – is an indictment on ownership.) However, for under $1 million per year they could potentially improve every player on their roster and every player in their academy. (Under 1 mil = 3 nutritionists (at least one specialized in youth), 2 more trainers, 1 sports science “overlord” in the FO / coaching staff, lunch for players during the week (something I believe the Union do not do, but other teams in MLS already provide, and so on.)
    .
    I don’t like that the Union can’t seem to compete financially despite being in the 4th or 5th largest market in the country. But that, unfortunately, won’t change until Jay and the Gang decide to sell. So assuming that isn’t happening any time soon, let’s at least be wise with the few resources we’re spending; let’s see if we can spend a little and improve everybody, top to bottom. If we can, our senior roster improves; but we also can make more money off our academy once the kids move on. When that happens, the system starts to pay for itself.
    .
    But instead, our front office will choose to rail about how unlucky we are.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Much appreciate the thoughtful consideration put into this post.

      • Agreed. Are you free any time soon to run a local soccer organization that will remain nameless?

    • Great post.
      I hope someone from the team sees it and takes the advice.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      John, the U need to pay you for this consultation – more valuable than RM’s

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah it’s amazing. I know it’s cliche to say, “this is Philly, we don’t take BS, and we’re so smart, and no excuses, blah, blah, blah…”, but it’s rather unbelievable that this team’s FO has chosen the, “Woe is us, we have no luck” mentality… and expected us all to accept it.

      • Some injuries – Sapong’s broken face or Wenger’s concussion, for example – certainly are “bad” luck. You can’t really do anything about those. (Note to Sak and Curtin: shut up about it; if you complain about bad luck, you look like a loser.) But other injuries, maybe, can be prevented. Noguiera’s current injury, for example. Or maybe you can’t do jack shit about them. I don’t know. But I’m not paid to know.
        .
        Finding out would be a wise investment for this team.

  12. Just saw one of the fights that broke out in 133 on youtube……doesn’t really look like a scrap…more like two big masses just moving into each other….not really a supporters scrap though…..for the real deal just youtube hooligan fights…..Leeds always has some tasty ones up on there. Unfortunately, our ultras and RB’s ultras could never have a prematch meeting place to kick things off because it’s Chester….and both sets of goons would be mugged and jacked in a heartbeat! Train tracks that are covered by trees in between the lot and stadium would be a good spot. Finally starting to look like a proper darby……..

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