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US Open Cup semi tonight, Green Cards, more news

Philadelphia Union

US Open Cup semi tonight

The Union (9th in the East Conference and 19th in the league) host Chicago Fire (10th in the Eastern Conference and 20th in the league) tonight in the semifinals of the US Open Cup (7:30 pm, YouTube. Click here to buy tickets.).

It is difficult to overstate how, the prestige of the tournament aside, vital tonight’s game is to two struggling teams and their fans.

In his pregame press conference on Tuesday (click here for a full transcript), Jim Curtin underscored the importance of the Open Cup and tonight’s game in terms beyond simply putting a shine on an otherwise deeply disappointing season.

Yeah, we’re both at the bottom of the table. You know, the table kind of gets thrown out in the Open Cup now because, just like us, they know the scenario: if they win then they host, as well, so there’ll be that little bit of urgency. I know Chicago’s a club that always has taken the Open Cup seriously, I’m familiar with it, I played there. I know they’re going to come in and they have some dangerous weapons on their team…

Yes, it’s been hard, it’s been a hard year for us. But, to have this kind of bond, and the way we’ve pushed in the Open Cup, if we can get the ultimate goal, which is winning the trophy, aside from the financial rewards and going on to CONCACAF Champions League — which are huge — but to have a young group of guys win together and know what that feels like is probably the most valuable thing that we could have right now in what been, like I said, a tough season…

Everybody here in this town is hungry for a trophy, whatever sport it’s in, you know? That’s what the city wants, they want winners, and we [are] two games away from it, and I think that our players, and the things that I learned in Chicago that I pass on would just be, again, there is no better feeling than lifting a trophy with a group of guys, there’s nothing better. That’s why you play the game, that’s why you play the sport, to say that you were the best for that year.

Listen, we know our season has not been the best. I understand that, I’m a realist, [and I’m] not happy with where it’s at, the way it’s gone this year. But, we do have this competition to salvage it.

Fire head coach Frank Yallop said his team is “primed and ready” for tonight’s match. He explained,

I think it’s massive for the club especially when the season hasn’t gone well in the league play. We’ve started to get our team looking like the team I envisioned and hopefully it’s enough to get past this game and go on and host [the Final] and do well. But I’m not getting ahead of myself. We have a tough, tough game in Philly that we’re getting ready for. We want to win that one and then look forward to the next one once that gets done.

The Union come into tonight’s game with several key players — Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, and Andrew Wenger —  recovering from injury. Curtin said of their status:

  • “Mo trained today, he’s been working really hard to get back, and looked good in training today. I think he’ll — obviously, see how he feels, talk with him, now he’s getting some treatment, but it looks positive for him.”
  • “Vincent looked very sharp on the field. I don’t think the quad is quite ready, but I’ll talk with him as well, maybe he can be a reserve, we’ll see the role that he plays tomorrow.”
  • “Andrew still has the concussion, he won’t be in, he won’t be participating.”

Nogueira said, “I feel good, not perfect, but pretty good. We’ll see what will be the decision now. I don’t know if I can go tomorrow, but we will see.”

If Edu is unable to play tonight, Curtin said he was comfortable with Steven Vitoria and Richie Marquez continuing the partnership they debuted last Saturday in Orlando. However, Curtin underscored Edu is preferable over Vitoria in dealing with some of Chicago’s speedy attacking players.

Curtin also discussed the challenges presented by the tournament rule that each side can have only five international players on the gameday roster. Aside from the particular challenges this presents — “you want to use one of your international spots on a reserve center back or would you rather use it on reserve attacking guy?” — Curtin said that efforts have been underway for sometime to secure Green Cards for Fabinho and Vincent Nogueira. Curtin said,

It’s been a process that’s been positive, and some negative. It’s been frustrating, they’ve been trying to get it done for a little while now. That would obviously clear things up and make it a lot easier…There’s still hope of a Green Card before tomorrow, believe it or not, for a guy or two, so it’ll be down to the wire.

Securing Green Cards for Fabinho and Nogueira is necessary not only in the short term for the US Open Cup, but in the long term because, with the Tranquillo Barnetta signing, the team is currently over the limit set by MLS for international spots. Securing Green Cards for one or both takes some of the urgency off of having to unload Rais Mbolhi and also, perhaps, signals something about a long term commitment to keep Fabinho and Nogueira in Philadelphia.

Previews of tonight’s game at Philadelphia Union (print, video) US Soccer (previewgame notes), theCup.usMLSsoccer.com, InquirerDaily News, Delco Times, CSN PhillyPhilly Soccer NewsVavel, Philly Sports Network, Sons of Penn, Chicago Fire (preview, by the numbers), CSN Chicago, Chicago Fire ConfidentialChicagoland Soccer News,

Kansas City hosts Salt Lake tonight at 8:30 pm in the other semifinal (YouTube).


In Tuesday’s press conference, Curtin praised the performance of new signing Warren Creavalle in last Saturday’s draw in Orlando: “To come into the group and get thrown in in the 75th minute — took a little bit of a risk to do that because that’s not easy — I don’t think he quite knew everyone’s name yet, to be honest. Went into a big spot against Kaka so (laughs), again, I didn’t really make it easy on him…I thought he came in a did a really good job.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George looks at how Creavalle will fit into the Union’s plans: “He’s a rarity for the Union, a depth player who is neither inexperienced nor well over 30 years old.”

Creavalle said of his Union debut, “I take it as a positive, being able to step right in. Everyone was very welcoming and I felt comfortable with them, and I’m looking forward to making the most out of it.”

Brotherly Game talks to fellow SB Nation blogs Dynamo Theory and Waking the Red about Creavalle. Seems he has much more upside in midfield than as a full back.

More Union

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin has a profile piece on Zach Pfeffer, who says,

For me, I don’t have any plans or thoughts of going anywhere else. I definitely want to be here. This is where I’m from. My family is here. My friends are here. This is my first professional team. I was part of the academy. I’ve been a part of the organization for a long time and it has a very special place in my heart. So I just want to be a part of a lot of the successes moving forward.

Brotherly Game grades the Union’s summer transfer moves.

At Soccer America, the Union move up one spot to No. 19 in their latest power rankings: “At least the Union shored up the back line; after 18 goals crossed Philly’s goal line in the previous eight games, it came home from Orlando City with a 0-0 tie.”

Metro and Philly Sports Cave notes the Union’s dwindling playoff hopes.


Harrisburg host Louisville City tonight at 7 pm (YouTube). Previews at Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City, Louisville Coopers, and The Courier Journal.

Harrisburg’s Yann Ekra was named to the USL Team of the Week after scoring a goal and an assist in last weekends 3-2 win over Richmond Kickers.

Former Union man and City Islander Morgan Langley talks to Goal.com about how he’s improved playing in Ireland: “You obviously have a better athlete in MLS, but you maybe have a little smarter player over here in the League of Ireland.”

The Daily Collegian on how the Penn State men’s team has replaced several key players who graduated.


After suffering a dislocated and fractured shoulder back on March 7, former Union man Justin Mapp is available for selection by Montreal for the first leg of the Canadian Championship finals tonight against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Orlando City defender Conor Donovan, who left last Saturday’s match against the Union in the 10th minute, is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott visited the proposed site for Minnesota United’s new stadium in St. Paul on Tuesday. “We’re in the fact-finding mode; we talked a lot about what a great market this is…What I will say is I am tremendously impressed with the development that’s taken place to date in St. Paul.” More on the visit at Star TribuneCBS Minnesota, MPR, KSTP, and Fox 9.

You will recall the recent interview with English newspaper The Telegraph in which NASL commissioner Bill Peterson talked about the possibility of introducing promotion/relegation between the NASL and the mostly amateur, though occasionally semi-pro, NPSL. Now NPSL chairman Joe Barone tells The Telegraph he has already had “lengthy discussions” with Peterson on promotion/relegation between the two leagues and also envisions a merger to form NASL 1 and NASL 2. So, one team (Chattanooga FC) gets fantastic attendance for two NPSL finals and everyone gets on the rocket ship to bizarro world?

World Soccer Talk’s Kartik Krishnaiyer calls the prospect “a bit naive,” noting, “most NPSL sides hardly have enough market penetration or the types of facilities that will sustain a second division club financially for even one season.”

It’s official. Well, it will be officially official after a press conference later today: Futbol Club Cincinnati will begin play in the USL beginning in 2016. The team — owned by American Financial Group co-CEO and president, and Cincinnati Reds investor Carl Linder III —  will be coached by John Harkes, and will play its home games at University of Cincinnati’s American football Nippert Stadium, which was recently renovated and expanded to 40,000 seats. The stadium will be capped at 10,000 for USL games. Reports at Cincinnati.com (report, editorial), SI, The Courier-Journal, Cincinnati Business JournalWKRC, WVXU, WCPO, WLWT, and Cincinnati vs. Everyone.

The AP reports, “Russian football bosses have called for star players’ salaries to be capped at just $31,000 a month in a move which could change the face of football in the 2018 World Cup host nation…A club would be allowed to have five players exempt from the cap in a manner similar to Major League soccer’s designated player rule. Only three of the exempt players could be aged over 23.”


Is US Soccer trying to trademark “Dos a Cero”?

At Al Jazeera America, David Goldblatt looks at the significance of NBC’s new six-year deal to broadcast the Premier League: “[D]espite the enduring myth of American exceptionalism, in the sporting world the U.S. is becoming more tolerant of its own diversity and less different from the rest of the world.”

The New York Times has a profile on NBC’s lead announcer of Premier League games, Arlo White.


Following FIFA’s announcement of the membership of its new Reform Committee, US Attorney Kelly T. Currie said, “Superficial changes at FIFA to its statutes will not be sufficient and likewise, mere changes of personnel in certain positions without a genuine commitment to good-governance will not be sufficient. And, as our investigation continues, we will be looking at what reforms are adopted and how they are implemented.”

Reuters reports, “South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon will formally launch his bid to become president of world soccer’s scandal-hit governing body FIFA on Aug. 17 in France, the home of rival Michel Platini.”

Costa Rica’s head coach Paulo Wanchope: Stay classy.

Den Haag goalkeeper Martin Hansen: He scores when he wants to.

Magic Spray, what can’t you make better?


  1. “Magic Spray, what can’t you make better?”
    WTF??? Seriously… maybe the weirdest thing I’ve seen all week.

  2. To be fair to Wanchope, he got pushed into the ball boy by another man who he ends up fighting with.

    • … it looked to me like Wanchope shoved the man off of the gate (a man who may have been a stadium employee) in the first place, the man shoved back, and Wanchope pushed the ball-boy as leverage to attack the man faster (and, yes, he threw the first punch). It’s pretty awful in my opinion.

      Additionally, based on reporting I read, it appears he was only going to the field to scream at the 4th official about how he felt the match was fixed

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Yes, you’re right that the guy in the black shirt had his hand on the gate and Wanchope started things by pushing him away, but Wanchope did not shove the ballboy. He was clearly pushed into the boy, but that doesn’t excuse Wanchope for how he badly he behaved.

        It looks like a security guard is standing there and watching them go at it.

      • hmm… I can see your interpretation, and I believe he was forced to make initial contact with the boy, but I also believe he augmented the contact (more than merely stopping his momentum) in order to generate the backwards momentum required to strike back at the dude quickly

    • he just now resigned!

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