Daily news roundups

Bethlehem announcement today, profits and more Union bits, SoB Movie now on DVD, more news

Philadelphia Union

Nick Sakiewicz, along with Lehigh University President John Simon and USL CEO and Managing Partner Alec Papadakis, are scheduled to make “a major announcement” today at noon at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium. The announcement is widely expected to be about the Union launching its own USL team. Presumably the Union’s USL team will be playing on the grass field of Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium because Steel Field, the home of the legendary Bethlehem Steel FC that is now owned by Moravian College and was renamed Rocco Calvo Field, is now covered with artificial turf painted with gridiron football stripes.

The Allentown Morning Call reports on the excitement in the Lehigh Valley soccer community about a USL team calling Bethlehem home.

Forbes is going to release its list of the most valuable teams in MLS later today.


The Union come in at No. 11 on the list in terms of value at $145 million, are tied with New England and Dallas at seventh in the league for revenue at $25 million, and are one of only eight clubs to turn a profit in 2014 at $2 million.

At the Toronto Sun, Kurtis Larson says Toronto FC should hang the Daily News column written by John Smallwood in its dressing room as a reminder:

The Union are what the Reds used to be, the laughingstock of the league, coming up with new ways to lose and embarrass themselves every other week. Philly’s collecting less than a point per game and is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season…As Smallwood wrote, the Union are the league’s latest choke artists. It’s not an accomplishment to beat them, it’s an expectation.

Sticking to Canada, sportsnet.ca notes the Union’s road game in Montreal on Saturday, which is expected to be the occassion of Didier Drogba’s MLS debut, “will see the Impact sellout Stade Saputo for the first time since 2013, when Montreal went on to make the playoffs for the first time.” At least defender Laurent Ciman won’t be playing, he’s on vacation in Belgium (crappy Google translation here).

Jim Curtin is among a number of MLS coaches quoted in an article at The Guardian about growing concerns about the level of officiating in MLS.

At The 700 Level, Dave Zeitlin reviews “all the inventive ways the Union have blown leads this season.” While the list “doesn’t even include games in which the Union didn’t lead in but still gave up late goals to lose,” Zeitlin notes of the seven games he reviews, “If you count it up, that’s 21 points dropped from a winning position — 21 points that would currently put the Union atop MLS if they still had them.”

At Brotherly Game, Eugene Rupinski looks at the stats of Union defenders individually and by lineup.

Sean Johnson’s double save on Brian Carroll and Sebastien Le Toux in Sunday’s draw earned him a spot on the Save of the Week ballot at MLSsoccer.com.

The Union remain at No. 18 in Soccer America’s power rankings.

Keegan Rosenberry, the midfielder and former Union Academy and Reading United player who is a senior at Georgetown, has been named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team. Georgetown played the Union in a scrimmage at the Union training grounds on Wednesday morning, losing 2-1.

Sons of Ben: The Movie

Sons of Ben: The Movie went on sale today on DVD. I promise you, it’ll be $15 well spent.


Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road to face Toronto FC II tonight (8 pm, YouTube).


LA thumped Guatemala’s Comunicaciones 5-0 on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League play. Alan Gordon and Robbie Keane both bagged a brace in the win

Two league games and two CONCACAF Champions League games on tap for tonight. In league play, Columbus hosts NYCFC (7:30pm, MLS Live), and Kansas City hosts San Jose (8:30 pm, MLS Live). In Champions League play, DC are in Panama to face Árabe Unido (8 pm, Fox Soccer Plus), and Seattle hosts Honduran side Olimpia (10 pm, Fox Sports 2).

Vancouver Whitecaps Designated Player Pedro Morales has signed a multi-year contract extension with the club.

Houston Dynamo have signed 18-year-old midfielder Christian Lucatero as a Homegrown Player.

Orlando City has sold out its season tickets for 2016. An announcement on the club website notes, “With 18,000 Season Ticket Members, Orlando City ranks among the top three teams in MLS, and among only four clubs with an established waitlist.”

Bill Manning, the president of Real Salt Lake and two-time MLS Executive of the Year, has left the club. Team owner Dell Loy Hansen says the front office will undergo a complete restructuring. Manning, whose contract with the club expired on June 30, was vice president of sales with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2004 to 2008. I wonder if he has plans to come back east?

Pioneer Press on how financing from the Federal Transportation Authority for the land being touted as a possible stadium site for Minnesota United in St. Paul could complicate things. “Building an 18,500-seat professional soccer stadium on the 10-acre parcel would require the blessing of the federal government, and Uncle Sam isn’t always known for being speedy or simple to deal with.”

An editorial at Las Vegas Review-Journal is favorable to the possibility of converting the stadium used by the city’s Triple-A baseball team into a soccer stadium with the ultimate goal of landing a MLS franchise, particularly because the plan does not include public subsidies.


Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair have tweeted about their displeasure with the accommodations arranged by the league for road games. Both report encountering bedbugs at a hotel in Kansas City.


The US has been drawn into Group A along with Canada, Cuba, and Panama for the men’s Olympic qualification tournament.  In Group B are Mexico, Haiti, and Honduras, with the final spot in the group being determined by a playoff between Costa Rica and Guatemala. The top two teams will qualify for the Olympics, with the third place team facing Colombia in a playoff. The CONCACAF tournament begins October 1. Here’s the Group A schedule for the US:

Oct. 1 – USA vs. Canada, 8 p.m. CT, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Oct. 3 – USA vs. Cuba, 4 p.m. CT, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Oct. 6 – USA vs. Panama, 7:30 p.m. MT, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.

The semifinals take place at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 10, with the third place game and finals there on Oct. 13.

The USWNT plays Costa Rica tonight in Chattanooga in the second game of their World Cup Victory Tour (6:55 pm, ESPN2).


The FIFA presidential race is starting to get muddy. On Tuesday, Bloomberg Business reported, “FIFA’s ethics committee is investigating charity donations made by Chung Mong-Joon, the South Korean billionaire running for FIFA president, according to letters from the Asian Football Confederation to the sport’s global governing body.”

Reuters then reported,

FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon said on Wednesday that payments he made to Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 were “charitable donations” and any attempt to use them as part of a reported ethics investigation was “cynical and unethical”.

Responding to media reports that world soccer’s governing body was investigating the South Korean billionaire over the ‘disaster relief’ funds, Chung said in a statement he had been donating money to causes at home and abroad since the 1990s.

Another Reuters report says, “FIFA will meet some of its leading commercial partners on Thursday to discuss reforms, a source close to soccer’s world governing body said on Tuesday.”

Also from Reuters, “The United States and several other countries forced an international anti-money-laundering organization to withdraw a public warning it issued in June to financial institutions about corruption in soccer, according to two people familiar with the matter. The report on the Financial Action Task Force continues,

The U.S. FATF delegation had a fit. They told the FATF they were way out of bounds because that statement was just so far beyond any current reasonable boundaries that have been established and agreed upon by FATF members,” the first source said. “The U.S. delegation said: ‘You guys are nuts, that is not the way we’re headed with this stuff.'”


  1. That Guardian piece on PRO is a very good read. I love Sigi’s comment on needing to leave before he choked a ref.

    What I get from that Forbes list is the Union has $2 million it should be spending on players.

    • That 2 million is likely being spent in Bethlehem.
      ‘It is an expectation to beat the Union’….ouch. ouch indeed.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Agree with the ouches, El P, but it is know surprise. Both Seattle and DC saw an opportunity for bench development and each used it.

      • +1 ….But it’s never good to see that outsiders think as badly of our club as we do. I generally like to see the outside view about our sports teams, in order to temper what can be the overly critical eye of a Philadelphia sports fan. I admittedly being one. But this just feels like being kicked while on the ground.

    • That’s 2 MIL of revenue before taxes, amoritization, etc. Not necessarily an extra 2 MIL to invest in player acquisition. Like El Pachy said above, most of that money is going to be invested in Bethlehem and the youth HS in Wayne. As a fan, its good to see we aren’t running a deficit – meaning we are probably keeping costs low across the board and not just in DP acquisition. Remember, the league pays for most of the player/roster salaries through the cap and allocation money. Not much is really covered by the ownership as far as players wages go.

      • We are only out about 300 thousand for Edu and 150 thousand for Aristegieuta out of pocket.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Exactly my point. Plus whatever was shelled out for Barnetta. Whether that’s all TAM or some out of pocket.

      • All TAM. Aren’t paying a penny for him.

      • Jim Presti says:

        I remember the Union put out a press release stating that they used some TAM. Do you know if you can combine TAM and out of pocket funds? Or do you have to buy down the player below the cap hit with TAM

  2. I thought Smallwood’s article was strong, if a little too despairing. I am not ready to admit the Union have no hope and are doomed to eternal mediocrity. But I can’t see the path forward yet either.

    The best part is that Sak called and bitched to Smallwood after an earlier article. Maybe Sak should spend less time worrying about his press and more time trying to get rid of M’bolhi and hire a competent general manager.

    • Smallwood is a good competent journalist. I am of two minds with him though regarding the club…..one is yes well done the other is stop picking on my little brother.

      • I have to give Smallwood credit for giving the Union attention. He might be the most prominent sports journalist in the city who is actually talking about the Union. I don’t think any of his criticisms were unfair (though I hear ya in the “don’t pick on my little bro” feelings). And I think his larger point — that the Union is in danger of being relegated to permanent mediocrity — is a good one. And it’s one that will only get more true as other clubs in the league sign bigger and bigger names and improve. I’m actually somewhat heartened by the Forbes list. Shows the Union at least has a pretty good value and should be in the position to spend some to get better. Look how good the Red Bulls are at essentially the same place in terms of club value. One thing is for certain, there are no excuses to not have a real director / general manager right now. That should have happened before this disaster of a season even began.

      • I’m not a fan of Smallwood – I read his tone as condescending a lot of times, though of course that could just be me and not his intent. However, yes, Johnny Smalls is a good journalist overall. I click on and read anything he writes about soccer, because he’s just about the only “mainstream” writer at either paper that does so. (Tannenwald, of course, but almost everything he writes is online, not in the paper.) I want the people at philly.com to see clicks on articles about soccer, so I read them.
        And I think Johnny Smalls was spot on this time. And it is utterly ridiculous for Sak to call him up and complain about the bad press, rather than – you know – fixing the problems.
        I hope Smallwood continues to pound on ownership, and I hope others in our great media market start joining him.

      • +1
        I couldn’t imagine thinking any less of Sak. Then to hear about his bitching to J. Smalls, he’s reached a new low for me. I have no sympathy or respect for the man. He does not exemplify ‘Philly Tough’.

    • The problem with his point is that it makes no difference how much you spend if at the end of the day you have the MLS equivalent of Ruben Amaro spending the money. A competent director of football is the first step.

      • That’s actually the point Smallwood was making. The lack of a sporting director / general manager / director of soccer operations / whatever title you want is ownership’s fault. Peter Nowak was, ultimately, ownership’s fault. John Hackworth was ownership’s fault.

  3. I would like to state for the record that I’m beginning to understand more fully what this club is doing and while I still have a major issue over not yet having a Director of Soccer who is streamlining the Vision from youth on up to first team I believe they are on the right track in building a really strong infrastructure. I am still uncertain about the manager but they come and go and maybe when we have the GM doing what I’m asking he will find the right coach. I can be patient with that.
    That said if you hope to be a club dependent on the maturity of your youth into someday first team members, a la Barcelona….then you need to have a consistent style and philosophy. I see the Vision. I am beginning to understand the Plan. No for the club wide Philosophy.
    This is a big turn for me.
    Bring me the man capable of installing the Philosophy and we will be in business.

    • Who are you, and what did you do with our favorite cynical elephant?

      • I’m still rounding into form…always in form.
        I need to be honest and fair though. And I’ve had an epiphany.
        I will still skewer skewer skewer but I am beginning to see the mid to long term Vision and Plan better and that is all I’ve asked. Now for the Philosophy.
        Notice all the clubs operating at a deficit? Notice Pirlo is old. Lampard. Gerard. May in a few years with the infrastructure and the core in place the Union will begin to spend with the big market clubs but will have done so with a good plan based around strong academy.

      • J in Section 125 says:

        I agree with you and only ask the U to spend the money wisely. So if they do there will be more wins in MLS, the organization will continue to see profits and all will be happy

      • Having players like Edu, Noguiera, Maidana and Barnetta in their prime is better than having agining stars for millions of dollars. The old guys sell tickets but we are establishing a core of talented players at the height of their capabilities.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1. Spending on Value at its finest. Couldn’t agree any more.

      • The Chopper says:

        I am with you. We tend to fixate on what is wrong with the club and do fail to acknowledge that they are doing some things right.

        This USL team is a very positive step.

    • Full control of a USL team is the next logical step in player development. Giving young players professional playing time is vitally important. The teams really utilizing their “team 2” are the ones that will succeed at a much more rapid rate. Infinitely better than paying millions for 3-4 DP players. See Matt Miazga shutting down world class talent like Kaka and Villa

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I fully realize that I am very likely talking to a father with a family and employment responsibilities to fulfill.
      That said I remain greedy to read your description of what you think you see, because for you a portion of the fog has lifted if only temporarily and you see something, something that might even be land.
      I doubt I am alone in hoping for further shaping in the results of the Epiphany.

    • old soccer coach says:

      would love to read further development of your thinking. Yes, family and work come first, of course. You have been searching for the elements of your three point program for some months and your thoughts are worth reading.

      • ++++++1

      • el pachyderm says:

        All credit to 3four3 sir.
        Thank you for the kindness but the original genius is theirs…i am just a hollow bone… bringing the thinking to our local station.
        I’ve communicated with Gary Kleiben and he and Brian are absolutely involved in changing our thinking about the game stateside and is ‘good with spreading the message as far as possible’ .
        It is important for me to recognize them. Vision. Philosophy. Plan. Theirs.

    • After this development I can only think things have happened in reverse. That is, had the Union started the USL team a year or two ago, would that not have been the best placement for Curtain and Albright? Ease them in to things. Let them grow and learn together at a lower level thus not impacting the senior team in as drastic ways. Just a thought to revisionist history.

      • el pachyderm says:

        As for how all this marries a unique club wide Philosophy… Now that I could go on and on about.
        For me it starts with not having the ball in order to always have the ball. Well drilled…and I mean well drilled organized defensive pressure to recoup possession…not just first defender second defender third defender American shit but 11th defender tactics… An identity of pressure.
        From there you decide counter strike quickly or cycle play.
        Second…the field has to be shrunk…too much distance between back line and front line and I still see this all over MLS in varying degrees. We would have to be willing to give up goals cause we would as a whole club but in about 3-5 years it would be devastating and efficient and most importantly for me….beautiful.
        That’s why I wrote previously that this philosophical shift would be cutting edge for MLS.

      • In my minds eye I see it as an amorphous blob with string like spokes interconnecting individual players with each other. When one player moves, the strings tighten and the others are pulled along in concert with each other. Ever adapting, while being compact at the same time. Shaping itself to absorb pressure, in preparation to counter with it’s own strike at opposing defenses. Fluid. But still structured. Many if not all parts interchanging and reforming to make a whole greater than it’s individual parts.
        This is the best I can come up with to describe what I see in the European game. What I hope the Union can become. It doesn’t have the elegance of Pachy’s prose. But not all of us are poets.

  4. While I would like to think that a vision philosophy and plan is in place. I don’t share the elephants optimism. We’ve seen this story before. Build through youth develop a culture and bring kids up through the academy. Sign young and build around them. Well this is what they have been saying for 6 seasons. Resulting in getting rid of the majority of youth on the team with only one young homegrown player making an impact (and not a huge impact at that). And the biggest youngest talent this team had just left to play in Germany in Zack Steffan (because the FO wouldn’t shell out the cash). I don’t buy it. It looks nice on paper, but can not be executed by this FO. Its just more smoke covering the BS that is this organization. As far as this team functioning at a profit that still does nothing to help the product on the field it likely only improves the pockets of our best dressed FO.

  5. It’s very nice to see the elephant make the turn. Haha! We’re no where near the finish line, but the news of the Bethlehem Blue Steel (that’s what I’m calling them) announcement is a positive. Continued development of the youth is vital. Also seeing we are not in the red is a positive as well. A Sporting Director MUST happen this offseason. If we can acquire someone to now add direction, we may begin to resemble and actual club. I’m not happy at six years, where this club is, but, things COULD be starting to turn for the better.

  6. Having our own USL team is 100% necessary to be competitive. At least with our academy (High school) and the USL team we are keeping up with the rest of the league in some capacity. Mark my words the depth that the USL team will provide will be crucial to competing in multiple competitions, let alone MLS play in general.

    • Jim Presti says:

      +1 See LA, Vancouver, Portland, NYRB and Seattle. Teams that have been sending young players and homegrowns to the USL to develop and are now reaping some of the benefits.

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