Daily news roundups

No playoffs talk and other notes from Curtin’s presser, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

In his weekly press conference (full transcript here at PSP), Jim Curtin made clear he isn’t going to be talking about a playoff chase:

We’re not in the playoff race right now. Until you’re above that red line, we’re not even going to call or talk about the playoffs because we’ve done that in the past and that’s not what we’re going to do anymore…we are keeping the right mindset and not getting carried away talking about us being in the playoff picture again, even though the table does kind of show it. We won’t really talk about it until we’re above that red line, and then I can get into the do-or-die, must-win type games.

Andre Blake was a central topic in the press conference. Will he start on Saturday against New England, as Curtin indicated after the win in Montreal? Curtin said on Wednesday, “It’s part of the plan right now. We’re still discussing, but that is in our minds for us to have him as the starter this week.”

Curtin also seemed to suggest Blake could start the US Open Cup final over John McCarthy if he continues to perform well: “Johnny’s played a lot more games this year, he’s a lot more experienced, so Johnny would have the edge right now, for sure. But, we’ll still evaluate every game and, if Andre gets hot, it’s not impossible to say that he does run with it.”

More on Blake at the Inquirer, Daily News, Delco Times, and Philadelphia Sports Nation.

With Vincent Nogueira now healthy again, Curtin discussed the lineup decision he has to make regarding whether to break up the Brian Carroll-Michael Lahoud partnership.

With Michael and BC in there, they really clog middle, they’ve limited other teams, especially in the counterattack ’cause Mike can really run and put out fires. It could be a scenario where at home, do we look at it a little differently with Vincent [being] a little more of the initiator of our attacks, and a little better on the ball?…

But Michael’s done a great job, that clearly is the more defense minded one, so if we go on the road, maybe you lean more towards that to close out a game, you’re comfortable now throwing Michael and having BC in there. Can there be a situation where Lahoud can spell BC in a moment where we’ve been getting a lot of minutes out of Brian? That’s the ideal, that’s what the real, big top teams in our league do during the course of the year, but we just haven’t had that luxury.

Some more notes from the press conference:

  • Curtin said Andrew Wenger is free of concussion symptoms and has returned to full training with the team.
  • Maurice Edu continues to recover from his groin injury. Curtin said, “[W]e have a plan in place for the game we want him back playing, knowing that the final is coming.”
  • Zach Pfeffer is also out with a groin injury.

Kansas City Star’s The Full 90 blog picks up on Curtin’s comments that the Union has scouts at Kansas City’s games to help the team prepare for the US Open Cup final:

If these are the same scouts who brought goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi to Philadelphia…then Sporting Kansas City should prepare its championship wall for a new prize.

All jokes aside, this is rather odd. Not only have the Union played Sporting KC once already this season, Kansas City is among one of the most predictable clubs in the league. Manager Peter Vermes has stuck to his 4-3-3 formation since taking over in 2009, and while this season the team has pressed opponents further back on the field, it’s still the same concept; same cycle: Push the tempo, lose possession, high press, regain possession, repeat.

Then again, this proves the Union are clinging desperately to the hope of grabbing one piece of hardware amid a disappointing year to this point.

I don’t think I like your tone, Full 90.

New England Revolution players and coaches talked about the Union on Wednesday:

  • Andrew Farrell on Cristian Maidana: “I’ve watched a lot of their games and he’s really, really good. It’s going to be up to our defensive mids – whether it’s Scotty, Jermaine, Daigo [Kobayashi], or [Andy] Dorman – to limit that. I think also if we keep a lot of the ball we can limit what he does for their attack.”
  • Farrell on defending against CJ Sapong: “It’s going to be good. I think C.J. is not necessarily underrated because he gets hype, but he’s a really good player. He’s good in the air, fights for everything, big, and has some good moves on the ball. It’s going to be a good test for me and Jose if we go against him.”
  • Head coach Jay Heaps on the Union: “They’re a team that has players who can beat you at any moment in a game, so we have to be very mindful of that. We have to prepare ourselves to try and limit what they do well, which you can’t always do, so it’s going to be a lot of team defending and 11 guys out there. Not just the back four or defensive midfielders, it has be the whole group.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin talks to Sebastien Le Toux and Union trainer Kevin Miller about the what makes him able to run. And run. And run, and run, and run.

The Union move up one spot to No. 18 in SBI’s power rankings.

Saturday’s game at PPL is also the time for the Philadelphia Union Foundation’s School Supply Drive: “Fans are encouraged to drop off unused school supplies such as notebooks, pens/pencils, binders, paper, scissors, markers and rulers.” There will be collection points outside of PPL Park in Toyota Plaza and at the Sons of Ben tailgate.

Local

Julia Burnell (M: Penn Fusion; Glen Mills, Pa.) has been called up for the US U-15 GNT camp at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif., Sept. 5-12.

MLS

Just to keep things interesting for Union fans, last in the East Chicago (26 points) defeated second place NYRB (39 points) 3-2 at home on Wednesday night, ending NYRB’s six game unbeaten streak and pulling within one point of ninth place Philadelphia. Kennedy Igboananike scored two for the Fire and NYRB’s second goal, which came from a corner kick trick play, should not have been allowed. In Western Conference play, last place Colorado (30 points) defeated eighth place Houston (32 points) at home, 2-1.

After drawing 2-2 in the first leg in Montreal, Vancouver defeated the Impact 2-0 in the second leg of the Canadian Championship, lifting the Voyageur Cup for the first time in club history and qualifying for the 2015-2016 CONCACAF Champions League. Montreal’s Victor Cabrera was shown a second yellow card in the 30th minute when both teams were scoreless.

In CONCACAF Champions League play, Seattle was defeated 1-0 by Olimpia in Honduras.

LA Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant will retire at the end of the 2015 MLS Season.

The proposal for LA to host the 2024 Summer Olympics includes installing a temporary pool in the stadium that would be the home of LAFC. Swimming World Magazine reports, “The funds to construct the $300 million facility is largely in the hands of Major League Soccer, but the L.A. organizers will pay for the costs to install the temporary pools and any structures that will be used specifically for the Olympics.”

Pioneer Press reports, “The St. Paul City Council passed a resolution Wednesday in support of keeping 10 acres of public land near Snelling and University avenues off the tax rolls to accommodate a proposed Major League Soccer stadium.” More at Minnesota United, Star Tribune, KSTP (1, 2), KARE, and MPR.

Sacramento Republic have invited fans to provide input into the design of its new stadium.

NWSL

Seattle Reign clinched the NWSL Supporters Shield with two games still to be played with a 3-1 win over Boston Breakers on Wednesday.

US

Reuters reports, “The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has cast doubt on the location of next year’s centenary Copa America by refusing to confirm it will be held in the United States as originally planned.”

Gedion Zelalem impressed in his debut for Rangers, recording 2 assists in Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over Airdrieonians in Scottish League Cup play.

Brek Shea. Genius or super genius?

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “FIFA presidential candidate Michael Platini will publish his manifesto in the next six to eight weeks and wants to bring football back into the spotlight during the campaign, a source close to the Frenchman said on Wednesday.” CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout said, “We want to do it…Originally, we want to keep going with what we’ve done, keep going with CONCACAF but we understand the moment they are going through and we are not going to force anyone to do anything.”

The AP reports, “As Michel Platini prepares to reveal his FIFA presidential vision, a rival contender is launching his campaign by questioning the UEFA leader’s long-standing association with Sepp Blatter and his credentials to reform the scandal-tainted governing body. Former Trinidad and Tobago captain David Nakhid is positioning himself as a candidate whose main selling point is his distance from the discredited Swiss-based institution, having never served under Blatter.”

Reuters reports, “A new FIFA committee began its attempt to settle the dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian football federations when it met for the first time on Wednesday.”

The Champions League draw takes place today at 11:45 am ET (Fox Sports 1).

24 Comments

  1. Two clarifications:

    Brek Shea. Genius or super genius? [NSFW]
    and

    Gedion Zelalem, playing for a second tier Scottish team, impressed while playing against a third tier Scottish team.

    • Gedion Zelalem: Getting minutes. He’s a young kid that needs to play (sound familiar?) Let’s hope it’s a worthwhile loan period.

  2. Hopefully Curtin’s decision to start Nogueira took less time than it took for him to complete his politic response.

    • I think he was pretty clear saying Lahoud would be used to close out games on the road. Not a bad idea. However he should never ever start over Nogs.

  3. The Realist Brian says:

    Ed, you missed Darius Madison out at UVA for breaking team rules. Reported by Goff. Do the Union wise up and sign him or do they claim he is unsignable due to this unknown predicament? I say the later and he heads to NASL or low level Europe.

    • He is already at UMBC for his senior year….that was a real crappy piece with no facts on the Brotherly Game………after this semester……superdraft, Europe, or Union…..

  4. Some cracking games yesterday in the Champions League qualification games: Leverkusen beat Lazio, Moscow beat Sporting Lisbon, and a Kazakstan team got thru. If you do not DVR the Champions League HiLights (shown in the middle of the night on Fox Sports), then you missing some really good stuff. Will be an interesting draw today!

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    CONCACAF is in a mess for a reason, a reason similar to why FIFA is in a mess. Both organizations operate on a principle of governance that has been considered flawed if it is unchecked in some fashion, ever since Thucydides’ analysis of Athens in his study of Athens during the Peloponessian wars.
    .

    Concacaf is dominated by the Caribbean islands because each is separate and therefore its soccer federations outnumber those of Central America and North America combined, and therefore outvote them. Yet who has the dominant teams and who generates the most revenue.

    The same pertains to FIFA, Africa and Asia having the most votes, the least revenue and the poorest teams. South America has only ten; Europe has slightly more than fifty. Yet they dominate both the pitch and the cash flow.

    In both cases, the “under the table” adjustment to the flaw has been vote buying. Those without money but lots of votes make deals with those with lots of money but not enough votes, since on-pitch quality very roughly correlates with cash flow. ( as a neutral with the price of one international soccer trip, do you spend it on Bermuda v Burundi, or Argentine v Germany?)

    If FIFA’s reforms are to succeed, there needs to be a bicameral structure in which one segment reflects numbers of member nations but the other represents numeric valuation of revenue generated. Both interests must be represented.
    .
    U.S. Soccer should not bother to try to reform CONCACAF.

    U.S. Soccer should join UEFA.
    .
    The revenue potential of the US entertainment market will convince them.

    • So many great points. I’ll start with this one — how cool is it that we have a soccer website where the commenters name-drop Thucydides?

      • +1.
        The most erudite fans in the country. Quite contrary to our outdated reputation.

      • The nice thing about being a Union fan is that the “Philly fans are boors and louts” narrative is never mentioned. I’ve personally never seen anyone bring it up in various comment boards or telecasts. Let’s hope it stays that way. Don’t hear it about Sixers fans either actually, even when they are good and the house is packed (insert laugh track here). Only Phillie, Flyer, and Eagle fans. I don’t have an explanation, just an observation.

      • OSC is a wellspring of knowledge. I get schooled every time he types.

    • And, if I’m of the FIFA mindset, I go to neither of your proposed friendlies. Instead, I send half the money to the Burundi-Bermuda ref, and ask him to call a penalty every time someone goes into the box. And I take the other half of the money, go to my local bookmaker, and bet the over on total goals scored.

    • And … that’s the first time I’ve heard the idea that the US join UEFA. It’s brilliant — I like it much more than US joining CONMEBOL.

      • I have to agree. That is the absolute best idea I’ve heard in a long time.
        There is a litany of logistical questions (does MLS now join Champions League?), but from an economic standpoint, it’s brilliant.

      • Section 114 says:

        And bring Mexico and Canada with us — that solves a bunch of those problems and keeps us from leaving behind two bona fide partners.

        The rest of CONCACAF (or whatever it would then be called, maybe the Guatemala Invitational) can join the OFC and compete for their spot.

    • In order to bring about positive change to FIFA and CONCACAF, I think it’s going to come down to the money-makers saying “reform and play ball, or we’re taking the ball and going home”. Money talks. Especially in footy. The smaller countries that have hold over the powerhouses in FIFA/CONCACAF, really only care about money. What’s good for world soccer development rarely seems to come into play. Highest bidder wins.
      .
      What OSC says is a great idea. I think though it may have to go even further. Maybe UEFA becomes the new FIFA. Threat of it may be enough to pull these ransom demanding countries back in line. So far FIFA seems just to be playing lip service to reform. And the comments from the guy leading that reform are worrisome in the least. A strong hand needs to be taken.
      .
      How the new FIFA presidency turns out will have an effect on where the dominoes fall. I’m not sure Platini is the answer. His history with FIFA and Blatter makes him suspect. New blood needs to be injected to make separation from the old boys network to be seen as complete. It will give the best chance for true transparency and a healthier, less corrupt, world game. In this I think the Prince Ali would be a good choice. At least from the outside he looks like a good honest candidate. I can’t say I’m well versed in the candidates. If there are better choices, I’m all for it. I just don’t think Platini should be the answer.

  6. With Vincent Nogueira now healthy again…
    .
    Maurice Edu continues to recover from his groin injury.
    .
    Zach Pfeffer is also out with a groin injury.
    .
    .
    Maybe it’s confirmation bias. Do the Union end up with more of this type of injury than other teams? Because it sure seems to me like we have a lot of hamstring / quad / calf / groin muscle issues, and over the course of more than just this year. If I’m not suffering from confirmation bias, and the Union really do have more of this type of injury than other MLS teams… why? More importantly, why haven’t they don’t anything to fix it? Change the way the players warm up; change the way they cool down; alter the training strategy during the week; alter the training strategy during the off-season; alter nutrition within the team (something I believe they don’t do at all, actually). Whatever the answer – or answers – it would seem to me somebody should be taking a look at the training staff. Is there a problem or an inefficiency that can easily be corrected? Is there a bigger problem that requires a larger change?
    .
    I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating. The Union already have a working business relationship with a professional sports team (the Eagles) that is on the leading edge of sports science. Why aren’t they tapping into that relationship? Why aren’t they asking Eagles trainers – during their off-season – to observe Union training, and report on what they’re seeing? Why aren’t they asking the Eagles about how best to build personalized meal-plans for players?
    .
    This is something they can – and should! – leverage. It is the sort of thing that could give them a competitive advantage in a league that is at least partially built on the concept of parity.

    • I have a strong suspicion it has to do with hydration levels. I think the Eagles have hit it on the head with their strategy. They want players at a certain level to play or practice. So far this preseason/training camp they have had fewer injuries compared to the rest of the league. Our society is flooded with sugary/caffeinated drinks designed to provide energy, not necessarily hydration. The human body is made up of over 70% water. Muscles and joints need water to function properly. Lack of hydration would, in theory cause these muscles to contract/shrink/be less flexible and able to deal with being stretched to their limit. When these guys get thirsty, do they reach for water or Gatorade/Powerade/Red Bull/Soda? Are they hydrating before bed, in the morning? Before. during, after practice and games. I really think hydration is key. And from there, pure water instead of sugar water and all the fancy additives. But what do I know.

      • I think that’s a good guess. Might be the first place I’d guess, too. But my point is… shouldn’t somebody at the U be talking to their buddies at the Eagles?

      • I thought they had a pow-wow earlier this summer. I remember reading it somewhere they got together for a day or two. Still in the implementation stage? Not enough funding? You might have a better suggestion. Anyway, your point is valid. Why aren’t we hearing about any change in philosophy?

    • Not quite confirmation bias, but close. I suspect the number of those injuries per minutes played overall is close to the norm. However, the Union have fewer guys playing those minutes, so each one of our regular players has a higher likelihood of getting injured.

      • That’s an interesting theory. I wish I had more time to delve into injury reports for teams to see if there is some sort of relationship like that.
        .
        Obviously, sports science won’t do squat about things like Sapong’s broken face or Wenger’s concussion. These sorts of injuries, though, seem to be at least partially preventable.

      • Well some don’t seem to have anything to do with minutes. Like Lahoud and Pfeffer. Nogs I’d say yeah, minutes played probably had something to do with it. Nando got hurt a few different times and wasn’t being,overused.

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