Daily news roundups

“We can’t get over that hump”: recaps and reaction to NE loss, league results, US rosters announced, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

And so that winning feeling last exactly one game.

Before the Union hosted New England Revolution, everything was looking prime for the team to make a statement. Both Montreal and NYCFC, ahead of Philadelphia by one point, had lost earlier in the afternoon. As it turned out, the woes of Orlando, two points ahead, would also drop points at home, drawing 1-1 with Chicago. A win would’ve seen them in sixth place and back in the playoff discussion.

Instead, another squandered opportunity. After a scoreless first half, the Union conceded rather weakly in the 51st minute (Diego Fagundez became the youngest player in MLS history to score 25 goals with the tally) and never added to the two shots on target they managed in the first half.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Cristian Maidana was shown a straight red card for, in the words of referee Chris Penso, “deliberately spitting at an opponent on the ground.”

How much more ridiculous can things become for the Union, who are now last in the Eastern Conference and last in the league?

Head coach Jim Curtin said in his postgame press conference (full transcript here at PSP), “Disappointing result, I thought the first half both teams played well, had chances…Second half I thought we were poor, I thought there was a big drop off…We can’t get any momentum going. We had a very good professional performance in Montreal, a difficult place to go. We get a 1-0 win and then come back home with a good opportunity against a good New England team — that’s a very good team, and they deserve the points tonight. Disappointing. We can’t get over that hump of putting together back-to-back performances.”

And the stoppage time red card for spitting? Here’s what Maidana had to say about the lead up to the incident and the incident itself (translation very kindly provided by Jon Marks):

It was a quick situation. I pushed him [Lee Nguyen] and he fell. The referee believed that I had an aggression towards him. I’m not an aggressive player. I don’t have many red cards or yellow cards in my career.

I chew gum in all the games I play. The ref believed I spit on the player but I never meant to. You can see that I spit. It was close to him but I never intended it to be at him. It was not intentional on my part to spit at him.

Expect Maidana to miss multiple games after the disciplinary committee reviews the footage. Whether you believe him or not (and why not believe him) it’s just another in a long string of players switching off and hurting the team. More on the spitting incident at MLSsoccer.com, CSN Philly, Philadelphia Sports Nation, and The Bent Musket.

Recaps and reports at PSPPhiladelphia Union, MLSsoccer.com (Union, New England), Inquirer, Delco Times (report, analysis),  CSN PhillyPhiladelphia Sun Times, Philly Soccer News (recap, report), Brotherly Game (recap, analysis), Vavel, Philly Sports NetworkMLS Multiplex, New England Revolution (recap, analysis), The Boston GlobeGoLocalWorcester.com, New England Soccer Today (recap, report, report),  The Bent Musket, Prost Amerika, SBI (recap, report), Football.comSports Mole, and the AP.

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young statistically breaks down the Union’s sputtering offense compared to last year’s sputtering offense.

The Union play Harrisburg City Islanders tonight in their annual friendly. The game will take place at Clipper Stadium in Lancaster, kicking off at 7 pm.

The Union waived defender Raymond Lee on Friday. Lee was selected by the Union in the fourth round of this year’s draft, 71st overall.

Union Academy

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph reviews incoming and outgoing players on the Union’s academy teams. Ralph notes the Academy was in play against their PDA counterparts on Saturday but no results have been posted by the Union Academy.

Local

A second half hat trick from Craig Foster completed Harrisburg City Islanders’ 6-0 thumping of FC Montreal at Lancaster’s Clipper Stadium on Saturday night. Harrisburg, who are one point behind Pittsburgh and the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a game in hand, will host the Union there in a friendly tonight at 7 pm. Recaps from Saturday’s win at Harrisburg City Islanders and Penn Live.

NJ.com has a report on Sunday’s Building Bridges charity 3-v-3 tournament at Camden High School to benefit Camden Youth Soccer and Kensington Soccer Club.

MLS

In the Eastern Conference, first place DC (44 points) continues to stumble, losing 3-0 on the road to second place NYRB (42 points), their third loss in a row. Third place Columbus (41 points) scored in the 83rd minute to defeat eighth place NYCFC (28 points) 2-1 at Yankee Stadium after former Union man Andrew Jacobson equalized for the home team in the 29th minute. NYCFC head coach publically questioned whether some of his players actually care about the team following the loss. Fourth place Toronto (37 points) defeated seventh place Montreal (28 points) 2-0 at home on goals from Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. Impact head coach Frank Klopas was fired after the game with Mauro Biello named interim head coach. Fifth place New England (37 points) defeated last place Philadelphia (27 points) 1-0 on the road. Sixth place Orlando (29 points) drew 1-1 with ninth place Chicago (27 points) thanks to a Chicago own-goal. Kickoff, scheduled to take place at 7:30 pm, was delayed 110 minutes due to storms. After play finally commenced, another weather delay in the first half saw a further stoppage of play that lasted 67 minutes. The game finally ended at 12:10 am.

In the Western Conference, first place LA (46 points) lost 1-0 on the road to seventh place San Jose (37 points), finishing the game with ten players. Former Union man Shea Salinas scored the game winner. Second place Vancouver (45 points) finished their 2-0 road loss to eighth place Houston (35 points) with nine men. Former Union man Sheanon Williams assisted the first Dynamo goal. Third place Dallas (41 points) defeated last place Salt Lake (32 points) 2-0. Fourth place Kansas City (40 points) lost 2-1 on the road to ninth place Colorado (33 points). Fifth place Portland (40 points) lost 2-1 to sixth place Seattle (38 points). 64,358 people were at CenturyLink Field for the game.

Montreal Impact vice-president Richard Legendre said of the reasoning behind firing Frank Klopas, the first MLS coach to lose his job this season: “In the last 11 games, we picked up 11 points, and that’s just not satisfactory…We only won once in seven games in the month of August, which we’d identified as crucial. Four were at home and we didn’t win once… We need to finish with better results in the last third of the season.” In case you’re wondering, the Union have picked up 12 points over the last 11 games.

Sebastian Giovinco and Andrea Pirlo have been called up by Italy for the upcoming Euro qualifiers. Toronto’s Giovinco left Saturday’s win over Montreal early with an injury.

Former Union man Jack McInerney talks to Columbus Dispatch about how things are going since joining the Crew: “I’ve known before no matter the circumstances they play soccer. They don’t just dump balls in behind or sit back.” Ouch. More on McInerney in Columbus at MLSsoccer.com.

The Star Tribune reports from Minnesota, “Backers of a proposed professional soccer stadium in Minneapolis will lose their exclusive right to purchase industrial land near downtown on Monday, and the owner of the site says he won’t entertain future offers from the group.

The New York Times has more on protests from fans of NASL side Carolina RailHawks about the club’s ownership by Traffic Sports.

US

The roster for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Peru (Sept. 4 at 7 pm; Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network) and Brazil (Sept. 8 at 8 pm; ESPN Networks, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network) was announced on Sunday. As expected, Michael Bradley will miss the game against Peru so he can play for Toronto against Seattle on Saturday, Sept. 5. He, along with Clint Dempsey and Sean Johnson, who will replace William Yarborough on the roster, will join the team for the Brazil game.

Klinsmann said of the upcoming friendlies,

The bigger picture is to get some answers for how we put things together for Mexico game a month from now. Obviously we want to continue to have a good flow of guys from the Gold Cup, but also to bring back guys who are in position to compete for a spot on the roster for Oct. 10.  Our message to these guys is simple: prove a point that you want to be at the Rose Bowl.

With these games, it is not the time to be patient. This is really now time for the guys to make a really strong impression that they understand the situation we’re in because of what happened in the Gold Cup. These games are not about developing things for the future. This is about proving a point towards the Mexico game.

More on the roster at US Soccer, ESPNSI, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, MLSsoccer.com, ASNStars and Stripes FCThe Guardian. And then there’s this:

On Friday, the 24-player roster for the final U-23 training camp ahead of the Olympic qualifiers was announced. Among those on the roster are Downingtown’s Zack Steffen. The camp will take place in England, Aug. 30-Sept. 8, and will include friendlies against England on Sept. 4, and Qatar on Sept. 8. The US begins group play in the CONCACAF qualification tournament on Oct. 1 against Canada.

Also announced on Friday was the roster for the U-20 MNT that is participating in the Stevan Vilotic-Cele Tournament in Serbia. The team begins play in the tournament on Sept. 3 against Serbia. Head coach Tab Ramos talks about the roster and the tournament in a Q&A at US Soccer.

Portland’s Darlington Nagbe has gained US citizenship and is now eligible to be called up by the USMNT. He says he hasn’t heard anything from the team yet.

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “An Argentine judge on Friday released Hugo and Mariano Jinkis from house arrest while he examines a U.S. request for their extradition to face corruption charges related to alleged graft inside FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.”

The Guardian reports, “Labourers working on one of Russia’s World Cup venues are complaining that they have not been paid for months, despite the budget for the arena increasing fivefold since the country won the right to hold the 2018 competition.”

Reuters reports, “Pope Francis’ favorite soccer club, the top-tier Argentine team San Lorenzo, has dismissed as ‘totally crazy’ a report that U.S. real-estate magnate and presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made an approach to buy it.”

29 Comments

  1. The Union will never get over the hump until we get a real manager for this team. Twice the Union have hired the “next guy in line” and both times the results have been poor. I’m sure Jim Curtin would be a good fit for the Bethlehem USL team but he is not up to the task at the MLS level

  2. Curtin needs tofucking go. We need to hire someone with a pedigree. And not a fucking MLS retread.

  3. “The Union waived defender Raymond Lee on Friday.”

    So now we have exactly zero defensive back depth… Great roster construction, guys.

    • Kinda tells me what the value of a college draft is…unless you are an exceptionally high pick…it is all moot. I guess we will see with Catic.

    • After seeing Lee play against Bournemouth, I glad we never have to see him in a Union jersey again. He was a big gaping hole in the defense that invited strikers through. Should never have been on the roster.

      • He was horrible in pre-season too, never should have made the roster . . . but that shows how desperate this team was to have someone who could backup LB/RB

  4. Was the drop off by the Union in the second half or was it the superior team choosing to drop the hammer and put us in the meat grinder.
    .
    Either way… It is evident this club has no extra gear, it is evident we are what we are, we all know this. It is evident in the list of players on our roster as compared to others teams. I may be seeing the mid to long range Vision and Plan more clearly but the present, oh the unfolding present is a bitter bitter taste of the darkest chocolate.
    .
    A guy walks into a pub called Cynicism Corner up on the Cliff of Union Despair- asks for a Victory on tap. Bartender says we don’t serve that here.
    .
    You want cynicism….the only way we beat Kansas City is if they beat themselves.

    • The second half fall off indicates that Heaps can make adjustments. The Union can’t. I don’t think that’s necessarily an indictment of Curtin’s coaching abilities but does not say much of his ability to put a roster together. Curtin owns the decision to make Ray Gaddis the right back of choice. Curtin owns the decision to have a striker corps that consists of big guys who cant score. I think CJ is good. Nando is not so good. We need a guy like Fagundez. A goal scorer. These are hurting us match to match as much as the lack of depth he and other say is the result of low resources.
      ..
      This team was built with the expectations that it would be a mid-table team. I think this roster has the talent to be that team if things go well. But with injuries that have exposed a lack of depth, poor performances by many across so many league matches, you end up with a bottom of the table team. There are no excuses for this. Look at the Red Bulls. Roster is less expensive than the Union’s and they’re a league better.

      • His bench is clearly deeper than the a Unions as well. It’s the Seattle Open Cup Final from last year, and pretty much the story against the majority of MLS teams. The quality of players that can come off the bench and make an impact just don’t exist for the Union. Same story… year after year.

  5. james Lockerbie says:

    Your last line was a dagger through my heart. Because your spot on.

  6. I’m going to disagree with the idea that Curtin is the problem. The issue still goes back to Sak hampering the roster this season with so much spent on keepers. Unless the Union are getting Alex Ferguson to come out of retirement, they should keep Curtin, let him grow like Olson and Heaps have done, and worry about improving the front office at the top so they are making better player personnel decisions.

    • Agree 100%! One more season with more $$ at the club’s disposal to REALLY make an improvement in the roster where needed… THEN we see what happens (based on who they get and whether or not the team actually improves. But now or the forthcoming off-season is NOT the time to subject our players to yet another change in Manager, in my opinion…

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      Not sold on Curtain, but I am willing to accept that possibility that he is (also) a victim of Sak’s myopia. Since year zolo, this team has been consistently not good — with only the most minor of interregna in 2011 that was more than matched by the 2012 implosion. In that time, we have cycled through three coaches — two with decent-to-good MLS/USSF pedigree and a third, Curtain, who fits the mold of a hungry young gun.
      .
      Despite the turnover, moments of genuinely major investment, and the wildly different styles between the three (Tsar Piotr’s Scottish longball, Hack’s 4-3-3 obsession, and Curtain’s, erm, ‘pragmatism’), we have stubbornly remained a bad team.
      .
      Sak and his administration is the common variable in all of this. Sometimes his undue influence is overt, like with the Mbohli fiasco or his periodic penchant for blaming the fans. But I wager that 90% of it is below the surface, constraining our managers and forcing the club to play in an increasingly (actually) major-league MLS ill- and under-staffed, minimal decision making, and with paper infrastructure. It’s not hard to detect — Curtain taking the blame for Mbohli early on was one such (if especially obvious) example.

  7. I just want this season to be over, I’ve gotten so little joy out of it this team this year.

  8. The Brotherly Game piece about the Union’s offense is really interesting, and worth a look. Especially if you like numbers. But I found this interesting, and wanted to talk about it a bit:
    .
    [T]he basic answer is penalty kicks, or a complete lack thereof. Last year the Union were seven for seven on penalty kicks and this year they are zero for one. … It’s worth noting that just three of the seven were during Curtin’s tenure, meaning that Curtin’s team has earned just four penalty kicks in the 45 games he’s managed. League wide, teams earn a penalty kick on average every five games. Curtin averages a penalty kick every 11 games. Whether or not it’s just bad luck or his teams are not as aggressive in the box is up for debate. It’s certainly something to watch.
    .
    It has been a very long time since I’ve taken a basic statistics class. But, this looks like more than just random chance to me. The difference between the Union and league average is just too wide to be chalked up as a random thing. Or so I would think – if the math proves it could be a statistical anomaly, I’d love to know that.
    .
    But assuming it’s not… Why? Why doesn’t this team earn more PKs during Curtin’s tenure? The easy answer is, “The refs suck and blow at the same time.” We can all point to moments when we thought the Union should’ve received a call in their favor but didn’t. But those sorts of situations might be confirmation bias of a theory that isn’t actually true. Are we too timid in the box? Are we not in the box often enough? Do we have players that are lousy at selling it to the ref? Do the soccer gods hate us?
    .
    I regularly learn a bunch from the writers and commenters here. OSC, le elephant, all4u, Adam, Dan, Eli, and on and on and on. So… educate me a bit, guys and gals! What’s going here?

    • I would suggest that it’s style of play:
      1) We tend to cede possession, nearly every game. Less of the ball equals fewer chances to get fouled in the box.
      2) Reliance on crossing/lumping balls in to a single forward. Yes, Sapong or another big forward get some knocks in there, but you won’t get that call unless it’s pretty blatant. Penalty kicks are drawn by quick darting moves in the box where you get tripped up.
      3) We don’t have guys who attack the box with the quick, darting moves I just mentioned. Maybe Ayuk, but he’s a part time player without much pedigree to get those calls. Wenger when he’s on his game, maybe…but he hasn’t been on his game this year.

      • Mixed with a little bit of a poor performing team just isn’t going to get as many breaks.

      • Ayuk will start getting those calls. He’s getting better at fighting through contact instead of falling like he’s been shot, the way he did in his first couple games.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Only one penalty kick? What about the two against Colorado on opening day and the one against Chicago a couple of weeks ago and…?
      .
      Let’s face it, for better or worse, the refs have had a direct negative impact on at least four games with outright horrendous calls (Colorado, RSL, DC, Chicago). I don’t think there has been a single call in the Union’s favor that has impacted a game like any of those four. Yes, it’s all well and good to say the Union shouldn’t put themselves in that position, but when stuff like that happens so consistently, one has to start questioning the integrity of the league and/or refs.

      • You can go with “the refs are out to get us” if it makes you sleep better. It’s not true. Your anecdotes are just the confirmation bias John noted above. You don’t notice the calls that helped the Union to a result because they were, in your eyes, the right call. Remember the goal against RSL off the foul throw? Check an opposition website after a Union win, and you’ll see about the horrible calls that gave away the game.
        .
        Having said that, I will cede one point. I suspect the Union has gotten a rep among refs as a team of divers. That might account for some penalties we should have gotten. But the Union need to address that problem by not diving. I think that’s a work in progress.

      • Yeah, confirmation bias is a really funny thing and it’s hard to notice a lot of the time.
        .
        I think this is exactly why players like Cruz and Hoppenot stopped getting calls. I do in fact believe some players build up a reputation, for better or worse. And once they do, changing perceptions going forward is difficult.
        .
        I also find Scott’s point – a team that relies on crosses won’t get as many calls – interesting. Can others confirm that’s a general consensus?
        .
        An interesting look might be to see if there is actually any correlation between the number of PKs received and either time of possession or number of crosses. It makes sense, and if it’s true I would think the data would show it, especially over a large enough sample size.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The four that I cited included one where the ref was suspended, one where the fouled player was surprised to get the call, one where the player who should have received the red card was suspended and one where there were three hand balls and an out of bounds on the play. While there may have been some close calls in the Union’s favor, certainly none as blatant as those four.

      • And in none of those four cases did the ref have the ability to predict the future events caused by their decision. Clearly both of us have jobs, and so have no time to do detailed statistical analyses, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on the subject of whether the Union are the subject of a referee conspiracy. FWIW, I totally agree with you on the subject of keeping Curtin another year, as you stated above.

    • In a nutshell, no one on the team really goes 1v1 at a defender.
      .
      Ayuk is really the only exception. Wenger did last year but has not tried it this season likely to lack of confidence. And our best players – Maidana, Nogueira, and Barnetta – are more ball-movers then dribblers.

  9. James Lockerbie says:

    That’s it we don’t have dribblers and we don’t have shooters on this team everyone looks to give the ball up to the other guy to take the shot. We need someone to make smart decisions in the final third and anywhere in and around the 18 take a shot on frame! More penalties, more second chances, and heck maybe more goals.

  10. Lucky Striker says:

    You can no longer expect to compete in MLS on a shoestring.
    Just the funding required for a real infrastructure borders on exorbitant for these carpet-bagging thieves.

    The Chivas never leave us…….so it’s time to think about leaving my interest in the league behind-at least until/unless ownership is changed for good.

    8-9 more games to finish this 6 year odyssey….and then to prepare for a long hibernation………..

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