Daily news roundups

Union top HCI in friendly, Blake called up by Jamaica, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

After conceding late in the first half, the Union scored three unanswered second half goals to defeat Harrisburg City Islanders 3-1 in the team’s final annual friendlie as a affiliates. After Brett Jankouskas scored the opening goal in the 44th minute, Ethan White scored in the 48th minute. Cristian Maidana scored the 66th minute game winner before Conor Casey added an insurance goal in the 75th minute. Sebastien Le Toux assisted the last two goals. The match took place at Clipper Stadium in Lancaster in front of a crowd of 6,546 spectators, a franchise record for the City Islanders.

Here’s the Union lineup for the game: John McCarthy, Andrew Wenger, Ethan White, Steven Vitoria (Eric Bird HT), Warren Creavalle, Michael Lahoud, Fred © (Fabinho 59’), Eric Ayuk, Antoine Hoppenot (Cristian Maidana 59’), Jimmy McLaughlin (Sebastien Le Toux 59’), Fernando Aristeguieta (Conor Casey HT). Brian Sylvestre, Richie Marquez, Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, and CJ Sapong were unused subs. How about Andrew Wenger apparently lining up at left back? Match recaps at Philadelphia Union, Harrisburg City Islanders, Lancaster Online, Penn Live (recap, photo gallery), Inquirer, CSN Philly, Philly Soccer News,

Earlier on Monday, the Union announced, as expected, Andre Blake has been called up by the Jamaican national team. He’ll return to the Union on Sept. 9 and so miss this Saturday’s game in San Jose. Jamaica will play Nicaragua in a two-leg series in the third round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualification tournament.

Power rankings: No. 20 at SI, while Soccer America kindly keeps them at No. 17.

Diego Fagundez’s goal in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to New England is up for Goal of the Week. Former Union man Andrew Jacobson’s goal in NYCFC’s 2-1 loss to Columbus is also a nominee.

Sons of Ben and Pope Bot. Winners.

Philadelphia Union Academy 

University of Maryland student newspaper The Diamondback on Union Academy alum and Terrapin freshman Sebastian Elney:

[Head coach Sasho Cirovski] said the Terps began tracking Elney two years ago when he played in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the U-17 U.S. men’s national team. And as Elney moved from Boca United to the U-18 team and finally to the Philadelphia Union Academy, the Terps followed his journey.

“I immediately looked at him and thought, ‘OK, here’s a young Jozy Altidore. Here’s a kid that has the great physical and technical talents,’” Cirovski said. “We kept track of him. He was always our first-choice striker for almost a two-year period.”

In the 56th minute against the Red Storm on Sunday, Elney showcased his scoring potential. He received a long pass from Corboz, took two touches and buried the ball into the back of the net, giving the Terps their final tally in a 4-0 win.


Villanova hosts Drexel today at 4 pm in their men’s soccer home opener.

The Penn men’s team, working with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, have added Tanner Falato to their roster for the 2016 season. Falato, a second grader from Berlin, NJ, is battling brain cancer.


After flying to Florence to join the Italian national team ahead of the upcoming Euro qualifiers, Sebastian Giovinco was evaluated by team physicians and diagnosed with a groin injury, ruling him out for play. You will recall Giovinco left Saturday’s 2-1 win over Montreal before the end of the first half with an injury. More at Toronto Sun.

NYCFC and Adam Nemec have mutually agreed to part ways. Dutch side Willem II then announced they had signed the forward.

Pioneer Press has more background on the news we linked to in Monday’s roundup that the owner of land in Minneapolis that is a possible location for Minnesota United’s proposed stadium had announced an August 31 deadline for the team to purchase the land. The deadline seems to be understood to be “negotiating in public” because property values there have risen dramatically in the past year. A blog post at Pioneer Press grumbles that Minnesota United has been too quiet in communicating what’s going on with their stadium plans.

Once again, it is a UK-based news outlet breaking a NASL related story. On Monday, the Financial Times reported that Jeffrey Kessler, an antitrust and sports attorney representing the NASL (and who challenged the single-entity status of MLS in the Fraser case and lost), has sent a 13-page letter to US Soccer president Sunil Gulati that objecting to “proposed changes” to the rules that govern Division 1 status, namely that the minimum number of teams in a Division I league be increased from 12 teams (14 by the third year of the league) to 16 teams, that 75 percent of the teams in a Division I league must be located in cities with a population of at least 2 million, up from one million, and that Division I stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000. Kessler argues the proposed changes are “anticompetitive” and “unreasonable” and aimed at “entrenching MLS’s monopoly position at the very time when the NASL is threatening to become a serious competitor.” (While reference is made to these proposed changes, no where are they directly reproduced. You can see what the current rules are, enacted on February 28, 2014, by clicking here, thanks to Kenn.com.)

The report says NASL “applied for Division I status earlier this year but its application was put on hold,” adding “NASL is asking US Soccer to abolish or revise its multi-tier division structure and grant NASL Division I status. There is no road map for how two Division I leagues would operate if its status were granted.” It is unclear if US Soccer or NASL put the Division I application “on hold.”

Putting aside the question of whether the NASL is “threatening to become a serious competitor” with anyone — while Puerto Rico and Miami franchises have been announced for 2016, which would bring the total number of teams to 13, and a Hartford expansion side seems likely at some point, planned expansion teams in Virginia and Oklahoma have been abandoned; ownership of the Atlanta and Carolina franchises is in question; current NASL side Minnesota is slated to join MLS; San Antonio and Indianapolis have stated their desire to join MLS; the survival of the Edmonton franchise is in serious doubt; contrary to the requirements for Division 2 status, the league still does not have a West Coast team; meanwhile, USL, which has stated its desire to apply for Division II status, has 24 teams in two conferences throughout the country with four more to join the league in 2016 — it is interesting the Financial Times report makes reference to the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal yet fails to note the involvement of Traffic Sports, which plead guilty to bribery charges and numbers several officials among those indicted in the corruption investigation, in the founding and operation of NASL. I bring this up not to suggest NASL is corrupt, but highlight the selective nature of what is being included in these NASL-related reports coming from UK-based news outlets.

A report at the New York Daily News — incidentally, the only mainstream media report other than the Financial Times report I’ve been able to find — does note the connection. Incidentally, Miami New Times published today an exhaustive account of the rise and fall of indicted former Traffic USA president and NASL chairman Aaron Davidson.

In related NASL news, Miami FC, scheduled to begin play in 2016, have named Alessandro Nesta as their head coach. Which kind of makes sense, he and team owner Paolo Maldini are friends and former teammates and Nesta has lived in Miami for ten years, making it his permanent place of residence after he joined Montreal Impact in 2012.


A report at US Soccer notes the return of veteran players to the USMNT squad for the upcoming friendlies against Peru and Brazil. A SI report says no one is guaranteed a starting spot.

From the Department of No Surprise Here, SUM has a replaced Traffic Sports as CONCACAF’s commercial representative for the USA-Mexico Confederations Cup playoff. Acting general secretary Ted Howard said, “Based on the lead time to this event, their track record of transparency and success in the market, SUM was the ideal partner for managing this process.” CONCACAF ended its relationship with Traffic in July after it pled guilty to bribery charges as part of the FIFA corruption investigation.

Interesting read at the New York Times on how US youth players with academies outside of the US are being forbidden from playing on their academy sides in games because of renewed enforcement of FIFA regulations that were created to protect international youth players from being exploited by unscrupulous clubs and agents.


The Wall Street Journal reports: “FIFA’s chief auditor, Domenico Scala, will propose to strip the 25-person executive committee of several responsibilities tied to the day-to-day running of the organization, according to a person familiar with the suggested reforms.” The report explains,

Under the new proposal, the FIFA president, secretary general and executive-committee members would serve a maximum of two or three four-year terms. Candidates for those positions would also be ineligible if their home associations didn’t also have term limits, the person said.

Scala is also expected to present a possible new model for FIFA management. It would see the formation of a full-time management board of hired professionals to handle operations such as broadcast contracts and sponsorship. The authority of the executive committee, whose members come from the ranks of global soccer administrators, would be limited to sporting matters.

The WSJ report notes, “Though the executive committee itself would have to approve the measures, FIFA insiders believe that there now exists a window for change in the wake of the arrest of several FIFA officials on charges of corruption and president Sepp Blatter’s announced resignation.”

Reuters reports, “The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA), until recently headed by arrested FIFA official Jeffrey Webb, is facing an investigation from police on the Caribbean island in the latest probe linked to corruption in the sport…Local media reported that CIFA’s auditors had reported ‘suspicious transactions’ to the authority.”


  1. Lee released. Wenger goes full 90 at LB in friendly. Hummmm….

    • Hmmm indeed. That might actually be a good development.

    • People have been batting that idea around for a while, but with so few viable options on the wing, it didn’t seem likely. Now with the arrival of Barnetta, though? Could be a good fit.

    • Wenger didn’t go 90 at LB. Fabinho came in at LB in the 59′ and Wenger moved up to left winger. And honestly Fabinho looked far far better.

      • Thanks for the correction. I wasn’t at the game and was just going by the stated lineup.

      • Intent wasn’t to “correct” you, more to temper expectations. In front of hometown fans, against a USL opponent, he didn’t look promising. No energy, rarely went past midfield. Harrisburg’s goal was scored from his side. Then Fabinho comes on and the difference was night and day.

  2. So when do we find out how hard the spit hammer hits Maidana?

    • Think they usually announce that stuff Wednesday. But if the team isn’t playing that day, it could be Thursday. So, to sum up: I don’t know but soon-ish.

  3. great collection of articles, Ed.
    Q: regarding USL, NASL, would it be weird to have promo/relegation between DI and DII leagues and not in MLS? seems like NASL is getting very big. would probably be in their best interest to eventually pair with USL and adopt the promo/rel, no?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I have no authority on this issue, and this is my personal opinion. So here goes:
      MLS is unwilling to recognize pro/rel as an option, mainly because the single-entity status allows them to. They live in a bubble, afraid to take the leap. The NASL is all ready to take the leap, problem is, they won’t succeed long term. They are too eager, and need to wait. They need to continue to build a fan base around the country. The USL is attached, financially and literally (in some cases) to the MLS, and therefore would never institute pro/rel with the MLS.
      My point is that with the dynamic of the three leagues, US Soccer’s “whatever” on the pyramid, and MLS complete anti-pro/rel stance… there is no way any of these leagues get pro/rel in any capacity… anytime soon. Again… just my opinion… hope it made sense! HA!
      Addressing your question more directly… I can’t see the NASL and the USL (the MLS’ baby) linking up for pro/rel… but I do think that would be the best option to somehow have pro/rel started in this country.

      • totally understood.
        that’s what i was thinking too. why not experiment with it in lower divisions? it’ll evolve eventually. i would think a better relationship with a competing entity would be good. some league pride/healthy competition. reminds me of NFL/AFL.

      • I love promotion/relegation in Europe, but their soccer pyramids are structured completely differently than ours and I just don’t think it’s in the best interest of US Soccer at this time. If you check the attendance figures, you’ll see that MLS teams rank #1-20 overall and the NASL clubs have a few decent markets but some lousy ones. The top soccer markets are already populated with MLS clubs (i.e. top flight designation) and I don’t think promoting a NASL club or two will really add much to the league. As it is, MLS poaches the best franchises from within the lower divisions, so promotion already happens if you prove yourself as a franchise. There’s a huge difference between promotion and relegation in a five-tier English system with a century of history and a 20-year old league still structuring their youth and reserve systems. I’d rather MLS sort out their USL arrangements and figure out how to make that work for smaller markets and player development than appease NASL. Just my two cents.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Best case for pro/rel in this country is for an MLS 1 & MLS 2 to be created… consisting of just all current (and of course future) MLS teams. Expand the league to 24-28 teams, and then split them. Make revenues more for the top half, and have a pro/rel system that way. Now that I could see actually happening in maybe a decade or so.

  4. Andrew Wenger at LB is a no brainer. A square peg in a square shaped he. Clearly our opinions on this matter are being taken seriously. Personally I’d rather him at RB.

  5. A couple other players played at their not usual spots (although I don’t think these have much relevance going forward, more just how can we arrange these guys on the field)- Ayuk was playing centrally and Lahoud moved to centerback for the 2nd half.

  6. Did anyone here attend the match in Harrisburg? Would love to see some reports on how Wenger looked at LB. The poor guy looked totally out of it on the wing against New England over the weekend – couldn’t tell if he was still dealing with the effects of the concussion or if his struggles this season have completely beat him down. For his sake and the Union’s, I hope he finds a way to turn around his career in the back four.

    • Wenger didn’t have a whole lot to do defensively. He was able to get forward on a couple of runs down the left flank, with the usual result: ball out of play.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Did he run it across the line again!?!

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Was there and stayed until we tied it. Alex’s assessment and what I could see agree. Winger was far away on the left side. The HCI goal came from Wenger’s side of the pitch but a long way from the goal outside the box. I have no idea of Wenger’s involvement on the play. We’re he to move to the back line we might see Bethlehem Steel FC used as a learning opportunity.

  7. I got to say don’t understand everyone’s fascination with Andrew Wenger. I mean yes there is nothing good about a concussion, but he wasn’t playing good before the injury. Regardless of where they put him on the field I just don’t see this supposed skill set everyone talks about. When he came to the Union it was new different players hadn’t seen him much now that everyone has I feel there is not much there. Say what you will about the past poor fullback play and poor winger play. But Wenger to me fits no position on a soccer field he just doesn’t have it from what I have seen, granted that is only him in a Union jersey. Sure he is from the area and great people want him to succeed, but maybe he is better off in a different role for this team like I dunno a scout/ coach/ marketing. I dunno he just doesn’t fit anymore in a soccer field player aspect to me.

    • I think the continued interest in Wenger is primarily due to two factors: 1) he showed a lot of promise in 2014 during his first season with the Union (6 goals, 4 assists); and 2) he was uniquely successful as a college player a few years ago (Hermann Trophy winner, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year).
      Obviously, Wenger has struggled mightily on the wing in 2015. Will a move to the back line be enough to jump start his game? Who knows, but why not take a shot? It’s not like the Union have a multitude of quality outside backs to choose from.

      • True however if he is still highly sought after I would trade him cause while (6 goals and 4 assists is something). It isn’t much for the role he was playing. Granted he is here and they might as well try him at outside back, but I am thinking future is it worth it. My thoughts are no. Similar to my thoughts on Vittoria, Edu, Nando. They all can play roles and be good players but clearly do not fit at their current salary on this roster.

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