Daily news roundups

Big decisions as Union ready for Open Cup final, TOW honors for Blake and White, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

For many Union fans, the main question before Wednesday’s US Open Cup final is who will start in goal. In a joint press conference on Monday (full transcript at US Soccer) with Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes, as well as Sebastien Le Toux and Matt Besler, Union head coach Jim Curtin said, “It’s a huge decision…It’s a good situation because both of them have played well…There’s a big decision to make there and I’m confident that both of them can get us a win, whichever one I decide. Like I said, we are a team. Everybody plays a role in getting us to the final. The team we put on the field will be our best XI that we have on our team for that day to win a game.”

More on the who will start in goal for the Union debate at MLSsoccer.com and Brotherly Game.

At SI, Brian Straus writes about how last year’s Open Cup final loss has motivated them through their run this year to the final. Maurice Edu says,

In front of a home crowd, a packed house, everything was set, waiting for us to lift that trophy…To watch them parade around your field, in front of your fans, it definitely sucked. It left an image that’s kind of been in the back of our minds and fueled us to get back to that final. Last year helped us to get here again. It was a learning curve. It built character in us…

Last year definitely prepared us to be in this position again, and the journey to get to this point prepared us. Each game we were tried and tested in ways we couldn’t forget. That’s what cups are about and that’s what makes them special. To go through that whole journey, there will be no better way to cap it off … We’re really excited for this game to come.

Straus notes, Edu “missed out on a U.S. national team call-up this month because of a groin injury.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin expands the idea of how an Open Cup win can be the catalyst for change with comments from Jim Curtin, Chris Albright, and Nick Sakiewicz. Curtin says,

It would inject a prize: monetary value for players and monetary value for the club. It would help us strengthen our roster as well. So there are a lot of things that come along with it…

Winning a trophy does kind of solidify what your team’s about and gives a little bit more of an identity. We recognize we’re in the process of forming our own identity and shaping our roster and trying to get our own style. But it takes a little bit of time, and I think winning a trophy does speed it up a little bit…

It puts a lot of equity and belief in what we’re doing. We understand the season hasn’t gone the way we had hoped. But it does take time. We know that we’re young and that we’re new at this. At the same time, we’re confident in what we’re doing and what we’re building. We’re trying to build the right way.

Sakiewicz says in the article, “I’m very confident in Jim and Chris. They have our vote [of confidence], win or lose Wednesday, to move this team forward.

At Philly.com, Sakiewicz details the financial rewards that come with the CONCACAF Champions League berth the Union would receive if they win the final. “Hosting two games in the Champions League is at minimum a $1 million payday for us. It would be half a million each game and that is bigger than a single (MLS) playoff game.” The team would also receive an additional $150,000 from MLS in allocation money to help bolster squad depth for the continental tournament. More from Sakiewicz at US Soccer.

Kansas City bought a block of 1,000 tickets for Wednesday’s final, 200 of which were reserved for friends and family of Sporting players. The “rest went to fans on a first-come, first-served basis.” Sean Dane, who is on the board of the Cauldron supporters group, said, “We’ve got, I think, 800 people who are going to invest several hundred dollars of their own money to fly to Philadelphia. It is a really nice sentiment from the team to understand that.”

The officiating assignments for the final were announced on Monday. Ted Unkel will be the referee, Ian Anderson and James Conlee the linesmen, and Chris Penso is the fourth official. MLSsoccer.com notes,

In MLS play this season, Unkel has awarded 11 penalty kicks in 16 games and averages a league-high 4.75 yellow cards per game, while his 0.38 red cards per game are third most among officials who have called at least 10 games.

Unkel officiated one Philadelphia game this season, whistling the Union’s Zach Pfeffer for a handball that led to a D.C. United win on an 85th-minute penalty kick by Chris Rolfe on May 30. Unkel has called one Sporting game this year, the Open Cup quarterfinal against Houston that SKC won 3-1, a game that featured a 30th minute red card to Dynamo midfielder Luis Garrido.

Previews of Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia Union, US SoccerMLSsoccer.com, SI,  Brotherly Game, Vavel (goalkeeper, defense and midfield), Philly Sports NationThe Blue and Gold Blog, and Reporting KC. Blue Testament has a primer for the game.

CSN Philly and Philly Sports Network look back over the Union’s run to the final.

Brotherly Game talks to Fred about scoring the gamewinner in the 2008 US Open Cup final for DC United.

More

Ethan White has been named to the Team of the Week at MLSsoccer.com, SI, ESPN, and ProSoccerTalk. Andre Blake was named to the Team of the Week at MLSsoccer.com, SI, and ProSoccerTalk.

Power rankings: At Soccer America, the Union remain at No. 16 At ESPN, the Union drop one spot to No. 18: “It feels weird to say it, but maybe Philly finally has an answer between the sticks — one it could have found months ago.” If only Blake hadn’t suffered two knee injuries…

And then there’s this:

Local

Burlington County Times has a profile on “Delran’s original soccer legend,” Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George has an excellent read on the United German Hungarians, who before the Union in 2014, were the last Philadelphia area team to make it to the US Open Cup final, doing so in 1993.

St. Joseph’s hosts Penn, who are winless this season, today at 7 pm.

NWSL

Ahead of Thursday’s championship final between FC Kansas City vs Seattle Reign in Portland, Howard Megdal wonders at The Guardian if the league has failed to capitalize on the USWNT World Cup win.

US

The US kicks off its Olympic qualification campaign on Thursday at 9 pm when they face Canada. The Washington Post has a preview of the qualification tournament. At Soccer America, complete TV listings for the games, all of which will be available at Telemundo or NBC Universo. The games will also be available online at NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra. No English language broadcasts as far as I can tell.

Elsewhere

Reuters reports: “FIFA President Sepp Blatter, under criminal investigation by Swiss authorities, plans to remain in his job until February and told staff at the world soccer governing body on Monday that he had done nothing illegal or improper, Blatter’s lawyers said.”

Reuters also has more on the explanations provided to Swiss authorities by Blatter and Michel Platini about the €2 million payment Platini received from FIFA in 2011, which Platini says was for when he was “employed by FIFA to work on a wide range of matters relating to football.” Blatter’s lawyers say he “explained to the prosecutors that the payments were valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA, including the withholding of Social Security contributions.”

Nevertheless, doubts remain. More from Reuters and International Business Times on how Platini’s presidential aspirations now are in doubt.

From Reuters: “South Korean FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon insists soccer’s embattled governing body is still the right organisation to run the world’s most popular sport, but only if the current leadership is ousted.”

Describing FIFA as in “total meltdown,” Chung says, “FIFA and regional confederations should consider convening extraordinary sessions of their respective executive committee as well as congress to set up an emergency taskforce that will enable the Fifa secretariat to function without interruption.”

On a lighter note, FIFA’s ethics committee has banned the former CONCACAF president, FIFA vice-president and executive Committee member, and well known crook, Jack Warner from “from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for life.”

33 Comments

  1. I think Curtin’s comments about what winning will do, specifically the identity part is interesting. The only time this team really had an identity was after Curtin took over for Hackworth and they were a “sit-back-and-counter” team, but they have since lost that. The other 5+ years there hasn’t been an identity. They don’t scare teams at PPL, we don’t have a 20-goal threat, and until now – and moving forward with Blake – the goalkeeper situation has been a literal joke, despite Sylvestre and McCarthy filling in admirably. Hopefully the identity doesn’t become “well, at least they can make a Cup run” every year, and they can use a win to build off of.

  2. I’m not sure why there is much debate here about who will be in goal. Anyone who knows Curtin knows the McCarthy will be starting, period. I personally would start Blake bc I think he gives us the clear cut best chance to win. BUT, Jim will go with McCarthy, 100% certain.
    .
    Honestly it matters more who starts in the other spots and the style we play, bc that’s more important. I’m hoping we come out and use the crowd energy and nerves with players to take it to KC early. I think we will have trouble if we start out bunkering and countering immediately.
    .
    To me the lineup is pretty set, other than who gets the start at Dmid, Carroll or Lahoud or (I hope not) both?

    • I’d go with Carroll at holding mid. He seems to have a way with throwing Feilhaber off his game. But, since Carroll played on Saturday, I’m pretty sure we’ll see Lahoud tomorrow. Which is fine — and I’m with you on ‘not both’.

    • I think you’re right. I think Blake should start because, while I agree the game will be decided by the quality of the rest of the starting XI, I believe Blake is the only goalie on our roster that can keep the Union from losing. He singlehandedly earned that draw against New England. Union lose that match 3-1 without him in goal.

      Perhaps the only reason not to go with Blake might be his distribution, which was pretty well analyzed by Adam yesterday.

      And yes, I expect Curtin to start with McCarthy.

      • If he starts McCarthy and we lose he should be fired the next day! McCarthy is not part of the best 11 and should NOT start.

    • I would not bank completely on Curtin going with McCarthy.
      .
      I don’t think last year, anyone expected to see Okugo on the bench…

  3. Curtin is paid to make the right decision; hope he does!
    .
    Should be a good atmosphere in the RE with 800 KC supporters next to us. Hope the rest of the stadium will have as much fun. Kudos to the 800 who travel to Chester from KC on a Wednesday night while a lot of locals have a hard time making it.

  4. If there is any question about the importance about winning this tournament is for any team, let alone a young growing MLS team…Mr. Sakiewicz answered it above. The money cannot be overlooked.
    .
    In other news…as if the questionable fan apathy in ticket sales wasn’t bad enough…torrential rain forecasted for tomorrow. No matter the weather…if I travelled from Kansas City to see a game…I’m sitting through the shit… may not be able to say the same for the locals….hopefully we are well represented down the stadium for this game – – and then we can go back to empty seats as the voice of discontent.
    .
    .
    .
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    I’m not gonna lie…. I am anxiously awaiting Dan’s article this week.

    • Didn’t it rain last year for the final? I seem to remember watching them squeegee off the field and being amazed that the “roof” drains not out of the stadium, as one one expect, but onto the area where fans stand.
      .
      Could be another game, though…

    • From what i understand the worst of the rain SHOULD be over by 7pm but i read that a couple of hours ago and you know how weather forecasts go. “Irregardless” i will be there… rain be damned!

    • I would love a down pour match. Brings SKC down to our level. Makes it tough to play the ball on the ground.

  5. This game HAS to be won. Failure is not an option.
    .
    Just. Win.

  6. Start Blake.
    .
    If McCarthy is a better Penalty stopper, pull a Van Gaal and sub him in.

    • What an interesting idea. Wish I thought of that before writing my column that goes live in 1 minute.

    • I was wondering about that too. I dont think I’ve ever seen it happen, are there special rules about subbing a GK?
      If the game goes to O-T and a possible shootout, a fresh player back there could be very useful.
      Of course it could backfire horribly as well.

      • No special rules. They just need to have a sub available to do it. Which wouldn’t be worth doing.
        .
        Maybe, if it goes to penalties, Blake puts on McCarthy’s helmet …

  7. One correction: Ted Unkel called one Union game where he blatantly ignored Chris Rolfe’s obvious red card right in front of him (obvious enough that the league suspended Rolfe) so Rolfe could go on to score the winning goal.
    .
    The man is a moron and did a crappy job reffing in the WPS. He has no business being on an MLS field.

    • Didn’t he call like 5 penalties in a game up in Yankee Stadium this year (not vs. Union)? The trainwreck possibilities are high.

  8. Curtin is in a difficult spot and I would say in a lose-lose situation if we don’t win tomorrow. On the one hand he could start McCarthy. While not my personal choice, Curtin may feel loyal to John because he has been the goalie all competition. On the other hand we have #1 draft pick and should be full time starter Andre Blake. I’m sure most if not all of us agree that he’s the better goalie. Either way if we lose, Curtin will be questioned on why he played one over the other. Hopefully we win regardless of who is in goal tomorrow night. I’ll be there cheering as loud as I can.

  9. Anyone take public transit back to philly after night game?

    • yup. depending on the time or traffic (which seems like it might not be an issue) i take the shuttle to Chester station or walk over to the closer Highland station (20 min walk) if it is cutting it close.
      close is end of match time, loading up the shuttle bus, getting through traffic to get to Chester station
      since this is the final, and there are things like weather delays, trophy presentation, pageantry to account for, it’s a bit of a personal thing if you’re more concerned about making a train or sticking around.
      i will say it is no fun sitting at chester’s decaying platform for an hour after extra time and kicks.

  10. St. Joes is winless this season because they think they can win games at the Division 1 level with high school all stars! You can seriously say WTF?…every year they unveil their new recruiting class. They are flat out bad at recruiting. They have maybe three or four legit ballers on that squad….Lazorko, Harris………I’m reeling already. I thought with bringing D’Ambra in meant SJU was taking footy a little more seriously……..meh.

    • Then maybe Penn has a chance… Penn made a big deal about the recruiting class they got in but are having a horrendous season.

      • They are under achieving this year……and yeah, they did supposedly bring in some pedigree from across the country this past year. College ball is a lot different than the academy! They never got hammered physically in the DA like they do in college! Learning curve even for the special ones! Brown is doing the best out of the Ivies this season I believe….last I checked they were honorable mention for the top 25.

  11. I got nothing. Just win tomorrow. Raise the trophy in the rain. It will be a great night. Just win.

  12. This is depressing as hell:
    http://www.thebluetestament.com/2015/9/29/9414395/the-us-open-cup-is-happening-right

    .

    Even our opponent feels bad for us.

    • to be fair, we just hosted a global event that would overshadow even the eagles in the super bowl. the timing is unfortunate, despite the 6 weeks of lead time. i do believe the Union have done well to promote in their channels but not beyond. sadly, the seasons-long damage is irreversible.
      let’s enjoy it for what it is, which will be a fraction of what it was last year.

    • Holy moly. I just checked the ticket availability for the match. There are THOUSANDS of tickets left. I didn’t expect so many seats to be up for grabs at this time. I honestly don’t see what the difference is between this year and last year. We weren’t exactly lighting it up last season, or the two seasons before that. Last season’s final wasn’t sold out, but the stadium was mostly full and the atmosphere was next to none, as far as my sporting experiences go. I guess an additional season of mediocre/crappy soccer is the back breaker.

      • Not true. They were riding a righted ship leading up to the final. Back to back Toronto wins, everything seemed to go right but cracks showed just before it. The open cup loss was followed by the crash out of the playoff.
        This season we knew the playoffs weren’t possible after week 8. Yet another season with nothing to show for, obvious fan dissent, and continuing disorganization from the executives.
        Oh, and it’s a school night. If we can’t come out for a cool Sunday night — only to complain on this very site the next day — no one is expecting tomorrow’s rainy 7 pm start to offer much more

      • I’ll buy everything you wrote as a reason why people aren’t attending, except, “it’s a school night”. While that is indeed a true statement, it is the lamest of all excuses (not that you’re using it yourself), and I’m fairly certain that it was a school night last year, too. And the place was packed….with plenty of kids. It doesn’t matter. If it’s half-empty, it’s half-empty. I take the demise of the Union and its fanbase too personally, anyway.

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