Daily news roundups

Blake to start remaining games, US wins Olympic qualifying group, Donovan on Klinsmann, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference is scheduled for today at 12:15 pm. CORRECTION: Curtin’s next press conference will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 12:15 pm. Sorry for the confusion – Ed.

At CBS Philly, Kevin Kinkead reports on comments from Jim Curtin after Tuesday’s practice session. Some highlights:

  • On Andre Blake: “The hope is that he can take ahold of the starting position and solve a lot of the past Union goalkeeping problems. Hopefully he’s a guy who takes ahold of it and doesn’t let it go…He’ll be the starter the rest of the way. We’ll evaluate and make decisions in the offseason, but right now all signs are pointing to him being the guy that can be the man for us.”
  • On the offseason: “This is a big offseason. It’s one where we’ll have to make some hard decisions. There’s a lot of money that will be opening off the books, so we’ll be able to add some quality pieces…There have been some good performances from players, but still, at the end of the day, when you look up, we’re not in the playoffs. There’s going to be changes. I don’t think we have to do a complete overhaul and clean house, but there are going to be some tricky choices that need to be made, and we’ll make those decisions in a way that best suits this team long-term, not just for next season.”
  • On the departure of Nick Sakiewicz: “Anytime there’s change, there’s opportunity for other people to step up. That’s kind of where we’re at. In regard to that, I would say ‘thank you’ to Nick for the opportunity he gave me. He was a big part of getting the team here and establishing things (in Philadelphia). Now we have to push forward and look to improve the team, and get it to where he hoped it would be, which is a team that’s in the playoffs and competing for a playoff spot every year.”
  • On his future as Union head coach: “Jay [Sugarman] and I had some very good conversations. He assured me that I’m in his plans moving forward.”
  • On the search for a sporting director: “That’s something they’ve been looking for since the beginning of the year. It’s not an easy position to fill. They want to get it right. They’re in the process of evaluating different people.”
  • On the Union’s USL team: “The USL coach will be a decision that needs to be made in the coming weeks just because of how quickly the rosters need to be pieced together. Teams have a little bit of a head start already and they’re forming their rosters, so we just want to give the coach in that position the opportunity to put together a roster that will be competitive and develop players for the first team.”

Shortly after Tuesday’s roundup was posted, we tweeted confirmation that John McFadden was training with the Union but that we understood his time with the team was akin to that of Eidur Gudjohnsen’s training stint earlier this year, which was more about finding fitness than a proper trial. Curtin told Kinkead, “At the moment he’s returning to full fitness off of an injury. So we’ll have him in, take a look, and give him a few days to impress. We’re always looking to upgrade the roster.” Curtin said Harrisburg City Islanders defender Ken Tribbett, who played at Drexel and with Ocean City Nor’easters, is also training with the team.

Power rankings: The Union remain at No. 18 at MLSsoccer.com: “Let’s applaud them for the fight they showed midweek, rather than the dreary performance in Toronto. This franchise now has a brighter future than past results seem to indicate.”

Local

Drexel fell 1-0 to Columbia on Tuesday night.

Temple faces UCF on the road tonight in conference play at 7 pm.

CB East is ranked at No. 18 in the latest USA Today/NSCAA national boys’ soccer poll. Father Judge also received votes. In the girls’ soccer national poll, Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) is at No. 7 and Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.) is at No. 20.

Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, and Shannon Boxx, doing the Rocky thing. The trio were in town for the Forbes Under-30 Summit. Reports at Forbes, Philly.com, and CBS Philly.

Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd continues to be very much in demand.

MLS

Tonight in midweek play, NYRB hosts Montreal at 7:30 pm, followed by Vancouver hosting Dallas at 10 pm. Both games are on MLS Live.

US

The US U-23s defeated Panama 4-0 in their final group game in the Olympic qualification tournament. The US will now play the loser of tonight’s Honduras-Mexico match in the semifinals on Saturday at 3 pm (Telemundo). If Honduras-Mexico ends in a tie, the US will face Honduras in the semis. More at ASN, SBI, ProSoccerTalk, MLSsoccer.com, and Fox Soccer.

At SI, Brian Straus has three big questions ahead of Saturday’s Confederation’s Cup playoff game between the US and Mexico.

Mexico midfielder Jose Juan “Gallito” Vazquez has left the team with a leg injury and returned to his club. He has been replaced by LEon teammate Elias Hernandez.

At ESPN, Landon Donovan on what should happen to Jurgen Klinsmann if the US loses to Mexico:

Around the world, if a player plays poorly and a player has a bad string of results, they get dropped from the team. Jurgen said many times he wants our players to feel pressure — so if they lose a game they can’t go to the grocery store the next day. If they lose a game, they are getting hammered in the press.

Well, the same holds true for the coach, and so we had a very poor summer with bad results in the Gold Cup. The last game against Brazil was probably the worst game I’ve seen them play under Jurgen.

The reality is that now, anywhere else in the world, if this coach had those results, and they lose this game against Mexico, they’d be fired.

I think if Jurgen wants to hold all the players to that standard, then he has to be held to that standard too.

In the SI piece linked to above, Brian Straus notes without reference to Donovan’s comments, “It’s worth noting that Klinsmann works inside a comfort zone he denies his players and which certainly doesn’t exist for peers around the world. He’s under very little pressure and has the long-term, public backing of U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, win or lose.”

At Fox Soccer, Kyle McCarthy says Donovan knows Klinsmann’s job is not at stake. “The discord between Donovan and Klinsmann is there for all to see. This scuffle just supplies the latest evidence of the spiral started over a year ago [when Klinsmann left Donovan off the World Cup squad].” At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep questions the timing of Donovan’s remarks. At Deadspin, Bill Haisley wishes Donovan was “more circumspect.”

At the US Soccer site, a review of the USMNT’s 5-0-5 record against Mexico under Klinsmann.

At SI, Grant Wahl on some of the ways the US is leading change in the world’s game.

At US Soccer, another good read on the past history of the US-Mexico rivalry, this time on Josh Wolff and the start of Dos a Cero in Columbus. Also at US Soccer, a look at the last time the teams played at the Rose Bowl, the 4-2 loss in the 2011 Gold Cup final.

At ESPN, an oral history of the rivalry.

Megan Rapinoe, corn maze style.

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “FIFA presidential contender Chung Mong-joon called Sepp Blatter a ‘hypocrite and a liar’ on Wednesday and said he is planning to sue the outgoing president for at least $100 million.” Speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London, Chung said, “Like the dungeon in the Fifa HQ, FIFA has become a very secretive place. In an age when can find out the salary of a company president or a PM any time, we still don’t know president Blatter’s salary…For Blatter to get paid without authorisation of the executive committee is embezzlement. I plan to sue Mr Blatter on his embezzlement in court.” More at ESPN.

Reuters reports, “Outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter said a Swiss criminal investigation against him was ‘not correct’ and defended his decision not to step down sooner as head of the world soccer body, according to a German magazine.” Blatter told Bunte, “The situation is not pleasant…I am being condemned without there being any evidence for wrongdoing on my part. That is really outrageous…This is just an investigation, not an indictment. I will fight until Feb. 26. For myself. For FIFA. I am convinced that evil will come to light and good will prevail.”

57 Comments

  1. I don’t know. Maybe I’m a dope, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the off season. I think we might see better from this team going forward without Sak. If there’s no sporting director in place by December, though, my optimism will probably evaporate.

    • Could be….
      .
      I’m just not sure about the coach and am troubled he received a teflon jacket during this changeover. What has he shown that would make him safe. IMO…it is the first minor misstep since the shakeup… He is after all managing the 2nd worst team in all of MLS… last I check Nick Sakeiwicz wasn’t the game day coach.
      .
      I would much rather the owner said…we are all performing for our future..and that goes for the manager too. That way…he has an out.
      .

      • I think an argument could be made that Curtin is doing better. He’s been handicapped by Sak since day 1. Hard to win matches with a losing roster, injuries, suspensions, etc.

      • I think the game planning improved as the year went on too. The subs and in-game adjustments need to improve. Hopefully, the injuries and weak roster depth played a big part in that but who knows.

      • Sak is not the coach, Jim is the coach stop drinking the koolaid, the team management coach and entire staff are a bunch of low level college coaches nothing more, you get what you pay for

      • Agree. How can people say Curtin was handicapped by Sak?! Curtin should take full responsibility of his tactical mistakes and the overall very poor performance.

      • Jim Presti says:

        The flip side of the coin is that how can Curtin control the needless red cards? How can he control the glaring misses inside the box – booting the ball into the River End? He can’t. But it seems that he has improved the items that he can control. There’s still room for improvement but its better than completely tossing a coach who has the players’ respect.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Sak had a hand in the roster – larger than one would expect from what I understand. Here’s an analogy: You can’t expect someone to bake a top quality cake when half the ingredients are missing.

      • proof????

      • Jim Presti says:

        M’Bholi is enough public proof. But there are other things I’ve heard through the vine.

      • I think most people agree that Curtin got his managerial opportunity too early in his career, but here we are, and I don’t see him taking a demotion.
        To his credit, Curtin has held the team together during a difficult season in the final days of the Sak regime…I have seen no indications of discord amongst the players or that he has “lost the dressing room”. Plus, I think Sugarman likes the fact that he is local because it will aid in the effort of marketing the team to local fans.
        Curtin needs to improve in the tactical aspects of managing the team (e.g., in-game adjustments), but that can be addressed by giving him a good, experienced assistant that can mentor him. I think there is enough of an upside to give him another season now that the Sak regime is done, provided the new sporting director upgrades his tactical staff.

      • His tactical acumen his philosophy leaves me quite concerned. The team plays ugly. I think he wants them to play ugly. I want to hear from him one time what his vision for the club is and it can’t be hunker down and win 1-0 at home by giving the other team the ball.
        .
        I’m for the beautiful game. Not the ugly game.

      • +1, but there is something to be said about knowing your roster isn’t going to be able to play the beautiful game and trying to grid out results. I would love to know what Curtin’s ideal style actually is assuming he had a reasonable roster.

      • Jim Presti says:

        And I think his “mid-table team” comment was the direct result of the assets that were on the roster and made available. Can’t look at that team and say “we expect to win.”

      • Adam Cann- Assistant Coach/Tactics? I think he does it here for free, so a good chance he’d come cheaply enough for the Union- at least for a year or so. Union could at least subscribe to his newsletter, that alone would probably be an upgrade.

      • I don’t know if Curtin is the answer or not, but I absolutely think he should stick around for the coming season. Yes, he’s young and relatively inexperienced, but so were/are Jay Heaps and Ben Olsen. Their respective teams are now two of the strongest in the Eastern Conference.

        He seems like an intelligent, accountable guy who relates well to players. Beef up the supporting staff with someone with more street cred tactically, upgrade the roster (particularly the quality of depth available), and give it a go.

        I’m not sure who else is available, but it’d be nice to hit on a promising young coach and have him grow with the rest of the roster.

      • I don’t think Curtin is coated in teflon. All Sugarman said is that most people he’s interviewed for the SD position have indicated they would keep Jim. In PR-speak, the really important word there is “most.” That leave wiggle room.
        .
        Sugarman has also said that any decision regarding Curtin (and Albright) would be made by the new SD, not him. For now, I’ll take him on his word for that, but watch to see how things play out.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Fair point.

    • Yeah, this is the camp I’m in. The Union – as a whole – need to “put up or shut up” this offseason. I can accept mistakes – not every signing works out and so on. I can’t accept blunders. Not having a sporting director is a blunder; He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is a blunder. Freddy Adu is a blunder. Those sorts of problems going forward are unacceptable.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Boom! Can we still Boom? That’s right no room for blunders. The Sporting Director Chris Albright and Jim Curtin have to avoid any and all out right “Blunders” They have to establish the 3 P’s and start us on our new path to success.

  2. Yea Yeah we all know Landon is biting a sour apple with JK…but he isn’t wrong either.

    • dude, only in America do we get all these second chances……that is also a big reason we are so far behind the rest of the world…….coaches and players feel the heat…not here, we need to coddle and baby them

    • Exactly. He’s bitter but accurate.

    • Landon likes making headlines. His premises – in fact we’re very different from other countries & players are judged differently than coaches – undercut his conclusion. Plus Klinsmann is more than first team coach. If Landon has visions of coaching this team, he may have to defend himself from his own words one day. Both make huge contributions to the USMNT – always acknowledged by the other, but Klinsmann has a really hard job building the ’18 squad without sacrificing important, confidence-growing wins now with last year’s WC starters who will be on the far side of 30 by Russia.

      • Like Rob said he is bitter but accurate.
        .
        He does like making headlines but at the same time the media likes to take anything he says and make headlines with it as well. If he says something positive it would be “Landon forgives Jurgen” if it is negative it is “Landon bashes Jurgen”. They will be forever linked in the media because of the decision to leave him off the Cup roster.

  3. If Jay Sugarman really wants to bring in a sporting director of high quality, then he needs to stop making such strong public and private declarations of support for Jim Curtin as head coach. Any person worth hiring in the director position will want to evaluate Curtin’s work to determine if he or someone else should be coaching the Union next season. Top candidates will stay clear of the opening in Philly without assurances that they will have real authority over key personnel decisions.
    .
    If the new sporting director decides that Jim Curtin is the right man for the job, fine, but the choice must be his/hers to make.

    • He mentioned in his press conference that most of the candidates he talked to were in favor of keeping Jim on board. He could be blowing smoke, but I feel confident that issue comes up in the interviews, and I think it would be foolish to fire Jim right away. Fill the gaping holes, give him some pieces that evaluate based on his performance next season. If you re-start now you could lose more fans and the players, as this team has been restarting for 4 years.

    • I feel like the timing of this has some effect on it as well. If they had hired an SD 6 months ago and the guy in place had all that time to evaluate the roster and the coaching job being done that’s one thing. If they aren’t coming on until Nov/Dec that leaves them little time to study how Jim has done while also doing the many other urgent tasks (analyzing roster, arranging possible transfers, establishing a brand new USL affiliate and filling that roster, etc). There’s too much to do in too short a time at this point. As I see it, Curtin would only be safe for one year (as most coaches are). Keeping him is just a nod to practicality, not a lifetime guarantee. In my opinion, the much bigger impediment to finding top candidates is the Union’s rep for running things on a shoestring- on the field but also back room staff. That’s what will keep top people away (or at least experienced top people).

  4. Also in the news: Bob Bradley is reportedly shortlisted for the Sunderland job.
    .
    Would be the first American to coach a Premier League first team no?

    • Zizouisgod says:

      If true, Bradley should run in the opposite direction. Sunderland is a hot mess. A club with a big drinking culture where players go for their last EPL sized paychecks or as a stepping stone for a bigger club.

      • Agreed. But at the same time it would represent another step in US Soccer that we are beginning to produce top league level coaches.
        .
        And if he could work a miracle and keep them up, it would go from just another step to a major step.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        They’ve been in the Prem for like 8-9 straight seasons now. Would it be that big of an achievement to keep them up again? They always seem to do just enough to stay up each year.

      • I’m saying from the standpoint of American soccer not Sunderland.
        .
        An American coach proving themselves in one of the top leagues in the world for the first time would be a major step.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        What an interesting assessment.

      • kind of like JC………..

  5. I think Curtin is safe for a single season – working with the new sporting director. If he impresses he stays, if not then he is out.
    .
    In my view the M’Bholi signing 1. prevented Curtin/Albright from doing anything of significance to impact the roster this season 2. created the absolute worst possible beginning to the season. That alone was hard to overcome.
    .
    That said, if I am the sporting director, while Jim may be safe, the rest of his staff should not be. The sporting director should bring in assistants that can and will help develop Jim’s weaknesses.
    .
    Also, if the sporting director were here today, I might feel somewhat differently about Jim’s staying. But with so much for the sporting director to do when they arrive, not finding a new head coach in year one, may actually be better for the long term future of the club.
    .
    I have been impressed with Sugarman. I for one thought he was much more of an absentee owner. But his “not seeing eye to eye” statement, made me realize he is a lot closer to the day to day than I ever realized. I am cautiously optimistic about the future. We all called for Sak being out, now that he is, let’s see what’s shakes out before we call for the end of days for Jim. – How many more points do we have this year if we have Sir Alex as the coach? Do we make the playoffs? With this roster, and M’Bholi starting the season … not likely.

    • If you don’t trust the sporting director to choose the right head coach, then you haven’t got the right sporting director.
      .
      Similarly, if you don’t trust the head coach to choose the right assistants, then you haven’t got the right head coach.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Sugarman did qualify the support for Curtin lightly, but I agree I am being picky. I suspect that Sugarman’s support is more along the lines of wanting the organization to be stable, rather than evaluating the actual coaching performance in all its dimensions. That’s not his job.
        .
        There have been owners in professional sports who have fired the technical staff equivalents directly, the Cowboys and the Yankees come to mind. But Sugarman’s style is not that, to the degree we have any sense of his style. He was clear that the sporting director holds the responsibility for the technical staff.

  6. Anyone going tonight to get Ferguson’s book and hear him speak? Hear our NBCSports soccer girl is going to be the moderator. I would have gone had tickets been $50 instead of the $90 with fees included…

  7. Christian Pulisic has been identified as one of the top 50 youth players in the world by the Guardian football writers.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Nice to hear.

    • Kid is good. Love hearing about how he continues to progress and impress.

    • the Union would have ruined him if he stayed local

      • he would have never played and just trained 6 days a week………..its the same reason I hope Darius stays far, far away from this franchise!

      • Jim Presti says:

        Curtin is very high on Madison. I would expect some serious playing time from him in USL or with the first team.

      • Do you suspect the games played issue will change now that we have a USL team? I hope so….
        .
        I agree…I think too many youth players play too many games and don’t train enough and then when/if they are ready to play pro ball there is this in-between space where they train too much instead of playing enough games.

    • he’s legit……we actually have a few youngins that are legit around his age…….our 20’s looked pretty good last WC. Lost to the finalists in a shootout……..the Serbs I believe.

  8. Love Chung Mung-joon going nuclear. Hope is accusations are proven. We need more people to step up and continue to pummel FIFA. Good stuff there.
    .
    I too am cautiously optimistic about this offseason. This team has a real chance to be better, have a direction, gain new fans, and regain old ones. This is really prolly the most important offseason ever.

    • OMW, I appreciate your sentiment and lord knows I’ve a learned a thing or two from you but, I swear, every year I hear that “cautiously optimistic” talk about next year, I feel like I’m about to wake up to Sonny and Cher on my clock radio and run into good ole Ned Ryerson on the corner.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Believe me Rob, I take a deep breath and cringe before I write those words when it comes to the Union. It’s more like, I feel like I “have to be”, as opposed to me “actually being” cautiously optimistic.
        .
        127… great section by the way… Row P here!!

      • I got you, Babe

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