Daily news roundups

Readying for Orlando, Nogs wants to stay, mini-pitch, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

As the 2015 season has drawn to a close, a season with far too many more lows than highs, Jim Curtin has talked about the need to finish the year “the right way.” The team missed that opportunity in last Sunday’s demoralizing loss to NYRB, a defeat that included the Union conceding the quickest goal in MLS history.

The Union have one final chance to end the season on a positive when they host Orlando City on Sunday at 5 pm. A victory will see the 9-17-7 Union reach double digits in the win column. A loss will see them tie the franchise record set in 2012 for the most losses in a season when the team had a 10-18-6 record.

Perhaps more importantly, a win will be, as Curtin said in his weekly press conference on Wednesday, “to send the fans home happy.”

A win might also send a certain someone who may or may not be in the owner’s box for Sunday’s game back home to the Netherlands more favorably inclined to make a decision about taking the sporting director job and making Philadelphia his new home.

Previews of Sunday’s game at PSP, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Brotherly GameThe Maneland looks back at what Orlando learned about the Union in August’s game.

Vincent Nogueira spoke to reporters on Wednesday — reports at Delco Times and CSN Philly —  about his future with the club:

I feel pretty good here. Of course, it’s not the season we expect as a player or I think as a club, I really want to do much better. For me, I didn’t do the season that I wanted to do. A lot of tough injuries, and when I was at my best level, it was good, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t on the field at my best enough time, but I still want to stay here. It’s my optional season.

I don’t know yet, (the team and I) didn’t talk. For the moment, I don’t know. It will be the club first and then we will see.

He also spoke about the disappointing 2015 season:

The frustration is that we are able to play very good soccer on the field and then another game, very bad,” he said. “We’re missing consistency, and I think if you want to be a player, we need more experience, more consistency and that’s why it’s frustrating. It’s not like we were bad all season. We showed that we were able to play very well, and one time it’s a good game, and another time it’s a bad game…

When you see the games that we were able to play, there’s no reason why we cannot play this kind of soccer all season. Of course we are very close, but very close and very far because at the high level of professional soccer, you cannot be bad sometimes and good sometimes. You have to be at your best level every time, so it’s maybe the difference between the five or six first teams in the league and the rest of the teams. If we find the consistency, we’ll be much better.

In Wednesday’s weekly press conference, Jim Curtin spoke about Andrew Wenger playing outside back. Wenger says in an article at MLSsoccer.com from Dave Zeitlin the similarities between winger and outside back could be beneficial to him, explaining, “It’s a fun position when it’s played right. Defending-wise, I’m still learning a lot.” Wenger said of his disappointing 2015  season, “This was a tough year. There were certain things probably dealing with throughout the year that I didn’t handle correctly. Other than that, you move forward and try to wash your hands of it, to a certain extent.”

At Union Tally, Matthew De George analyzes Curtin’s comments in Wednesday about the Union’s 2015 draft picks an d the team’s generally poor record overall in turning draft picks into regular starters. “The fact that a team in perpetual rebuilding mode that has selected in the top seven of the draft five times counts [Supplemental Draft pick] Hoppenot as its all-time leader in rookie appearances (25 in 2012) is disturbing…The question here is circular: Are the Union bad at developing rookies which leads to nonproductive players, or do they not pick players worthy of the resources to develop?”

From The Guardian preview of Sunday’s “Decision Day” games: “On a positive note, there are almost no dead rubbers to speak of this Sunday, save perhaps for the Philadelphia Union hosting the almost certainly done-and-dusted Orlando City SC. Major League Soccer has often been criticized for too many ‘meaningless’ end of season games involving already eliminated teams.”

Herald ScotlandHITC, and deadlinenews.co.uk pick up on Jim Curtin’s recent comments about trialist James McFadden.

Empire of Soccer reports, according to “well placed sources,” that the Union almost received midfielder Kwadwo Poku from NYCFC in a trade during the summer transfer window: “Head coach Jim Curtin and NYCFC boss Jason Kreis were said to be spearheading the possible transaction.” It is unclear if allocation money and/or a player swap were to be part of the deal or why it fell through, although a NYCFC spokesperson denied “a move was ever in the works, let alone entertained.” Moving on…

The Union, in collaboration with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, MLS WORKS, adidas, and Southern New Hampshire University, unveiled a new mini soccer pitch on Thursday at Stetser Elementary School in Chester. The pitch looks nice, and it’s good for kids in Chester. It would also be nice if the Union and the Union Foundation developed a program to build more mini pitches in Philadelphia — in city-owned parks or otherwise unused lots — and the suburbs to promote both the team and the game of soccer. I have no doubt the the team and the foundation would find many willing partners for such a program if guidance was provided as to the requirements that need to be fulfilled to build a mini pitch. You can see pictures of the new mini pitch here and here, and video here.

Local

Feasterville native Matt Bahr, son of US National Soccer Hall of Famer Walt Bahr, is being inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. This article at the Bucks County Courier Times rightly focuses on his NFL career as a place kicker, as it does with his brother Matt, but the article wrongly omits any mention that the two brothers also played professional soccer in the NASL before they embarked on their pro football careers.

MLS

With both teams already eliminated from advancing to the quarterfinals, Vancouver was defeated 1-0 by Olimpia in Honduras in CONCACAF Champions League play on Thursday night.

Soccer America says several teams have much to lose during Sunday’s “Decision Day” regular season finale, most notably New England, Kansas City, and Seattle.

At MLSsoccer.com, a look at how other national leagues around the world use various post-regular season playoff formats to determine a champion.

Bruce Arena has a suggestion for how to alleviate the end of the season fixture congestion that results from play in the league, US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, as well as player absences due to FIFA international dates.

We should have a Boxing day-style setup, and I’m going to ask the league to consider this: next year, play July 1, which is a Friday, and play July 4. Everyone in the league plays on those two dates. The setup should be home and away so you don’t get two home dates. And keep it regional.

There’s one way of knocking off two dates for the entire league. That would be a little bit of a break in the scheduling scramble that we have, and it can be done. All of this stuff can be done. We can play 34 games without playing on the fixture dates if we get a little creative. We don’t get creative enough.

I like it.

Sporting Kansas City and USL announced on Thursday the launch of a USL team, the wonderfully named Swope Park Rangers, “a name that originated with Sporting Kansas City’s reserve team in 2008.” The team — which will bring the league’s roster of sides to 30, and is the 11th owned or operated by a MLS club — will begin play in 2016.

Multiple reports say St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire will announce today that St. Paul will be the location of Minnesota United’s new MLS stadium. Reports at Star Tribune, Pioneer PressCBS Minnesota, and KSTP.

The Miami Herald reports, “Miami-Dade County School Board members on Thursday said they are intrigued about a possible deal with David Beckham to bring major league soccer to Miami, giving their superintendent an initial green light to continue pursuing negotiations.”

At MLSsoccer.com, a history of the creation of the Supporters Shield. Here’s Bruce Arena on the Shield: “Whoever wins it, credit to them. But what is it at this point? We have an unbalanced schedule, all these other variables. Then think about next year, we’ve added Copa America on top of everything else.”

Mexico national team star Carlos Vela to Chicago or San Jose?

Ottawa Fury clinched the NASL fall season championship on Wednesday with a game to spare with a 3-1 win over Jacksonville Armada. Ottawa, which has lost only once in the last 24 games, can clinch the No. 1 seed if the New York Cosmos, the spring champions, lose on the road to San Antonio on Saturday or with a win over Atlanta in the season finale on Oct. 31

US

The US faces host country Chile today in their final group game at the U-17 World Cup (7 pm: FS2, Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Sports Go, NBC Deportes En Vivo). After a loss to Nigeria, and a draw with Croatia, the game is a must-win for the US if they are to have a chance to advance to the knockout rounds. At ASN, Brian Sciaretta has three thoughts ahead of the game.

At Soccer America, Mike Woitalla has an article on the recent meeting with representatives of US Soccer, MLS, NASL, and youth soccer clubs about the issue of training compensation and solidarity payments. The article contains some interesting remarks from Lance Reich, an attorney who represents several youth clubs and was at the meeting:

U.S. Soccer said, right off the bat, that they’re in the middle of this and sick of being in the middle of this. They want the parties to work through this. They said they will ultimately take some action here if they have to. But they want all of us on the same page with respect to the issue, hence the reason for the meeting.

My first response was, you, USSF, are the parents. We all sit in front of you as children. You are in the middle of this. It’s like the ref saying “I’m going to stop blowing the whistle and you work it out amongst yourselves.”

Reich nevertheless believes youth clubs will soon receive compensation.

There were some peaceful positions going back and forth. What if we have training fees for domestic player signings? Where does the money come from? How much are we talking about? …

Basically, most people in the room agreed that the current state of U.S. youth soccer is poor and the youth clubs need help to get away from pay-to-play model. The youth clubs were very clear to articulate they view the world $2,000 at a time for money coming into the club, because every found $2,000 is giving some young kid a fee scholarship at the bottom level of the club. Getting someone in who otherwise can’t play. That’s the way we view things.

U.S. Soccer wants us to move away from pay-to-play, an unfair model which our clubs don’t particularly care for. But all of us are non-profit. How do you want us to move away from pay-to-play? Millions of dollars of training compensation and solidarity fees could do that and change the game in the United States.

Stay tuned.

Elsewhere

Former FIFA international relations director Jerome Champagne has declared his candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

Reuters reports, “Alarmed at the financial gulf between soccer’s haves and have-nots, FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne says a more even distribution of riches will be a priority if he wins election in February.”

The Guardian reports, “International trade unions have expressed ‘severe concerns’ over the possibility of Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa standing for the FIFA presidency due to his alleged links with the 2011 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain.”

The AP reports FIFPro, without naming al-Khalifa, “has urged FIFA to block presidential contenders with a poor record on human rights.”

German football federation president  said on Wednesday he was not aware of the €6.7 million loan that is at the heart of the allegations that a slush fund was set up to buy votes for the hosting rights to the 2006 World Cup, which were won by Germany. ESPN reports,

The entire 2006 World Cup organising committee was made aware of the disputed €6.7 million loan from Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 2004, former German football federation (DFB) general secretary Horst R Schmidt has said.

DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach had previously indicated that he was not aware of the payment until this summer and is now facing widespread calls in the German media to resign his position.

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

16 Comments

  1. The mini pitches are brilliant as I can count 3 spots in Delaware County alone that are unused basketball courts…without basketball poles even.
    .
    these are the asphalt petrie dishes that need to spring up EVERYwhere. Instead of organized futsal in the winter…let’s have organized futsal in the winter and futsal ALL the time… but street ball with a nation of ballers not even interested in playing organized soccer- as the ball….and only the ball – is the avenue of self expression…the art of the ball…
    .
    .A.gain a thousand A.gains USSF… to the gallows with TRAVEL soccer. If it’s good for Neymar who never played organized ball on a grass field until he was almost 12… it’s good enough for me. Futsal and the Academy. Enough. No more saturday mornings chasing the route 1 long ball… to the GREAT detriment of our self expression.
    .
    As far as Poku. It is funny how a few posters bandied about the idea of Poku on the Union this year and how each one would willingly sacrifice their hallux toe to get him… too bad…. Poku. Now there is a player to build an attack around. Ho-Hum.
    .
    Vincent Noguiera has played an entire season and not recorded even one *minim mote of an assist. Is this accurate? WTF.
    .
    .
    *minim mote. I refer you to the most excellent poem, Opening Words, by the late Denise Levertov. An astounding poem…
    .
    …”dust of the earth, help thou my unbelief. Drift gray become gold, in the beam of vision. I believe with doubt. I doubt and interrupt my doubt with belief. Be. Beloved. Threatened world….”

    • Yup I was one of those posters all year saying Poku would have been a great addition to this team. Heck I still think he is doesn’t cost much and NYCFC don’t need him. Find a new way to make it happen.

  2. Bruce Arena nailed the scheduling issue right on the head. It’s not difficult to do, they just keep botching it. I remember, for example, earlier in the year there was a team that had a week off in April or May, and then played the following week during a FIFA break. It might have been the Red Bulls, but I remember thinking “why is there an off week when we have 20 teams?” Every team plays every week, regardless of outside issues (including a CONCACAF run since rescheduling games proved unfruitful anyway), takes off for EVERY FIFA date, and for the games that needed to be made up because of those dates we double up, such as his July 4 weekend plan, or Memorial day or Labor day matches. Midweek games should be played in groups as well, 3 or 4 a night, no standalone matches. It’s not as difficult as they make it seem.

    • hell yeah they should do this. the games in hand disparity was shameful this season. a mid-season rest — for a league that doesn’t honor international dates — should be easy to accomplish. make it a rivalry week. good PR, a chance to sell the All Star game later in the month, and frees up those *ahem* pesky July dates when teams shouldn’t double book forcing 4pm Open Cup matches.

    • Yes. I’ve felt for a while that MLS should try to make one of the holidays their own- similar to college football and hockey with the outdoor game on New Year’s Day and the NBA with Christmas. July 4th would be the obvious one. Love Arena’s idea of using the date to tighten up the schedule by using it as a multi-game week. I guess the biggest problem would be when it falls on Fri, Sat, or Sun. But even on a Fri you could have everyone play Fri the 4th, and then everyone play the next Wed. Everyone plays a Wed game at some point, why not play one of them on the same day for all in mid-summer? We’ve debated this before, but after that brutal RSL-SKC final played in temps in the teens in December I favor them moving up the Final too. I’d advocate Thanksgiving Saturday when the college football slate is pretty light. It’s only 10-12 days earlier but you might get a better chance at acceptable weather and it’s a good destination date for the league championship yearly. Bottom line is the league has plenty of options to improve the schedule, they’ve just chosen not to yet. Hopefully that changes.

      • Thanksgiving Saturday is probably the biggest college football day of the year because of rivalries, but I agree with your point. I’d be in favor of the Friday after Thanksgiving, as that is usually a quieter sports day, or even the Sunday after would suffice better than the current format.

    • I went through an exercise once to build a schedule that honored FIFA dates and wrapped up around Thanksgiving, as Mikex suggests. It really wasn’t hard. My attempt at it had (as I recall) a few mid-week games. For all of those, I went with the idea of a local rivalry game. Nobody travels cross-country, and most of them were in the summer when school isn’t an issue.
      .
      It’s difficult, but not so difficult that the suits in the league office can’t figure it out.
      .
      Take Arena’s idea a step further. The league can own Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Play home-and-home for all three. For Memorial Day and Labor Day, play Friday and Monday. (It’s no different, rest-wise, as Wednesday and Saturday).
      .
      .
      And as for Arena’s point about the Supporter’s Shield… I would love to see a balanced schedule somehow. Just not sure it’ll be feasible going forward because of the number of teams. Twenty-four teams would be a season schedule of 46 if you play everybody twice.

  3. Earl, just FYI that Union Tally link takes you to the wrong URL. Should be – http://uniontally.blogspot.com/

  4. reading nogueira’s assessment of this team gives me hope that he will be back
    .
    and reading that we almost got poku… it made me feel good about albright and curtin that it almost got done but it also makes me so crestfallen that the deal was blocked

    • I respect your position….
      .
      …but the Art of Almost is not good enough for me anymore.
      .
      We almost won 2 Open Cups.
      .
      We almost had A. Bedoya.
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      Poku was almost with the Union.
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      We almost have a ten goal scorer.
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      We almost didn’t blow half a dozen games this season for unnamed senseless reasons.
      .
      We almost didn’t hire a second coach with no experience.
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      Of course the rebuttal could be… we almost didn’t fire Mr. Sakiewiecz.

      • Agreed the almosts need to be turned into the Union got it done.

      • let’s hope Ernie doesn’t turn out to be another almost … GET THE DEAL DONE!

      • Even though I was as anxious as anyone through the year to hear about the GM/SD search, this is one time I would have rather not heard Stewart’s name until after the fact. If they don’t nab him it’s going to be quite a letdown.

      • yeah, i agree completely. the ‘almost’ with poku hurts more than it feels good

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