Daily news roundups

Burke named as Bethlehem Steel head coach, five-point plan, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The good news keeps coming in.

First, the Union close out a disappointing 2015 season with a home win on Sunday. On Monday, the team announced Earnie Stewart will be its first sporting director. On Tuesday, Bethlehem Steel FC was announced as the name of the team’s USL franchise. Then, on Wednesday, former Reading United head coach and Union assistant coach Brendan Burke was named as BSFC’s head coach.

It may just be the fortuitous coincidence, but dang, the procession of absolutely positive news couldn’t be more welcome.

Burke, an absolutely fantastic coach (and also a great guy), will be officially presented as head coach in a press conference this morning at 10 am. Joining him will be Union minority owner Richie Graham and head coach Jim Curtin. (That Union owners Jay Sugarman and Richie Graham are making a much more public presence since the dismissal of Nick Sakiewicz is simply more welcome news.)

Reports on Burke’s hiring at PSP, USLDelco TimesLehigh Valley Live, Allentown Morning CallPhilly Soccer News, Brotherly GamePhilly Sports Network, and Philly Sports Nation.

In the latest Inside Doop at CSN Philly, Dave Zeitlin presents a five-point plan for the Union to improve during the offseason:

  1. Open the wallet for a goal-scorer and a wide attacker
  2. Upgrade the fullbacks
  3. Sign a veteran goalie … but only to mentor Andre Blake
  4. Find some American winners
  5. Make the draft count/sign youth academy players

An article at MLSsoccer.com asks players what they think of the MLS playoffs. Brian Carroll says,

Playoffs are kind of ingrained in the sports culture in America. That’s just kind of how it is and it’s what fans like and we do have a regular-season championship trophy with the Supporters’ Shield. So with that and the playoffs, I think it adds an extra interesting dimension. The playoffs are just a different animal, and I think players, coaches, fans appreciate it, whether it’s different from other leagues around the world or not.

For me, it’s the extra competitive level. Everything just gets raised to a new level. And it’s the people who can calm down and continue to do their role to the best of their ability while helping their teammate next to them that ultimately succeeds. And you just have to get hot and get on a good run. So I like the different scenarios that the playoffs present.

At Brotherly Game, Andrew Stoltzfus has some thoughts on Jay Sugarman’s press conference discussing the Earnie Stewart hiring on Monday.

Philly Soccer News has more on Sebastien Le Toux’s desire to play out his career in Philadelphia with the Union.

Local

Villanova defeated St. John’s on Wednesday evening, 2-0. St. Joseph’s was absolutely demolished by Dayton, losing 7-1 on the road. On Tuesday, Drexel was defeated 1-0 by UMBC.

MLS

In Wednesday night’s knockout round games, DC defeated New England, 2-1, with the Revolution’s Jermaine Jones ejected in second half stoppage time after he forcefully disputed referee Mark Geiger’s decision not to call a handball in the box. Chris Rolfe scored the 83rd minute game winner after missing from the penalty spot in the 75th minute. New England opened the scoring through Juan Agudelo’s lovely bicycle kick goal in the 15th minute. In the Western Conference, Seattle defeated defending champions LA, 3-2 in a game in which both teams scored two goals within the first 22 minutes of play.

In tonight’s final knockout round games, Montreal hosts Toronto at 7 pm, and Portland hosts Kansas City at 10 pm. Both games are on UniMas and MLS Live.

Andrea Pirlo says he will not go on loan to Europe during the offseason.

Chicago Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez says he’s hearing from plenty of quality coaches who want to apply for the team’s vacant head coach job. “I came into the process with a list of names and with some ideas. I will tell you that I may have been slightly naïve in that. The solicitations that we have received from people interested in this position is nearly overwhelming. The international standard and caliber of candidates that have expressed interest has surprised me. It speaks to how Chicago Fire is actually seen worldwide as a desirable destination for the best.” Rodriguez hopes to name the new head coach by Thanksgiving.

At the Players’ Tribune, Sacha Kljestan on what a midfielder does.

Expansion NASL side Miami FC will play its home games at Florida International University when it begins play in April, 2016. “Miami FC and FIU entered a three-year deal with a two-year option in which the team will pay $10,000 rent per match, plus $2,500 if the opposing team wants to practice there. FIU will receive $2 per ticket. Also, Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva donated $450,000 to the FIU athletic department.”

US

It looks like Aron Johannsson will be unavailable for the start of the USMNT’s World Cup qualification campaign as he recovers from hip surgery.

At the Wall Street Journal: “Less than three months after Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal committed to spend about $950 million to air English Premier League soccer games in the U.S., the deal is starting to look like a rare commodity in the hot market for sports rights: a bargain.”

Elsewhere

The Telegraph reports England’s FA is consulting with lawyers to see if it can mount an effort to get the £21 million it invested in its bid to host the 2018 World Cup after Sepp Blatter said in an interview with Russian news agency TASS that a deal was already in place to award the hosting rights to Russia before the 2010 vote. FA chairman Greg Dyke is skeptical the organization will be able to successfully sue FIFA.

The Telegraph report says further, “FIFA’s ethics committee said it was monitoring matters ‘with ­interest’ amid calls for it to reopen its investigation into the award of the next two World Cup finals tournaments. In addition to England, joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Holland spent significant sums on ill-fated efforts to secure hosting football’s biggest event and could try to seek compensation.”

Dyke says, “ideally,” FIFA should be dissolved: “If you could get enough powerful footballing nations together then you could do it but I don’t think you could. FIFA is a corrupt organization — and has been for 40 years.”

A Blatter spokesperson attempted to reframe the banned FIFA president’s remarks: “It was not an agreement, this was his proposal and of course it (then) went to the vote at the (FIFA) executive committee.” The spokesperson said Blatter’s proposal was undermined when “he was tricked by Platini who, under pressure from [then French president Nicolas Sarkozy], switched his support to Qatar.”

In an interview with The Telegraph, Michel Platini said the allegations that he received an improper payment from Blatter that have resulted in the provisional suspension of both men are baseless and that he still considers himself a candidate for the FIFA presidency:

People want to prevent me running because they know that I have every chance of winning. I have the impression they don’t want a former player running Fifa as they don’t want to put football in footballers’ hands. But I am the only one who has a 360-degree view of football. I have been a player, a coach of the French national team, a director of a club with Nancy, an organiser of a World Cup [in France 98] and, right now, the boss of the most powerful confederation, a journey I have achieved with honesty.

I know all the families of football, all the sensitivities and the preoccupations of each one. I am, in all humility, the most able to run world football.

The AFP reports former Trinidad & Tobago international David Nakhid, who played college soccer at American University and played in MLS with New England Revolution, will “appeal FIFA’s decision to reject his candidacy for the presidency of the organisation, saying it was all part of a ‘dirty tricks campaign.'” Nakhid’s candidacy was rejected because one of the federations that provided one of the required five letters of endorsement, the US Virgin Islands, also endorsed another candidate. Nakhid and another FIFA presidential candidate, Jerome Champagne, said on Monday that the federations that provided letters of endorsement did not want to be publically named because they fear reprisals. Nakhid said, “We are talking about grown men in a sport that is supposed to be a great sport, and they are afraid to say they have backed a candidate…There are people behind the scenes already striking deals so that the election is over before it has begun and that is sad.” More at Soccer America.

The AP reports, “FIFA sponsor Visa has threatened to cut its ties with the scandal-tarnished governing body if the credit card company isn’t satisfied with reforms.”

Awesome.

21 Comments

  1. My ‘Step 0’ in that five-point plan would be to bring in an experienced MLS Assistant Coach to mentor/advise Curtin.

    • Agreed! The staff has appeared to be at least one person short for a while, now. An MLS-experienced assistant would be a welcome addition, in my opinion…

    • Wasn’t there talk last season of sending Curtin to Europe to do a little understudy work? Thought that was talked about but he had too much to do given the fact that there was no GM. Do the Union have any partner/friendly clubs overseas? I’m certain Bournmouth is out now that Sak is gone, though I’m not sure what you could learn from them other than getting spanked by the top half of the PL table…. Maybe Alkmaar (unless they’re really sore about us stealing Stewart).

      • They’ve sent some players over to England for offseason training before – I recall MacMath doing a few stints over at Everton. Hopefully, connections there and at a few other clubs still exist. Curtin shadowing Roberto Martinez would be fantastic.

      • That would be pretty great. Martinez took over Swansea when he was 34. And was successful.

  2. man, platini is such a snake

  3. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Union open next season against New England with no Jermaine Jones?

    • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

      I love in the article on Jones where Caldwell says Geiger acted with “arrogance.” Really? Geiger? That’s so unlike him. Sarcasm meter pinning.

  4. Anyone else find the giant flame throwers behind the goals in that Seattle-LA game a little odd? The first I saw of them was at the Open final, is this going to be a thing now? If so, they should just go all out and have a giant monster truck jump over the flames for every home goal scored. Really make it special.

    • i’m not gonna lie, i enjoy the giant flamethrowers for big games. i laughed like a nut when they went off unexpectedly during the open cup

      • I acknowledge I might be being a bit of a wet blanket. Maybe it’s my old role in safety at a previous job, but all I see is the potential for mass deaths if there is an undetected gas leak before a goal. If that thing blows incinerating the goalie, 3/4 of the back line and everyone sitting behind the goal in rows 1-3 then don’t come crying to me!

      • Maybe this is why Sak was stockpiling goalies.

      • Okay, that was funny. Wrong, but funny.

      • Where’s the ‘Like’ button?

    • Seattle has had them for the past 3-4 seasons at least. SKC does something similar but with confetti

      • The confetti is atrocious. Having that crap lying inside the 6 until someone cleans it up is ridiculous.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    I have no idea how Geiger DIDN’T call that handball. After all, it’s Geiger we’re talking about. Amazing.

    • Both looked to be about the same distance from the body and the same time off an opponent. Call both or neither, not one and not the other.

    • Maybe he was gun shy after the handball PK call he made in the Gold Cup semifinal Mexico-Chile match this summer that blew up in his face.

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