Daily news roundups

Zach’s staying, transfer rumor, league news, new FIFA arrests, more news

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

At CBS Philly, Kevin Kinkead reports Zach Pfeffer will be with the Union in 2016: “Sources tell CBS Philly the club exercised Pfeffer’s contract option. He is expected to make around $100,000 next season, an increase from the $60,000 he made this year.”

Kinkead tweeted on Wednesday, “it seems like there might be a Union trade in the works. Hearing 2-3 players, allocation, and a draft pick involved,” later suggesting something might be in the works with Houston, who owe the Union “future considerations” as part of the Sheanon WIlliams trade. Kinkead characterized the possible move as “blockbuster.” Stay Tuned.

Andre Blake talks to Philly Soccer News about his injury related struggles in 2015: “I’m going to be honest because it was very difficult. There were good days and tougher days. I kept trying to work through it all. When you’re not playing and you’re a competitor, it is hard. I’m glad I was able to get my chance to play. I always want to be in there. When I wasn’t, I was always supporting my teammates. Sure, I want to be the one in there for the team. I feel good now and I’m excited for the future.”

Blake said of the 2015 season and looking ahead to 2016, “We had so many bad bounces and bad breaks. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong for us. We can’t dwell on it. I know we’ll be much better off for it next season and we are going to fight and work to improve all aspects. The fans supported us all season and we want to give back to them.

Michael Lahoud is now represented by “the recently launched Octagon Soccer representation division led by Co-Directors of North American Soccer Eddie Pope and Mike Senkowski.” You will recall Pope and Senkowski worked for the MLS Players Union before the launch of Octagon’s soccer arm in October.

At the Union website, the third round of voting for the top ten moments from the 2015 season continues with CJ Sapong’s goal against NYRB on May 24, a goal that helped cement the team’s first ever win at RBA, versus second goal in the 2-1 comeback win on the road against San Jose on Sept. 5, “their first come-from-behind victory since July 12, 2013 against Chivas USA.”

Brotherly Game on where the 2010 Union midfielders are now.

Philadelphia Union Academy

Union Academy defender Rayshaun McGann was the captain of the US U-17 team in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to England at the Nike International Friendlies. The team next faces The Netherlands on Friday at 6 pm. The game will be livestreamed on the US Soccer YouTube channel.

Local

Who wants a tryout?

Carli Lloyd is being honored as the March of Dimes Sportswomen of the Year. Stephanie Roche, the runner-up for the 2014 FIFA Puskás Award, says Lloyd “really is the best player in the world. She’s just phenomenal.”

MLS

Don Garber will make his end-of-the-year State of the League address via conference call with reporters today at 11 am.

Sebastian Giovinco is the league’s MVP for 2015. And rightly so.

Seattle announced on Wednesday it has declined the options on nine players: goalkeeper Troy Perkins; defenders Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, and Andres Correa; midfielders Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Pineda, Micheal Azira and Thomas; and forward Chad Barrett. Midfielder Andy Rose and forward Andy Craven are out of contract and have been offered new deals. Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey emphasized that just because a player’s option has been declined doesn’t mean the player won’t be signed by the club to a less expensive new deal. The options on 11 players (including Lamar Neagle) were exercised. Ten players were under contract for the 2016 season

Seattle is now the 12th club to make a postseason roster announcement. No announcement can be expected from Columbus and Portland with them playing in Sunday’s MLS Cup final. That leaves Philadelphia, DC, NYCFC, Colorado, Dallas, and LA.

Blas Perez has penned a farewell to FC Dallas fans: “My will was always to remain at this club and renew my contract, but the board and technical staff have other plans.”

At Soccer America, Ridge Mahoney on what the possible increase in Targeted Allocation Money each team can spend might mean.

Chicago Fire midfielder Michael Stephens is confident new head coach and former Union man Veljko Paunovic can lead the team to the playoffs.

RSL and USMNT goalkeeper Nick Rimando grew up Montclair, 25 miles away from San Bernardino, the California city where Wednesday’s mass shooting took place. He told USA Today,

My phone has not left my hand ever since I heard what was going on. Everything just stops,” Rimando said. “This is an area that is very close to my heart. It is where I’m from and where I grew up. It means even more because you worry so much for the people you know and everybody else.

I have friends and family who are here, and I have friends in the police department who are involved in what is going on. I have a close friend who is on one of the SWAT teams right now that is involved…

It is horrible to think that there are terrible people who would do this kind of thing, and you want them to be caught, but you just want the people you care about and for no one else to get hurt.

The Guardian on how many neutrals will be rooting against Portland in Sunday’s MLS Cup final because they are fed up with Timbers fans. I always thought Sounders fans were worse, myself.

Don Garber says the league will continue to consider changes to the playoff format, just as it does every year. More from Garber at the APForbes and Bleacher Report (what do you know, no slideshow!).

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle says the playoffs may still have flaws but they do entertain.

CONCACAF has announced the schedule for the Champions League quarterfinals:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 
8:00pmET  (7:00 pm) Queretaro (MEX) vs. DC United (USA) – Estadio Corregidora, Queretaro, Mexico
10:00pmET (7:00pm) Seattle Sounders (USA) vs. Club America (MEX) – CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA, USA

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
8:00pmET (7:00pm) Tigres (MEX) vs. Real Salt Lake (USA) – Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico
10:00pmET (7:00pm) LA Galaxy (USA) vs. Santos (MEX) – StubHub Center, Carson, CA, USA

Tuesday, March 01, 2016
8:00pmET (8:00pm) DC United (USA) vs Queretaro (MEX) – R.F.K. Stadium, Washington D.C., USA
10:00pmET (9:00pm) Santos (MEX) vs. LA Galaxy (USA) – Estadio Corona, Torreon, Mexico

Wednesday, March 02, 2016
8:00pmET (7:00pm) Club America (MEX) vs. Seattle Sounders (USA) – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
10:00pmET (8:00pm) Real Salt Lake (USA) vs. Tigres (MEX) – Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT, USA

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport annual report card on professional sports leagues gives MLS an overall grade of B for gender hiring 2015, up from C+ in 2014. The league for the third year in a row received a B+ racial hiring practices. For the seventh year in a row, the league received an A+ for diversity initiatives. ESPN reports, “Report author Richard Lapchick said MLS’s improvements are encouraging in a time when diverse hiring in some other leagues has become stagnant. ‘It shows the MLS is putting its focus on gender and diversity as a business imperative,’ Lapchick said.

The Law In Sports podcast talks to Dimitrios Efstathiou, Vice President, Legal at MLS, about a variety of topics, from how the league is structured, how it sells its international broadcast rights, how morals clauses are changing contract negotiations, and much more.

A “walkable village” is planned around the site of Minnesota United’s stadium in St. Paul. “The more people that can walk, bike and take public transportation to the Midway stadium, the better,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said.

The Star Tribune reports, “Minnesota United FC took a key step toward reworking itself into a Major League Soccer franchise on Wednesday, promoting Carl Craig to head coach so his predecessor, Manny Lagos, can focus exclusively on his role as sporting director (general manager).”

Describing the Beckham United group as “very frustrated” in not being able to complete its efforts to purchase parcels of private property needed for the proposed Little Havana stadium site in Miami next to Marlins Park, Don Garber told the Miami Herald, “[T]his needs to come to a conclusion. We’re spending an enormous amount of time and money on it, and we have been holding off on finalizing our expansion plans while this situation is unresolved, and that’s not fair to MLS, not fair to David and his partners, not fair to anybody at this point.” Garber also said the as yet undisclosed site being considered by the Beckham group as an alternative “will be better than the Marlins site.”

NASL side Indy Eleven have named Tim Hankinson their new head coach.

US

The US moves up one spot to No. 32 in the latest FIFA rankings. Mexico moves up two spots to No. 22.

Bloomberg has some interesting information on the newly announced deal won by IMG and MLS subsidiary Soccer United Marketing to handle sponsorship and broadcasting rights for the 2016 Copa Centenario. “The group is offering a guarantee of a little under $20 million with any remaining profits split between the organizers and the rights holders, said a person familiar with the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly. A previous deal — now scrapped amid the ongoing corruption probe — was worth $112.5 million.” Bloomberg reports the IMG/SUM bid “beat out 12 competitors following a detailed tender process, the first one ever undertaken for a Copa America.”

At Totaalvoetbal Concepts, Ken Sweda on the creativity problem with US youth soccer.

The same day a Mayo Clinic study was released that found a link between youth sports and brain disease, US Soccer announced its Recognize to Recover Player Health and Safety Program, which includes a new concussion protocol (click here to download). More on the new R2R initiative at ESPN and Soccer America.

Elsewhere

The New York Times reports from Zurich, “Swiss authorities began a new series of pre-dawn arrests Thursday in the broad investigation, led by United States officials, into corruption in international soccer. More than a dozen people were expected to be charged, law enforcement officials said, nearly doubling the size of an already huge case that has upended FIFA, soccer’s multibillion-dollar governing body.” The report says among those arrested “on charges that include racketeering, money laundering and fraud” are CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, and CONMEBOL president Juan Ángel Napout of Paraguay. “Both are FIFA vice presidents and members of the powerful executive committee.”

FIFA said in a statement, “FIFA is aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General. FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments.”

CONCACAF and US Soccer have also issued statements. The US Soccer statement says the arrests will not affect the hosting of the Copa AMerica Centenario. “The new Executive Committee that was created to govern the tournament does not include these individuals and they were never in a position to make decisions”.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be holding a press conference on the latest FIFA corruption arrests today at 1:30 pm.

More on today’s arrests from Reuters, the APPA Sport, The Guardian (report, analysis), NBC, SIGoal.com,

The arrests took place today because FIFA’s executive committee was in Zurich to receive the recommendations of FIFA’s reform committee, which were unanimously approved and announced today.

Among the items in the reform package is a recommendation to expand the World Cup to 40 teams. More on this terrible, terrible idea at PA Sport.

Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou said, “These reforms are moving FIFA towards improved governance, greater transparency and more accountability. They mark a milestone on our path towards restoring FIFA’s credibility as a modern, trusted and professional sports organisation.”

FIFA leadership will hope reforms payoff. PA Sports reports, “FIFA’s crisis has had serious financial consequences. World football’s governing body has suffered a £67m financial loss in 2015.” The loss is the result of a decline of income from sponsors and rising legal costs.

You can read a summary of the reform committee’s report here, the full report here.

In related FIFA corruption news, the extradition of well known crook Jack Warner from Trinidad and Tobago to the US has been delayed after his lawyers were able to secure “a judicial review of the extradition process itself” from T&T authorities. The New York Daily News report includes this passage:

After a brief court appearance Wednesday, Warner and his bodyguards lobbed insults at French television reporter Nicolas Geay, who asked Warner questions about multi-million-dollar payments to Warner that were allegedly part of a system of bribes and kickbacks.

“Ask ISIS,” Warner’s bodyguard shouted at Geay, apparently referring to the terrorist group that attacked people in Geay’s hometown of Paris last month. After Geay asked a second question, Warner himself told Geay: “Ask your mother.”

Well known crook Jack Warner. He’s still got it. Wired868 has what appears to be a full transcript of the repeated references to ISIS and Geay’s mother. The Wired868 report ends,

Geay, who lives 10 minutes outside of Paris, had a good idea what they meant but he had to ask Wired868 to be sure.

“At first, I didn’t understand,” said Geay. “We say ‘Daesh’ in France.”

Suspended UEFA president, and FIFA presidential hopeful, Michel Platini is confident he will be able to clear his name. “It’s me who is calling my friends to comfort them. I’m not worried…People have been criticising me for 40 years. For a misplaced pass, for everything…But I’m appalled to have been served up and frustrated not to be able to campaign [for election].”

This: “During a three-hour grilling at a British parliamentary hearing, IAAF President Sebastian Coe said Wednesday he is unsure whether Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2019 world athletics championships was clean.”

15 Comments

  1. Cubo to Philly? 🙂

  2. The Ken Sweda article is excellent. If you want more check out John Pranjic’s interview of him here: http://www.johnpranjic.com/blog/
    .
    .
    It is a good listen.

    • Nothing creative happens until total and complete dominion and mastery of the ball occurs… this is the great benefit of free play IMO.
      .
      Ease of dribbling as though players were not even dribbling. first touch that is pure. All these things allow the player to get their head up.
      .
      More free play. More quality coaching. Pretty easy. Right?

    • Agree. excellent article. Thanks for the link.

  3. Giovinco as MVP had to be one of the easiest MVP votes in MLS history.
    Sure, others could have made a case, but it was academic.

    • I think that it wasn’t unanimous is kind of amazing.

    • I think it’s jealousy or anti-european snobbiness or something. I mean he was clearly the best player in the league this year, and the stats agree. I don’t like the influx of older European players or the constant Euro-snob bashing of MLS, but I don’t view him as either of those things. I would take him 10 out of 10 times, and over the vast majority of players around the world.

      • I think it is arguable that Sebastien Giovinco brought a quality of play never before seen in MLS.
        .
        This is a man clearly in the wheel house of his prime… playing the game at a level of consciousness much high than the rest around him.
        .
        To think the figure heads even had to consider who the MVP was is laughable. Hands down. Far and way the most valuable player in MLS.
        .
        Dude is a diamond in a league of anthracite.

  4. Cubo didn’t do much this season, I’d be wary. Hope it’s not an aging Brad Davis

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Cubo came in late since he started the season at Chivas (Mexico) and never really got a chance to get integrated into a new team with a new coach. I’d love Cubo to come here, but I’d be surprised if MLS allowed him to be moved out of a heavy mexican american region. But, there are planty of rumors that Vela is coming stateside, so maybe a Cubo move allows for a Vela to Houston deal??? That being said, if the move is for Cubo, I can’t see the U retaining both Sapong and Nando, especially if they move to a true 4-3-3- or keep playing their 4-5-1.

    • Yes I also thought prior to last year Cubo would only agree to go to teams in warm climates as I seem to recall Chicago really pursuing him but failing because of that.

    • Will Bruin is also a possibility…

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