Daily news roundups

Summing up Union’s Monday moves, East End Army, more news

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

The Union’s first moves of of the offseason were officially announced on Monday. First came confirmation of the arrival of Chris Pontius from DC United. Soon after came confirmation of the transfer of Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger to Houston. All three deals included the exchange of General and Targeted Allocation Money, with the Union also getting the No. 6 overall pick from Houston in the 2016 SuperDraft.

Meanwhile, news also came of two players who spent the 2015 season on loan, with Austin Berry signing with hometown and new USL team FC Cincinnati, and Danny Cruz bidding his farewell to fans with a post on Twitter.

And while there was no announcement from the Union, the league’s list of players eligible for the Re-Entry Draft and Free Agency issued on Monday evening showed the team had declined the options on Zac MacMath, Cruz, Fred, and Warren Creavalle, with Antoine Hoppenot out of contract, making them all available for the Re-Entry Draft. The team also decided not to exercise the options on Brian Carroll and Conor Casey. In a report published at CSN Philly on Monday afternoon, Jim Curtin said Carroll would be back with the team in 2016 while salary concerns meant the club would not be able to reach a deal with Casey.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George writes the league list “indicates the Union have picked up options on Sebastien Le Toux (who would’ve been a free agent), Michael Lahoud and CJ Sapong (who both would’ve been in Re-Entry).”

So, what’s the Union roster looking like right now?

  • Goalkeepers: Andre Blake, John McCarthy
  • Defenders: Ray Gaddis, Maurice Edu, Richie Marquez, Fabinho
  • Midfielders: Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Sebastien Le Toux, Chris Pontius, Zach Pfeffer, Leo Fernandes, Jimmy McLaughlin, Erik Ayuk
  • Forwards: CJ Sapong, Fernando Aristeguieta, Dzenan Catic

Of those on the roster above, the status of Jimmy McLaughlin (Union would have to buy his rights), and Dzenan Catic (no first team minutes, spent much of 2015 on loan) remains unclear. Kevin Kinkead tweeted last week Aristeguieta would be staying with the club, though whether through a new loan or purchase is not known. NASL side Carolina RailHawks announced last month that Brian Sylvestre is under contract with them for the 2016 and he is currently the only goalkeeper on their roster. Kinkead reported last week Steven Vitoria and Eric Bird would not be returning to the club. The Washington Post’s Steven Goff tweeted last week the Union had declined the option on Ethan White, and while he is not on the league list, a series of tweets between him and Hoppenot on Monday would seem to confirm he will not be wearing Blue and Gold in 2016.

Looking ahead here’s what to look forward to in the short term. Beginning today at 1 pm, free agents can begin negotiating with teams. On Wednesday at 4:30 pm the Waiver Draft will take place. Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Friday at 3 pm, followed by Stage Two next Thursday at 3 pm. The Union have the third pick in the draft.

Curtin told CSN Philly of the reasoning behind the Pontius acquisition, “It goes back to how we want to play — the formation and style. Chris is a guy who can fit that.” As far as injury concerns, Curtin said,

It’s a concern, injuries are always a concern. But he’s not a lack of fitness guy, he’s a physical freak. He may have been pushed too hard. You have to learn how to shut him down on some days. He’s a guy who doesn’t go halfway, whether he’s practicing or playing in a game, he goes full speed. It’s my job to manage that…

He’s had hamstring issues, but a lot of that will be up to our new sports science department. It’s a brand new department that we’ve opened up and we think we can get guys with an injury history stronger and their muscles built up, where the soft tissue issues aren’t going to pop up…

I believe he will take care of himself and is capable of a very strong season. I believe he’s an eight goal, eight assist kind of guy, so that’s what we’re looking for.

At MLSsoccer.com, Matthew Doyle writes Pontius fits well into the 4-3-3 system Earnie Stewart wants the team to deploy, even if the winger’s injury history means “it’s hard to imagine him playing more than 1500 minutes in 2016.” Given what Pontius is capable of when healthy, Doyle concludes, “It’s a long shot, but if you’re in Philly’s position, why not buy the ticket and take the ride?”

Describing Maidana as “a luxury player in the purest sense,” and one who “neither defends nor puts himself into the spots to hold and facilitate ‘rugged’ possession,” Doyle says the Argentine “is now Owen Coyle’s problem to solve in Houston.”

Reports on Monday’s news at PSP (Pontius, Maidana-Wenger-Berry-Cruz, options declined), Philadelphia Union (Pontius, Maidana-WengerDelco Times, CSN Philly (Carroll-CaseyPontius, Maidana-Wenger), Philly Soccer News (Pontius, Maidana-Wenger), Brotherly Game (Berry-Cruz, Pontius, Maidana-Wenger, options declinedopinion), Vavel, Philly Sports Network (Pontius, wrap), Sons of Penn, Blue and Gold Blog, MLSsoccer.com (Pontius/Pontius analysis; Maidana-Wenger/Maidana-Wenger analysis), DC United, Washington Post, Black and Red United, Houston Dynamo, Houston Chronicle, Dynamo Theory, ESPN, Goal.com (Pontius, Maidana-Wenger), and Soccer America.

In the final round of voting for the Top Moment of the 2015 season, voters can select between Sebastien Le Toux’s goal in the US Open Cup semifinals, John McCarthy’s goalkeeping heroics in the US Open Cup quarterfinal, and Andre Blake’s outstanding goalkeeping in the 1-1 road draw against New England. The winner will be announced on Friday.

A judge has dismissed the request to seal documents in the ongoing case between Peter Nowak against Philadelphia Union alleging unlawful dismissal. Both parties had requested that court documents be sealed from the public, apparently over concerns that embarrassment might result to both parties, who now have until Dec. 17 to provide arguments demonstrating why the seal should be reapplied.

Bethlehem Steel

The votes are in and, in a nod to the early home of the original Bethlehem Steel, the new USL Bethlehem Steel supporters group will call itself the East End Army. More at Penn 97.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders have named Roy Mehl as its new president following the recent resignation of Tiago Lopes. A club press release says, Mehl, who has been a partner at Angelo’s Soccer Corner, “brings 28 years of experience in consulting, small business management, organization change, business analysis and project management to the City Islanders.”

Borussia Dortmund’s U-19 head coach Hannes Wolf says Hershey’s Christian Pulisic is is doing well. “It was, and still is, a big adventure for him to live in Dortmund. Christian learned German very fast and is deeply respected by his teammates, because of his personality and quality. We hope for Dortmund to be a second home for him…He works hard every day. If Christian goes on like this, he is on a really good path.”

New York Red Bulls academy defender and US youth international Matthew Olosunde, who hails from Trenton, NJ, is reportedly on Manchester United’s radar. The Daily Mail reports, Olosunde “has been training with United on and off since the summer and they are preparing to offer him a contract subject to work permits and international clearance.”

MLS

Here’s the full list of players available for the Re-entry Draft and the league’s first free agency class.

Rough ratings for the MLS Cup final on ESPN, which were reportedly down 50 percent from the 2014 final between LA and New England and was also Landon Donovan’s final game. The views on WatchESPN, however, set a new record for a MLS Cup final.

ESPN has a Best XI for 2015. No Union players are on it. Maybe next year…

Falcao to MLS?

Officials in San Antonio are encouraged by the league’s plans to expand to 28 teams. “The future of MLS in San Antonio is going to depend on how we come out of that process, a process that might play out in 2017, 2018 or 2019, somewhere in there. That’s why we want to get this deal done,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who hopes a lease agreement will be reached by the end of the year with Spurs Sports and Entertainment to field a USL team at Toyota Field in 2016 as part of a larger effort to land a MLS franchise.

Sacramento Business Journal lays out what the expansion announcement means for that city’s MLS aspirations.

US

Following their 2-2 draw with Mexico in their opening game at the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 championship tournament, the US defeated Panama 6-1 on Monday. The US plays Haiti on Wednesday (3 pm, Fox Soccer 2Go).

The fallout continues from the cancellation of Sunday’s USWNT friendly against Trinidad and Tobago over unsafe field conditions at Aloha Stadium as questions continue to be raised over the issue of gender inequality and why the USWNT continues to have more games scheduled at venues with artificial surfaces than the USMNT does (whose games at such venues are more often than not played on temporary natural grass surfaces).

ESPN analyst and USWNT legend Julie Foudy has also suggested that inspection protocols for venues where the USWNT play are either not the same as those for the USMNT or don’t exist at all, something US Soccer denies. The Guardian reports, “Despite reports to the contrary, US Soccer denies that there is any difference in the vetting process for venues for the men’s and women’s teams. Rather, the venues that US Soccer selects for matches are always fully operational and in-use for sports, leading to the reasonable assumption that these venues would be equipped to host a soccer match. But that assumption is apparently what led to this weekend’s controversy.” More at Think Progress and Vice Sports.

Meanwhile, back in Hawaii, residents who traveled from neighboring islands for the game want their travel expenses to be reimbursed and it looks like US Soccer is preparing to sue the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Stadium Authority. KHON2.com also reports low ticket sales may have been a part of the decision to cancel the match.

Elsewhere

CONCACAF has announced it will not appoint an interim president following the arrest of Alfredo Hawit in Zurich last week in the latest round of FIFA corruption indictments. Instead, the executive committee will oversee operations until the confederation’s congress in Mexico City on May 12 with “a public election and the scrutiny that comes with it.” Goal.com calls the decision wise “but there’s no hope without new faces.”

Loretta Lynch FIFA Slayer

FIFA Slayer

Michel Platini’s appeal against the 90-day provisional ban issued against him by FIFA will be heard today by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The AP reports, “CAS says a verdict is expected on Friday “‘at the latest.'” More at Reuters and another AP report.

From Reuters: “Paraguay’s Juan Angel Napout, president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), has agreed to be extradited to the United States after being arrested in Zurich on charges of involvement in bribery schemes for marketing and broadcast rights, the ABC daily reported on Monday.”

The AP reports, “FIFA has told its 209 member federations of their ”major deficiencies” handling tens of millions of dollars in project money this year. FIFA acting secretary general Markus Kattner says in a letter: ”Control of FIFA development funds will be reinforced.'”

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, or as ESPNW calls her with a little help from Marvel Comics, “FIFA Slayer.” More at Reuters.

Uh…Merry Christmas to you, too, Ronaldo.

21 Comments

  1. Two words for Chris Pontius: Bikram Yoga.
    .
    .
    I LOVE that this team is going to play a 4-3-3. I hope it is not conjecture.
    It screams of Fuck You in this league of multiple holding mids when the level of play isn’t high enough to need 2 DM. IMO the single biggest task before the Sporting Director is identifying the future #6.
    .
    Arguably the most important position and around which everything moves… then attack attack attack.
    .
    .
    Yo Chris. BIKRAM. YOGA.

  2. “CONCACAF has announced it will not appoint an interim president following the arrest of Alfredo Hawit in Zurich last week in the latest round of FIFA corruption indictments.”
    .
    Why bother appointing a new interim president? He’s likely to just get arrested by the DOJ between now and March anyway. Skip the appointment, skip the embarrassment.

  3. That Doyle article on Maidana is a good read.

    • They are both good reads. In general, Doyle has pretty good articles – at the very least they are entertaining and food for thought.

      • I read his stuff weekly. They are always pretty good but usually written from more afar being that he covers the MLS as a whole and there are only so many hours in a day. But this one about Maidana was spot on and captures the frustrations we Union fans had with him despite the assists, which is usually the first thing anyone outside the fanbase would point toward.
        .
        Also, that video of Nogueira trying to build up play all by himself makes me wonder why he still wants to be here. The guy must be a glutton for punishment.

      • You could see every match that Nogs was completely frustrated with the lack of movement. I’m surprised he’s still staying next season

      • Seriously. He must really want to be a part of building a new team in a new league.
        .
        Whatever it is, it makes me man crush a little bit.

      • HA! Maybe having Barnetta on the squad gave/gives him some hope. That or the Union exercised his option and he figured he’d take the paycheck.

      • Maybe for Noguiera it is the – steak wit.

    • All the reason’s Doyle listed are why I feel Barnetta will be a major improvement for the team. He will be the metronome setting the timing for the rest of the team.

  4. Anyone disappointed by the Chaco move should really consider what a waste of space a dissatisfied Chaco would be next season.

  5. Lucky Striker says:

    Can’t see the fit for the Vincent in a 4-3-3.

    • I’m surprised by this.
      .
      I see him as an ‘Iniesta type’ in the 4-3-3. I think the need, with a proper DM would be to push him further up the field- play through the lines: backs to holding to Noguiera to Barnetta and around and around and around the parables are spun.
      .
      I think he and Barnetta have the brains… I think they have the movement and spatial understanding… it all comes down to the DM and the movement up front off the ball.

  6. Lucky Striker says:

    That’s just it. Nog is a DM. Playmaker from deep. A DM who can’t hold the fort solo.

    • Lucky, been thinking this too
      What do you do with Vincent ?

      • I don’t think it is as hard a transition as maybe we think for him. I recognize what you are both positing for… but I also recognize Noguiera is a pretty cerebral player and can be just as effective linking play a bit further up field.
        .
        Maybe I’m wrong. I trust the frenchman to figure it out.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        Eventually, it all comes back to the Nog/Edu/LeToux Rubics Cube.

        They all don’t fit together. Union have had to make a choice for years….and refused to.

        Now; contracts are going to resolve it down the road. The simplest solution for me in the meantime is this:

        Stay the formation. Nog starts in his option year.
        Move Seba up top and to the bench.
        Trade Mo to a team who will play him where he wants for all you can get and continue pairing down the roster.

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