Daily news roundups

Stewart introduction today, Catic waived, more TAM and HG funds

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart will be introduced to the media and fans today at 3 pm. The event, which will include Union primary owner Jay Sugarman, will be streamed on the team’s YouTube channel.

Another piece of the Union roster puzzle was quietly unveiled in the form of the updated list on the league website of eligible players before Wednesday’s Waiver Draft. On the list was Union 2015 SuperDraft pick Dzenan Catic. (The timestamp on the post is from Tuesday night but Catic was not on the list released to the press that night.)

Anyway, the Union made no picks in the Waiver Draft.

Writing at fellow SB Nation blog Dynamo Theory, Brotherly Game’s Eugene Rupinski says the Union got robbed in the deal that sent Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger to Houston.

I’m not really sure what this post at Philly Soccer News is about but several players express their believe that good things are around the corner, and that’s always nice.

The Union gets one mention in the Guardian’s review of the 2015 season. Sort of:

Most beloved executive
We could make a case for the Red Bulls’ Ali Curtis, who so angered the fans with his Mike Petke firing that an electronic billboard protest was organized at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, but he looks positively bush league when compared to Philadelphia Union’s Nick Sakiewicz.

There isn’t space to fully enumerate the ways Sakiewicz managed to alienate the fanbase in Philly, but perhaps the fact that the Sons of Ben paraded a coffin emblazoned with the phrase “serial franchise killer” before one game this year, should tell you something about where his reputation had plummeted to. The club finally parted ways with him in the fall.

Bethlehem Steel

The USL Winter Summit is underway in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Among the items of business discussed is a new league-wide and uniform digital game coverage platform. An announcement on the league website says, “This area not only affects game coverage, but would create a number of marketing and business opportunities for the individual teams and the league.”

The league Board of Governors also decided Sept. 6 will be the roster freeze deadline for the 2016 season.

Philadelphia Union Academy

Philadelphia Union Academy forward Jack de Vries (Wayne, Pa.) has been called up for the US U-15 BNT camp that will take place under former Union head coach John Hackworth in Sunrise, Fla., Dec. 13-20.

Local

Many things are surely out there. Feel free to talk about them in the comments section.

MLS

There’s been rumblings since last month and on Wednesday, the league made it official: The amount of Targeted Acquisition money each team will receive will increase to $800,000 per year in 2016 and 2017, a total of $32 million over the two seasons. The new TAM is in addition to the original disbursement of $500,000 given to each team to spend over five seasons handed out beginning in 2015. That’s a $2.1 million increase in TAM funds since the start of 2015.

The new funds are intended to enable teams to bolster middle of the roster positions just below Designated Player spots. The 2016 allotment must be committed by the secondary transfer window of 2017, the 2017 allotment by the secondary transfer window of 2018.

Additionally, each team will receive $125,000 per season to use on Homegrown signings, a total of nearly $5 million across the league over 2016 and 2017.

MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said, “By injecting an additional $37 million into the system, our clubs will be able to strengthen the depth of their rosters by signing more high-quality players. We saw immediate dividends this past season with the initial investment in Targeted Allocation Money, and our owners believe that additional spending — especially for players who will impact the middle of our rosters — will make MLS even more entertaining and compelling.”

Explained MLS executive vice president, player relations & competition Todd Durbin, “Now you have the ability, essentially to upgrade, two players who are making $250,000 to $300,000 who are now earning $700,000, $750,000 or $800,000 with zero impact on the salary budget. That’s how the initiative ultimately works. And that’s the reason why the initiative will hopefully allow you to go into the international market and now upgrade two, three or four players in your roster [without taking up more] salary budget space.”

Durbin also said, “It’s very clearly earmarked for players in an area where we need to have more players. We believe to have more players and greater roster depth, and we believe we need to have more players earning between $450,000 and $1 million a year.”

Durbin said of the new Homegrown Player funds, “Our academies are developing more first-team players every year, and the additional investment will provide more flexibility to our clubs to sign top young players.”

Analysis and commentary on the announcement at MLSsoccer.com, ESPNFox Soccer, Goal.com, Soccer America, and Brotherly Game.

In expansion news, Grant Wahl reports at SI,

I’m told the league is prioritizing having two teams come in at the same time in the next expansion rounds, the better to keep scheduling and conferences even. That would mean Atlanta and Minnesota in 2017 and LAFC and Miami in 2018. Minnesota would need to play in a temporary stadium in 2017, and I’m told one possibility is the Minnesota Twins baseball stadium (which is grass).

In related news, Minnesota United have named Mortenson Construction to manage construction of the team’s new stadium, which is to begin in 2016. Mortenson is currently building the new Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis, among other projects.

Colorado was the only team to make a selection in Wednesday’s Waiver Draft, picking former Sounders midfielder Michael Azira. Soon after the Rapids announced a new contract had been signed with defender Sean St. Ledger.

Kansas City has re-signed defender Seth Sinovic and goalkeeper Jon Kempin. The club also announced the signing of Kenyan international Lawrence Olum. The midfielder was with Kansas City from 2011-2014 before leaving for a stint with Kedah FA, where he helped win the Malaysia Premier League championship.

Orlando City and general manager Paul McDonough have mutually agreed to part ways.

At ESPN, six storylines to follow ahead of the 2016 season.

US

The US defeated Haiti 6-0 in their final group game at the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 tournament in Honduras. The team won Group B with the victory and next faces host country Honduras in the semifinals on Friday (6 pm, FS2). Mexico (half of whose players are Mexican-American) and Canada (the only team in the tournament with a perfect record after the US and Mexico drew to open group play) face off in the other semifinal. The semifinal winners will earn berths in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, as will the winner of the tournament’s third place game.

The USWNT World Cup Victory Tour continues tonight on the resplendent artificial surface of San Antonio’s Alamodome with the team hosting Trinidad and Tobago (9:30 pm, ESPN2).

More on the class action lawsuit filed in Hawaii on behalf of USWNT fans who bought tickets to Sunday’s cancelled friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “Michel Platini will find out Friday morning if his 90-day FIFA ban will be temporarily lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Also from the AP, “FIFA presidential hopeful Musa Bility could be declared an official candidate by sport’s highest court this month despite failing an integrity check. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says soccer’s governing body FIFA agreed a fast-track case for Bility to appeal against his candidacy being rejected.”

From Reuters: “An internal investigation of suspended FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter has found no evidence of corruption over a 2 million Swiss franc ($2 million) payment to European soccer head Michel Platini, the Swiss newspaper Handelszeitung said on Wednesday.”

Inside World Football reports, “Swiss member of parliament Thomas de Courten has tabled a question to the Federal minister of Justice and the Federal Government as a whole asking if the Swiss have agreed to join with the US justice authorities and, via state intervention, shut down FIFA completely.” The question will be aired in the Swiss Parliament on Monday.

From Reuters: “El Salvador’s Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the extradition of the country’s former soccer federation president, Reynaldo Vasquez, who is wanted in the United States in connection with a probe targeting alleged corruption in the sport.”

Also from Reuters: “A former top official inside South America’s soccer confederation, Jose Luis Meiszner, surrendered to Argentine police on Wednesday, local media said, after U.S. justice officials charged him with involvement in a FIFA bribery racket.”

From Reuters: “A former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) who was indicted in the United States last week in an investigation into corruption in the business of soccer, has agreed to give evidence to Brazil’s Congress.” Marco Polo Del Nero is expected to testify next Wednesday. If I recall correctly, Brazil does not have an extradition treaty with the US.

49 Comments

  1. Mike Macheski says:

    USL

    Speaking of Bethlehem Steel, can anyone comment on the competitive level of USL vs. NASL? I’ve been reading that the US Soccer Federation has MLS as the 1st tier in US men’s soccer, NASL as the 2nd tier, and USL as the 3rd tier. Does that imply better players on average in the 2nd tier NASL compared to 3rd tier USL that Bethlehem Steel will play in?

    • It’s an interesting question. Most average soccer fans actually think USL is 2nd tier, under MLS. I know USL is pushing to become 2nd tier, and they certainly have far more teams than NASL. As far as the actually level of player quality I couldn’t really say, but I’d be interested in someone’s knowledgeable input.

      • Great question. The USL dominated the NASL in last year’s U.S. Open Cup, going a perfect 7-0 against NASL teams. However, it’s a one-off competition and doesn’t necessarily mean the USL is better than the NASL. The NASL spends more than the USL and has some good teams and players, but they’re not appreciably better than the USL despite having Division 2 sanctioning from USSF (the USL is seeking that same designation in 2017). For what it’s worth, that status is more financial than quality of play.

        —–

        The USL is changing dramatically with all of these reserve teams coming from MLS. Where the league was once populated by independent franchises, we now seeing almost exclusively MLS2 clubs, for better and for worse. As a largely developmental arm of MLS, the USL will field younger and younger teams, meaning they might drop below the NASL who will field more experienced squads. We are going to lose the chance to have head-to-head comparisons between the leagues as the USSF has banned MLS reserve teams from the Open Cup. It remains to be seen what becomes of the few remaining independent USL outfits such as Rochester and Charleston. Perhaps the USL does become MLS2 and independent clubs merge, who knows? In a few years, the entire pyramid should be more clearly defined.

        —–

        So to your original question. I’d expect Beth Steel to be a little below the NASL in terms of quality, but only because it will feature younger players and the growing pains that accompany developing talent. Burke certainly has a record of molding teams into cohesive, successful units, but the new USL-MLS model means development is a major point of emphasis more akin to minor league baseball.

    • The only way I think you can make a comparison is to see which league fares better in the Open Cup. You can spend time looking at the brackets for the last few years here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._Open_Cup_finals

      By and large, The USL seems to be the better league:
      http://sbisoccer.com/2015/05/seven-perfect-third

      With more and more MLS 2nd teams in the league, I think USL will probably pull even further away.

    • Really depends on who you ask. I would say the Cosmos are/were a decent team last season. If you use the Open Cup bracket as a bench mark, USL teams went deeper in the tournament – generally speaking, few exceptions [Cosmos]. But there are also roughly twice as many teams in the USL vs NASL.

    • Adding on to earlier responses…the NASL had 3 teams (NY Cosmos, Minnesota, and Ottawa) that were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league. The mid-tier and top-level USL teams are probably on par with the other 8 NASL teams.

      Both leagues have had teams defeat MLS sides in the USOC as well over the past couple of years, so the talent drop off from MLS bench players is minimal.

    • Random thought. I would like to see actual pro/rel once MLS gets to 28 teams.

      You could still keep the franchise model. Allow the top 3 teams in the 2nd Division the option to buy the franchise of the bottom 3 teams each year. Set the value at the price the 28th team paid and index it to TV Revenue.

      If say 2 of the 3 teams from the 2nd division want to buy a spot and 1 doesn’t then the 3rd from bottom team gets to stay up.

      • This is outside the box thinking. I’m not smart enough to know if it is a good idea… but I sure as hell appreciate the thinking.
        .
        In the other major sports the US has the greatest leagues… that is not nor will it ever be the case here, unless teams are punished for being perennially terrible… and I think MLS does a disservice to itself if it doesn’t open itself to some workable and manageable infrastructure of pro/rel.
        .
        Soccer IMO is not MLB or NBA or NHL of NFL.
        .

  2. I’m not sure how the Brotherly Game article can call the Maidana/Wenger trade a fleecing. For starters, we may never know how much allocation money was included in the deal. Two, Wenger was a big contract with little to no production this past season. Chaco was clearly a valuable player, but not in the plans from a tactical standpoint. This trade is nearly impossible to assess until we see what the subsequent moves are, given incremental cap space and allocation money to buy down new signings’ cap hits. If you trust the guys in charge now (I do), this trade feels positive so far.

    • Agreed. Real judgement cannot be made until everything plays out.
      .
      What I do like is that now Stewart has room and resources to make a difference.

    • +1. Can’t assess the first move a few days later – especially in the beginning of the offseason. Plus Chaco was marginalized by the Barnetta transfer. Trade him and get value for him after a career best season. Very smart, tactical move. Offloading Wenger was just the icing.

    • Moving Chaco was very wise. Sure his defense improved a bit last year, but he is wildly inconsistent from game to game…that’s the last thing you want from your supposed lead playmaker. Barnetta in the middle and a healthy Pontius on the left…I’ll take that all day over Chaco and Wenger. Major upgrade.

    • I don’t get the fleecing either. If you get something for two players that aren’t in your plans anyway, how is that not a win? Sure Maidana is talented. Has a great left foot. But as numerous articles have pointed out(as most of of have seen) finding a spot for Maidana to fit in is difficult. His lack of fitness maddening. And his lack of defensive presence hurts the team. As I’ve said before, he’s a luxury player. A luxury this team cannot afford. As for Wenger, 95% of the fanbase wanted him gone. I being part of the few that still wanted give him a chance. Even so I’m not at all disappointed he’s gone. Fleeced? Hardly. Bad premise by a Brotherly Game contributor? Not surprised.

    • The comment at the bottom of the Dynamo article says, “Sorry Philly!” but I think the Dynamo have a greater chance of being the sorry ones here.
      .
      The bottom line is that Philly was one of the worst teams in the league this past year. We tried to build our offense around Maidana and Wenger, and it failed miserably. Maybe Coyle can get something out of them the Union couldn’t, but I think the odds are against him.
      .
      Don’t get me started on Williams, though. I still think losing him was bad and wish we’d picked him over Gaddis.

      • +1 on Williams. If nothing else, a versatile player, a fiery player, and one who fits the modern FB mold. A useful piece, even if he’s your third FB.

  3. PDL Rebrand with emphasis on the league motto, #Path2Pro
    .
    http://www.uslpdl.com/home/902082.html
    .
    If you enjoy soccer, go out and support one of our local PDL teams. Come up and catch some of the Union Academy stars that will play with Reading United, or if your in the Allentown-Bethlehem area, support Lehigh Valley United OR… head to the shore & watch the Ocean City Nor’Easters at their truly unique home field.
    .
    #GrassrootsSoccer

    • I’d love to if there were teams closer to my hometown of Lancaster. There also the ASL, which is quite young and a bit uh…disorganized, but they did just add a Lancaster team, so I will be very interested in seeing how it unfolds. In their defense the US Soccer pyramid is itself pretty disorganized.

    • We hang out at the Nor’easter Complex almost the whole month of July. Some Bob’s Lemonade… Krinkle fries….It was nice the 2015 schedule stretched deep into the month unlike in years past when the last game tended to be just after the first week of the month.
      .

  4. I don’t mind this TAM policy. I think the league has done an excellent job of carefully cultivating its growth, even though it rules with a bit of an iron fist. Makes me think of the bonsai trees at Longwood Gardens. Some think of restricting the tree so extensively to be cruel, but it also creates an object of unique beauty.
    .
    I do think there will come a point in the semi-near future where that level of control will have to go, because the league will be successful enough that the control will move from careful cultivation to the cultivation of greed. I don’t think we’re there yet, though, and when we get there I think pressures–from the public, players Union, etc.–will force the league to relax its grip a little.

    • My friend….this is one of the most lovely ideas I have ever read here. Well put.

    • I’m actually pretty opposed to the TAM policy. Mostly because its a “trade-able asset.” I think a salary cap increase would have been sufficient in improving the quality of your mid-pay contributors on squads throughout the league – provided the DP thresholds didn’t increase.
      .
      Another compliant. With an increase in cash, add 1-2 international roster spots to each squad. Most US players aren’t talented enough to warrant pay between $500k-$1MIL

      • Yeah, I’m not as crazy about the tradeable asset part of TAM either. I also agree with you about increasing international slots.
        .
        I think the league is terrified of salary inflation, though. They don’t want to raise the cap and end up paying the players they already have more for the same quality. The TAM pushes teams to bring in Barnetta types rather than end up paying, say, a Chad Marshall more for what they already do. Maybe this unfair to the existing American player, maybe not, but I do agree that doing it this way is more likely to increase quality on the teams.
        .
        And I assume the league probably has some level of secret say over who gets to be a TAM player, more than they would with a flat cap increase. Remember that the league nearly stopped the U from bringing in Mo as a DP (and in retrospect maybe they were right…)

      • I don’t think that if you increase the cap AND simultaneously add additional international roster spots that wages for current players in the league would jump. In fact, I would be willing to bet that teams would see increased roster turnover as the search for talent abroad increased. By maintaining the DP cap limits and number per team, you would still maintain [relative] parity and there wouldn’t be an increased disparity between the salaries of players on the low-end vs your DP players. In some ways both the MLS ownership and players union have a very myopic view of the global salary structure and basic supply-demand principles.
        .
        TAM essentially allows teams to buy down [realistically] a maximum of 3 decent players under the DP threshold. Without increasing the number of International roster spots, I don’t really see how this feature will increase the quality of the league in the long run. Maybe in the short term, each team can add on a few mid-tier players from abroad, but overall the core of your roster will still be between the $60k minimum and the $250k mark.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Andy Jasner gets paid to write what we already write here every day. Nothing new in his column for the layman. I guess I am still a bit jealous of those print journalism gents.
    .
    Here’s to one of my hero’s Pete Hamill.

    • Here, here. Love Hamill. “The Drinking Life” may be the best autobiography ever.

    • I think you do a disservice to our comment contributors. Andy may write about what we write about everyday, but I’m hard pressed to think of someone here who would write that drivel. It’d be generous to call that a fluff piece. If anyone gets the point of it, please inform me. I’m lost.

  6. Bleacher Report has an article “Ranking the Top 50 Players in MLS in 2015”
    .
    Maidana was #22 and Le Toux was a honorable mention.

  7. Latest math (based on the September 2015 salary figures) is that the Union have cleared about $1.76m from the books of guaranteed compensation from 11 players (about $160k/player).

    I’m hoping this means they have some eyes on legit targets.

  8. Lucky Striker says:

    The Mighty Ern was very well spoken. Even-keeled and balanced. Seems like he has an idea how he wants to proceed. Wish him well-I need somebody in that organization I can trust in. He and Graham will do for now.

    Funniest part of the PC was when Kinkead opened up the questioning by asking how hard it was for him to move on from “Chaco”. Deer in headlights look followed by:

    “well, I don’t want to get into any names”……
    yeah-’cause he had no clue who the reporter was referencing lol.

    Told me all I needed to know today. Glad he’s finally able to mind the store…….

    • It seemed like he wasn’t sure who the hell Chaco was or that he wasn’t expecting questions on roster decisions. Possible he gave a mandate to clear out most of the shop?

      • It does give the impression that while the cat was away, the mice had a good ‘ol time. Not to go over-board, but this does give one a bit of a worry. First, that he wasn’t prepared for the question. Second that he didn’t even know who the player was. Granted he didn’t officially start till today. But one would think he was in on roster decisions, or at least hope so. If not, be smart enough to give off the impression that you were in on it. Hopefully a minor misstep and not a portent of things to come.

      • I did not see it that way. The announcement Re: Chaco came from him (Earnie) in the press so I’m sure he was aware of the player (maybe not his nickname).

        Good to see some movement, and good to know he is here and ready to get cracking.

        One more thing, the Dutch know soccer and know it well (tiki taka is actually Dutch).

      • I was more thinking along the lines that he wasn’t informed. Or in on the decision. Not that Earnie did anything actually wrong. I have faith that he will turn things around. I just want to be sure it’s his decisions.

  9. Without a rudder a boat is adrift, given to current and prevailing wind, the sirens even…leading ‘you to shipwreck’ as Thom York falsettos.
    .
    The captain has nothing to steer, the first mate drinks and tortures his ship hands, the galley cook opens rancid beans, the main sail is frayed the jib torn – all in varying degrees of uselessness to the bigger picture of how are you going to survive – let alone arrive at your destination.
    .
    Today with an arc weld a rudder has been added to our boat with blue acetylene … it’s already tacked into the North Atlantic Current steaming ahead… clouds parted, sun shining and I couldn’t be happier to have survived. All my buzzwords were hit. All of them.
    .
    I suspect we will spot land shortly.
    .
    I breathe deeply happy in this word clicking my heels to pick up school kids. I am proud of our Union. Maybe soon ‘eh boys?
    .

    • I can only hope the charts are accurate and the water runs deep. Anyone bring the orange slices? Want to avoid that scurvy.

    • Looks like somebody’s gone overboard here… 😉

      • Now, now, don’t jump ship just yet. We’ve just went through uncharted waters and the boat is about to come in.

      • Well played DaveR
        .
        … 6 years adrift in the South Atlantic has me bone fatigued…. tried to use the stars but can’t – cause you got no rudder. tried paddling with the oars but that’s no real use…
        .
        We have a rudder. Time will tell if it is the right one. But the boat has a rudder.
        .

      • At least you got that nice tan for those 6 years.

      • +1, I’m with ya. Chapped lips and all.

        (Just, y’know, couldn’t help m’self)

  10. So was I the only one expecting red laser beams to come out of Earnie’s eyes? What a death stare that guy’s got. I would not want to be the one to piss him off.

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