Daily news roundups

Opening schedule, Richter returns, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

A busy day of announcements from the Union and Bethlehem Steel, the biggest of which was about the team’s schedule for the first three regular season games of 2016. The Union will start the season on the road on Sunday, March 6 against FC Dallas, a team the Union has never defeated in league play and that finished 2015 at the top of the Western Conference table before advancing to the Western Conference final where it was defeated by 2015 MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers.

The second game of the 2016 season is also an away game. On Saturday, March 12, the Union face 2015 Eastern Conference champions Columbus Crew, a team they’ve never defeated on the road.

The Union’s home opener finally arrives on Sunday, March 20 against New England Revolution. Mercy me oh my, that is one tough opening to the season.

The Union also announced on Tuesday it will play its first preseason game of 2016 against NASL side Jacksonville Armada on Feb. 6 at Community First Park at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. You will recall the Armada first announced the preseason game back on Dec. 1.


Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel announced on Tuesday the acquisition of former Union man and local lad Ryan Richter. The BSFC roster now stands at five players: Richter, who has been converted into a right fullback in his time away from the Union, center back Michael Daly, midfielder Derrick Jones, midfielder Boluwatife Akinyode, and forward Gabe Gissie. You will recall Monday’s roundup linked forwards Corey Burke and Amoy Brown with the Union USL affiliate.


Player moves:

At Metro, more on the Carlos Vela to MLS talk. Any deal for the Real Sociedad and Mexico forward will reportedly not be done until the summer.

You will recall a report we linked to in Tuesday’s roundup that Hennepin County officials were developing a plan to allow Minnesota United to build a stadium in Minneapolis should St. Paul fail to get the approvals and funding needed to build a stadium there. Pioneer Press reports, “There is no active plan to maneuver professional soccer past St. Paul, according to a Hennepin County official who previously tried to land Minnesota United in Minneapolis. Still, west metro officials would be ready with an offer should St. Paul fail to finalize a plan for a stadium at the city’s Midway site.”

It’s official: Spurs Sports and Entertainment, owners of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, are launching a USL team in San Antonio with the aim of landing a MLS franchise. An announcement on the USL site says the league has “tentatively approved an application that will see Spurs Sports & Entertainment operate a USL franchise at Toyota Field in San Antonio,” adding, “Final approval will be granted upon the completion of final due diligence, which is expected to be completed by the first of the year.” The team is expected to debut in March of 2016.

The San Antonio USL team means the end of NASL side San Antonio Scorpions, which began play in 2012, at least in San Antonio. The NASL said in a statement it is working with Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman to “determine the future of the team,” adding, “Every sports league in North America has experienced turnover in its early stages and the NASL is fortunate to have a group of owners and league officials that has a tremendous understanding of how to work through change. Ownership and investment interest is at an all-time high, and we expect to be a 20-team league in the near future.”

More on the news from San Antonio at San Antonio Express-NewsSan Antonio Business Journal, San Antonio ExaminerAustin American-Statesman, and Soccer America.

New president and co-chairman of USL side Arizona United Brett M. Johnson says his team wants to move up to MLS. Saying the team is “on the precipice of some major announcements starting with the head coach, and then expanding to some strategic investors, partnerships, and other milestone announcements,” Johnson explains, “I’m confident that 2016 will be the tipping point for Arizona United and the Valley of the Sun to be genuinely considered for MLS expansion.”


Michael Bradley has been named US Soccer’s Male Player of the Year.

At the Guardian, a review of 2015 for US Soccer. At ESPN, a review of 2015 for the USMNT. At SI, a review of 2015 for US Soccer youth teams.

The Guardian has an interesting read the efforts of Bundesliga teams to break into an American market long dominated by England’s Premier League.

Former San Diego Padres owner John J. Moores is part of a group of investors considering buying Everton.


In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sepp Blatter says, “I’ve finished my work in football.” While he says he still plans to appeal the eight-year ban handed down by FIFA’s ethics committee, Blatter says, “I lost faith in our organization on May 27 with this intervention by American law enforcement. And the same day it presented FIFA as a mafia-type organization.”

Michel Platini says in an interview with AFP that FIFA’s ethics committee gave him an eight-year ban in order to stop him from running for the FIFA presidency.

What was the FIFA ethics commission doing between 2011 when I was paid and 2015? Was it asleep? All of a sudden, suddenly it woke up… oh yes, it woke up in a FIFA election year when I am a candidate. Its amazing…

The people on the ethics committee are more focused on a timetable question — to stop me from standing in the FIFA presidential election — and scandal-mongering than in ethics. They are not ethical, they are pathetic.

From the AP: ‘FIFA has told Michel Platini that he cannot bypass its appeals process by challenging his eight-year ban directly at the court of arbitration for sport. Platini had been hoping to cut out the required FIFA appeals procedure as he races to try to overturn his ban before the 26 February presidential election.”

Soccer America on why it may be difficult for Platini to have his ban overturned by the CAS.

Bloomberg reports provisionally suspended FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke could receive a lifetime ban from soccer: “Last week, a forensic investigations company sent the investigative arm of the ethics committee a dossier of more than 100 pages that outlines several breaches of FIFA’s ethics code by Valcke, according to a person familiar with the situation.”

Reuters reports, “Sources close to world soccer’s ethics panel have told Reuters that there are many more cases in the pipeline.”

The AP reports on how the bans issued to Blatter and Platini have their origins in the investigation into allegations of corruption in the 2010 vote to award Russia and Qatar hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. “Facing a fresh wave of pressure and suspicion around FIFA in November 2014, Blatter lodged a criminal complaint with Swiss authorities, authorizing them to receive the full secret World Cup bidding investigation he claims to have never seen.” In looking at the bank accounts of those who voted in 2010, forensic accounting software “flagged up as suspicious a payment of 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) Platini received from Blatter in early 2011.”

The Guardian reports on how Swiss investigators missed an opportunity to investigate Blatter and corruption at FIFA in 2002 when a group of FIFA executive committee members brought a criminal complaint against the now banned FIFA president “for alleged fraud, corruption and mismanagement.”

A Reuters report says, “CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is suing a California travel company for $50 million, saying it paid kickbacks to two of CONCACAF’s former executives, including its former president, Jeffrey Webb.” In addition to Webb, Cartan Tours Inc is accused of providing kickbacks to Enrique Sanz, the confederation’s general secretary before he was fired in August. More at the New York Times.

When it meets on January 7, soccer’s rule making body, the International Football Association Board, will consider the use of video review, sin bins, and the use of temporary substitutions when an injured player needs extended medical treatment. Also:

Another important topic at next month’s ABM will be the comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game in terms of structure, layout, terminology, phrasing and consistency. The aim of the revision is to increase the universality and acceptance of the Laws by making them easier to understand and interpret. The new format is expected to be included in the 2016/2017 edition, subject to the approval of the AGM in March.

So there’s that.


  1. I think its fair to say… that were this club not to sign Ryan Richter many would be like, “why didn’t BSFC sign Richter, he’s available…local kid.”
    Stuff like this becomes an untenable position for the parent and sibling club… damned if it does damned if it doesn’t.
    Omar Gonzalez playing in mexican first division…well he’s tall and that should help.
    I’ve been following some thoughts on the Union’s perceived difficult opening schedule on a different thread and these are my two cents… I am certain our beloved club begins playing matches that matter again in roughly 10 weeks…beyond that……?
    NASL with a sloth like toe hold… need another viable league.

    • Agreed on the schedule perspective – while it would be nice to see someone like Chicago swapped in for Dallas, the best news is that meaningful games are just around the corner! We’ll have a roster with 50% turnover and opening games on the road against two of the very best squads in MLS, so I just hope everyone stays on board for a while if we should happen to get off to a bumpy start.

    • I’m going to mention something about the Richter signing…
      Are we really arguing about a player being signed to a minor league contract? Will he be taking the spot of a future league MVP? Is he blocking the path of some promising young player? No, neither of these things. They are filling out a roster, and doing so with an eye towards local marketing.
      Give him a shot. If he doesn’t make it, he’ll move on next year.

    • 6 teams make the playoffs, and it’s a 34-game schedule. Toronto was 5 points clear of 7th place with a .500 record – 15-15-4. The record after the first 3 matches means little in the broad scope of the season, but it means everything in terms of the character and make-up of the team. Come out flat and lose badly, that sets a bad tone for the season. Come out and compete against the the Cup runners-up and SS runners-up, even with a tough loss, could signal a renewed energy and belief in the team. I just need something to believe in with this team, something to look forward too. I can handle a loss to those two teams, but I can’t handle poor play or unpreparedness.

      • Good points….I think it is safe to say I can no longer tolerate poor play at all… it is a flimsy excuse of a lifeboat with a hole adrift in the North Atlantic tacking aimlessly. No more. Foot down. I’m taking a stand. There are clubs in this nascent league playing more and more enjoyable to view football… and it damn well is time to happen here.
        Hopefully the club has taken it’s stand too, based on recent direction and appointments and history… otherwise in about 18 to 20 months– I will reinvent ways to demolish this club with my words.
        One of the great adages of football… first we learn to play well…then we win. This is sacrosanct from my POV – who needs the game to look good as the aesthetic only comes with good play. Play beautiful or some semblance of it… has to be.
        This team needs to learn to play well. That is my one expectation over this season -I’m tired of 4 out of 5 games this team has ever played being a jumbled kick and chase neutral zone trap God awful display of soccer.
        All else is Fluffer- Nutter at this point for me.

      • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:


      • Winning is the best disguise for ineptitude. At the very least it’s a band-aid. I would love to have a BMW, but my Volkswagen gets the job done. 3 points is 3 points. Cliches infinitum – JUST WIN (or at least make losing look good!)

  2. I am very eagerly awaiting the unsealing of the documents in the Nowak case. C’mon, Kinkead, get on that! Let’s air that dirty laundry!

  3. Lucky Striker says:

    kick ’em when they’re up-
    kick ’em when they’re down.

    kick ’em where they sit,
    kick ’em all around !

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    If you want iconic football BPL is almost impossible to usurp… but if you want pure football it is hard to argue with the Bundesliga… I watch it as much as possible and it is transfixing. Great games. Strong. Technical. Tactical. No wonder Germany is best in the world despite some stupid FIFA system that has appointed Belgium #1.

    • I think the FIFA system is more like Power Rankings – they try to explain who is playing well at that particular moment, as opposed to who is truly the best team. Recent results trump long-term performance, and injuries, lineups, schedules and other factors aren’t really taken into account. A weekly or monthly update on performance as opposed to an ACTUAL performance indicator. Just my 2 cents.
      And I hate that they use that for seeding at the World Cup, but that’s a different argument for a different day.

      • Actually, more than anything else, strength of wins is huge here, especially in qualifiers. Beating a top ranked team means a lot more than beating a nobody. So Belgium being in Pot 2 for the Euro qualifiers got a win and a draw against Bosnia whereas Germany didn’t even play anyone with that high a rating (and had a loss and draw against Ireland, the highest rated team they played in qualifying)

      • Likely right and when Germany thunder claps the Euros this year and Belgiium to boot… the rightful order will be restored.
        Keep an eye out for Le Bleu though.

      • You’re right, fair point. It’s not completely bogus like most power rankings, which are usually opinion-based anyway, but my point was that it really doesn’t tell the whole story. I mean CONCACAF has begun WC qualifying while Euro teams will be playing friendlies to warm up for the tournament, so both the level of competition and the level of play will vary across the board. Similar to non-conference play in football and basketball – some ranked teams play mediocre talent to get wins, others test themselves against other ranked opponents.

  5. You can look at it that the Union has never won at Dallas or at Columbus. Or you can look at it that a team with Earnie Stewart as technical director has never lost in those stadiums!

  6. Seppa The Hutt has finally been destroyed!

    • The guy’s a cockroach…not sure he’ll ever go away. Load up that sun rocket.

    • I WAS wound up Blatter only got 8 years (Why not lifetime??? W-E-A-K!), and then I realized…”Oh yeah, 8 years at Blatters age IS likely a ‘lifetime’ ban.”

  7. I think NYRB homegrown signings are up to 10! And we have how many with our Grand YSC Academy?!
    Will be interesting to see how NYRB will handle all of them and how many of them will ultimately contribute effectively to the first team.

  8. I believe the Pragmatic One hit the nail on the head. You need to build a brand,a culture. If the goal is build from the ranks of your youth program and/or have players to use for trade value to build that program, you have to start with something that a fan base can get behind. I really haven’t followed the local soccer community at all so I will rely on the staff to do what they feel is best. A roster of local talent makes sense for the short run to help build a fan base.I will make at least one trip this season to see BSFC.
    To everyone who contributes to PSP and all the fine comenters…A very Merry Christmas to you all and Best of everything in the New Year!… Come On The U!!

  9. More conformational bias for me …hard to argue against thoughts regardless.

    • For every Leicester, there’s a Portsmouth. My issue is that every article touting how America should move to pro/rel highlights the benefits of these little teams earning their way up without focusing on the hardships of teams that move down. Or their obscurity over time.

      • Fair point… I’ve argued on both sides of the position and seem to land right in the whatever means we produce the highest quality of play camp… and that is clearly a pro/rel system when considering the quality of play worldwide.

  10. The parachute payment takes care of the immediate hardship of relegation, as a life long, and born and bred Pompey supporter I don’t feel any hardship. I saw my first game at Fratton Park 52 years ago, and its almost exclusively been a journey up and down the lower divisions of the football league apart from the recent premier league spell where they punched well above their weight, the recent demise and almost extinction was painful, but I would be just as passionate about my team win or lose in any division they played in. This season we have the biggest crowds in the division at home and take the biggest following away from home, we are the blue army and certainly are not wallowing in obscurity and I would question whether or not routinely finishing in the bottom quarter of the table and never making the play offs just as likely leads to obscurity.

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