Daily news roundups

“A good first day”: Notes from opening of Union’s preseason, BSFC schedule to be released today, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

The Union’s preseason training camp opened on Monday at UPenn. Kevin Kinkead at PSP, and Matthew De George at Delco Times and Union Tally, have reports from the opening of training, as does Chris Winkler at the Union website.

Head coach Jim Curtin described it as “A good first day.” He explained, “The soccer is not going to be perfect on Day 1. Guys are nervous, they’re anxious, getting used to turf, getting used to a lot of new faces that are here. But I thought we implemented a couple of new ideas in terms of opening up and trying to pass out of the back, and they responded well to it when we opened up and played to the big goals.”

Maurice Edu spoke of the sense of a new beginning for the players and the club:

It’s a brand new season, a chance for us to prove some things once again, not to anyone but to ourselves. We feel like we’ve had a good enough team over the past couple of seasons, but we’ve underachieved. But now it’s a chance to come back and show well for ourselves. Today you see a group of hungry guys…

I think we all recognize what these changes bring. It’s a chance for us to really take this club in a different direction. Whether it’s technical changes or changes from a personnel standpoint, we all really recognize that there have been changes made and now it’s really up to us to take this team where we want it to go, and it starts out by having a strong preseason.

Curtin shared a similar sense. “I think it is a new chapter, so there’s going to be a lot of new guidelines that are going to be administered down from the top. There are new ideas of how we’d like to play, culturally how we’d like to improve things now that we do have a second team training out of the building and ways that we can fine-tune things and tweak things to make it as professional as possible and give our players the pathway to develop as quickly as possible.”

More highlights from the first day of training:

  • Only 11 players at training were with the Union last season.
  • Edu did not participate in drills as he continues to recover from sports hernia surgery. Edu says he’s pleased and on track with his recovery but is taking a cautious approach: “I’m trying to be smart with it…The biggest thing for me is that I don’t want to have any setbacks. I’d rather, if it takes longer, I’d rather have that, and make sure that when I come back I just ‘take off’ from there. I don’t want want to come back, and then maybe a couple of weeks or months down the line I’m feeling pain again or some kind of irritation. I want to push it as much as I can, but I want to be cautious and look at the bigger picture.”
  • New signing Anderson Conceicao is expected to join the team today after some flight difficulties.
  • Many of the players in training seemed to be players who could sign with Bethlehem Steel or have already signed with the USL team.
  • Scottish forward James McFadden was not at the training session. (McFadden was subbed in at the 75th minute in Motherwell’s 2-1 home loss to Ross County on Saturday.)

Speaking of forwards, Curtin confirmed again the team is “actively looking for a striker,” explaining, “it’s a position where, look, everywhere in the world is looking for goal scorers. We’re one of those teams as well, looking to upgrade. We could use midfield depth as well. So you know, we have a couple of players that we’re targeting. We’ll look to bring in some players. You’re always looking to strengthen your roster from back to front, but striker is the one we’re focused on.”

Curtin also confirmed again Andre Blake is the starting goalkeeper, although the team continues to look for a third keeper.

Looking ahead to the Florida portion of the preseason, I came across this tweet from the Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larson from two weeks ago that suggests, at the very least, the Union will be playing Toronto during the preseason in February, possibly also Montreal and Orlando. Stay tuned.

Union season ticket holders have access to a pre-sale of tickets for the Copa America Centenario that began on Monday. The pre-sale is for venue passes, “which includes a ticket to all the matches played in one particular venue.” Access to the pre-sale is open to season ticket holders “from every professional club in the United States and Canada,” so Bethlehem Steel season ticket holders also have access. The venue passes go on sale to the general public on Feb. 3.

Bethlehem Steel

The 2016 schedule will be announced today.


Harrisburg City Islanders have scheduled a press conference today to make “a special announcement regarding plans for the 2016 Season alongside the Harrisburg Senators.”


Player moves:

Former Union man Zac MacMath is Colorado’s starting goalkeeper. More at the Denver Post.

Former Union man Cristian Maidana is impressing in Houston.

The Washington Post reports Kei Kamara has not yet reported to the Columbus preseason camp in Florida because of a contract dispute.

Looks like there is some uncertainty in Montreal about whether Didier Drogba will play the entire season.

NYRB head coach Jesse Marsch believes there “is a likelihood” Matt Miazga, in whom there is interest from Europe, will be back with the team for 2016. Big Apple Soccer reports, “If Miazga is not sold during this winter transfer window, then BigAppleSoccer.com understands that he intends to sign a pre-contract this summer that would allow for a free transfer following the conclusion of the MLS season.”

Chicago have released images of its new primary kit. It’s either nicely simple or it’s a yawner. Images of RSL’s new primary kit, which shares a similar simple aesthetic, came out last week.

The Toronto Sun on how, because MLS players are paid in US dollars, players in Canada make 43 cents more in Canadian dollars. “All of a sudden a player’s modest $100,000 salary becomes $143.000 with the Canadian dollar closing at around 70 cents U.S. on Monday.”

The Orlando City Council has unanimously approved the sale nearly 12 acres of city-owned land to Orlando City SC to be used for the team’s new stadium.

Could the Oakland Raiders move to Sacramento, resulting in the NFL team sharing a stadium with Sacramento Republic? Sacramento Bee calls it “an outer-limit scenario.”

An architecture firm in St. Louis has released designs for a soccer stadium in the city’s downtown. The Guardian notes while there is longstanding local interest in bringing a MLS team to St. Louis, the problem is a lack of a possible owner with the money to make it happen.

Jake Reid has been named the new president of Sporting Kansas City.


Sydney Leroux will not be available this summer should the USWNT qualify for the Olympics: She and husband Dom Dwyer are expecting a baby in September.

At SI, Liviu Bird has an update as talks continue “among concerned parties over the role of training compensation and solidarity payments.”

US Club Soccer has clarified its birth-year registration rules.

At the New York Times, a report on Bob Bradley coaching Ligue 2 side Havre. His assistant coach, Pierre Barrieu, says, “I am 100 percent convinced if he wasn’t American he would have got a big job somewhere. There is this U.S. tag on his back.”


CONCACAF has announced a series of proposed reforms to be voted on at the confederation’s extraordinary congress in Zurich on Feb. 25, the day before the FIFA presidential election. More at SI and Goal.com.

Bloomberg reports, “South America’s leading clubs have warned the continent’s beleaguered soccer body that they will pull out of one of the sport’s top tournaments if they do not get a 150 percent increase in income from the Copa Libertadores.”

Reuters reports, “The Central American Football Union (UNCAF), which has seven votes in the FIFA presidential election on 26 February, has announced its support for Gianni Infantino.” The announcement is signed by the presidents of the Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador,Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama federations.

A debate between FIFA presidential candidates to be held at the European Parliament sponsored by NewFIFA Nowscheduled to take place on Wednesday will not be happening after two of the three candidates scheduled to participate, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and Tokyo Sexwale, withdrew on Monday, leaving only Jerome Champagne. ESPN has canceled plans to provide a livestream of the debate.

From Reuters: “The 2022 World Cup should be hosted by the United States if the Qatar bid is proven to have been corrupt, FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne said on Tuesday. ‘If it had to be reconsidered, there should not be another vote but we should apply the IOC (International Olympic Committee) jurisprudence, give the gold medal to the silver medalist,’ the Frenchman told French radio RTL.”

Champagne also says he does not support expanding the World Cup field.

Sky Sports reports, “Sheikh Salman of Bahrain is prepared to do a deal with Gianni Infantino in order to become the next FIFA president.” The report adds, “Infantino appeared to rule out the possibility of doing a deal with any of the other four candidates last Friday and said he was confident of winning on his own.”

Goal.com reports, “The South African Football Association has asked Tokyo Sexwale to explain himself over a ‘low-profile’ FIFA presidential campaign.”

ESPN has an overview of the five candidates for the FIFA presidency.

Reuters reports, “Qatar’s football association is suing former German soccer chief Theo Zwanziger for calling the Gulf nation a “cancer on world football” following its successful World Cup bid, Duesseldorf’s regional court said on Tuesday.”

More from Reuters: “Italian finance police has seized assets worth 12 million euros as part of an investigation into alleged large-scale tax evasion involving 35 Italian soccer clubs, judicial sources said on Tuesday. Senior executives from Serie A clubs AC Milan, Lazio and Napoli are among some 64 people who have been placed under investigation, the sources said.”


  1. Good luck Connor in Columbus! Just not against the Union…

    • Hey, speaking of Columbus, how much do you think they would want to take their disgruntled striker off their hands?

      • He is disgruntled over money. So we’re out.

      • My understanding that its a contract dispute. May not necessarily be him asking for more money, but asking that Columbus or MLS honor some stipulation or performance clause in the original contract.

      • I believe Sieve is right. So my answer is they would want too much.

      • I thought about the same thing. Let’s reunite him with CJ and try to recapture some of that KC magic from a few years ago!
        (Let’s ignore the money involved while I dream.)

      • We were going to give Bedoya big bucks….

      • Wasn’t the rumor that they offered $1 million? That doesn’t seem so big, nor much more than they are looking to spend now.

      • How much is Kamara looking for? He only made 300,000 last year.

      • How much would you pay Kamara? Honestly, he should be making DP money. Probably around 600-800K. If Columbus is offering him less than 450, they’re screwing him.
        Sign him up, Earnie!

      • Apparently I was wrong and he made 536,000 last year. Anyway, looking at other salaries he’s actually probably worth 3-5 million. But that’s also a huge jump. Will be interesting to see what he actually gets.

      • Based on performance, yes, he is probably worth as much as others making much more. But player salaries usually reflect the player’s popularity, jersey sales, etc. Fair or not, Gerrard, Dos Santos, & Giovinco will sell a lot more jerseys than Kamara.

      • Transfermarkt has his market value at 600k€ or just over 650k$.
        Being 31 years old the assumption is that last season could end up being his peak and now it is all downhill.

      • I’d be willing to take that risk with a 3-year contract. Kamara is a game-changer in this league.
        That said…this is a pointless conversation. By all accounts, there is no real issue. But it is nice to dream!

  2. waiting breathlessly for McFadden’s latest press release or interview explaining his slack attitude towards Union pre-season.

    I bet PSP is disappointed Tokyo Sexwale withdrew from the debate.

  3. I love the new attitude and the fact that the players seem to understand that Nick Sak had things dysfunctional and that this is a great chance to start new and grow with the team.
    I’m a little nervous about Curtins comments on getting a forward, seem to be preparing us for a more reserved mid level forward and mid level midfielder. I’d love to see a hungry strong forward to push Sapong and allow us to go double forward. Le Toux is great as occasional but I don’t want him to be the only other option.

    • Agreed on the forward. In my opinion we need a true, no doubt about it, new starter at either forward or winger who is going to get us goals. This is my priority #1. Everywhere else starters are fine, though solid depth is definitely needed in multiple other positions though.

    • I think you are discounting Herbers. For whatever reason, I think he’s going to be the steal of this draft, or the gem of the Union’s draft class. Curtain has mentioned him multiple times now as a striker. Even though I think the team still needs a striker, the Union seem to have high hopes for Herbers.

      • It would certainly be nice if he works out. I think the comparisons to Catic are unfair. He was a late draft pick that we were trying to talk up since he was all we had. That’s a far cry from a first-round consensus best forward in the draft (in an admittedly weak offensive class). On one hand, if people were really high on Herbers, you’d have to assume he’d have gone earlier, but on the other hand, he’s a much more accomplished collegiate player than the previous forwards we’ve drafted.

      • I have high hopes for Herbers. I do not want to count on him for anything yet. He does seem to have great potential either up top or on the wing. Let him force his way into the 18 first though, especially since players up top need to be rotated much more this year. Plus I think it would be useful to have Ayuk, Herbers, and maybe Restrepo rotating between the Union and Steel to get them consistent minutes.

      • Like I said, it’s just a feeling. A tingling in the back of my head that says Herbers is going to be more than expected.
        And I agree, I’m not counting on Herbers for anything. Whatever he adds this year will be a bonus for me. It just may be a Big bonus.
        I also don’t think you are going to have to worry about playing time for the three you mentioned. I think with more of “Curtain’s” players, there will be more rotation of players. Even a more aggressive approach to substituting in the second half of matches, unlike last year.

      • Herbers has an interesting dynamic going for him.
        In a normal year, the #6 pick would have some pressure on him. But when you are the third player picked by your team, that pressure disappears.
        So, due to the odd nature of having 3 of the top 6 picks, he will fly under the radar this year. Let’s hope he sneaks up on all of us.

      • I have a similar feeing/hope for Herbers, just tough to count on that in year 1. He’s perfect for BSFC

    • I’d rather have Curtin under-promise and over-deliver – we do need a good forward. I am guessing that is what we are saving our DP money for.

  4. Zach McMath…
    Make. Make. Be your future.

  5. I’m still confused as to who a striker replaces. Are we benching Sapong or moving him out to the wing? If we move him out to the wing, are we benching Le Toux or Pontius? Why are we looking for midfield depth (where we seemingly have a lot already) and not at fullback depth (who is behind Fabinho and Gaddis?) or wing depth (do we even have a backup at LW)?

    • Didn’t Leo play out on the left most of the time for the Cosmos? I assume he’s projected as the backup there. Le Toux is reasonable on the left as well (since he drifts central regardless), and Ayuk can come in on the right.
      As to the striker, Ernie has been clear about trying to have two guys competing to start at every spot. That’s something he’s said as a major part of his scheme in interviews well before signing on with the U. I imagine he wants someone battling Sapong for that spot rather than being an instant starter or backup. Herbers might be decent, but unless we’re VERY lucky, he probably doesn’t stand much chance of legitimately competing with Sapong for starting minutes.

      • I agree, we need at least 6 players for the top 3 spots. We have that now but it’s Sapong, Le Toux, Pontius, Herbers, Ayuk, Restrepo. Adding an elite player on top of that gives us a really solid attacking group with a nice balance.
        I think the Union see Leo as Barnetta’s backup. I think they want more speed out wide. Time will tell though.

      • Leo mostly played on the left of a 4-2-3-1 for the Cosmos.
        Not sure how well he would translate as a winger since he is not the fastest but I seem to remember Hackworth playing him on the left of a 4-3-3 at some point. I very well may be remembering incorrectly though.

      • Personally I see the midfield back up as needed. I think their looking to have Edu and Nogs backups/replacements. Right now if Edu who is currently out is down and Nogs goes out your playing Crevalle and Carroll. Not good options if you ask me for an extended period of time. Both are fine to close out games but thats about it. I see the final 8 spots needing to be filled like this. You need a top striker (1). A veteran GK (2). A borderline starter in the midfield preferably a destroyer(3). One speedy winger that plays both right and left(4). A competent starting LB (5). This gives you 3 flexible spots at the end to either sign your rookies or more depth. BSFC should see mostly young players that may have been called in to camp but don’t cut it for the first team.

      • Make that midfielder a 6/8 hybrid type as to me we have depth at a pure 6 in Carroll and Creavalle but no depth at 8 and add a CB too since we only have 3 now. I am totally on board with your other spots though.

      • I can see that on the midfielder although I still want to trade Edu thus wanting a destroyer who could be a starter. And a valid point at CB. Although I assume they consider Edu the cover there at the moment.

      • I have made peace with the fact they aren’t trading Edu just based on his profile to the league/social media. Ha. But I totally see where you are coming from.

  6. “New signing Anderson Conceicao is expected to join the team today after some flight difficulties.”
    This is a lot better than what could have been, i.e. “New signing Anderson Conceicao arrived in Philly last week and left yesterday after experiencing the weather over the weekend.”

  7. Usually I’m the positive guy, but I admit that I’m starting to get a tad nervous about the state of the team.
    I am put in mind of one of my favorite Seinfeld sequences:
    Union: We have no new players for this rebuild.
    Us: I’m not sure you understand what a rebuild is.
    Union: Fans, we understand what a rebuild is.
    Us: I don’t think you do. You see, you know how to clear OUT players for the rebuild, but you don’t know how to bring IN players for the rebuild. And really, its the bringing in the players that’s the most important part of the rebuild.
    All the talk of changing the style isn’t going to mean much if we have largely the same personnel from last year. Last season begin with talk of a new style as well, but Curtin conceded about halfway through that the guys he had couldn’t play the style he wanted and that he had to compromise.

    • think Arsenal before and after Wenger – same players (mostly), new style.

    • While I love a good Seinfeld quote, I’m not sure it’s on point here…
      Players brought in:
      Washington (He’s listed on the Union roster even I haven’t seen an announcement that he’s signed a contract, but I may have missed something)
      That’s 7 new players and the squad still has spots for additional signings. While I’m anxious for signings as well (and believe it’s beneficial to have them in camp as early as possible), the Union have already made quite a few changes with a handful more to make.
      One of my favorite proverbs is “a handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”
      For better or for worse, I have faith in the rebuild.

      • It is a bad idea to expect rookies right out of college to contribute to the senior team since you have no idea how they will adapt to the professional game. For preseason roster planning purposes, the ceiling for their rookie season should be assumed as a full-time BSFC player that won’t make the senior team, and there should be enough experienced professional players in camp to fill out the 28-man roster for the Union. Any contribution rookies make to Union should be viewed as an unexpected surprise.

  8. I’m not suggesting we sign Nocerino, I’m just pointing out this article so we are all aware of the Transfer Window dates:
    “Galliani noted that MLS’s transfer window doesn’t close until May. The primary transfer window opens on February 18, and runs until May 12.”
    I would love to bring someone in now, but if we have to wait until the end of February to bring in Balotelli, then so be it! 😉

    • Balotelli vs. Feilharber, which has the worst sour puss face?

      • Benny’s is definitely worse. Everything about him screams “douche.”
        Balotelli’s entertaining. (And out of favor at Milan. Imjusayin’…)

      • I’ve never seen anyone have a frown after scoring. Except when Balotelli does it repeatedly. As mush as I “hate the face” of Benny, it’s gotta be Balotelli for me.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Dempsey’s is classic too.

  9. OK, let’s talk about important stuff. Adidas appears to be moving their three stripes from the shoulder to the mid-axillary line. I would prefer them to be gone entirely, but it’s an improvement. With the Union kit though, it may look strange with the center stripe. We’ll see.
    Also, no word yet from the Union on the new slogan for this year. What will replace the iconic “Stand for Blue?” Will it be “Stand for New?” Ideas please?

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