Daily news roundups

News from Union training camp, BSFC schedule released, HCI’s new home, more

Featured image: Chris Pontius and Ray Gaddis at RFK, April 21, 2013. Photo: Michael Long

Philadelphia Union

Chris Pontius has spoken to reporters about joining the Union from DC United. “Seven years in one place, it was a long time. I felt like I got into too much of a routine, and I wasn’t pushing myself every day like I know I could. And I knew Philly’s a place where I can change things up and give me a fresh start.”

Pontius says the fresh start is also something of a relief from worries about injuries: “Those injuries lingered over my head in D.C. and I never felt like I was playing freely. Even today I felt like I was playing with a weight lifted off my shoulders.” Pontius says he now feels 100 percent healthy.

Jim Curtin said he expects big things from Pontius, a player he has wanted to get for some time: “I’ve always liked Chris as a player. Dating back three or four years ago, he’s a guy I wanted to bring to Philadelphia…He’s a guy who’s won, who’s played in big games and brings a maturity to our group, and again is special around the goal. He’s a guy who’s capable of eight to 10 goals and eight to 10 assists. Those are the goals we’ll set for him this year.”

More on Pontius at CBS Philly, Delco Times, and MLSsoccer.com.

Curtin also talked about new signing Anderson , who arrived in camp on Tuesday:

Good first day. He just jumped off a plane and literally had a physical. They rushed everything through so he was able to train today. You can tell he’s a guy who’s good with the ball at his feet. He’s not afraid to go in on a tackle. Even on the turf he left his feet quite a few times. He made some good plays. He’s a guy we’re happy with. It’s early again still, so we’ll continue to evaluate. But as a starting point, Anderson has come in with a good mentality. He’s adjusted well in meeting all of his new teammates. We’re in the early stages but he’s a guy we have high hopes for, for the season.

Curtin described Leo Fernandes as the sharpest guy in training so far. Fernandes, who described the mood in this year’s camp as more “serious” than in years past, also said he had no doubt he would be returning to the Union after his year-long loan to New York Cosmos: “I saw my future here with Philly. I talked to Jim a couple of times and he said that I was going to come back. So I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t reading into anything. I’m happy to be back and can’t wait for this year to start.” Fernandes says he’s a more versatile player because of the loan.

Curtin also addressed concerns about Joshua Yaro’s size at center back.

I mean, listen, (Josh) does jump well. Height wise, I’d say he is undersized. But, at the same time, if you look at the game now, especially in MLS teams play with one forward. It’s not as much of the bruising and the battering. To have one guy who is a little bit quicker and good with his feet, that’s a little bit of a trend in where the game is going. I think gone are the days of the two 6’5″ meat heads that are just back there battering things with their head. You know I mean? I’m serious, because there’s only one guy that they’re dealing with for the most part. So you need to have that, like you said, one who can take the physical pounding and one that maybe is a little bit faster and good with the ball. It’s changing a little bit, especially in our league because of the fact that we’re running into the 4-2-3-1 almost every week and there’s only one guy up there.

Curtin agreed Yaro compares favorably to Amobi Okugo in the 2013 pairing with Jeff Parke.

James McFadden update: STV Sport reports from Scotland,

It’s still unknown whether James McFadden will seal a deal to move to MLS side Philadelphia Union, but Motherwell manager Mark McGhee has welcomed him to stay longer at the Fir Park club if it doesn’t materialise.

McFadden is currently in his third spell at the club with his contract is due to finish at the end of the month. He could be set for another short-term deal if his future is yet to be sorted across the water.

At SBI, former Union man Zac MacMath describes the events leading up to his departure:

It was kind of an unfortunate situation because it was really out of my hands. The third year that I was starting when Rais came in the middle of the year, I felt like it was definitely my best year as a pro, and I was having a really good year and to have it halted like that, you know, it sucks, to be honest.

Fortunately, I got to play six or so more games that year and continued to have a really good year, but obviously they wanted to go in a different direction and that was the writing on the wall, so I went into the offseason asking them to move me.

The Telegraph talks to former Union youth director Alecko Eskandarian, now an assistant coach at New York Cosmos, about his tour of Premier League training facilities. Eskandarian says, “I did something similar when I worked for the Philadelphia Union, when I was director of the academy there, we would go over to Europe once a year to ‘Keep up the Joneses’ and see what other clubs were doing. It’s pretty valuable.”

Philadelphia Union Academy

You will recall that the Union Academy defenders Mark McKenzie and Matthew Real, midfielder Anthony Fontana, and forward Justin McMaster were called up for the US U-18’s January camp. The team played two domestic friendlies during the camp, both on Jan. 20. In the 3-1 loss to Montverde Academy, Real went the full 90, and Fontana stayed in through the 74th minute. In the 1-0 loss to Weston FC, McKenzie went the full 90 and McMaster was subbed into the game in the 55th minute.

Top Drawer Soccer recently released its Boys IMG Academy 150 player rankings. Unfortunately, the rankings are behind a paywall. However, Brother Games’ Matt Ralph reports Union Academy players Auston Trusty (No. 26), Raheem Taylor-Parkes (No. 54), Andrew Verdi (No. 70), Alexander Soto (No. 89), Emmanuel Perez (No. 106), and Yosef Samuel (No. 126) all made the list.

Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel’s 2016 schedule was released on Tuesday. After opening their inaugural season on the road against FC Montreal on March 25, the team’s home opener is on April 3 against Cincinnati FC, a team that includes four former Union players: Austin Berry, Corben Bone, Antoine Hoppenot, and Jimmy McLaughlin.

The season includes three games against Pittsburgh Riverhounds and New York Red Bulls II (BSFC is home for two) and FC Montreal and Harrisburg City Islanders (BSFC is away for two). The regular season concludes at home on September 25 against Orlando City B.

Penn97 notes the Keystone Derby games of the season:

  • Sat., April 9 (7 pm) – Pittsburgh hosts Harrisburg
  • Sun., May 22 (TBD) – Harrisburg hosts Bethlehem
  • Mon., July 4 (7pm) – Pittsburgh hosts Harrisburg
  • Sun., July 10 (TBD) – Bethlehem hosts Pittsburgh
  • Thu., July 21 (TBD) – Bethlehem hosts Harrisburg
  • Sat., August 13 (7 pm) – Pittsburgh hosts Bethlehem
  • Sat., August 27 (TBD) – Harrisburg hosts Pittsburgh
  • Tue., August 30 (TBD) – Harrisburg hosts Bethlehem
  • Sun., September 18 (TBD) – Bethlehem hosts Pittsburgh

More on the schedule release at PSPPhilly.comBrotherly Game,

Jonathan Tannenwald writes at Philly.com he’s heard BSFC “will unveil its jerseys (and start selling them) in late March.”

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders announced on Tuesday they are leaving Skyline Sports Complex, their home since the team’s founding in 2004, for Metro Bank Park, home of minor league baseball team Harrisburg Senators. The team will play ten home games at Metro Bank Park, with the remaining five home games played at Lancaster’s Clipper Magazine Stadium, home to minor league baseball team Lancaster Barnstormers.

HCI at Metro Park

It appears the team has a new look for its corporate logo too.

The City Islander’s press release notes, “Islanders fans will now have the ability to experience preferred, reserved, club house and suite seating.  They will also have new food and beverage choices, vastly improved full service amenities and an expanded ‘Tiki’s Cove’…Operationally, Metro Bank Park will be transformed a total of five times during the 2016 season.  Sod will be laid every two matches with the help of the Harrisburg Senators grounds crew, in order to convert the baseball field into a regulation soccer pitch.”

Team owner Eric Pettis said, ““It took all of the resources of Harrisburg to keep us here. We have taken a significant risk to keep pace with the growth of the league and remain a valuable asset to the USL…Playing our matches in Metro Bank Park will allow us to provide a whole new game day experience for our fans, staff, players and opponents.”

Penn Live notes the move also “is expected to produce more cash for the city of Harrisburg.”

More on the move at Penn Live (report, video), York Daily Record, Central Pennsylvania Business Journal, abc27, and USL.com.

You can view HCI’s 2016 schedule by clicking here.

At the Ocean City Nor’easters website, a look at former goalkeeper Tunde Ogunbiyi, who is back in the US after time in Europe, mainly with clubs in Denmark.

At the FIFA website, a profile on James Galanis, the trainer Carli Lloyd credits greatly for her success.

MLS

Player moves:

  • Official: LA have signed Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme from Standard Liege using Targeted Allocation Money. The LA Times reminds the Galaxy are also expected to sign Ashley Cole and Nigel De Jong.
  • Kansas City have signed Portuguese defender Nuno André Coelho, who last played for Balikesirspor in Turkey.
  • Dallas have acquired Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa from Colorado in exchange for General Allocation Money.
  • NYCFC have signed midfielder Miguel “Mikey” Lopez, who was waived by Kansas City.
  • Houston have signed defender Sebastien Ibeagha, a Dynamo Academy product who after college signed with “AC Horsens in Denmark in January 2014 and spent parts of the last two seasons on loan with FC Fredericia (Denmark) and Fram Reykjavik (Iceland).”

NBC Sports reports a Tim Howard move to Colorado “looks highly likely,” possibly in May. Zac MacMath, Colorado’s present No. 1, said recently of the Howard rumors, “There’s always going to be someone trying to take your job, regardless if it’s Tim Howard or anyone else. I just have to do my job and make it as hard as possible for someone else to take it.” More Howard talk at ESPN.

ESPN reports NYRB’s Matt Miazga is about to be signed by Chelsea. The Daily Mail reported earlier “Major League Soccer is expected to confirm the deal in the next 48 hours.” In case you’re wondering, Chelsea currently have 33 players out on loan.

Is there an ongoing contract dispute between Kei Kamara and Columbus Crew, or not? Maybe. Maybe Not.

San Jose have a new jersey sponsor, Sutter Health.

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young argues MLS will be considered one of the best leagues in the world when possession matters.

CBS St. Louis reports, “A local lawmaker wants to give voters a chance to impose a sales tax, to help fund a new soccer stadium in the St. Louis area.”

US

Jill Ellis announced her 20-player USWNT roster for Olympic qualifying on Tuesday. Someone should be fired at US Soccer for the decision to present the roster as a slideshow rather than list it in print. Here’s the roster:

GOALKEEPERS: Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS: Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash)

FORWARDS: Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)

Reaction to the roster — youth included, veterans who were not, and more — at ESPNWFox Soccer, Soccer America, and SI.

ESPN reports increasing scouting of players in the US is a priority for the Mexican soccer federation.

Elsewhere

Alejandro Dominguez of Paraguay has been elected president of CONMEBOL. He was the only candidate.  Dominguez is reportedly a close friend of fellow countryman Juan Angel Napout, the last president of CONMEBOL, who was arrested as part of the FIFA corruption investigation. As is the case with CONCACAF, the last three CONMEBOL presidents have all been arrested as part of the investigation. Reports from Reuters and the AP.

Goal.com on doubts about the proposed reforms at CONCACAF.

Speaking of CONCACAF, a judge in Trinidad and Tobago has decided to stay the extradition proceedings of well-known crook Jack Warner, thus “giving Warner’s legal team the chance to challenge the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act 1985, and the bilateral extradition treaty signed between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States in 1996.”

FIFA has confirmed the upcoming presidential election will take place via secret ballot. Soccer America says the race is too close to call at this point.

Reuters reports, “FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne said that as head of soccer’s governing body he would seek to move the 2022 Qatar World Cup from November-December to late European spring – a step that would please European associations by averting disruption of their season.”

Huffington Post talks to Moya Dodd about her efforts to increase the leadership role of women in soccer.

27 Comments

  1. “I think gone are the days of the two 6’5″ meat heads like me for example that are just back there battering things with their head.”

    Fixed Curtin’s quote. The Amobi-Parke analogy is a good one.

  2. Zac MacMath can’t catch a break.

    • I feel bad for him and wish him well. But to be honest, I never thought he was going to be anything great.

      • Maybe, or maybe not. But we may never know because he has spent his career at possibly the 2 worst-run franchises in the league. He has been royally screwed at both.
        .
        Hopefully he gets a chance at stability somewhere. He may not be the future of the USMNT, but he’s a solid keeper that could start for at least half of the teams in this league.

    • He’s in a weird spot, because he does get less credit than he deserves but he still isn’t that amazing. I do believe he can start in this league, and he handled himself through all the drama here with a lot of class, so I imagine he’s a good locker room guy. I sincerely hope things work out for him. Blake is probably better than him long term, but other than that he’s the best keeper we’ve had not named Mondragon.

      • I’m not saying he can’t start in MLS. Far from it. I believe he can. I just don’t see him as top of the league good.
        .
        You are absolutely right that he showed class through all the drama. I do feel he got a bit of a bum deal. But I also feel Blake is head and shoulders above Zac.

      • I’m on a wait and see on this Blake has what 5 to 10 games to his name. MacMath had over 100.

      • I agree it is early in Blake’s career. That being said, Blake made saves in his 5-10 games that MacMath wouldn’t even attempt to save in his 100 appearances. For me, it is quite clear who the better goalie is, already.

      • I would agree Blake has made some amazing saves but 2 knee surgeries before 25 and not many matches in hand. I’m in no ways ready to anoint him as a better goalie than MacMath. Plus MacMath is younger than Blake. I think he could be better I am just not saying he is after the few performance we’ve seen. I remember plenty of times MacMath made stunning saves and everyone was saying he was the GK of the future and would be the starting USMNT keeper in no time and we saw what happened with his development.

    • At least he’s in Colorado, and can probably find something to help him with his chronic sleep deprivation.

    • MacMath was unfortunate to be with the Union who obviously didn’t value him that much and the case is unfortunately the same in Colorado. MacMath could have been a great keeper if his development was run right. He was thrown into a starting role to early after Mondragon. He had to rely on numerous backlines yet his time at the Union with all the terrible turmoil coaching changes, backline changes, and experiments he still kept a GAA of 1.3 in over a 100 starts (Not bad for most teams in MLS or many other leagues). Pretty damn good for being 23 when he left. He ultimately was to young to ever be starting for this team especially with the fan base in philly. He was improving in bounds and strides when they brought in M’Bohli and killed his progress for nothing, but hey that is what the Union do with young players (hopefully this changes this year). Zac was always a professional and still is he is trying to fight for his spot regardless and one day I believe he will ultimately be a great keeper somewhere if he gets in a better situation on the right team. He still has time being only 24.

      • +1 – It takes keepers a long time to develop as so much of what they do is reading the game and organizing their defense and you do need match experience in order to do this. It’s unfair of people to brand him as a failure given how little help that the Union gave to him while he was here. I hope that he does really well in Colorado.

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      Can’t catch a break.
      Or a ball. Badumdum.
      Yeah, I feel for him too. And just when he was turning into a solid MLS keeper too. But there was this tournament in Brazil. And Sak was an ass.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Hung out all day at YSC….
    .
    A few things~ There’s a human element to all this that is so cool and the manager is spot on… Leo Fernandes came to ball… best player on the field today too… that’s as objective as I can be about him. Dude got better.
    .
    Anderson got off to a slow start today IMO but by the 9v9 he was displaying his temperament and quality. Smooth operator ~ head up incisive passing. Clean
    player.
    .
    Andre Blake is so quick…
    .
    The sporting director was in the house too.

  4. If LAX already have Gerrard and Dos Santos, how can they sign both Cole and DeJong? Is one of them coming in at less than DP money??

    • I’m sure there’s some combo of GAM and TAM being used. But Ashley really shouldn’t command a monster salary. If he’s getting paid anywhere close to $1M, something is seriously rotten in the City of Angels…

    • As far as I know teams can also pay down the DP salary to fit the salary cap and LA has all the money in the world so they could buy down any DP salary they want.

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