Daily news roundups

“Timid”: More reaction to Union’s season opening loss, league attendance strong, more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead spoke to Jim Curtin for more reaction to Sunday’s season opening loss. Curtin said,

We’re not happy with the performance, from the staff, to the players, and across the board. Everybody wanted to come out and show a new style and a new ‘fight’ that the team had. We wanted to give something positive to the fans and we came up a little bit short. I’m disappointed in a lot of areas. We looked a bit timid compared to how we were in the preseason. We’re all disappointed in that.

To take some things away from it, in possession we were a little bit better, that would be one positive when you look at the stats. But at the same time it wasn’t good enough and we didn’t create enough chances…In this game, we didn’t raise our level to meet what was needed, which was a difficult road game in a team’s home opener.

Curtin echoed his postgame comments about how preseason injuries to Richie Marquez and Ray Gaddis, and Roland Alberg being away from the team to deal with his visa, influenced the roster selection for the game: “[I]nstead of rushing guys back we went with guys who played the bulk of the minutes in preseason and performed well in preseason. It didn’t work out our way, but I still think there are some things to build off of.”

Curtin also said Fabinho, who had a hand in both Dallas goals, “was disappointed with his performance on the day.”

At the Daily News, the headline for John Smallwood’s column on the game is “New roster but same old Union.” Smallwood explains “it was not the loss but the quality of the loss that bothered me,” adding, “Frankly, I don’t know for sure what I wanted to see from the Union in the opener on Sunday. I just know it wasn’t what I saw because that was the same thing we’ve seen from the Union before and before that and before that. ​”

At CSN Philly, Dave Zeitlin’s first Inside Doop of the new season looks at Sunday’s loss. At Brotherly Game,  Eugene Rupinski looks at what went wrong in the loss.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead notes former Union men Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger started and scored in their debuts for Houston on Sunday and says, “So what?”

Philly Sports Nation believes the future looks bright despite the season opening loss.

The power rankings picture is predictably grim after Sunday’s season-opening loss to Dallas. At SI, the Union are dead last at No. 20: “Without Maurice Edu and Tranquillo Barnetta in the lineup due to their respective injuries, the Union didn’t make many strides forward from the way it finished last season.” Soccer America also has the Union at No. 20 but is kind in doing so: “Philly played one of the league’s best teams evenly (50.9 percent possession) on the road and generated 12 shots but only two were on goal.” ESPN has the Union at No. 18 and wins the Best Power Ranking Quip of the week Award with this: “It’s a good thing the Union have finally settled on a goalkeeper of the present and future in Andre Blake, because it appears they’ll need his services quite a bit over the course of 2016.”

The annual Meet the Team event will take place at Dave and Busters on Wednesday, March 16 from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Season ticket holders, who will have exclusive access to the players between 7 pm and 8 pm, must RSVP here.

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph has more on the fine wins the Union Academy put in over the weekend.

Bethlehem Steel FC

At the USL website, a pretty extensive preview of the inaugural Bethlehem side.

Not listed on the roster in the season preview is Lehigh University product Jamie Luchini (Wexford, Pa.). Reports at the Lehigh University Athletics site (since removed) and Allentown Morning Call say the midfielder/forward has signed with the team, although, as of this writing, there has been no official announcement from the club.

Luchini, who scored in BSFC’s win over Syracuse on Sunday, said, “It was a relief to finally sign my first professional contract. While I was disappointed at the time to not get selected in the MLS Superdraft, it all ended up working in the end as I am able to sign and play for a USL team filled with quality players that can be put right into the Philadelphia Union roster. Additionally, I am able to finish my degree this semester, which is something I valued since Day 1.”

Noise Nation has more on Sunday’s preseason win.

Local

Jill Loyden will be the keynote speaker at the 15th annual S.U.R.E. (Students United for Respect and Equality) summit at Rowan University on March 17.

MLS

Some 62,510 fans were on hand for the Orlando-Real Salt Lake game at the Citrus Bowl on Sunday, which Soccer America reports was the fifth highest attended game in the world over the weekend. Average attendance for the league on its opening day — at a total of 261,516 fans, the most for a single day in league history — was 26,152, higher than Ligue 1, Serie A, and the Eredivisie, and about 700 short of La Liga. Impressive, but “down slightly (0.9 percent) from [the] 2015 home openers.” The top five were the Bundesliga (43,496), Liga MX (35,910), the Premier League (34,500), the Chinese Super League (29,103, which does not include Sunday’s games), and La Liga (26,864).

NYRB has waived midfielder Scott Thomsen. The team signed him as a homegrown player in December.

Montreal Impact has announced Didier Drogba will train with USL-side Sacramento Republic: “Due to swelling in his left knee when he trains and plays on an artificial surface, the club want to decrease any risk of injury. If everything goes well, Drogba could be available to play the third game of the season, on March 19 in Dallas, then the 6th in Chicago, on April 16, before the first game of the season at Stade Saputo, on April 23.” Last week the Impact announced Drogba would miss at least four of the team’s first five games to avoid playing on artificial turf.

Don Garber is pleased with the new targeted allocation money salary mechanism: “It’s been very, very successful. It was calculated. It was very specific to try to improve the middle of  the roster and do it in a way that ensures that our clubs are smart and careful about how they utilize cash. It’s early. It’s just the first week of the season. But so far everything I’ve heard from owners and coaches and technical directors is that the program is smart. And I’m convinced it will be successful.”

Mindful of the example of the original NASL, Garber continues to believe carefully managing player expenditures is the best course for the league: “There’s no doubt that if you spend more money, in any business, ultimately the quality is going to grow. But we need to manage what we have in relation to our revenue and do it in a way that we can ensure that we are growing carefully.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Atlanta United president Darren Eales says the team wants to “make a specific effort” to sign local talent. He also says training sessions will be open to the public in order to help build the fanbase: “We want it to be very open. Contrast that with my time at Tottenham Hotspur. That place was like Fort Knox. The only information you ever gave out was misinformation. So we’ll have set days where we have open training sessions. We want everyone to feel a part of us.” You will recall Eales was formerly director of football operations at Tottenham.

The Los Angeles Times reports on LAFC’s efforts to develop their academy system.

US

The US finishes group play in the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship today against Costa Rica (12 pm, Fox Soccer Plus). The team won its first two group games against Jamaica and Mexico by the combined score of 9 goals to 1.

The US U-23 WNT defeated the senior France “B” team 2-0 on Monday to win the Istria Cup in Croatia.

The US U-18 WNT defeated Norway’s U-19 team, 1-0, to end its three-game stand in La Manga, Spain, finishing 2-0-1 against older sides, including a 0-0 draw against Denmark and a 1-0 win over England.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald looks at financial information released by US Soccer in a report from the Annual General Meeting held last month in San Antonio (you can download the report from the federation website). Expecting a net loss of around $421,000 in 2015, the federation instead had a profit of $17.7 million, in large part thanks to the US winning the Women’s World Cup.

With revenue from the lead up of games to the Olympics, the Olympics themselves, and the projected series of games celebrating the Olympic run after (whether it is a “Victory Tour” or not), the USWNT is expected to show a $5.2 million profit in 2016, while the USMNT, playing fewer games, is expected to have a loss of $964,000. Meanwhile, the split between revenue and expenses for the 2015 US Open Cup shows a profit of $77,587. Also, the federation is projecting spending of $1,370,907 for the NWSL in 2016, compared to $1,431,892 in 2015.

Elsewhere

CONCACAF has appointed Brian Hall as Director of Refereeing. A former MLS referee who also was an official during the 2002 World Cup, Hall has previously served as Match Official Development Manager for PRO, Director of Refereeing Administration for CONCACAF, and Manager of Assessment and Training for US Soccer.

The AP and Reuters reports the former Venezuela football federation president, Rafael Esquivel, has been extradited from Switzerland to the US to face bribery charges as part of the FIFA corruption investigation. “Esquivel is accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights to the Copa America tournaments in 2007, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2023.”

US prosecutors have charged one Miguel Trujillo, according to papers unsealed by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Monday. Reuters reports, “Trujillo’s case is related to publicly known soccer-corruption cases, according to the papers. However, the papers did not disclose who Trujillo is or what the exact charges are that he faces…The papers said Trujillo had waived a formal indictment by a grand jury. Generally, in U.S. courts this is an indication that a defendant plans to plead guilty.” Soccer America reports Trujillo is “the godfather of Honduran holding rights to the national team and has been active in the South Florida soccer scene as a promoter for years.”

The Guardian reports,

A majority of women working in football witness sexism at work and almost a quarter say they have suffered bullying and 15% report they have been victims of sexual harassment, according to a survey.

The campaigning organisation Women in Football, which published the survey, said the game had an “ingrained, systemic problem of sexist culture” and criticised football’s institutions for not doing enough to improve it.

Reuters reports, “Recently-elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino was told on Monday that “women are part of the solution” to the problems that have plagued soccer’s scandal-plagued world governing body. FIFA executive committee member Moya Dodd also suggested to Infantino that women’s soccer was an untapped asset as the federation looks to boost its revenues.”

47 Comments

  1. On a positive note, the fence that had been around the new training facility during construction was removed last night so it looks like the facility should be open for the team any day now.

  2. Players timid? That’s a shame.

    If only there was someone whose job it was to inspire players and prepare them so they feel organized and confident. And maybe it would be interesting if someone had the job of putting players on the field in a difficult first match of the season who had some experience in tough situations?

    Seriously, I love Jim but he’s dead man walking if this keeps up.

  3. Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

    The timid observation is dead on. The team played completely different from how they played in the preseason. During the preseason they pressed high, defended the man on the ball in swarms and looked to switch and counter quickly when they won the ball back. I don’t know if the change was intended due to the opponent, but I would rather lose playing a system then lose with that disjointed mess.

    2 side notes as well.

    1. Fabinho was awful, but Pontius was non existent defending. This gave Dallas 2v1 s against Fabinho, which often forced Andersen to the side for cover. Pontius has to track back and help on that side.

    2. Part of the issue on offense was that Sapong provided absolutely no hold up play. He let the defenders get in his head early with their physical play and he and the Dallas D went on to trade ticky tack fouls. All this did was result in free kicks from non dangerous areas for the most part. If we are going to play a 4-2-3-1, Sapong has to be better and smarter!

    • and a whole lot more active……JC was giving him guff during the match that he wasn’t providing enough of an outlet for them…..he had to make more runs……

    • Totally agree with you on the Pontius thing. Not to “steal” credit from Fabinho for his poor defending and even worse decisions in possession, but there were multiple times when 2 or 3 players were in Fabinho’s “zone” and no help was there.

    • Not gonna lie…I’ve had concerns about the striker position. We will see.
      .
      I’m happy he was resigned and I’m hoping he is going to take the next step in scoring with service but he had some touches that were alarmingly bad…particularly in the box.

  4. We looked “timid”……….is something CYO coaches say………..sheesh.

  5. Yesterday I posted:This is where boxes are going to start being checked for or against Jim Curtin and staff. Dallas prepared for the Union. Curtin just put bodies out on the pitch and did not make smart in game adjustments. Knowing who Dallas was going to come with he could have had Carroll on the bench put Alberg ( he has played DM at higher levels) in to give athleticism, speed and coverage to the backline. It would also have been a better link up with Noguiera and Ilsinho. It would have made Dallas have to defend rather than attack our CB’s to often. Herbers and Le Toux have pace and speed on the wings to force Dallas’ outside backs to play honest defense. Leo Fernandes could have subbed for Ilsinho. Until Edu is healthy enough to start Alberg has the skill to fill that void with Creavalle subbing. Jim Curtin had better learn to make moves and be proactive and prepared or he is out of here!

    To be clear it really had nothing to do with Brian Carroll. Carroll should have been dropped from the team last year. Instead he has been allowed to lull Curtin into a false sense of security where his contribution to the Union is concerned. Curtin had an opportunity prepare for or at least to adjust to what Dallas was exploiting. Curtin has to realize that Carroll couldn’t cover the ground or close down the attack and didn’t have the ball skill to force play the other way and neutralize Diaz which is what a competent coach would prepare to do. Carroll was just there. The Union have options and the issue is the coach. My entire comment was about Jim Curtin not preparing to match up with Dallas giving the Union a chance to really compete. Jim Curtin coaches scared and not to lose instead of having a game plan to win or steal a point on the road. You can tell by the way his pre and post game comments are always about the other teams scary players. That to me displays a weakness in character not a quality we need in a coach.

  6. Look I agree…bad game. Timidity. Whatever.
    .
    It’s easy for us to cast the first stone… but when the speed difference reared its head early in that game I think it took this club by surprise… as it would almost everybody else.
    .
    there is doubtful a worse team for them to start a season against with so much turnover and fresh faces. I repeat my assertion from the post game… can’t tell what we have till Barnetta and Edu are on the field and with all due respect… Carroll is on bench… He did a decent job destroying but was an absolute liability in the offensive play and it can’t be that way… Just can’t… I’ve got nothing but love for the guy… but the facts is the facts.
    .
    We have to sit. observe and comment- no problem- but again… be a bit patient. Give the manager time to even put his chess pieces on the board and contemplate his opening before we say…. same old Union.
    .
    “The Copa looms like the Ides of March.”

    • I find it interesting that everyone was on Curtin when he said we needed to get faster last year but now every is complaining we aren’t fast enough.

      • Also interesting how fast the tone went from “things are changing for the better” to “same old Union” on the message boards.
        .
        It was one game. One data point.

      • To say we got faster and then to look like molasses dripping off a spoon during the match……is two different things…….it’s easy to say we got faster……that was not proven on Sunday

      • I’m not saying we got faster, i’m saying everyone was complaining that Curtin said we needed to get faster (because American soccer = athletes not soccer players) and now everyone is complaining we are too slow.

      • DomesticCat610 says:

        That saying is old and outdated…..you need athletes in the modern game. The clubs we watch across the pond…..all those dudes are athletes too. Just because the Barca guys are small….doesn’t mean they aren’t athletic. Look how fast those clubs are……and not just speed of thought……true, genuine pace! Pace separates the men from the boys in the modern game.

      • I agree, just saying Curtin got flamed for saying it last year.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I would add one thing to Mickey’s analysis, with which I am otherwise in agreement, overwhelming agreement about the speed.
      .
      A coach must also manage the roster with respect and fairness to veterans, upholding the principles of selection he has put forth at the beginning of preseason and not destroying the credibility of those veterans by overtly disrespecting them, especially in front of new teammates. (Recall, please, that several weeks ago Jim Curtin made reference to having BC “help out” with BSFC. We have no idea what that meant and whether or not it will actually happen, but I have found JC honest enough to believe that at the time he said it, it reflected his intent.)
      .
      How many of us had to wait to become seniors in order to “get our shot?”

      • OSC, big clubs in Europe do that to with their veterans. They will play them a match with the reserves from time to time……not just coming off injury. Sir Alex talked about it that night he was here….it’s for continuity between the groups of players….makes the reserves feel they are still part and it places certain demands on the veteran…..as a teacher or mentor…..this is how we want things done with the first team.

      • I doubt ES cares about veteran feelings….he wants the best eleven on the pitch…..nothing personal, just business. I think JC has the mindset you described above…….and that will lead to his downfall. Do you see Wenger start Flamini? No…….he starts two youngins in Conquelin and he just brought a new one in, in Elneny! The kid has been here a month and he started in the North London Derby……..respectively, I don’t buy that argument.

    • The problem I have is the idea that Dallas’s speed was a surprise. To who? And why? Did no one from the Union organization watch the playoffs last year when Dallas ran circles around their opponents? Why didn’t the coaching staff drill into their heads all week to watch Dallas’s speed? Their speed should not have been a surprise.
      .
      I’m still in wait and see mode. But there’s a disconnect between what Jim sees in practice, to what shows up on game day. Something is amiss.

      • To Keegan Rosenberry for one. And Ken Tribbett for tow. Tell you right now…Keegan Rosenberry never playered against that before.
        .
        .
        Can mentally prepare a team all we want for the weaponry but that’s different then playing against a flamethrower… and adjusting to the angles or trying t instill the philosophy of the team and play good defense.
        .

        .

  7. The Los Angeles Times reports on LAFC’s efforts to develop their academy system.
    .
    .
    .
    Not opening your arms wide wide wide and saying, “Dear Brian Kleiben would you please continue building the amazing infrastructure here that you were beginning to build at Chivas as evidenced by your teams beating Real Madrid, Ajax, almost every English club it faced and standing toe to toe against Barca for a few years on end..”
    .
    Something like that maybe… what I dumb dumb decision to walk away from that guy and his totally progressive coaching mentality.

  8. Lucky Striker says:

    Neither proactive nor reactive. Static.

    Hand ball and a great save bailed him out early, and yet continued to high press with a back 4 that was 75% inexperienced and immobile.

    How much did he need to see to know that BC was crippling Nogueira and providing no outlet?

    That’s just for openers……..

    • High press is our system. It’s not changing. That’s the point of at least the early season. You want us to not even try to form our identity before the season starts?

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Well done, A.

      • I’m fine with that…..just look like you actually know what pressing is…..and above all else…..be fit enough to execute it. Clubs that high press run the crap out of their squad in preseason……why do you think Dortmund trains in the Alps before the Bundesliga?

      • Lucky Striker says:

        form your identity when you have the squad in place to execute it. Meantime; ADJUST to what you are seeing happen in front of you, thank your lucky stars you got away with it up to that point and protect your box while figuring out what subs you need to make pronto to give you a chance to compete.

        Well done, me.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      The issue is that the back 4 pressed high, but no one else did. I believe it was Ali that pointed out the 30 yard gaps between the lines. Not good enough. You can have your back 4 on the other teams 18, but if the midfield is not pressuring the ball, it is all moot. The midfield lost this game, not the back 4.

      • Yes…it is still a problem and when they did bring the line up they were flame thrown because of turnovers.

      • I agree totally. It’s learning by fire too and probably against the best team in the league to counter it. Also our midfield was missing 2 starters and Ilishno is clearly not in even early season game shape yet. Let’s see how the press evolves over the next few games.

  9. I somehow suspect that the Union organization kinda had the loss column checked off in their head for this match and just rested some starters with knocks and hoped for the best.
    Though I am sure they were caught off guard as to the poor quality a team with supposed depth played.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I suspect they would prefer you to rephrase “loss column” to “long shot column” and they are certainly trying to teach their backups that if the man in front goes down they have to be ready. They are also still evaluating what they have.
      .
      “Caught off guard” is another way of saying “timid” wouldn’t you think?
      .
      The goal is not winning MLS cup in 2016. Realistically, it is about becoming good enough to become relevant to the chase for the playoffs, good enough so that playoff contenders have to start their best eleven instead of sprinkling their subs, as did more than one Western Conference contender when they came to PPL last season.

      • Caught off guard means the coaching staff who probably couldn’t have predicted such a total collapse

      • I think playing your first game in a new level always has you caught off guard to how fast the game is. That is true in all sports. Now being thrown into probably the fastest team in our league takes it to a whole new level. So all the new players (half of our field players) in their first game should not be a surprise the were caught off guard. they all settled in (in various degrees) as the game went on. I expect a lot of growth in the next few games.

      • And with all the supposed competition for slots you would think there is no “man in front” yet.

  10. It is a new Union but still has dead weight from the past…Curtin is and will forever be linked to Sak. I’ll be high on the team when Big Ern gets his guy but I’m still a fan and STH.

    Food for thought:

    Nowak – 78 games in charge – sacked
    Hackworth – 76 ” ” – sacked
    Mens Warehouse – 61 – ???

    A Mid June Sacking could be in order..

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      But “Sak” is no longer doing the sacking. New guy, harder to predict, existing data come from a clearly different context so predictive reliability is less.

  11. Dear dear commenting friends.
    .
    They are going to get better.
    .
    Okay then.

    • pragmatist says:

      A single clunker is June lands more softly than a clunker on Opening Day.
      .
      A solid performance in Columbus would go a long way to easing not-so-latent fears.
      .
      Mulligan.

  12. What I think about Sunday and going forward is that Curtain needs to begin to show he can tailor a game plan to an opponent and make adjustments in-game, when necessary. One game does not mean he can’t do it… but when you add in last year, the trend is beginning to say he can’t. If this team isn’t improved by the Copa he will be gone. Period.
    .
    I’m not the best tactician, but I agree with someone above who noted Brian Carroll just lulls Curtain into false sense of security and that Carroll was just kind of there on the field Sunday. We need a manager smarter than that.
    .
    And I did write yesterday that a better showing Saturday, and hopefully at worst, a draw, will go a long way to quell some fears. But that will be a tall task.
    .
    I’m not freaking out, but we have seen this act before, and I don’t want to see it again.

  13. Here is what’s gonna happened.
    There is no way Columbus will be 0-2 after next game playing Union. We are looking at New England game potentially being 0-3. You will hear lot of “Caught off guard” and “unlucky and snake-bitten” for the next few weeks. This one game only confirmed what I’ve been saying for a months about coaching staff. Like somebody said Jim would make Barcelona look like rec league team. We need real coach. In Earnie I trust.

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