Daily news roundups

Union bits, Bethlehem bits, Academy bits, Pulisic, more bits

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

In the Audi MLS Player Index Top 20 for Week 3, CJ Sapong comes in at No. 3, Leo Fernandes at No. 14, and Fabinho at No. 19.

Sapong and Fabinho were named to WhoScored.com’s MLS Best XI for Week 3.

Andre Blake comes in at No. 6 in Bleacher Report’s MLS Player Ratings (warning: sideshow). Sapong comes in at No. 17.

Blake was a nominee for MLSsoccer.com’s Save of the Week but lost out to Houston’s Joe Willis in the new unwieldy and not very user-friendly bracket system.

Speaking of Blake, the schedule for the 2016 Caribbean Cup has been announced. Jamaica enters the tournament in Round 3 with games on Oct. 3 and Oct. 9. Fifth place playoff games are scheduled between Nov. 7-13 with the final round strangely taking place in May of 2017. In case you’re wondering, the Union face NYRB on the road on Oct. 1 but then don’t play again until Oct. 16 when they host Orlando.

Lancaster Online notes Keegan Rosenberry’s selection to MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week.

A few headlines to give a sense of how the Union’s strong start is being framed locally:

  • From Kevin Kinkead at Philly Voice: “Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Union may actually be pretty good this season”
  • From Andy Jasner at Philly Soccer News: “Danger men: Union confidence growing as season progresses”
  • From Heather Reppert at Brotherly Game: “A new era of optimism can begin for Union fans”

The Monitor catches up with former Union man Eric Bird, who is now with USL side Rio Grande Valley FC.

Bethlehem Steel FC

The Allentown Morning Call reports on how Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke wants his players to understand the legacy of the team’s namesake. “If we embody the city a little bit, I think that will be a huge advantage. If we can take the steelworker mentality and apply it to the field, we should be able to replicate their success, and then some.”

The story of the original team resonates with midfielder Bolu Akinyode, who came to the US from Nigeria when he was 9: “They were a group of immigrants, and that was the biggest thing to me. I fall in that category. I’m an immigrant, so it’s fitting for me to play here. To think about that long history, and here we are being able to carry that on our back, is pretty awesome.”

At the USL website, Bethlehem defender Mickey Daly makes a list of five defenders to watch in 2016. (Former Union man Austin Berry, now with FC Cincinnati along with Antoine Hoppenot and Jimmy McLaughlin, is another, as is former Harrisburg City Islander Bilal Duckett.)

Soccer America’s USL season preview names Bethlehem forward Corey Burke one of the league’s key offseason moves. (Former Union man Austin Berry going to Cincinnati is another.)

Brotherly Game has a season preview.

At the Union website, video from Bethlehem’s jersey unveil last week.

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union Academy (1-1-1) completed group play in the Premier Division of the Generation adidas Cup on Tuesday with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Tokyo FC. The winner was this nifty bit of quality from Anthony Fontana:

Local

Individual tickets for the Copa America Centenario went on sale on Tuesday. Looks like there are still plenty of tickets for the three games at the Linc, including the US-Paraguay game on Saturday, June 11.

Sacramento Republic blog Indomitable City has a season preview for Harrisburg City Islanders.

Former Reading United goalkeeper Alex Bono, now with Toronto FC 11, makes the list at the USL website of five goalkeepers to watch.

USL president Jake Edwards talks expansion.

MLS

Kaka has tweeted former Sao Paulo and Brazil teammate Julio Baptista will be joining Orlando City.

At ESPN, the latest anonymous poll of MLS players is out. Some interesting takes on questions such as is the standard of play improving, will expansion dilute the player pool, promotion/relegation, and more.

According to the poll, Mix Diskerud is the most overrated player in the league, followed by Jozy Altidore, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, and Steven Gerrard. The most underrated players are Dax McCarty and Darlington Nagbe (tie), Fabian Castillo, Diego Chara, and Kellyn Acosta.

Soccer America on why MLS will not take off during FIFA international breaks: “The problem MLS clubs have is their heavy component of midweek games. Compared to the Bundesliga, the only major European league that also plays a 34-game schedule, MLS plays more than twice as many midweek dates.

MLS is once again the most diverse major professional league in the US, according to the birthplace of players.

The Guardian wonders why MLS doesn’t recruit more players from Asia.

From the Star Tribune: “St. Paul officials have agreed that taxpayers will cover infrastructure improvements around the proposed soccer stadium and forgo property taxes at the stadium site — and some City Council members say that’s enough.”

The NASL will continue its partnership with broadcaster One World Sports in 2016. This season, the Game of the Week broadcast will be paywall free and available on the network’s website regardless of whether you are subscriber.

NASL commissioner Bill Peterson talks expansion.

US

If he recovers from an illness, Hershey, Pa.’s Christian Pulisic, who has never played above the U-17 level for the US but has broken into Dortmund’s senior team, will join the senior USMNT in Columbus next week after the first World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. In related news, Pulisic’s cousin, US youth international goalkeeper Will Pulisic, will postpone joining Duke to play in Dortmund’s youth system for 2016-17. He will retain his college eligibility unless he signs a professional contract.

Goal.com considers whether it is too soon for Christian Pulisic to join the senior USMNT.

ASN takes a look at the US U-23 MNT squad that will face Colombia in the Olympic qualification playoff series.

The roster for the USWNT’s upcoming matches against Colombia, including the sold-out game on April 10 at Talen Energy Stadium, has been announced. On the roster is Ashley Sanchez, the forward and captain of the US U-17 WNT.

In Dallas Cup play, the US U-20 MNT fell 2-1 to Fulham. The Union Academy’s Auston Trusty assisted the US goal.

At the Mondial Football de Montaigu tournament in France on Tuesday, the US U-17s drew 1-1 with Brazil. The US faces the England U-17 team on Thursday.

Media Post reports, “Brands are expected to spend $333 million sponsoring Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer and other North American soccer leagues, teams and events this year — up 9.2% from 2015.”

2016 International Champions CUp fixtures have been announced. This year’s competition will feature no MLS teams, presumably because of the schedule congestion that will result from the break for the Copa America Centenario.

Elsewhere

Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, UEFA executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete said of the upcoming Euros, “We can’t exclude the possibility of playing behind closed doors as we cannot exclude terrorism.” However, the Press Association now reports, “UEFA has insisted there are no plans to play matches at Euro 2016 behind closed doors in response to the increased security threat.”

The friendly between Belgium and Portugal scheduled in Brussels for March 29 was was at first cancelled “‘for safety and precaution’ at the request of the city of Brussels,” and has now “been moved to the Portuguese city of Leiria from Brussels because of the deadly attacks.” The Belgium team, who has not trained for a second consecutive day after canceling today’s session, had a friendly with Spain cancelled after last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Reuters reports: “FIFA’s ethics watchdog has started formal proceedings against six individuals, including Franz Beckenbauer, over the awarding of hosting rights to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, world soccer’s governing body said on Tuesday.”

Also from Reuters: “Costas Takkas, former secretary-general of the Cayman Islands Football Association, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to U.S. charges that he participated in bribery schemes under investigation at world soccer’s governing body, FIFA.” The report notes Julio Rocha, former president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation and the last remaining FIFA official in Swiss custody, had his extradition appeal turned down by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, although he still has 10 days to make an appeal with Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court.

37 Comments

  1. The Realist Brian says:

    Just saw on Twitter that starting Union Academy 16yr old center back and USYNT player Mark McKenzie signed with Montreal’s USL team. That is strange, losing a kid to lower level USL teams. Any info on that Ed?

    • Got a link?

      He was in line to possibly play some for Bethlehem Steel this season.

      • The Realist Brian says:

        Not sure how to post the Twitter link, but I have Matthew Real’s tweet:

        Good luck to my bro @Mark_ThatKid heading to Montreal to start his usl career! Good luck bro. Do work ⚽️

      • The Realist Brian says:

        False alarm, he is traveling with the Steel to play in Montreal this weekend. That is great news for him!

      • From bad news to great news. Ha. It’s great to have Steel as a pathway for these academy kids.

  2. pragmatist says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m not a huge fan of Pulisic jumping to the senior team. It will be accompanied by the usual hype-train that will gain steam and eventually reach an unattainable level, if history is any guide.
    .
    Let him go to the U-23’s. Let him play with Miazga, Carter Vickers, Gil, Morris, and Vincent. These guys are the future. Let them grow as a group, instead of forcing the issue.
    .
    Let’s see if we can get this right. JK’s tenure has been less than fulfilling. Hopefully they can turn it around with the batch of talent on the U23/U17 rosters.

    • The Realist Brian says:

      I don’t have a problem with it. He is a talent, and from all accounts is very, very grounded. Most likely he would likely attend the game and probably not play. I am of the mindset that if they are young and talented, let them prove it. Look at Pugh and Sanchez, and further back Donovan and Beasley. We haven’t had that young of talent on the men’s side, so I welcome it.

    • This is a tough one for me. Where I agree with the almost inevitability of over-hyping, I think the kid deserves the opportunity. Then on the other hand, I have no confidence in J.K. and his ability to help Pulisic progress his talents. I’m not even confident that J.K. won’t screw up his progress. Then again, Pulisic has been able to deal with the challenges thrown at him, and succeed. I’m glad I’m not making the decision.

      • pragmatist says:

        My main thinking is in regards to the future. Aside from the dangers of over-hyping the kid, it seems that the U23 squad is stacked with quality talent. How about we let them come up together and form our own version of Manchester United’s Class of ’92. There is more potential in that U23 group than currently exists on the senior team. Cultivate that, and reap the rewards as they enter thier prime.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        Klinnsman will see Pulisic in camp and immediately convert him to CB. What could go wrong?

      • Now this is funny. And a nightmare scenario that I wouldn’t be surprised if Klinnsman pulled.

    • If he’s good enough to get some starts in the Bundesliga for an excellent Dortmund team, he’s def ready to have a go in CONCACAF qualifying. He’s earned the hype the right way coming through a top-notch youth academy.

      But to your point on his U-23 peers: Bring them all up and let them ball! Tired of the 30+ crowd on the USMNT.

      • pragmatist says:

        Now that’s an idea I can get behind! Fire all the senior players and throw the kids into the fire!

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Been arguing this or a year. 100% agreement. Keep Bradley, Dempsey, Johnson one or two others…
        .
        Vet the youth in a run up to WC ’18.
        .
        As for Pulisic… He’s playing in Europa league and seeing time in arguably the best top down league in the world. He’s definetly ready for spot MNT training and CONCACAF and friendlies.
        .
        Our perception and Ass Clown Media will not faze him at all. The Yellow Wall now that’s a different kind of intimidation.

      • pragmatist says:

        I just don’t want him poisoned by the underachievers on the Senior team. Or crushed by Julian Green-like hype.

      • I understand you being protective of him, but in this sport 18-21 is when breakthroughs happen, not 25+ like American sports with a college system. And like El P said, he won’t be intimidated by US media. He plays in Dortmund where they eat, breathe, and sleep footie. US media prob has no idea who he is anyway. As for Julian Green, Pulisic has actually played and earned it. Green was brought up to the MNT without one senior league appearance if I remember correctly. Think he only had a 5 min cameo in Champs League game.

      • pragmatist says:

        I am protective, based on the past. But I also like the idea of bringing up a “Team” as opposed to individuals.
        .
        I see a unique opportunity in American Soccer history where we have potential world-class players in our U23 group. If we can get them as much chemistry together as possible as a group, I think it will show long-term benefits.
        .
        It won’t happen. But I think it would allow the US Program to take a giant leap forward.

    • i thought i read somewhere that the reason he was called up to the senior team was that dortmund wouldnt release him for the u23s

  3. Zizouisgod says:

    Copa America tickets are way overpriced. They’re not getting any of my money.

    • I paid $50 a ticket. Not too bad. Did not look at the individual tix price though.

      • Cheapest I saw available was $60 in the nosebleed. Not completely horrible. But I wouldn’t shell out for the lower levels.

      • after fees, mine were $57 for endline 200 level.
        bought cheap. my logic: if they’re as poorly attended as USA at PPL last year and Roma vs Inter Milan at the Linc, then i’ll move anywhere i want

  4. If you would all be curious the kind of coach Brian Kleiben is notice his LA Galaxy team playing in the Championship Division of U17 GA Cup Tournament in Frisco, TX. Notice his team has sustained two excellent draws in 2 games against the likes of River Plate, Aspire…. some other heavy hitter programs… this is the part when I tell you his team is a bunch of 15 yr olds playing up in the tourney.
    .
    I am curious when looking at the U12 teams…why the Union is not represented.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    The Blake situation in the fall could get interesting. It looks like World Cup Qualifying for UEFA in October is from the 6th to the 11th (CONCACAF doesn’t have October qualifying) so that’s an international window where the Union would have to release him. I don’t know about the 3rd-5th since that’s probably before the window. My guess is that he will play against NYRB as long as the game means something to the U (the eternal pessimist in me still worries that it won’t be meaningful).
    .
    November shouldn’t affect the Union since the first two rounds of the hex are scheduled for 7-15 November. That means MLS will likely take that weekend off from the playoffs which shouldn’t be a problem but what happens if a country qualifies for the hex but is also in the playoffs for the Caribbean Cup?

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    I don’t see it mentioned in the article above, but according the Union’s website, Curtin’s weekly press conference is at 12:30 today.

  7. I don’t like it anymore than you and the uneasiness I feel regarding the Euro’s grows monthly… but I am pretty uncertain the games cannot be played without attendance. Even as I purchased tickets to each game played for the Copa in Philadelphia this summer.
    .
    It would be an implicit sign of defeat… the Fear of Terror will have met its goal. It needs to be left to each and every person attending a game to carry a level of vigilance and responsibility for their choices but the people simply have to have the choice still.
    .
    I remember climbing on an airplane destined for Disney on Christmas morning with everyone in this world that mattered to me and a carry on knot in my stomach and throat, a migraine that didn’t ease until two days before we left…. had nothing to do with mechanical issues as in decades past but had everything to do with the New Notion of Wrong Place Wrong Time and the idea I willingly choose to put my family in a possible life ending situation.
    .
    I remember being uneasy every hour as an RN working for a city hospital network during the Pope’s visit.
    .
    We check every auxiliary exit point in an buildings entered now, how could you not.
    .
    We are versed in Run. Hide. Fight… it is the new air raid way of life.
    .
    But we have to move forward in this new normal… with EVERY single person prepared to be vigilant and on the look out for the greater whole… have to move forward with life.
    .
    You know the world has changed when a civilian carrying a sidearm sits next to you in a cafe and you feel a strange sense of calm, comfort and peace.

    • pragmatist says:

      Feels like profiting off of tragedy at the moment. Let some time pass and see if he still feels that way in a few months.
      .
      That said, I can’t blame him. If I was living there with my young family, I’d find a safer place to follow my career, too.

      • I know it feels a little…disrespectful?…to talk about it now but it is a reality and one that could impact the MLS. Many foreign players have come in already and have cited living in the US as one of the reasons for the move. Safety could be becoming an ever more important factor for many players in their career decisions and that could lead them to the MLS.

      • pragmatist says:

        I hear ya. And I agree that living in the US has been a great draw for many players, particularly Eastern European and South American players who see safety and a steady check as nice incentives.
        .
        This one does feel slightly disrespectful, but I also understand the reason to bring up the topic. It will be curious if he is alone, or the beginning of a trend.

      • old soccer coach says:

        What is the probable explanatory connection among the following three items?
        .
        Ukrainian Civil War – Ilsinho – Philadelphia Union:

    • old soccer coach says:

      three hammies to three central defenders in one game would tend to do that.

    • Thanks for the link. I like how that site covers their team without ever using the phrase “Red Bull.” Gotta admire their persistence.

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