Daily news roundups

“It’s the very beginning of something”: Notes from Curtin’s presser, Cruyff, more news

Photo: Courtesy of NASLjerseys.com

Philadelphia Union

In his weekly press conference on Wednesday (full transcript here at PSP), Union head coach Jim Curtin was in the unfamiliar, if not welcome, position of having to temper the buzz surrounding a team that finds itself tied for first place in the Eastern Conference only months after finishing the 2015 season at 18th in the league, with his remarks peppered with variations of the message “It’s only three games.”

While Curtin took pains to keep things in perspective, he nevertheless made his pleasure clear through his praise, namechecking practically the entire roster for their efforts (and so underscoring the team’s depth), even as that praise was accompanied by the repeated understanding that there is still much work to do and that the team can be better still.

Asked about the team having a better than .500 record for the first time since he’s been head coach, Curtin said,

It’s not a big deal, we’ve played three games. I think there were moments during the interim time where we had put together a decent record; we weren’t good last year, that’s no secret. The numbers speak for themselves. I’ve always been a guy who talks about wins and losses and being judged on that. I know exactly what my record is now as it pertains to that and Open Cup, and where we’re at, but it’s three games into the season, it’s the very beginning of something. We’re going to work towards improving each and every week, holding guys accountable, all the little things that we do in training and, hopefully, at the end of the year when we look up, we’ll be proud of it, and we will have a record that is good enough to put us in the playoffs, where this club belongs.

Asked how the Union might be surprising opponents, Curtin said,

I think maybe the one thing that we caught teams off guard [with] is last year we sat, and dropped, and absorbed a lot. This year, we’ve pressed a lot higher with our line, home and away…Conversely, I think they are maybe a little bit surprised at our commitment to try to play, to open our center backs. Again, the possession stats, the percentage of possession isn’t the big one that matters, the biggest one we look for is possession in the opponent’s attacking third, and we’ve been very good in that regard…the commitment of our center backs to open nice and wide, our outside backs to be very high, and guys centrally comfortable to get on the ball, wingers coming inside and creating numbers advantages…So, a commitment to play would be the one thing that maybe is catching teams a little bit off guard, they might have thought we would just be a team that was comfortable dumping balls in and kind of defending for our lives, for lack of a better way of putting it.

Curtin also emphasized the understanding that early in the season presents an important opportunity to pick up points:

I’ve always thought in this league, as a player as well, when you’re on top of things early on in the year you can get a lot of points because a lot of teams are sifting through new signings and who fits, and who doesn’t work, and trying different things. So, if you have your stuff together early on you can take a lot of points away in the first ten games. That’s what we’re trying to do. We still have a lot of work to do, though.

More from the press conference at Daily News, Delco Times, Philly Voice, and Union Tally.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead observes that Tranquillo Barnetta and Vincent Nogueira were both full participants in training on Wednesday: “Barnetta looked sprightly in short-sided games, while Nogueira seemed unhindered by the ankle injury that kept him out of the previous two matches. If both are healthy for the April 2nd trip to Chicago, manager Jim Curtin will have to choose five starters from a pool of ten first-team midfielders.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin has a fine read on Keegan Rosenberry’s path to MLS and starting for his hometown team in the home opener as a rookie that includes loads a geat comments from family, friends, and Rosenberry himself. The defender says of hearing the Doop song, “For us to hear it three times in a game, that’s pretty awesome, especially after hearing it before and being in the stands. It’s special to go from the outside looking in to the inside looking out. It’s pretty surreal.” Many happy returns.

Rosenberry will be taking over the Union Twitter account today at 12:30 pm. You can ask him questions using the hashtag #AskKeegan.

In SBI’s power rankings, the Union come in at No. 8: “After falling to FC Dallas in Week 1, the Union have impressed mightily in two straight victories…The Union have looked vastly improved to this point, and could be a team to watch in the East as the season enters the summer months.” At Bleacher Report, the Union climb 12 spots to No. 7 (warning: slideshow).

At Brotherly Game, killjoy Jared Young looks over the past five season to show there is no correlation between points earned over the first three games and points at the end of the season. Also at Brotherly Game, Doug Gobrecht on the Union getting points when they’re not expected to.

Brotherly Game’s Eugene Rupinski wants to know who you would start in the Union midfield.

Roomies!

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bookmark this for Friday at 7 pm:

The name of the team’s weekly magazine show on Service Electric Cable TV-2 will be Steel Soccer 360, as selected by a fan vote. The show will air Wednesdays at 5:30 pm (it made its debut yesterday), Thursdays at 10 pm, and Fridays at 11 am. I’m not sure if the show can be found online to view without a subscription.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders unveiled their roster on Wednesday ahead of their season opener on the road against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday at 5 pm (YouTube). At this point, the roster consists of 16 players. More on the roster at Brotherly Game.

Harrisburg’s Jose Barril makes a list at the USL website of midfielders to watch in 2016.

MLS

It’s official: Orlando City has signed Brazilian attacking midfielder/forward Júlio Baptista as a Discovery Signing.

Former Union man Amobi Okugo is on trial with New York Red Bulls, who lost both of their starting center backs to hamstring injuries last weekend. Head coach Jesse Marsch said, “Amobi could be a short-term and a long-term solution. That’s why we have him here, to give him a good look and see how we fit into the way we do things. Still young, had a really good year in Philly three years ago now as a center back. Know that he has qualities that fit there, good on the ball. We’ll look at it.

From Sky Sports: “Tim Howard says he decided to leave Everton to give himself a greater chance of being picked for the 2018 World Cup.”

Empire of Soccer reports the league has trademarked the terms “LAFC Wings” and “The Wings,” for LAFC.

PDL side Albuquerque Sol is looking to build a downtown stadium with the aim of going pro. Says team general manager Larry Espinoza, “The big picture in mind is to go MLS by 2024.”

US

Frankie Hejduk has penned an open letter to the USMNT ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala that begins, “To all my bros on the current National Team, and ends, “Good luck bros. Rock and roll, and remember that we’re in this together. One Nation. One Team.” Brolliant.

It’s a familiar question: “Is Jürgen Klinsmann calling up the right players to the US national team?”

US Soccer talks to Matt Miazga, and ASN talks to Paul Arriola, ahead of the US U-23’s Olympic qualification playoff games against Colombia.

Elsewhere

Johan Cruyff has died of cancer, aged 68. Rest in peace.

From The Guardian: “UEFA is considering a major revamp of the Champions League, which could involve cutting the group stage to 16 teams. The move is being driven by continental clubs’ concern that they are being left behind by huge revenues generated by the Premier League and the revised format could mean smaller teams having a reduced presence in the group phase. Sources at a major Premier League club say the group stage could be split into what would effectively be two mini super-leagues.” ESPN rounds up related reports from the English press.

In a column at the Philadelphia Daily News, John Smallwood calls out UEFA executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete for suggesting the upcoming Euros could be played behind closed doors because of the threat of terrorism:

Nothing that Abete said can be reasonably argued, but now was not the time to put that suggestion into the public domain – not while the rubble is just starting to be cleared at the airport in Brussels.

UEFA should have discussions about crisis situations, but they should be behind closed doors and not publicly where terrorists can use them as propaganda to further their sick and destructive cause.

Fox Soccer on how the thawing of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba could help soccer players in the island nation.

Barack Obama, speaking yesterday about his daughters to a group of young entrepreneurs in Argentina: “They’ve already met one famous Argentinean — His Holiness Pope Francis.  Now they want to meet Messi, but I could not arrange that.” Most powerful man in the world. Not.

Sky Sports reports, “Sepp Blatter will reportedly attend the 2018 World Cup finals as a guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

23 Comments

  1. old soccer coach says:

    A moment of silence in respect for a great player, Johan Cruyff.

  2. pragmatist says:

    This is absolutely poetic:
    “Sepp Blatter will reportedly attend the 2018 World Cup finals as a guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Until next time Mr. Cruyff. Thank you.

  4. ebradlee10 says:

    “Brolliant” Righteous word play dude.

  5. Quality without results is pointless.
    Results without quality is boring.
    .
    We’ll miss you

  6. Lucky Striker says:

    People argue always about who the greatest player was. I suppose there are as many answers as one’s personal history allows.

    I have no argument with myself as to who my favorite player was…….. the reason I fell in love with the game as a child. I’m not Dutch, but there was something in #14 that every aspiring player-or fan – could identify with. So lucky to have seen him play. ’74 : VanBeveren, Cruyff, Rep, Resenbrink, Neeskins, Hahn….. The Dutch Masters: a revelation in orange.

    Soccer’s Rembrandt. If you never saw more than the film, you missed something special.

    I’m reading of his passing today, and I’m gutted. In tears as I write this-coming more and more to grips with my own approaching mortality. I knew he was sick, but didn’t know it was this bad this quick.

    RIP Johan. The game will never be the same.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I have similar sentiments. Although I root for Brazil internationally, growing up in the ’70s we learned that Pele had been the greatest player but that Cruyff had taken over that mantle.
      .
      The news was especially ironic given that just yesterday the idea of bringing Total Soccer to Philly was mentioned in the comments on Dan Walsh’s article.
      .
      RIP, Mr. Cruyff.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      The Cryuff dragback turn became an essential move to any soccer players who grew up in the ’70’s and ’80’s (me being one of those players). A very influential player.

      • pragmatist says:

        That’s my demographic. Yeah, “The Cryuff” was the first move I remember ever being named after a player. And we all practiced that one regularly!

  7. pragmatist says:

    Food for thought…
    http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2016/03/24/exports-aron-johannsson-miss-rest-bundesliga-season
    .
    Johannsson has been ruled out for the rest of the season and is coming off a surgery. This is the type of signing that could make sense in the summer. Bremen will likely take what they can get for him, and we can slowly bring him along and get him geared up for next season.
    .
    That AZ connection could be useful here…

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    And thanks to CPfeif for the link above. This is my Cruyff quote of the day… very poignant for the Union as well – “Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.” Brilliant. RIP, sir.

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