Daily news roundups

Power rankings and more Union bits, Leicester Premier League champs, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

Power rankings! At SI, the Union remain at No. 8: “The Union have been one of the league’s surprise packages so far this season, and they showed evidence of inexperience in that dominant position this week. The Union had a man advantage and were a goal up against San Jose, but seemed unsure of whether they should kill off the game or try to score.” At ESPN, the Union drop one spot to No. 7: “Disappointment for the Union at home, as they could earn only a draw against the Earthquakes despite having the lead and a man advantage. On the plus side, Chris Pontius already has more goals through eight games that he did in all of 2014 and 2015 combined.” At Soccer America, it’s a two spot drop to No. 9: “The Union remained unbeaten (3-0-1) at home but had been perfect until the final minutes. Holding a 1-0 lead thanks to a fourth Union goal by Chris Pontius and playing 11 against 10, Philly faltered, and couldn’t muster a second goal to reclaim a victory already halfway into its pocket.”

In his weekly stat check article at the Union website, Chris Winkler notes Chris Pontius “is certainly enjoying the resurgence with his new team.” Winkler describes, “The four goals are the most he’s had in a season since 2012 (12) and he’s now scored in back-to-back games for the first time since June of the same year. The four goals put him in a tie for fifth in MLS (with a host of quite a few players including C.J. Sapong), behind Chris Wondolowski, Fanendo Adi, David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco.”

Looking ahead to the Union’s next opponent, Winkler writes at the Union website, “As for the Union’s next opponent, LA Galaxy, they drew 1-1 with Sporting KC. Ashley Cole picked up two yellow cards in less than a minute to leave Galaxy down to 10 men, but LA was able to hold on for the draw. They’ll now (likely) be without Cole, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane for Sunday’s home match against New England. What that means for the quick turnaround on Wednesday against the Union remains to be seen.”

In a post at ESPN recounting what was learned from Week 9, Jason Davis wonders “Who should we take seriously?” and writes, “Philadelphia gets a nod, and bears watching all year long in the East.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Armchair analyst Matthew Doyle has some changes he would make to Jurgen Klinsmann’s 40-player preliminary roster for the Copa America Centenario. Among them is this:

3. Drop one of the goalkeepers and add C.J. Sapong

It’s been a long time since Brian McBride wore the colors, and I miss having a center forward out there who can do Brian McBride things…

Look: We’re Americans. And Americans sometimes need to boot it long.

There will be a time, maybe against Paraguay or Costa Rica, but almost certainly against Colombia, when we’re completely on the back foot and need an easy out via Route 1. Jozy Altidore can occasionally do good work in that situation, as can Bobby Wood. Gyasi Zardes is in that mix as well, though he’s more often played on the wing.

But Sapong excels in that situation. He beasts defenders to win headers like that, which opens up space and chances for the rest of the attack. He’s also a committed and relentless defender, and the second-best passing forward in the pool after Altidore.

Brotherly Game’s Union MVP for Week 8 is Tranquillo Barnetta.

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem makes the “Best of Rest” in the power rankings at USLsoccer.com, which included only the top ten teams out of the 29 that make up the league’s two conferences.

From the USL website: “The USL set a new high for single-day average attendance on Saturday of 5,856 per game, as crowds in Cincinnati, Sacramento and San Antonio led the way.” Soccer America notes 11,318 were on hand for a rainy game in Cincinnati, which is averaging 15,491 fans through three games; 11,569 fans were on hand for the game in Sacramento for the team’s 33rd consecutive sellout; 7,837 were on hand in San Antonio. In case you’re wondering, attendance for Bethlehem’s 0-0 draw on Sundayat Goodman Stadium was 2,018.


West Chester United begins play in the first round of the US Open Cup on the road against Fredericksburg FC on Wednesday, May 11. At TheCup.us, Josh Hakula looks at some of the challenges faced by teams, particularly in the area of travel and rosters, after new rules were introduced for the the Open Division rounds of qualification.

At Al Dia, Martin Martinez has a Philadelphia International Unity Cup related article that looks at how soccer was the avenue for peace between rival gangs in the city’s Cambodian immigrant population in the 1990s.

Tickets for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, May 14 are still available. Click here for details.

We mentioned in Monday’s roundup that the US U-19 MNT defeated Russia 2-1 to win the Slovakia Cup but weren’t sure if Allentown’s Danny Barbir was in the lineup. He was and went the full 90.


Veljko Paunovic has confirmed Senegalese midfielder Khaly Thiam will be joining Chicago Fire, pending a medical and physical evaluation later this week.


In a piece at Philly Voice looking at the USMNT’s preliminary roster for the Copa America Centenario, Kevin Kinkead says Jurgen Klinsmann is the new Chip Kelly for Philadelphia sports fans.

At the Washington Post, Pulisic!

Fox Soccer on how the Copa America Centenario will be the championship of the Americas we’ve always wanted.


At Fox Soccer, Ryan Rosenblatt on what it took for Leicester to win the title:

Remember, this is a season set in motion by a racist sex tape. After Nigel Pearson led Leicester to a spectacular finish to the 2014/15 campaign, he was set to lead the team again this season, but his son James was one of three Foxes involved in a racist sex tape. Leicester gave Pearson the axe as a result and went looking for a new manager.

If it wasn’t for that, Claudio Ranieri would never have been the Leicester manager…It took a racist sex tape. And the perfect hire after. And the rise of a fifth division player. And a star born out of the Championship. And a loss in the right competition.

Reuters reports, “The Court of Arbitration for sport has ordered FIFA to reconsider Gibraltar’s application for membership and submit it to congress as soon as possible.”

Also from Reuters: “Kosovo was accepted as a member of UEFA on Tuesday, becoming the 55th member of European football’s governing body despite strong opposition from neighbouring Serbia, from which it declared independence in 2008.”

The AP reports, “The family of a 5-year-old Afghan boy who received autographed shirts from his soccer hero Lionel Messi was forced to leave Afghanistan amid constant telephone threats, the boy’s father said Tuesday.” Speaking from Quetta, Pakistan, where the family now lives, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, father of young Murtaza Ahmadi, said his family did not want to leave Afghanistan but the threats had become more and more serious and he feared his son would be kidnapped: “Life became a misery for us.”


  1. Congratulations to Leicester City. The very definition of sporting.
    In other news…I love CONMEBOL wanting a unified Champions League of the Americas. Love it. I especially love the idea of MLS teams playing River Plate and Santos and Corinthians… granted we can’t beat Liga MX teams with any regularity… but it is a necessary step and would create a HUGE windfall of both money and exposure and then just maybe…. just maybe… the adequate pressure and full grown league would open up and do what is right for the growth of the game.
    KK piece on Chip and Jurgen is fun.
    For the very reason CJ Sapong missed two sitters this weekend…ah no to USNT call up. Great he holds up play…. for your Route 1 ball Mr. Doyle. Bleh.

    • Jim Presti says:

      The biggest drawback is the travel time and regional conditions, but those to me are excuses from the MLS contingent. American clubs playing against Central & South America’s best would be an ideal tournament – uniting CONMEBOL and CONCACAF

    • Travel from Buenes Aires to Seattle for a weeknight champions league game between league games on the weekends is not feasible. The only way this works is something like a standalone mini tournament of the top 2 teams in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

      The Asian federation also covers a large area. They split their Champions League into east and west zones and only have the final team from each zone meet in the finals.

  2. The Realist Brian says:

    Leicester City couldn’t exist in MLS. I read one player who has stayed at the club won League Two promotion, the Championship and the Premiership. How awesome must that feel?
    And promotion and relegation can exist here in the US. What really surprises me is that most of the soccer people on here are somewhat Liberal/Left leaning (if your not, no offense). It completely baffles me that you would support a system that is wholly supprted by a cadre of rich owners that is designed to keep out competion and prevent a loss of investment. If you are answering that the owners shelled out big bucks to get this going, that is not how investments/taking risks happen in the real world. This completely cronyistic system that benefits rich owners (who many of them also have interests in NFL and NBA teams, and their teams are treated like step-children in a bad marriage) should completely rankle you. We have lived this system the past few years as the Union refused to spend money and ran things very cheaply with poor decision based on money. In any country in the world that has pro/rel (that is 99% of the world-crazy right?), the Union would have been banished to the second division and forced to fight its way back into MLS. How many of you diehards would give up on the team and quit watching because of this relegation? Be honest you wouldn’t, and if you did, you would be a fair weather fan at best. It would have forced the Union to spend and produce better results.
    So, to go back to the original question, why do you support a system that is designed to support Rich owners and keep little clubs out?
    And by the way, an easy way to use promotion/relegation is that teams have to have stipulations for stadiums and season tickets sold to gain entry into MLS, which policy could be set by US Soccer. Germany uses this policy for its divisions, and that league hasn’t collapsed has it. And for the people saying it is impossible to implement here in an existing system, Japan instituted it 10 years ago and their league hasn’t failed. In fact it is thriving. And the size of the US argument I have seen, look no further than Russia with it’s promotion/relegation and successful teams in Europa League.

    • Dude…pound away. So nice someone else is doing it… tires me out… the best part is… truly, so what if Union are relegated, I’m in it for the long haul, if they are a tier II team then that is our reality because it is what they have earned. I’m in it for the growth of the game in the USA across all levels…and for the standard of play to be raised, if Union are a second level team but truly excellent soccer is the byproduct due to an open system and we are able to produce great individual players then I’m all for it. The league is operating at a $100 million annual deficit… It’s just a joke. But before all that happens we simply HAVE to reward local clubs and DA for developing grassroots players. THis is the very first stone to turn… until that happens, until LMSC or Copa or Continental receives a payment for producing a Union Academy player or an equivalent league, we’re barking in the woods alone.
      I appreciate you writing about this… I really do. It is so important. I’m in this thing for greatness. Nothing short of it.
      The only world class talent we will develop will happen abroad.

      • The Realist Brian says:

        1000% on Youth Development payments. It is a sin that MLS has denied this to teams that have developed talent. Another thing MLS has jury rigged against small clubs. Can you imagine PA Classics getting a couple of million in Pulisic gets sold to Barcalona hypothetically? Any team could build fields, equipment, coaches ect to grow the game here in the US. Instead, we have Pay-to-play systems that keep many kids out because of expense. So fucked up in my opinion.

      • I agree pay to play is a total joke and is the biggest thing holding us back in really growing the sport in this country in terms of top players.
        Pro/Rel I disagree with (cool idea though, just not a cure all). Does relegating really cause a team to spend more money? Everything I have seen it looks like the teams just cut players after they get sent down. And other than this year it’s always the top few teams competing to win whereas MLS (and other American sports leagues) the entire league has a chance.
        I truly do not believe that Pro/Rel is what is holding us back. The fact that there are ~12 leagues that bring in more revenue than MLS with the top few bringing in roughly 8 times more and the big 4 sports in America populating the over sports leagues 1,2,4, and 5 spots I think it’s a lot easier to see that (as always) it’s just a money problem.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Honestly, if pro/rel is more akin to free-market enterprise, wouldn’t the supporters of that structure be more fiscally-conservative [not RINO] or libertarian leaning?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m going to suggest that you’ve left out one key component against the argument for pro/rel. In the other countries you mention, football is far and away the number 1 sport. Here there are several other sports competing for our entertainment dollar. If the Union get relegated, do you really think they’ll be able to draw enough fans to continue playing in Talen Energy Stadium, especially during the colder weather? Liberal or conservative, there is still the question of economic viability.

      • I think this is the number one barrier. If I try to explain to my friends why they should support a second division Union, I am confident the answer would be “Lol k I’ll go watch the Iggles.”
        Honest question: If you are a diehard sports fan in Leicester, and your team gets relegated, do you have an alternative for your sports fix?

      • This I understand, and yes it is possible fans would fall away- however it is also completely feasible to assume there are numerous fans in the DelVal area and surroundings who think MLS is a complete joke and not worth a moment of their time or money specifically because of its lack of accountability.
        Yes, I get it, there is a financial aspect to this but the long term benefit and windfall far outweighs the windfall of one solo monopoly getting all the money and dispersing it.
        Lots of sports in America.. lots of sports the world over as well, in a world filled with lots of people who don’t really watch professional sports either…they hike, play, climb are not beholden to the ‘glowing orb’ of television like the US citizen.
        Lots of people in this country and in Philadelphia specifically where footy is the Number 1 sport in the home/culture. Yup. 100%. Your cross section demographic of attendance would change radically… not just your white Swarthmore and CB East crowd. Yup. 100%.
        The product would certainly be supported…though. No open system has ever failed and it wouldn’t here either… MLS likes to make you think it would and its incumbent media ass clowns… but they get to dictate the narrative don’t they.
        Damn, fell for it again…for the record Brian started it today.

      • I don’t think there are that many people in this area that think MLS is a joke…I think they aren’t educated enough to know one way or the other. I really believe they have generations of support for other sports (Eagles, Flyers, whatever) while they are cautious or ignorant about soccer in general.
        Nothing scientific about my view and you may be right that in the event of an open system the money will flow…I just think it isn’t realistic…right now.

      • I brought a bunch of new people to Talen through the promise of tailgating and inexpensive tickets. All of them enjoyed it alot, but have never go on their own since.
        I think it is a matter of not seeing the game as it is. Nowadays entertainment is about instant gratification from sports to music to TV. Everyone wants to see NBA teams put up 100+ points, go to a baseball game with multiple home runs, binge watch entire TV seasons, listen to homogeneous pop music, etc.
        A game that can end in a 0-0 draw? Too many say pass.

      • El P, I’m sorry but you can’t use “…beholden to the ‘glowing orb’ of television like the US citizen.” anymore. It’s just not true. Ask every major broadcaster out there losing ratings daily. Ask Netflix and Hulu and Amazon prime. The days of appointment television are over. The only thing that might be, are sports. This is only because the leagues and owners, with their business models are antiquated and out-of-touch with the next generation. I, myself, rarely watch anything on TV besides sports. I love the Walking Dead, but I never see it the day it comes out, because I hate commercials and I can easily watch on AMC, with ad-blocker, without commercials. Broadcast television, as a medium, is dying. It’s all about binge watching and on-demand.

      • Sports is the only thing keeping the networks alive at this point. Because it’s live and the networks pay ton of cash to keep a single hold on it.

      • I can easily see a point in time in the near future, where TV is all reruns and sports, and no newly created programming.

      • The Realist Brian says:

        To further the point, soccer already has an amazing audience in this country that can’t buy into the bullshit MLS rules and competition format. It’s plastic, and this “parity” bullshit that is being peddled by the media truly isn’t exciting.
        More to the point, how many foreign players have commented that playing in MLS is “no pressure” because the regular season doesn’t mean anything.. That should reason ate with people concerned with US player development.
        On a side note, that is why I could give a rats ass about baseball, when teams are eliminated from the playoffs by July and their games are meaningless for two months?? Or how eliminated NFL games at the end of the season absolutely suck. Yeah, those systems are fantastic and we should all want more of that.

    • I’d like to see a realistic plan of how to reform MLS/US Soccer. Steps and goals. For example, I’d like to see the single entity broken up first. A plan should follow to address these issues and especially to help foster a real youth development system, as others have written above.

      I don’t see, nor do I expect fans to suddenly hold out against MLS. I want to bring my kids (and myself) to professional soccer games and the Union is really my only option. If the NASL could put a new team in city limits, that would be compelling. Nothing is stopping NASL from expanding as far as I can tell…

      • Money is stopping NASL from expanding. Money is always the answer.

      • Why is that? If we want to argue that there’s a shot for grassroots football in the U.S., wouldn’t there have to be enough money and interest to foster some big city NASL teams? What do you need to start an NASL team in Philly? 5,000 fans? A good college field to get started (Penn or Drexel)? Gotta be able to build without needing $500 million or a new stadium build, etc.

      • Well I’m the one arguing against grassroots football in the US. Not that I wouldn’t love it, but Americans aren’t used to that and frankly don’t care enough about soccer for it to really work, at least not for decades.

    • I think pro/rel would be pretty cool…eventually. Once someone can prove that implementing pro/rel would increase attendance across every division, and that there are enough hardcore fans to fill TES (or anywhere) in the event of relegation, I don’t think it’s realistic. Being a hardcore fan myself, I will support the Union all of the way down to whatever division they land in. But there aren’t enough of me out there. I already have trouble trying to bring new fans. Would we be happy in the Union folded after being relegated? I think that would be a real threat.
      Until then I will settle for teaching my future hypothetical kids and grandkids that being a Son of Ben is the only family rule, and if you break it you are going to be disowned. Once we have a few generations of that…then reanimate my body and we can have a discussion. I would bet that is exactly what happened in Leicester (minus the reanimation).

    • Brian, you ask “…why do you support a system that is designed to support Rich owners and keep little clubs out?”. I’d say I’m more left leaning, and in a perfect world, you are right, I shouldn’t be a supporter of the system set up by MLS. In truth, I don’t necessarily think I am, but it becomes a by-product of what I am, and that’s a supporter of my local team, the Union. Honestly I couldn’t care less how much money the league makes. It doesn’t matter to me whether, bad teams, had they been in any other league in the world, would have been relegated to a lower league. Don’t care. The Leicester story is a great one. I appreciate what it actually means for a club of their size to win in a top league. I get it. It doesn’t make me want it here. If MLS failed tomorrow, I’d be a bit upset because there wouldn’t be a Union any more, but for the league as a whole? Meh. There would eventually be another league. And when that league started a new Philly franchise, I’d support them.
      I get that the idea of pro/rel and an open market is what you and el P feel would help develop U.S. players and better MLS over-all. It’s just not an issue that strikes ANY chord with me. So, stand on your soap boxes and preach from the pulpits. Have at it and good luck! I support your passion. For me, I’ll be the one in the back putting my ear buds in waiting for the sermon to be over and the game to start.

      • “So, stand on your soap boxes and preach from the pulpits. Have at it and good luck! I support your passion. For me, I’ll be the one in the back putting my ear buds in waiting for the sermon to be over and the game to start.”
        Awesome quote. I definitely support soccer passion of all colors and would never tell anyone to stop, but I’ll be right next to you rocking nervously back and forth wondering if the Union can win.

      • Why are we acting like Pro/Rel leagues aren’t filled with rich owners too? It’s the nature of big sports. Rich people own the teams.

      • Rich people own the teams in other leagues… yes… just so happens here a rich League owns the teams. Oh and BTW, that league isn’t rich…its operating at a $100 million dollar annual deficit.
        Every team you see play has to have the MLS Crest on it… Every team. This is about decentralizing power… in America that’s what it is ALWAYS about…

      • Do you really believe they are operating at a $100 million annual deficit. I know the don said that and it probably is true on paper, but sports teams are an investment, and a lot of that investment money went to actual things, like stadiums. Their actual worth is going up a bunch every year. The league is rich and will be entering the top 10 soccer leagues in the world in terms of revenue very very soon.

      • Don’t the Premier League teams all have Premier League patches on their sleeves? I think I fall with those arguing against Pro/Rel here in the U.S. I honestly do believe that with all the other sports options for spectators, that many teams would shrivel up and die with relegation. Maybe not NYFC or Seattle or Portland, but Chicago? Colorado? Dallas? Philly even? Good chance of it. The other U.S. based sports have done just fine keeping all teams in tact….and the former laughing stocks of MLB are relative kings again (e.g. Royals, Astros, Pirates). Successful teams draw better attendance, secure better sponsorships, and sell more merchandise. And post season appearances equal more revenue….isn’t there enough incentive out there already? Would I go watch the Union play the Richmond Kickers if relegated to the USL some year? Yes, but I’d much rather see them play DC or NYRB. I’d rather see most teams with a reasonable shot to win each year than a top heavy La Liga or Premier League (Leicester being an exception).

      • As with so many other things, the station of our life tends to shade our perceptions.
        If you have a child operating within the framework All4U, or at a pretty high level, or are surrounded by the levels of the youth game–I wonder if your apathy towards the argument will change.

      • Oh el P, I have no doubt your viewpoint is greatly colored by your situation, as is mine. I have no problem with you fighting for what you feel is best for your children and the game of footy. On the contrary, I applaud it. And yes, if I had a child or children, your damn right I’d want them to have as many opportunities and to have as much freedom in their choices as possible. My point is that the issue isn’t relevant to every soccer fan. Maybe not even most. Every issue needs it’s trumpeter. Just don’t be surprised when people are tired or apathetic to the sounds of horns.

    • “why do you support a system that is designed to support Rich owners and keep little clubs out?”
      Because I know that’s the ONLY way the rich are going to invest in soccer in the U.S. — if they have the guaranteed ROI of a permanent spot in the top league. You tell the Kroenke’s etc that they might end up owning a minor league team, they’ll take their money elsewhere. Soccer ain’t that important to them, unless it brings in a profit.

  3. Does anyone know if WIP talked about LEicester last night or this morning?

    • Unless Leicester was trading draft picks with the Eagles, they wouldn’t make sports radio in this town.

      • 97.5 talked about it, but only in the context of the amazing 5000 to 1 odds in which they did it.
        Gargano addressed it by saying he would talk more about it if he knew more about it … but at the risk of sounding like a fraud, he didn’t address the soccer side of it. Have to respect that.
        The producer -Jason I think- did his best to describe the situation of the last couple of weeks.
        Oh and Gargano also said, that as Americans, we need playoffs.

      • Wow. That sounds like more time than they’ve ever talked about the Union. I know they’ve interviewed guys from the club every so often, but it would be nice to get a little talk about a sports team in Philly that right now is playing pretty well.

      • John Ling says:

        97.5 talked about the Union on Friday, actually. I heard Gargano and Co talking about the San Jose match and what it meant to the standings.

    • Jim Presti says:

      I heard some talk this AM for a few minutes around 6:30AM

    • The Big Ragu gave LCFC a ‘Well Done Well Done’ award this morning on 97.5

  4. If anyone truly believes pro/rel would work for MLS/US Soccer, they aren’t living in reality. Team after team would collapse. Do I want pro/rel… unequivocally: YES. It is just not feasible in the structure of the current MLS. We can talk about it all we want, but it’s not happening. To continue to develop our youth, and academies, and styles/levels of play, etc… is really most important. Yes they are linked (better competition makes players better, etc) but to me, they aren’t dependent on one another.
    If we are talking about letting multiple teams collapse, tv deals disappear, crowds dwindle… and basically starting over, I’m in. But that’s the only way pro/rel will work. I do wonder how many people would stick with it though? Is the league propped up? Sure, but it’s needed right now. I hope there is a day when this is not true but we aren’t there yet. I’m not an MLS kool-aid drinker… I know what this league is. I’m just choosing to enjoy it.
    A more reasonable fight would be to give the NASL 2nd Divison status and the USL 3rd. Then, and maybe only then, when those leagues show they can stand on their own (which again given the structure of the USL, I guess they can’t), can we approach a true pro/rel discussions.
    I agree with a lot of the sentiment above, both in favor and against. But All4U said it best: “So, stand on your soap boxes and preach from the pulpits. Have at it and good luck! I support your passion. For me, I’ll be the one in the back putting my ear buds in waiting for the sermon to be over and the game to start.”

    • Andy Muenz says:

      That points out another difference between here and Europe. How many levels down is the typical development team in the EPL? I’m betting it’s a lot more than 2 (USL) or 3 (PDL) like it is here.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Agreed completely.
        MLS is fundamentally set up wrong on a lot of levels. But given that it’s barely able to buy a beer (21 years old)… this is necessary. We are not a soccer crazed country. It is our 4th, 5th, 6th, most popular sport. Is it growing… yes. But it needs time to grow. Leicester just won their first title in their 133 YEAR EXISTENCE!! Our LEAGUE is 21… that TEAM is 133, think about that!! Baby steps people… baby steps.
        Congrats to the Foxes by the way. Wish I had the brains (or balls, really) to throw a few bucks on them back in August. HA! As a Villa fan, I may have to jump on their bangwagon!

  5. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    We’ll see soon enough how many Americans really want to consistently pay for reserve team soccer in the USL … Check out the attendance figures for New York Red Bulls II sometime … Bayern Munich II are lucky to attract 1,000 fans for a Regionalliga Sued (fourth division) match unless they are playing TSV 1860 Munich II, of course; most often the reserves draw 600-800 people to Saebener Strasse … http://www.fussballdaten.de

    • America does have a strong history of supporting minor league baseball so I agree it will be interesting to see how the “minor league” soccer will be supported.

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