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“Character and grit”: Union news and more

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

They do not give up.

In the span of four days, Philadelphia Union went down a goal late on the road. On Wednesday, it was a dubious goal from Orlando in the 71st minute that saw the Union in deficit. Four minutes later, Ken Tribbett scored the equalizer, a MLS rookie who had never scored a MLS goal.

On Saturday, a Colorado goal in the in the 87th minute saw the Union behind 1-0. Five minutes later, it was Brian Carroll who rescued a point with a lovely left-footed finish, a 34-year-old veteran who hadn’t scored a MLS goal since July 12, 2013. It was the first point Colorado has conceded at home all season having won its previous six games.

Forget about whether or not the Union “deserved” a point in Colorado. Because, once again, the Union showed the kind of character and grit (as Jim Curtin put it in his postgame press conference) that not only has been absent for far too long, but is the mark of a truly good team.

During the course of the Union’s now seven-game unbeaten streak, Curtin has repeatedly stressed the team the team still has a lot of work to do before it is the team he and Earnie Stewart envision. And in truth, that the unbeaten streak includes five draws and only two wins is ready indication of that. But every Union fan knows among those draws and wins are games that Union team’s of the past would have dropped, and it is becoming harder and harder for those who doubt the 2016 Union “are for real” to continue to do so.

There is one game in the league to be played before MLS takes two weeks off from league play for the Copa America Centenario, Wednesday’s home game against Columbus Crew. With it comes an opportunity not only to take a four-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference table but to further cement the Union’s place among the league’s elite.

Of course, the big question before Wednesday’s game is obvious: Who will start in goal now that Andre Blake is with Jamaica for the Copa America Centenario, John McCarthy or Matt Jones? We’ll see what Jim Curtin has to say in his weekly press conference today at 12:30 pm.

Recaps and reports from Saturday’s draw in Colorado at PSP (recap, postgame quotes), Philadelphia Union, Philly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly (Inside Doop), Philly Voice, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game (recap, analysis), Pattison Ave, Philly Sports NetworkProst AmerikaVavel,  MLSsoccer.com (recap, Union, Rapids),  Colorado Rapids, Denver Post, Mile High Sports, Burgundy Wave (recap, reportSoccer America, MLS MultiplexSport XchangeReuters, and the AP.

From The Guardian:

This is more than just an impressive start to the season. This is more than just a streaky streak. As the campaign rolls into the summer months, when teams’ title challenges are either validated or discredited, the Philadelphia Union now find themselves top of the Eastern Conference following Saturday’s 1-1 draw on the road in Commerce City. Champions are made of more than just a point against the Colorado Rapids, but make no mistake Jim Curtin’s team are for real… Their current arc could take them all the way to the Supporters’ Shield and possibly even further, such is the improvement of the Union in 2016…

At Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, two teams with similarly positive outlets met. Both the Colorado Rapids and the Philadelphia Union boast young former MLS stalwarts as managers, they both overhauled their squads over the winter, with both teams focusing primarily on their defensive records. But whilst the match finished level, it was Philadelphia who proved, more so than the Rapids, that they must be taken seriously.

Power Rankings! At ESPN, the Union remain at No. 2: “Of all the players who could have saved a point for the Union in Colorado, it was Brian Carroll — a player with fewer than 10 goals in more than 320 appearances — who did the honors. Maybe this really is Philly’s year.” At SI, the Union move up three spots to No. 2: “Philly came from behind to earn a point away from home twice this week, extending its unbeaten run to seven games (two wins and five draws). That’s undeniably good, even if the equalizing goal scorers were especially weird.” At Soccer America, the Union move up one spot to No. 3: “Twice the Union rallied on the road to get a tie and both displays were commendable.”

After Saturday’s draw, the entire Union team stayed after the game to watch the Union Special Olympics team play their Rapids counterparts. At the Rapids website, lineups for each team.

Tranquillo Barnetta’s strike against Orlando was up for Goal of the Week but he was eliminated by Kevin Molino’s equalizing goal for Orlando over NYCFC.

The Brotherly Game staff considers who will start in goal against Columbus.

Maurice Edu was on Good Morning America on Monday, along with David Villa and Charlie Davies.

Union color commentator Peter Pappas tells Philadelphia Style Philly is a Copa America host city because of Union fans: “Without Major League Soccer in Philadelphia, Copa was not coming here. I think it speaks volumes for what the fan base here has done…Philly soccer fans have evolved and proved their worth. They deserve to have the Copa America here, and they’ll attend it well.”

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem (10th place, 13 points, 3-3-4) drew 2-2 on the road with Rochester (6th place, 15 points, 4-2-3) on Saturday after coming from behind to go ahead 2-1 with goals from Ryan Richter and Mickey Daly. The Rhino’s equalizer was scored deep in stoppage time in the 94th minute. Bethlehem have now not won on the road since the season opening win over Montreal, while Rochester extends its home undefeated streak to 24 games. Recaps from Bethlehem Steel, WFMZ, Unauthorized Bethlehem Steel FC Blog, Noise NationPhilly Soccer News, Brotherly GameUSLsoccer.com, Rochester Rhinos, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, WHEC, and The Bent Musket. Photo gallery at USA Today.

Bethlehem’s lineup for the game was:

Samir Badr; Ryan Richter (C), Mickey Daly, Auston Trusty, Matt Real (Nick Bibbs 83’); Bolu Akinyode, Derrick Jones; Jamie Luchini (Josh Heard 75’), James Chambers, Gabe Gissie (Fred 90’); Seku Conneh (Cory Burke 72’)
Substitutes not used: Andrew Verdi, Mark McKenzie, Raheem Taylor Parkes

This is the first BSFC regular season lineup not to include a Union player. Bethlehem hosts NYRB II on Sunday.

Seku Konneh has been called up by the Liberian national team for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Togo on June 5. Front Page Africa reports he is expected to arrive in Freetown on June 1.

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union U-13/14s crushed Prince William Courage in Virginia on Saturday, 6-0. Evan Lamarca had a hat trick, with individual tallies from Jason Aoyama, Nicholas Blacklock, and Maxwell Owens.

The U-15/16s and U-17/18s were off from US Soccer Development Academy play over the holiday weekend but all three teams host DC United at YSC on Saturday to close the regular season.

Harrisburg City Islanders

Harrisburg (9th place, 13 points, 4-6-1) fell 2-0 on the road to FC Cincinnati (3th place, 20 points, 6-2-2) on Saturday. Some 16,097 were on hand for the game. Recaps and reports at USLsoccer.com, FC Cincinnati, Cincinnati.com, Journal-News, WCPO (takeaways, photo gallery) and Cincinnati Soccer Talk.

Harrisburg is on the road again on Wednesday to face NPSL-side Chattanooga FC in third round US Open Cup play.

PDL

In their home opener on Saturday, Reading United gave up a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with NYRB U-23s. Both New York goals came after the 82nd minute. For Reading, Paul Marie scored his third goal of the season and Brett Campbell scored his second goal in as many games.” Recaps at Reading United and Reading Eagle. Reading is on the road this weekend to face perennial rival Ocean City Nor’easters.

A Chevaughn Walsh hat trick saw Ocean City defeat Evergreen FC 3-0 on the road on Saturday. Recaps at Ocean City Nor’easters and Press of Atlantic City.

With the weekend’s results, Reading is second place in the Mid Atlantic Division (7 points, 2-0-1), and Ocean City is in third place (6 points, 2-1-0). Lehigh Valley United Sonic, who had the weekend off, are in last place (0 points, 0-2-0).

Local

The Eagles have confirmed talks are underway for a Scottish Premier League match between Dundee and Celtic at the Linc. More at CBS Philly.

West Chester United lost its semifinal game against Chicago Fire U-23s 4-1 at the National Amateur Championships on Friday in Chattanooga. In the third place game on Saturday, West Chester fell, 8-3. Chicago went on to win the final with a 21 extra time win over Chattanooga FC.

Philadelphia Neighborhoods talks to Kensington Soccer Club’s Jim Hardy.

6abc has a report, and Getty Images has a photo gallery, from Friday’s opening ceremony.

Philly Sports Nation weighs in on the recent Philly.com story about a possible Philadelphia NASL team.

MLS

The Eastern Conference race drew tighter with the weekend’s results, with only four points separating first place from eighth place. First place Philadelphia (20 points, 5-3-5) came from behind to draw 1-1 on the road with Colorado, the first point the Rapids have conceded at home this season. Second place NYRB (19 points, 6-7-1) defeated sixth place Toronto (16 points, 4-5-4), 3-0, with Bradley Wright-Phillips scoring a hat trick in the first 27 minutes of the game, the quickest ever from the opening whistle in league history. A stoppage time free kick goal from Didier Drogba saw third place Montreal (19 points, 5-4-4) come from behind to defeat Los Angeles 3-2, ending a  six-game winless streak. Fourth place NYCFC (18 points, 4-4-6) gave up a two-goal lead, including a stoppage time equalizer, to draw 2-2 with seventh place Orlando (16 points, 3-3-7). Fifth place DC (16 points, 4-5-4), defeated Kansas City 1-0 on the road with a goal in the 86th minute. Eighth place New England (16 points, 3-4-7) came from behind to defeat Seattle, 2-1. After coming from behind to score four goals, including a hat trick from Ola Kamara, ninth place Columbus (14 points, 3-4-5) outlasted Salt Lake to win 4-3. Last place Chicago (11 points, 2-5-5) came from behind to draw 1-1 with Portland.

In the Western Conference, first place Colorado (28 points, 8-2-4) drew 1-1 with Philadelphia. Second place Dallas (27 points, 8-4-3) drew 0-0 on the road with sixth place San Jose (20 points, 5-3-5). Third place Vancouver (21 points, 6-6-3) came from behind to draw 1-1 with last place Houston (12 points, 3-7-3) in a game that saw both teams finish with ten players. Fourth place Salt Lake (20 points, 6-4-2) fell short in a 4-3 road loss to Columbus. Fifth place Los Angeles (20 points, 5-2-5) lost 3-2 on the road to Montreal. Seventh place Kansas (17 points, 5-8-2) lost 1-0 at home to DC. Eighth place Portland (16 points, 4-6-4) drew 1-1 on the road to Chicago. Ninth place Seattle (13 points, 4-7-1) lost 2-1 on the road to New England.

The draw for the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League took place on Monday. Portland is in Group B with CD Dragon (SLV) and Deportivo Saprissa (CRC), Vancouver and Kansas City are in Group C with Central FC (TRI), NYRB is in Group F with Alianza CF (SLV) and Antigua GFC (GUA), and Dallas is in Group H with Real Esteli (NIC) and CD Suchitepequez (GUA). The group stage will take place August – October, with the first place teams advancing to the quarterfinals.

ESPN on the “intrusive ownership” at NYCFC and Orlando City.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports Minnesota United is in talks to play its debut MLS season at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Meanwhile, the team has released new renderings of the stadium it wants to build in St. Paul.

Detroit Free Press reports, “A month after billionaire Dan Gilbert pitched Wayne County’s infamous jail construction site as the potential $1-billion home for a Major League Soccer team, county officials say they are still waiting on Gilbert and fellow billionaire Pistons owner Tom Gores, to approach them with a new offer to make it happen.”

NWSL

First place Chicago (14 points, 4-1-2), now undefeated in six games, drew 1-1 with sixth place Sky Blue (8 points, 2-3-2). Second place Portland (13 points, 3-0-4) drew 0-0 at home with seventh place Seattle (8 points, 2-3-2). The game between third place Washington (13 points, 4-1-1) and eighth place Houston (7 points, 2-3-1) was postponed due to severe weather. Fourth place Orlando (12 points, 4-3-0) fell 2-0 on the road to ninth Kansas City (7 points, 1-4-2), who won their first game of the season. Fifth place Western New York (12 points, 4-3-0) thumped last place Boston (3 points, 1-6-0), 4-0.

US

The US concluded its preparations for the Copa America with a 4-0 win over Bolivia. Among the goalscorers was Christian Pulisic, who tallied his first senior US goal (PSP, US Soccer (recap, quote sheet), Kansas City StarWashington Post, ESPN, ASN (recap, analysis), Goal.com, Pro Soccer Talk, and the AP.

Player ratings at ESPN,  MLSsoccer.com, ASN, Soccer America, Pro Soccer Talk, and Goal.com.

With the warm-up games now finished, the focus at Los Angeles TimesSI, Goal.com, and The Guardian  now turns to the start of the Copa America Centenario. ESPN has a preview of the USMNT’s group, Group A.

Poor attendance was a feature of the warm-up games (the last four USMNT home friendlies have drawn less than 10,000 a piece). While scheduling may have been a factor, we all know the increasingly ridiculous prices the federation is charging for tickets is a big reason. More at Stars and Stripes FC,

Washington Post reports plans for the USWNT to play a friendly at RFK before the start of the Olympic tournament have fallen through: “The federation apparently became uneasy about trying to draw a big crowd for a celebratory match that, because of the TV slots offered, would have to start at an imperfect time: Fri., July 22 at 9 p.m. ET or Sun., July 24 at 11 a.m. ET.”

Pughlisic!

The US U-17 GNT will face Paraguay, Ghana, and Japan in Group D at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, which is being staged from Sept. 30-Oct. 21.

Gilt Edge Marketing on the positives and negatives surrounding any attempt to raise the US Open Cup to the status it deserves.

Elsewhere

ESPN reports, “The Argentine FA (AFA) has threatened to pull the nation out of the Copa America Centenario after accusing the government of ‘clear interference.'”

The AP reports, “FIFA’s new top administrator, United Nations official Fatma Samoura, has met staff in Zurich for the first time and will start work on June 20.”

Also from the AP: “An alleged plot by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to oust the official who oversaw the salary offer he refused to accept has been dismissed as ‘ludicrous’ by world football’s governing body.”

From Reuters:

As Paris tourism struggles to overcome last November’s Islamist attacks, the world’s most visited city faces a new threat: a wave of protests and further planned strikes, tourism officials warned on Monday.

Labor unions have scheduled stoppages that threaten to disrupt transport for millions of visitors and fans hoping to follow the Euro 2016 soccer tournament from June 10 onwards, after weeks of violence-marred street protests against planned labor reforms.

Reuters reports, “French financial authorities are considering investigating how Qatar was awarded the 2022 soccer World Cup, financial prosecutor Eliane Houlette said on Sunday.”

This:

At least 12 Real Madrid fans were killed in Iraq during the Champions League final between the club and Atletico Madrid on Saturday…

The terrorist attack was carried out by four gunmen as the two teams were beginning the penalty shootout after extra time. A similar incident occurred earlier this month when 16 Iraqi fans of Real Madrid supporters’ club were killed by ISIS.

This: “The Mexican footballer Alan Pulido, who was kidnapped and held for 24 hours over the weekend, escaped his captors by disarming and taking a mobile phone away from one of them, then calling the police”.

A World Super League?

11 Comments

  1. I think it is okay to lighten up a bit regarding concern with overvaluing Christian Pulisic…. it is inevitable the media is going to hyperbolize and those in charge of his well being are already making sure it doesn’t become too burdensome- as media access to him is very controlled by JK and TT.
    .
    … watching the highlight of his gol again, I love how he just bounces off the #5 CB of Bolivia and uses that player’s kinetic energy to bound in his own direction ‘into space’ for Darlington Nagbe.
    .
    Since this boy was five years old— this is what Christian Pulisic has been doing— receiving light and bounding in his own direction. He is an electron jumping clouds… a quantum player. Maybe transcendent.
    .
    Just. Enjoy.
    .
    My hope? His club manager TT is settled, successful and staying at BVB– as this continuity will help Christian Pulisic’s career immensely.

    • Oh and as an aside, the article referenced by Rob Usry and Stephanie Yang and about Pulisic is in its typical armerican fascination with size and strength wrong… .
      .
      Yes Pulisic is slight, yes he can benefit from adding his man body (he will), he has ALWAYS been slight though and he has learned to use this to his advantage, I didn’t see him get muscled off the ball against the two Ecuadorian players when he held them at bay with his arms while pirouetting them like a marionette using his left foot to escape.…when again, IMO Christian Pulisic officially announced his presence and intention… to his teammates and those watching with slacked jaw.
      .
      He plays with “Fuck You”– this in an excellent quality.

      • Pachy- What would you say is Pulisic’s biggest area of weakness? Is it still his lack of strength even if it’s not that detrimental? He seems so great technically and tactically.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Im parsing words… just to do it …. cause I try intentionally to stir things up- but the point stands up to scrutiny I think.
        .
        His lack of strength isn’t a weakness if he’s played this way since his childhood. He displayed that perceived weakness in spades the other night against Ecuador fighting off two stronger players back to back all the while toying with them ~ then again against Bolivia when he bounded off the CB into space for the goal. .
        .
        Weakness is relative in soccer. He’s a kid playing against men and always has been playing against ‘men’ learning how to kick their ass with guile and skill and acceleration.
        .
        His greatest area of weakness is just overall continual improvement. It is my opinion, to play at the Bundesliga level, you tend not to have weaknesses only areas for improvement.

  2. Section 114 (Formerly) says:

    Nitpicky, I know, but there are five other games, including ones for DC and NYCFC. Depending on what the light blue yankers do in their game (and what happens against Columbus), the Union could be 4 points clear, 2 points clear, 1 point clear, tied, or in second place come the break.

  3. pragmatist says:

    “Their current arc could take them all the way to the Supporters’ Shield and possibly even further…”
    .
    Slow your roll. Yeah, they’re playing well and in a good spot. But it is this type of elevated expectations that lead to painful crashes.
    .
    One game at a time. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    First place is first place.
    .
    Four points separate first place from eighth place in the eastern conference, four points.
    .
    Given the asymmetry of the schedule, the best statistic for comparative purpose would seem to this non-mathematician to be points per game, but there are commenters more intelligent about mathematics and statistical validity than I among the reporting staff of PSP and my colleagues on the metamorphosing “Cliff of Union Despair” who should be heeded more closely on the point.
    .
    The caveat that accompanies every Wall Street prospectus continues to apply in sports. It reads something to the effect that statistical summaries of past performance do not necessarily project the future accurately.

  5. Raheem Taylor Parkes playing for Bethlehem is very encouraging news for the Academy pipeline!

  6. It gets harder and harder to temper expectations with this team. Really want to just go all in,but am using muscle memory to bring me back. I will cheer at the stadium and yell at my TV. I am just enjoying the ride. Slight smile on my face. Feeling like this is truly the start of better things. Also was very happy for BC to get a goal. When Edu comes back, BC can be forward depth!

    • pragmatist says:

      One easy way to temper expectations – recognize that they have pulled draws from games where they have been outplayed more than a few times. That is both a sign of a team with a lot of heart, as well as a team with holes.
      .
      We expected a playoff team before the season started. But unless we can see more offensive firepower, it will be hard to see this as a trophy team…this year, anyway.

  7. Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

    Pughlisic! Nice Ed.

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