Daily news roundups

Highlights from Curtin’s presser, All-Star Game tonight, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Some highlights from Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference on Wednesday (full transcript here at PSP):

  • Curtin said he is confident the team will bounce back from last week’s US Open Cup loss and the 5-1 mauling in Montreal: “they’re itching to get back on the field.”
  • With the Union eliminated from the US Open Cup, Curtin said “it’s all for the playoffs now, that’s the only thing on everybody’s mind.”
  • Curtin said the team is “still actively looking” for reinforcements in the summer transfer window. He added, “The biggest thing is we’re not going to make a move for the sake of making a move, Earnie has been adamant about that. Our moves will be done to benefit this club, not just to solve an immediate problem and overreact, but also for an eye on the future and how it best benefits the club…the process is a much more thorough one [than it has been in the past]. We don’t want to make mistakes, and I think we’ve gone about it the right way so far this window, and we’re excited to still be actively involved. We’ll look but we won’t make any mistakes that could maybe set us back.”
  • Curtin said the Union’s comparatively disappointing stretch following the Copa America break comes down to one key thing: “We’ve given up too many goals in that stretch.” Curtin said the team is considering going with two “defensive-minded midfielders” for road games: “We’re still going to play the same way at home and be aggressive, we’ll still press on the road, but can we do it now in a smarter way with some more defense first guys on the field?”
  • Curtin admitted, “It’s been a tough stretch,” adding, “We’ve played, I believe, 11 games in 39 days, so you’re playing every third day, essentially, which is tough in the dog days summer.”
  • Curtin said Maurice Edu continues to participate in full training with the team as he continues his recovery from a stress fracture: “Huffing and puffing a little bit and tired but, in terms of the soccer, good. In terms of the change of direction, going into tackles, fighting, looked very good. So, it’s a good step again, I think it’s getting better and better each day. Is he ready for Sunday? No. But, at the same time, the fitness will come the more he’s out there training with our group.”
  • Asked if Edu would get playing time with Bethlehem to build up his fitness before he’s ready to play for the Union, Curtin said, “For sure. For sure…for us to have that option to send Mo down there and get minutes when he’s ready to do that, that will certainly be something that we’ll look strongly at.”

Of course much of Curtin’s comments regarded the signing of Derrick Jones, whom he described as a player for the future rather than one likely to make an immediate impact. Asked where he envisions Jones playing, Curtin said, “For me, he’s a No. 8, a guy who can go box to box, can get you a goal, can play a final pass on a through ball. He has an ability to break up a lot of plays defensively.” Asked to compare him to another player, Curtin likened Jones to a faster version of Columbus’ Tony Tchani.

Asked why Jones was signed now, Curtin said the team had the roster flexibility to do so but also said he thought doing so set an important example to other young players in the Academy and at Bethlehem that if they work hard they too might earn the opportunity to play with the first team.

More from the press conference at SBI. More on the Jones signing at Philly.comDelco TimesAllentown Morning Call, MLSsoccer.comUSLsoccer.com, Pattison AveProst Amerika, Philly Sports Network, and Soccer America.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George considers the importance of Jones signing and the team’s caution in the transfer market and concludes, “if October comes and goes and the Union’s chances at ending their playoff drought fritter away on the fall breeze, the summer’s caution will look a lot like costly inaction.”

At Philly.com, Union Academy director Tommy Wilson says of what the Jones signing represents:

There’s now a pathway to the pros that is clearly visible and in line with what’s happening in other countries. We’ll always produce players who go to college, and through our school we are doing an excellent job there. But we’re a professional club, and the fruits of our labors should be seen in our first team…

We’ve got an ownership group that is prepared to invest in youth development, and a staff with the first team that believe in it and have experience with it…We do have, in my opinion, scattered through the academy a number of players who have the talent to become first-team players — as we should, if we’re doing our job right. If you’ve got a conveyor belt and you’ve got one or two each year, sometimes maybe three or four, that’s a healthy situation.

The MLS All-Stars face Arsenal tonight. How much time will Andre Blake and Keegan Rosenberry get in the game? Will one or both start? Tune in to ESPN, UniMás, or Watch ESPN at 7:30 pm to find out.

In case you missed it, PSP’s Peter Andrews talked to the duo after their first day in San Jose. At the Union website, recaps of Day 1 and Day 2 of Blake and Rosenberry in San Jose.

At ESPN, Noah Davis writes that Rosenberry’s All-Star selection shows the league is moving forward in that fans are voting for more than just big names.

At MLSsoccer.com, a post looking at what it means to Keegan Rosenberry and Brandon Vincent making the All-Star Game roster in their rookie season.

At MLSsoccer.com, a video with the tantalizing title “Would you let Keegan Rosenberry cut your hair? Questions for MLS All-Stars.” Unfortunately, the question is only a minor part of the clip.

At Union Tally, Matthew De George notes the tremendous number of minutes played by this year’s rookies: “Just 21 games into the season, Rosenberry has already set the Union record for minutes in a season by a drafted rookie. Likewise, the Union’s rookie contingent has bested the club mark for most combined minutes in a season by a draft class. In the process, they’re showing that the methodology of Earnie Stewart that prizes building through youth is on solid footing.”

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead breaks down some of the Union’s recent free kick plays.

Union players are the producers, and the victims, in this highlight reel of  the “Best Skills, Nutmegs, Flicks, Elasticos of 2016 so far” at MLSsoccer.com.

The first annual Union Pub Crawl will take place on Saturday, August 13, the day the Union are on the road to face New England.

PDL

At USLPDL.com, a team preview of Ocean City Nor’easters’ opponent in Saturday’s PDL championship semifinal game, Western Conference champions Calgary Foothills FC.

Tickets are available now for Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 5 pm at the Tennessee Avenue Soccer Complex in Ocean City.

Local

At the US Youth Soccer national championships in Frisco on Wednesday, the New Jersey Rush U-13 girls team was defeated 4-0 by Solar Chelsea of Texas. This follows a 5-0 loss to Southern California Blues on Tuesday. The team faces Cincinnati United Premier today.

Lower Merion SC’s Sabertooth Rats U-15 boys team faces Virginia’s McLean 00 Green team today following a 3-1 loss to Chicago Fire Academy on Tuesday, and a 3-2 loss to Santa Clara Sporting Green on Wednesday.

The Lehigh Valley United U-18 team opened their group with a 2-1 come-from-behind win on Tuesday but was defeated 2-1 by California’s FC Golden State side on Wednesday. Evan Vare, the CB East forward who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Pennsylvania in February and who scored the 85th minute game winner on Tuesday, scored in the first minute before LVU conceded two second half goals. The team faces Ohio’s OP Green team today.

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph notes a trio of former Union Academy players — Mo Conde (University of Mobile), John Schroeder (University of Delaware), and Zach Perez (William Paterson University) — have clinched a spot in the U-19 championship with FC Florida. Conde scored twice, and Schroeder once, in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over New York’s Smithtown Kickers. On Tuesday, Schroeder also scored and Perez tallied twice in the 5-0 thumping of Chicago Celtic. The team will face defending champion FC Golden State, who also have two wins, today in what will be a preview of Saturday’s McGuire Cup final.

Patch has a profile piece on Leah Scarpelli, the 14-year-old defender from Brick Township in Ocean County who was just named to the US U-15 GNT roster that will compete in next month’s CONCACAF U-15 Championship in Florida. Her father Craig was a goalkeeper for the US U-19 MNT and played in the 1981 Youth World Cup and later was with Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Minnesota Strikers in the NASL and also played in the MISL.

MLS

The MLS Homegrown team was defeated 2-0 by the Mexico U-20 team on Wednesday night.

It’s the All-Star Game so here’s some obligatory “soccer in the States is really improving” and “you can never rule out a move to MLS” quotes from one of the international opponents, this time Arsenal’s Theo Walcott. Ho hum.

Seattle have signed Uruguayan international Nicolás Lodeiro. The midfielder and World Cup veteran arrives on “a multi-year deal.”

US

At SI, an Olympics preview of the USWNT. More on the team at US Soccer.

Pulisic!

It’s official: ESPN2 will broadcast the semifinal games of the 2016 US Open Cup. New England hosts Chicago on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 8 pm, and the LAG hosts Dallas on Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 10 pm.

In other broadcast news, Fox has released the schedule for its August broadcasts of the Community Shield, UEFA and German Super Cups, and the start of new Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League seasons.

Elsewhere

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young ranks the top 15 leagues in CONCACAF. MLS comes in at No. 2 behind Liga MX, NASL is at No. 5, and USL is at No. 8.

31 Comments

    • That’s a fantastic article. I’ve been completely agnostic in the pro/rel debate, but the more I read, the more I come around to thinking pro/rel really would be a good idea in the U.S. I get MLS’ reservations about investors losing money, but the league is completely missing out on these burgeoning USL teams that have developed remarkable followings without big franchise fees and payments. With all these goals of growing the league in a huge country, why does it not make sense to have two tiers? If the Union were ever relegated, I wouldn’t quit on the team — I’d look forward ( I hope) to promotion. It might also fuel more interest in Open Cup competition, especially if division 2 teams could compete for it. It makes more and more sense to me.

      • pragmatist says:

        It’s all about money. There are 20 owners that paid franchise fees that are in no hurry to risk losing a significant portion of the value of their franchise by being relegated. And the league can’t continue to charge huge franchise fees for the next 10 organizations that they plan to add.
        .
        Competitively, I love the idea. But in the land of the almighty dollar, there is no viable path forward.
        .
        MAYBE in about 30 years, when all the teams are here and have paid their fees, and there is a fully-viable (lasting longer than 15 years and turning considerable profits) 2nd tier league, and TV contracts are up for renegotiation, and the Players Union asks for it…and…and…and…
        .
        So many pieces have to fall in place. It would be great to see, but the odds are incredible stacked against it ever happening.

      • Agreed, this is a good piece. I had grown tired of the pro/rel debate, but the article was very thought-provoking. However, the article completely overlooks the fact that the MLS-USL partnership is based largely on similar models in Germany and Spain, which results in the relationship not really getting a fair shake in this piece.

      • I think the general population may “give up” on the Union were they relegated, but once they climb back up to MLS the fans would come flocking back. Happens all the time. The Phils and 6ers suck now but in 3 or 4 years the Bank and WFC will be sold out.
        I, too tend to be anti-relegation in general, but I do realize it will help encourage teams to remain relevant and spend money, as a relegation to NASL could be detrimental to a team’s economy.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Ted Westervelt lays out a very thorough and inclusive plan that includes MLS and offsets relegation concerns as the pyramid opens and grows and argues that MLS can either chose to be part of or then chose not to be part of the plan… at which point MLS becomes its own league…. For the record Ted’s plan is inclusive for MLS and resolves immediate relegation concerns….
        .
        soccerreform.com
        .

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Well written article and clearly succinct. There are ways to an open pyramid that can be used to get MLS attention and in time make it lucrative and smart money…
      .
      Been arguing this for two years.
      .
      Without some form of ability to move up or down soccer in this country is CAPPED and will always be second rate.
      .
      People who consider themselves fans of the game and want to see it succeed yet do not open their minds to the conversation or more importantly consider it white noise are unfortunately disservicing the game. Sorry, just the truth.

      • El P, I’m a huge fan of soccer and obviously want it to succeed here. I keep an open mind about pro-rel because it has its merits, but I fall in the camp of it’s just not feasible here and won’t be for a long time for the reasons highlighted by pragmatist above.
        .
        Regarding your point about soccer being capped and second rate in this country without pro-rel, I respectfully disagree. .
        For me, the golden ticket is incentivizing youth development by getting rid of pay-to-play and devising a solidarity payment & training compensation system. That coupled with professional clubs scattered throughout the pyramid (regardless of division and ability to move up/down divisions) is what will take soccer to the next level in my opinion. The net of professional clubs developing players is getting wider each year as NASL & USL expand and will continue to grow.
        .
        Hundreds/thousands of youth and professional clubs developing better players, funneling them up the pyramid, and being compensated to reinvest in developing more players is the key for me.
        .
        It’s not that I’m closed minded to pro-rel, I just think there’s ways for soccer so succeed and thrive here without pro-rel being the silver bullet.

      • FYI, I wrote this comment before reading that pro-rel article. Will read that later today.

      • The way I’m beginning to understand the economic argument for pro/rel is that opening the market for pro/rel and unfettered spending will begin to create this system on its own. Investors could buy into a lower tier and grow their team with the promise of moving up the ladder. And the incentive to develop players and academies will happen naturally as teams look for obvious competitive advantages.

        Right now the system is completely closed. If it were open, a team like Cincinnati would be a prime investment interest if it could compete its way into the top tier. Suddenly, if you combine MLS, NASL and USL (-11 MLS owned clubs), you’d have 50 American clubs competing to be the best. Not saying combining the leagues into a single system is necessary, but it illustrates how much soccer is going on in this country right now. There’s plenty going on right now to support two divisions.

        At some point, MLS/American soccer has to take off the training wheels.

      • Jim Presti says:

        It’s essentially free market enterprise at that point. Issue with the current structure is that it’s a closed off franchise system, where buy-in is not earned but purchased with prior approval from current ownership structure.

      • I understand what you and Jim Presti are saying with it being a closed system. I’m not arguing that the system isn’t closed and that the country couldn’t support two or more divisions.
        .
        What I’m saying is there’s other ways for soccer to develop and reach the point we all want it to beyond pro-rel. Pro-rel isn’t the only answer. There’s other ways development and growth of US players, US leagues, and the overall game can happen.
        .
        I thought the article did lay out one of the more well-thought out long-term plans for implementing pro-rel in America that I’ve ever read. The pro-rel argument is intriguing and definitely something to give more serious debate towards.
        .
        I’m not arguing for or against pro-rel here. There’s way too many factors on both sides for me to take a hard stance one way or the other. I’m just saying it’s not the only answer to our soccer development problem.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1 Pre/rel deserves much, much more consideration. Especially given the lack of opportunity in inner city neighborhoods. Curtin even expressed this himself.

    • Scott of Nazareth says:

      It’s a half measure – but – couldn’t MLS go about its planned expansion to 28 and “lock” those teams in with their franchise fees, but additionally expand the league and its schedule with 2-4 more teams?

      That way they could have specific and guaranteed TV markets in place through the current/existing teams of MLS.

      Then use the 2 to 4 team “expansion” as designated slots for “Tier 2” teams to qualify for each year via a pro/rel format.

      • What if those 2 to 4 teams are playoff level teams? Who gets fake relegated to make room for best tier 2 teams? It’s an interesting compromise idea, but I don’t think it works.

      • Scott of Nazareth says:

        This comment probably gets lost in the wash, but let’s say they expand for an additional 4 “flex” spots. They could set it up that if any flex team makes MLS playoffs (or designated points/wins threshold) they will return the following season. The other teams would be entered back into a qualifying tournament/mini-league with NASL & USL winners.

        They could potentially use this as a soft launch for true pro/rel, by implementing a rule that if one of the locked MLS teams finishes rock bottom 2-3 years in a row they could face relegation…

  1. they’re showing that the methodology of Earnie Stewart that prizes building through youth is on solid footing.”

    Not just that, but it shows he has a good eye for talent.

    We had previous years of 2-3 draft picks in the first round. None of been as fruitful as this.

    • While I agree this years rookies are good I wouldn’t say the Union missed in years before. I would argue that they didn’t properly develop the players that had talent. MacMath was thrown in net to early Blake is from 3 years ago draft, Jack Mac was put up top alone not his strong suit etc. The list goes on and on. I think the rookies this year have a clear definition of what they need to do and how they are going to be developed.

  2. Jim Presti says:

    Disappointed that the summary of Curtin’s presser didn’t include the distinctly most important piece of information regarding this club’s ethos and the culture of US Soccer. I’ll leave it here for readers to consider:
    .
    You think of soccer in this country, and I won’t pull any punches, it’s a privileged sport, there’s no question about it. It tends to be — and this is in the country, this isn’t just the Philly area — it tends to be very structured, expensive in a lot of ways. Derrick represents an urban part of the city that’s tough, Derrick grew up tough, and there’s no two ways about it, OK? He has a great family, a tremendous family that’s incredibly happy for him, but his situation wasn’t…he didn’t come from the Main Line and born into…handed things, he earned everything that he’s got. So, I think in that way, he plays to the city of Philadelphia, right? He’s an underdog story, he’s a fighter, he’s a guy that didn’t have it easy and, you know, there’s something to be said for that. You talk about…You could talk for hours about what the US needs to improve on, and this and that, but I think, sometimes, certain guys that come through and have a real chip on their shoulder like he did can leave a bigger mark on the game. So, happy for him again, I can’t stress it enough, it’s a unique pathway that he’s had.
    .
    MLS, USSF, and SUM are doing themselves a huge disserve by ignoring the soccer-first demographics in our inner cities. Open the system and I guarantee teams from these neighborhoods would thrive. MLS is afraid of authentic competition.

    • Jim Presti says:

      BTW I’m a big Curtin fan because of how he speaks publically to media regarding the club, it’s academy, the players, US Soccer, the culture etc. He provides some damn good sound bites and I’m willing to bet a chunk of money that his players respect his leadership. Philly is lucky to have him.

    • It’s probably less to do with MLS itself than the soccer academy industrial complex. I think as the league matures, investing in academies — and doing so in urban areas — will happen as teams use them to build a competitive advantage. And here is where that single-entity structure is a problem: It caps the incentive clubs have for selling players to generate revenue to continue investing in the academy.

      So yes, I agree. And Curtin’s comments are good. Thanks for pointing them out.

      • Jim Presti says:

        The flip-side of the coin is that there are no solidarity payments. The MLSPU absolutely needs to stand up and support solidarity payments. Junior Lone Star is getting $0 for their piecing in developing Jones. MLS will reap all the benefits if at any point he’s sold. No compensation, no incentive to support the growth of soccer in the inner-city.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        —- dead spot on. Derrick Jones and JLS is one part of a cautionary tale for why we are failing our youth.

    • pragmatist says:

      This section from Curtin was so much more important than the Pro/Rel debate. He stumbled through the words, trying not to offend anyone (or everyone). But that phrase “privileged sport” is EXACTLY the problem with US Soccer. If you can’t afford it, you won’t play. If you don’t play, you’ll never develop and we’ll never find our superstar.
      .
      $50 can be a lot for some families to pay, and kids may not play because of that fee. And that is the absolute lowest amount I have ever seen for a league, and that was just a YMCA Rec league for kids.
      .
      It’s a broken, broken system. And at its core, as usual, is money.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Second rate by plan… and when Don Garber says the model works for NBA NHL and MLB I want to poke his eyes out Hammarabi style…. because it is an apples and oranges comparison…

      • pragmatist says:

        I don’t think you can make the blanket statement that it was “by plan.” I think there was zero leadership for decades, and in that time, it became a money-grab, much like AAU has taken over youth basketball. Once there is that much money involved, and people have developed habits and expectations, it is very difficult to turn that ship around.
        .
        To be clear, I think it needs to change, and in a radical manner. But that change will take a monumental effort by a legion of people involved.

      • Jim Presti says:

        And that was precisely my second point regarding Curtin. He’s definitely in tune with the culture and probably has strong personal opinions regarding youth development. US soccer needs and open pyramid, solidarity payments, and a comment to end pay-to-play. Only way to move the dial forward.

      • pragmatist says:

        Curtin’s not alone, but you can tell he definitely sees the problems. And he was doing his best to bite his tongue during that presser.
        .
        What we need is to see guys like Dempsey, Donovan, Howard…the top players of the current and past generation, come out and VERY publicly rail against the situation. As long as all the players remain silent, there is no reason to do anything about it (from the perspective of those in charge).

      • Jim Presti says:

        If I remember correctly, the MLSPU was against solidarity payments because it may take a hit out of their paychecks. But you’re right, the “faces” of US Soccer need to step up. If I was an aging player, I’d be advocating for solidarity payments, start my own program and reap the benefits.

  3. US news this morning:
    .
    Guzan is officially back in the Premiership with Middlesbrough.

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