Daily news roundups

Union face DC on Saturday, Curtin says defensive additions a focus, reaction to transfer moves, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

The Union will look to bounce back from Sunday’s disappointing home loss when they face DC United away on Saturday (7 pm, TCN, MLS Live, Direct Kick).

Look for our preview and quick reference later this morning. In the meanwhile, check out the previews at Philadelphia Union (scouting report, seven reasons to watch), Brotherly GameMLSsoccer.com, DC United, Washington Post, and Black and Red United. (DC United acquired Kennedy Igboananike from Chicago during the transfer window. DC United head coach Ben Olsen said, “I brought him in here to score goals.” You will recall DC also brought in Lloyd Sam and Patrick Mullins during the transfer window. Hopefully, that goal scoring for DC does not begin on Saturday.)

At Union Tally, Matthew De George reports from Thursday’s training session, “The Union, Curtin said, are not done in the summer window. Though the MLS secondary window is closed, teams can still add out-of-contract players in the coming weeks ahead of a mid-September roster deadline that is hard and fast. Curtin said, ‘there are a few trialists that will be coming in for the next few weeks,’ primarily on defense. Expect a long-term solution at left back to be one of the top priorities. The Union have one roster spot to play with.”

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jim Curtin said he understands “fans are going to be upset” that Sebastien Le Toux was traded but Colorado’s approach and offer of General Allocation Money combined with the fact that the Frenchman’s contract was up at the end of the season and he would be a free agent led to the trade:

I had a good relationship with Seba. It makes it hard. You have to separate the personal side of things as best you can. It sounds cruel … but we were able to get an offer that made sense for the club’s future…It was a difficult choice because he’s such a legend for the club. It’s not easy. It’s the hard part of the business. But we had to put emotion aside and do what is best for the club. Seba might not see it now, but long term I think it’s what was best for him, as well as the future of the Philadelphia Union.

Curtin praised the character of Charlie Davies, describing him as “a guy that’s mentally tough,” while also pointing to the chemistry that will result from the fact that the forward was both Alejandro Bedoya’s roommate at Boston College and is close to Chris Pontius, with whom he was a teammate at DC United in 2011. He said Davies will most likely backup CJ Sapong as a speedy late sub in games, although he also said he wouldn’t rule out the two playing in tandem: “[If] you are down a goal late in the game and two of them on the field at the same time, it is not out of the question.”

Curtin also said, “The way C.J. plays, he plays so physical and so hard and fights for every ball, there is potential for injury. And I can do a better job of not running him into the ground…When we get off the bus now and it’s C.J. Sapong and Charlie Davies, other teams are going to take notice.”

More from the conference call at Philly.com, CSN Philly, and MLSsoccer.com. Curtin also talks about the transfer window moves on the latest ExtraTime Radio podcast. More on the depth Davies will bring at Delco Times.

Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez says (audio here) the Union approached his club about a deal to acquire the No. 1 spot in the allocation order to sign Alejandro Bedoya, something the fire were considering themselves, last week during the All-Star break:

We considered adding Alejandro’s services very strongly. Pauno had a conversation with him, it went very well and following that conversation Alejandro, through his representation, suggested that, ‘Hey, you know what, Chicago does have something and I wouldn’t mind going there.’ So all of that is the absolute truth.

Philadelphia had inquired about moving up in the allocation ranking previously. We had a few conversations with them as we analyzed the situation and then analyzed Philadelphia’s final offer…Philadelphia inquired about swapping spots in the allocation ranking during the All-Star break and that was prior to our even having a discussion with Alejandro. From that point on discussions come in and out. A few other teams also inquired about trading spots in the allocation ranking, two other teams made offers for a swap in the allocation ranking. I cannot say that they did so with the intent to sign Alejandro or if they had designs on a different player or if they had different designs altogether. We obviously rejected those offers.

As is typically the case, the closer you get to the [transfer and trade] deadline offers tend to increase or people tend to dig in and hold their ground. And as I said, in the end Philadelphia made a fair offer, clearly an offer they were comfortable with and we made the decision that we felt was in our best interest.

The Guardian says Bedoya could be the signing of the season.

At FourFourTwo, Paul Tenorio says the Union “won the summer window”:

The Union, one of the surprises of the 2016 season, just got stronger and look like legit contenders. They did so by replacing a major loss, Vincent Nogueira, with a national-teamer who will add plenty on both the attacking and defensive end of the field. Bedoya’s work rate is such that the Union can plug him in at the No. 8 and know they will get the defensive coverage they want. He will also be the player on the ball as much as Nogueira was during his time in Philadelphia. The Union then also went out and got much needed depth at the target role, where they have depended mostly on C.J. Sapong. Davies will help right away and is a starting-quality forward who can help ease the punishment on Sapong in the final stretch of the year. The loss of Le Toux and a ton of allocation money and draft picks only hurts if these moves don’t work. This is Philadelphia announcing it is ready to contend this year.

Goal.com calls the Union “The clear-cut winners this summer”:

Yes, the Union paid a high price for the services of U.S. national team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, but the reality is he is a serious upgrade and his versatility will give Jim Curtin plenty of options when trying to put together a starting lineup. He also provides a veteran locker room presence on a young team. The addition of Charlie Davies gives the Union the kind of fast forward option they were lacking, and his relationship with close friend and former college teammate Bedoya should help boost the Union locker room.

In a post at Philly Voice reflecting on Sebastien Le Toux’s time with the Union, Kevin Kinkead writes,

There will be a day when Sebastien Le Toux decides to retire. Maybe it’s soon, maybe it’s not. Maybe Seba extends his career in the NASL or chooses to become a coach.

Whenever that day comes, he should be putting pen to paper on a one-day Philadelphia Union contract. He should retire as a Zolo and immediately have his name and number hung at Talen Energy Stadium. He should play a testimonial match with the likes of his former teammates Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, and Amobi Okugo.

Agreed.

More reports reaction to the Union’s various moves at PSP, Philadelphia Union (five things to know about Bedoya, Bedoya on Twitter), Philly.com, Delco Times, Union Tally (where will Bedoya play, Davies), 700 Level, Brotherly Game (analysis, Le Toux), Pattison AvePhilly Sports Network, Prost Amerika (Davies, Le Toux), Playing for 90, Section 215MLSsoccer.com (analysis, video), ESPN, Chicago Fire ConfidentialBoston Herald, and CSN New England (print, video).

The latest episode of MLSsoccer.com’s MLS Insider video series is about Earnie Stewart and how he is transforming the Union.

Andre Blake is one of four MLS players picked by ESPN writers as “ready for Europe.”

Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel hosts Charlotte Independence on Sunday at 4 pm (YouTube).

Charlotte announced on Thursday it has acquired forward Aly Hassan on loan from the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks for the remainder of the season.

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union U-16 team is at the Liga Bancomer International Tournament in Mexico City. They lost their first game in the tournament on Thursday morning to LAG U-16s, 1-0. The Union U-16s face their counterparts from Pumas on Friday and Santos Laguna on Saturday. More at Brotherly Game.

Local

In the latest Top 20 Prospects list at USLPDL.com, Ocean City’s Chevaughn Walsh is at No. 2, with teammate Miguel Jaime at No. 4. Reading United’s Hugo Delhommelle is at No. 17.

MLS

In CONCACAF Champions League play on Thursday night, Dallas defeated Real Esteli, 2-1.

Official (finally!): Dallas has loaned midfielder/forward Fabian Castillo to Turkish Süper Lig-side Trabzonspor “through the end of 2016 with an option to buy.” Goal.com reports that Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo says Castillo left the club without permission to force a deal with Trabzonspor and has had no direct contact with the player since he left.

Orlando has signed defender Mikey Ambrose and midfielder Tony Rocha from Orlando City B to MLS contracts. Orlando had to acquire “the Rights of First Refusal” on Ambrose from FC Dallas in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft in order to sign the defender.

Atlanta has loaned forward Hector “Tito” Villalba to Club Tijuana through the end of 2016.

At MLSsoccer.com and SBI, local lad Zack Steffen talks about how he’s happy to be back in the US with Columbus Crew.

The Denver Post reports former Union man Zac MacMath is frustrated at losing the starting spot in goal for Colorado because of the arrival of Tim Howard and wants to find a new club.

The Courier-Journal reports a study paid for by the city of Louisville “recommends building a soccer-specific facility by 2020 to ensure continued growth of the sport and offers several hypothetical funding options, each of which includes some portion of public contributions.” The 10,000 seat stadium would cost between $30 million and $50 million. More at Louisville Business First, Insider LouisvilleWLKY, WFPL, WDRB, and USLsoccer.com.

The Oklahoman reports Sold Out Strategies, the operating management group of NASL-side Rayo OKC, which is partly owned by Rayo Vallecano, has left the organization and that head coach Alen Marcina has resigned. The report notes, “The relationship between the Spanish club and OKC has been strained for some time. Rayo Vallecano was demoted from the top division in La Liga earlier this year after finishing its season in the bottom three. Shortly afterward, Rayo Vallecano announced its desire to sell some of its Rayo OKC shares.” This Twitter thread gives an idea of how crazy things are right now at Rayo OKC.

US

The USWNT continues group play at the Summer Games in Brazil on Saturday when they face France (4 pm: NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, NBCOlympics.com). Preview at Soccer America.

SI talks to Hope Solo.

Elsewhere

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

The AP reports, “The Nigerian men’s soccer team had its trip to the Rio Olympics delayed by an airport mix-up, forcing the players to take a flight from Atlanta to Brazil on the day of their opening match. The team arrived in the jungle city of Manaus about six hours before the start of its 5-4 victory over Japan…The flight the team finally boarded was on a chartered jet. A representative for Delta Air Lines said it stepped in to help the team get to its destination — free of charge — after learning of the flight issue. The plane normally is used to transport N.B.A. teams, and the same aircraft will fly the United States men’s basketball team back from the Olympics.”

The investigation by FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee has concluded “no violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) has been committed” by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.” More from Goal.comReuters, and the AP.

Want some background on how soccer is part of the ongoing attempts by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consolidate power? Here’s a good place to start.

19 Comments

  1. The Nigeria – Japan game was fantastic last night. After many 0-0’s was refreshing to see a 5-4 score. Amazing that Nigeria started the day in Atlanta and finished it beating Japan with such a score. Also, the S-Africa defense was fantastic against Brazil.

  2. I feel bad for MacMath. He really didn’t deserve to lose a starting job. He’d been perfectly good for Colorado. I still don’t get why that team felt like it needed Tim Howard. Hopefully he gets sent somewhere where he can get a starting job back.

    • Agreed, plus a 0.69 GAA through 16 games is pretty much one of the best in the league. I’ve said this before and MacMath has the ability I just don’t get why teams don’t see it. At 25 he is still young and could clearly be a starting goalkeeper in MLS for a long time. He even has upside. A team that needs goalkeeping stability should sign him to a 4 year deal make him the starter and build from the back.

    • If MacMath does land somewhere else in the offseason, that club immediately becomes the favorite for bringing back Brad Guzan.

    • Didn’t Colorado sign Howard in the MLS offseason, but he didn’t come until the second MLS window opened? So maybe they thought they were going to be much worse off than they ended up being.
      .
      I agree MacMath is talented enough to be an MLS keeper and should be given a chance to be the #1 somewhere though. Feel bad for the guy.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    If you have interest in the recent failed coup in Turkey, the role of soccer in Turkish politics, and the fundamental tension between the secular and the regular (religious, “regular” because the religious follow a rule, e.g., the Benedictine’s follow St. Benedict’s Rule) the article Ed Farnsworth mentions at the end of his post is worth your time.

    • The author, James Dorsey, is always fascinating to read. Great insights into the Middle East and soccer’s intersection with politics and power there. (Amazing during the Arab Spring.) Agreed, the piece that Ed linked to is spot on and worth reading. I read it.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Thanks, OSC. Turkey is a fascinating country and soccer is such a major part of their culture. One of my favorite matches that I’ve ever went to was to see Besiktas in Istanbul. Great atmosphere.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    I was thinking the same the about Seba retiring as a Zolo.

  5. I’d like to find out what role MLS played in the Castillo saga. I certainly makes Castillo look bad, but it also makes MLS . . . yet again . . . look like chumps. Liga MX has been poaching players for years (the Sanvezzo incident being the most testy). When is MLS gonna stand up and tell these other leagues to f*off. You wanna be a big boy at some point you have to standup to the bullies. If not it’s gonna keep happening.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      From what Clavijo and Pareja have said, Castillo forced this issue by leaving on his own without any knowledge of the club. I’m not sure why that he did this, but there clearly must have been a reason for Castillo and his agent’s behavior (eg – more money…wait, that’s gotta be the only reason). Pareja was like a father figure to Castillo so this was a surprise to many.

      I’m not sure what the league or any club around the world can do once the player decides that they want to go. Players have short careers and many focus solely on getting as much money as they can. Agents play a huge factor in this and can operate in the shadows to engineer a desired result which a club cannot do on their own.

  6. What in the world would cause KK to link Okugo with Seba, Califf and Carroll. He never contributed anywhere near what the other three did for the club.

  7. So Seba is a free agent after the season… interesting… reunion maybe? Hopefully…

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