Daily news roundups

Big game on Sunday, Sugarman on new training complex and Bedoya deal, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

The Union host Orlando on Sunday at 3 pm. A win will all but guarantee the Union will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. A loss or a draw means a weeklong existential crisis for Union fans everywhere before the season finale at Talen Energy Stadium next Sunday against NYRB. So, Philadelphia Union, could you, you know, please win the damn Orlando game?

At Philly.com, John Smallwood writes the Union winning on Sunday and effectively clinching a playoff spot would send a strong message: “The prime opportunity is in the Union’s hands right now. They are at home, with everything to gain facing an opponent just playing out the string…Here is the chance for this ‘new’ organization to show what it is made of; a chance to ditch the climate of losing and prove that the atmosphere going forward is truly about winning.”

Orlando’s Servando Carrasco said, “The approach is to win the game. Just because we’re out of the playoffs doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop trying. We still have a lot to play for. Look, [Philadelphia] is a very good team. The focus right now is on the tactics…They’re a good team and I think they’re a team that kind of needs a win. So that’s gonna be a very dangerous team to play.”

Orlando Sentinel reports Brek Shea’s return from a foot injury is not going well and Kevin Molino might be in big trouble with head coach Jason Kreis after reportedly being dismissed from the Trinidad and Tobago camp for breaking curfew.

Previews of Sunday’s game at PSP, Philadelphia Union, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly GamePhiladelphia Sports Nation, MLSsoccer.com, and The Mane Land.

At Brotherly Game, playoff talk, playoff scenarios.

The Union officially unveiled the Power Training Complex on Thursday. Jay Sugarman said of the new facility, “You guys know the story in the first couple of years, we were playing on a public-park field. Our players were not being taken care of the way they needed to be. This facility, I think, puts us in the upper echelon of MLS in terms of, you come here, you know you’re going to have an ability to be the best you can be.” Earnie Stewart said, “I believe the majority of teams (in MLS) would be jealous just to have a facility like this.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George writes that Power CEO Corey Schiller and co-CEO Asher Raphael “are intriguing candidates” to join the Union’s ownership group. De George quotes Jay Sugarman, “We have pretty big aspirations, so I’m happy to continue funding, but I would love to have local partners.” More on the official unveiling at Philadelphia Union (audio, players thoughts). Photo galleries of the new Power Training Complex at Philadelphia Union and Philadelphia Business Journal.

At Union Tally, Matthew De George reports on Sugarman’s comments on Thursday about the acquisition of Alejandro Bedoya. Sugarman said,

I think with Earnie, we have a great, open relationship. I said, ‘look, are you telling me this is going to lead to a championship? Is this the player you’re going to build around?’ And he said, “yes,” and I said, “go do it.”…I think given how clear the plan is this year going forward of what we want and what we need, the pieces just seem to fall into place. It was expensive, there’s no question. We had a lot of conversations about, how do you manage the MLS budget, and I think the conclusion continued to be, is this going to lead us to the place we want to get to? If this is the right player, then go get it done. We stopped quibbling about $50,000, $100,000, $200,000 and said, “this is the right player, go get it done.”…I have lots of views on what you can do in MLS to really outpace your competition in other ways than money. But you have to build around that championship character. You have to have somebody you can say, look they know how to win. And I think Earnie really believes that. He looks at our team and he likes guys on our team that he thinks are winners, that have been there.

Sugarman makes clear that the clarity of Stewart’s vision for the team represents a major difference from the past:

I don’t think there was ever a ceiling on what we were willing to spend. It was, how does this fit into the strategy? Why does this make sense? Is this player going to make all the players around him better? It was hard for me to want to do that when nobody could articulate what that strategy was.

With Earnie, I feel much more comfortable. I know what he’s trying to achieve. I know where the pieces seem to make sense. I’m going to ask him the three of four things that I need to ask, and if it’s the right things to do, we’re going to find the money.

At MLSsoccer.com, a fine read from Dave Zeitlin on the deep friendship between Alejandro Bedoya and Charlie Davies.

Union Hulk wants Danny Califf in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Local

Tonny Temple (IMG Academy; Millville, Pa.) scored in the US U-17 MNT’s 1-1 draw with Saint Louis FC U-18s that was won by the Saint Louis side on penalty kicks, 5-4 (Temple converted his PK).

Five Penn State players have been named to the US roster for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will be played in Papua New Guinea, Nov. 13-Dec. 3

MLS

In Eastern Conference play on Thursday night, eighth place Columbus (36 points, 8-12-12), the reigning Eastern Conference champion and MLS cup finalist last year, was officially eliminated from reaching the playoffs after their 2-2 road draw with last place Chicago (28 points, 6-16-10). In the Western Conference, Colorado (57 points, 15-5-12) moved into first place with a 2-1 win over eighth place San Jose (37 points, 8-11-13), who are also now officially eliminated from reaching the playoffs.

The Washington Post reports, “Months from beginning construction on its new stadium, D.C. United has run into stiff opposition to the project’s design from real estate developers who own nearby parcels, threatening a planned 2018 opening.”

MLSsoccer.com reviews what’s going on with the four new MLS stadiums that are suppossed to be opening within the next two years.

The USL Conference finals take place this weekend. On Saturday, Swope Park Rangers host Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (8:30 pm, YouTube). On Sunday, NYRB II hosts Louisville City (6:30 pm, YouTube).

US

Bob Bradley’s first game as head coach of Swansea is on Saturday and the opponent is Arsenal (10 am: CNBC, NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, SiriusXM FC).

Elsewhere

A press release from FIFA says the federation will decide in February if the 2026 World Cup will have “an expanded 40- or 48-team competition format, pending further analysis of different options by the FIFA administration”. The release also says the federation has approved “the general principle” that national federations from the last two confederations cannot bid to host the 2026 World Cup (which would bee UEFA — Russia 2018 — and AFC — Qatar 2022), although a UEFA federation will be allowed to bid if no other worthy bids are received. The federation also approved “the general principle that co-hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be permitted, not limited to a specific number, but evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said of expanding the World Cup format, “There is a positive feeling around the council but the details are still to be elaborated, whether it’s 40 teams, eight groups of five or 10 groups of four, or 48 teams with a playoff at the start. This is still very much a work in progress.” He added, “The level of quality of football is increasing all over the world.” More at ESPN, and Fox Soccer (1, 2).

SBI notes, “Reports from South America state that CONMEBOL is interested in hosting the Copa Libertadores final in Miami. The proposal comes following interest in hosting the tournament finale at a neutral venue, although this year’s tournament will feature the traditional format of two-legged ties.”

The Guardian reports, “Anders Horsholt, the FC Copenhagen director, has revealed discussions have been held over a potential European league involving teams from Scotland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.” Horsholt says of the so-called Atlantic League, “If we do not act now, we will see the biggest clubs grow larger and stronger while it will be increasingly difficult for clubs like us.”

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

38 Comments

  1. http://bit.ly/2e0YN8I This is the Columbus Chicago game last night. Announced attendance 15,800
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    http://bit.ly/2ecbTyx This is the San Jose Colorado game. Announced attendance: 13,500….mind you Colorado sits atop the standings in the west.
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    Today’s on front page…. as it is my duty now, MLS ATTENDANCE SHELL GAME CONTINUES.
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    —- Choose to pay attention and really begin asking questions or ignore if you like – the apathy is yours.
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    MLS is fighting a losing battle against itself. It modeled / is modeling its product after all the other pro sports in this country when it should have and now most importantly needs to distance itself from those very sports and carve its own niche. The game has grown so much – viewership of real leagues is at all time high numbers, people in Cali wake up at 4am to watch real footy, stadiums filled to capacity to watch a meaningless friendly. The market is there for the taking but this is a relenting of control though….
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    …The league only truly grows by decentralizing its control. By making it about the clubs. Not serving its own master.
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    They spout fancy numbers and increased interest but it’s not the case. Sure there are some hardcore markets with organic fan support but for many of the other clubs people don’t want fugazee soccer. And MLS is fugazee. And the Piper will be Paid. It’s all a shell game. Colorado sits atop the standings… The worst part is, this will be labeled as your failure. This will be labeled as my failure. This will be labeled as a failure of the sport t catch fire, yet 90,000 people will show up at Soldier Field for a friendly after the Fire get 276 to a league game.
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    This league no longer has the game’s best interest at heart.
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    Good luck tomorrow by the way boys. Don’t want it all to be too disheartening today. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Enjoy the weekend.
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    Sincerely,
    el Pachyderm en el cuarto

    • The reason MLS has to continue with the single-entity franchise model is because that is the ONLY way to attract American investors. The people with the kind of coin to buy into professional sports don’t want the risk of an independent club, with the danger of being relegated and losing money due to poor management. They want the guaranteed ROI of a franchise in an established brand that will soften the impact of poor performance.
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      I don’t disagree the market is there. It just still comes with risk at this point. If the moneyed class in America had the nerve to take risk, I would have just +1’ed today’s version of your daily rant. But they don’t, and I’d rather have the watered-down product we have now, than nothing. And nothing is what we would have, because the grass roots aren’t going to cover Kaka’s (or Bedoya’s) salary.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Very well said. While I agree with the premise of El P’s daily rant… your thoughts were spot on. The watered down product line was fantastic. Good stuff

    • What happens tomorrow that you’re wishing good luck on? I’m more concerned about Sunday 🙂 (unless you’re wishing Bob Bradley good luck against Arsenal in which case I’m all for it.)

    • As a fan of 90’s indie/alternative rock I personally prefer “Fugazi” soccer.

    • I still think a big part of those crowds are suburban stadium locations. I don’t disagree with you on the rest. The PL is so much more compelling week to week than MLS. It’s not only the quality of play but the narrative. With 12 teams (!) making the cup playoff, where’s the drama? No need to watch top 4 teams until the playoffs begin.

  2. I’m preparing for a week of existential crisis.

  3. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like the idea of expanding to a 40-team World Cup, with 8 groups of 5. That only adds about a week to the whole thing.

    • Adding a week is not a good thing. The world cup already cuts off about half the European offseason (including training). Adding additional teams that have no shot at winning is not worth the sacrifice the players have to make.

    • Scott of Nazareth says:

      I’m definitely NOT crazy about the proposal for 48 teams that will have 32 teams have a one game playoff just to make the group stage. Can you imagine a 4 year wait/build up and it’s one and done?!?!? You know one or two teams ranked in the high teens/low twenties would get bounced over a bad game or worse a bad call…

    • doable but hard to schedule a group of five. also, timing of rest day becomes a competitive dis/advantage.

  4. James Lockerbie says:

    I want everyone to take two anti-Negadelphian pills on Sunday morning then Join me at Talen Energy Stadium to support the guys on he field!

  5. This team has failed time and time again in high pressure, must-win situations. If they win on Sunday and get into the playoffs, I will forgive all the previous failures except the 15 Cup Final against SKC. That will haunt me forever. But the rest I will forgive, especially against an Orlando squad that has played the Union physically and borderline dirty. Get. It. Done.

  6. So Alejandro Bedoya is really the player we are going to build around?

    • If Edu and Bedoya were anchoring the midfield and an auspicious though slightly underrated 10 was bought….I’d be okay with it I think… so long as Jones is there too… which speaks to the youth seeing genuine time.
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      Gotta say, TBH the Jones, Trusty storylines are more interesting to me than anything else next season. I am fairly certain Blake isn’t going anywhere in the very near future… while Superhuman he has a good deal to learn yet… and I’m not sure about his skill with the ball at his feet.
      .
      Bedoya is 29 and if he were to finish his career as a Union player that gives us a reasonable 5 to 6 years or so…. to bring in and settle some of the academy youth players… while contending with well timed and planned signings I think.

      • While I completely agree about Blake, my concern is next year is his last year on his rookie contract. He’s clearly stated his desire to play overseas. Can the Union get him to resign and get a transfer fee in 1-2 years rather than be forced to sell him this offseason? I’m not sure they can get him to resign, which almost forces them to seriously consider selling this winter. Otherwise he walks for nothing.

      • Do you KNOW his contract was four years, and if so, what is your source please?

  7. Check out espnfc with Alejandro Moreno and the Union clip about new training facility. Stellar.
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    Urge you to watch it as the weekend dawns on this important game.

    • I saw it last night during the ESPNFC show. Was brilliant how he tells how they used to practice in Media and got kicked off the field by a youth team who had the correct permit (and they showed a picture of his son who played on that team)!

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        This is why we need pro/rel. Because any team that wanted to compete would have all that from the beginning. It would be a club with stadium, training fields, training center and academy all in place. They should start in the USL. After winning that league they would now seek glory competing against the other 12, 10, 6 teams that make up the ever changing NASL. With the Soccer Bowl title in check, they now would have a chance at MLS. With success in America & Canada’s D1 league, the eye should be on the most prestigious league in North America… the CCL. The days of 90,000 people showing up one time to see two storied clubs play in the USA as often as the Rolling Stones have toured here in their career will be a distant memory as European teams now would know they could never compete here because single entity isn’t holding the juggernaut of investment back. Of course FIFA will probably have to change the rules of winning the World Cup after we capture are tenth straight in 2058. It could all be ours and you can help make soccer great again. “\_(‘~’)_/”

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        The fact that Philadelphia got a team in 2010 and built a stadium, training fields, training center and a academy with a high school is amazing. That they did it with an owner who lost a fortune in the recession just as he got the team and have since fired a GM “owner” along the way makes it even more unbelievable. I sat in the Vet and Franklin Field and watched the Atoms & Fury come and go. Lived with no real D1 in America for over a decade and for close to three decades in Philadelphia. Excuse me if I find the thought of pro/rel dangerous and nothing but promises of a snake oil salesman. We have no real D2 & D3 is turning into a league of farm teams. Being promoted to MLS won’t come with prize money and there is no parachute payments to get relegated. Not to mention screwing the people who invested hundreds of millions in MLS to keep it floating for 15 years. I’ll support the current system because they’ve already accomplished more than I thought possible in twenty years. Let’s see what they can do in another twenty…Who knows where it can go?

      • While I appreciate the discussion, my pro/rel rant was up stream. Here I was seeking intellectual honesty as my own balance… humbly recognizing how much things are looking up compared to a few years ago for this franchise.
        .

      • as an aside, you tend to refute my entire premise, every time– I add– which is fine and I enjoy the challenge and dialogue …I would love to know what you think about 575 people attending games in the first tier of american soccer and what that says about the league…. I’d love to know your thoughts on why it seems to be the same 5 or so core teams to get prime time games. I’d love to know your solutions for an obvious problem the league has with its flagging popularity…
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        I’ve argued at length about this and many times outline working solutions or points that could be considered to help the situation… from my POV you seem to think it is all swell.
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        Is this so?
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        Is it all swell…

    • Really encouraging piece. Definitely worth watching.

  8. John P O'Donnell says:

    It’s far from swell, but it does seem to be far from collapsing for the first time in my 54 years. Truthfully I don’t care about the attendance. It use to be the life blood of this league but that no longer is the case. I look at multiple groups of billionaires forming to buy just one team. I look at teams in stadiums and MLS now going through another phase of investment in training facilities and academies. I look at close to half the league next year having less than Decade of history for their club in MLS. Yet they aren’t sitting on let’s cash in on expansion money, let’s invest more. I see the Union with a incredible foundation of infrastructure and a competent director to build a franchise. And yes I said franchise, the dominant model of sports leagues in the United States. One that creates incredible wealth that is spread amongst teams and players. I see values of teams skyrocketing since 2010. I see worst to first and it doesn’t bother me that the Cosmos can’t bring their championship D2 team to MLS and compete with a whole new set of rules. A set of rules that doesn’t let you spend money to buy a championship. Where teams like Salt Lake, Kansas City & Portland can compete with Los Angles and LA can still have a mini dynasty with smart youth development. With seven different Cup champions in the last ten years. What other league can match that?

    Would I like the stupid player acquisition rules changed or illuminated, absolutely.
    Would I like to see academies get paid for developing players, absolutely
    Would I like to see a better form of free agency, absolutely
    Would I like to see a humongous jump in the salary cap, no.
    Would I prefer the end of tam, cam and the DP rule with a cap modeled after the NHL, absolutely
    Do I believe this could make the league compete with the biggest European leagues, no, but I think it could help it surpass Liga MX.
    Which should be the next goal.
    Is it all gone to happen in the next decade, probably not but if you told me what MLS would be like today ten years ago, I’m sure I would be rolling my eyes at you.
    And to me there is no way pro/rel now would increase the progress that soccer has made any quicker. In fact I think we be a decade behind right now.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      Oh and that guardian article above speaks volumes to me.

    • I appreciate this well thought out argument… and to be honest wrote back asking multiple questions of your point of view for further elaboration so I can discern your POV. For some reason, it erased and did not post- think I forgot to put name and email.
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      For the most part we simply have to agree to disagree. I find the attendance issue endemic of a general apathy towards the model here. You seem to think it is no big deal.
      .
      I think the enormous buy in and investment by owners is strangely not accompanied by a proper salary cap that actually pays the players a livable wage commensurate with being a professional — let alone someone trying to make a living in the secondary leagues.
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      I’m going to continue and I surmise you are as well and to that I say…bring it on. Either way, I respect your position… even if it is diametric to mine. Peace.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        If we paid players more….would they suddenly be better? In the end it’s based on supply and demand. The USMNT just drew less than 10,000 in the game in D.C.. The U.S. just isn’t a soccer nation yet but it’s trending that way. Pro/rel investors had a decade to build a league, yet no one stepped forward. Don’t you ever think why was that if it works everywhere else in the world? Why do you think people that believe like you never came forward here?

      • el Lachyderm says:

        Unsure what ten year period you reference.
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        My understanding is after the 94 World Cup the league was built and its original iteration was to include, as it grew and stabilize a form of competition that reward d the best teams for playing the best and punished the worst teams for playing worse.
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        That narrative never changed until 2012 when the commissioner said there was no future for pro/rel in MLS.
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        Sincerely
        el Lachyderm

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        Yea, relegate them. You’re right. I’m done.

      • I’m engaging a conversation John. If you aim to stop just stop. Uncertain why the tone.
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        I expect better from you.
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        Meantime, enjoy the limitless void of Union fandom this evening.

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