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Philadelphia Union

Brian Carroll says “anything can happen” if, as expected, the Union reach the playoffs. “No matter if we’re playing at home, or on the road, or whoever we play against it doesn’t matter. It’s all a process and a journey, so hopefully once we do make it into the playoffs and we do achieve that goal, we are prepared for whatever we face next.”

At MLSsoccer.com, the Union, along with Salt Lake, Toronto, and Kansas, feature in a post looking at four teams backing their way into the playoffs.

At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin on the the impressive trio of Union rookies, Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers, and Josh Yaro. Jim Curtin says of the moves the Union made to draft the trio, “Hopefully when we look back on it in 10 years, it’s a decision that helped mold a franchise.”

At Philly Soccer News, more quotes from Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference on the topic of whether or not the team has had a successful season. At this stage, having presumably made the playoffs despite the team’s ongoing slump following its roaring start to the season, not to mention the team’s emerging core, can we not agree the team has had both a successful and, in the end, a disappointing season? Such views need not be mutually exclusive, right?

You will recall the Jamaica-Suriname Caribbean Cup game in Jamaica scheduled for Oct. 5 was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. That game has been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13. If the Union is still alive in the playoffs at that point, it will not affect the availability of Andre Blake because MLS will be off for the FIFA international break.

Speaking of Blake, vote Andre Blake for the Save of the Week.

More power rankings: At MLSsoccer.com, the Union drop three spots to No. 12: “Another team that is backing into the playoffs. The 53 goals they have conceded are second most among playoff teams with only NYC conceding more.” At SBI, they drop three spots to No. 13: “The end of season woes continue for the Union, as a 2-0 loss to Orlando City makes it six straight without a win and four losses in those six matches. The Union are fortunate, however, as the New England Revolution also lost last weekend, all but guaranteeing a playoff spot for the hapless Philadelphia team. Any positive result against the Red Bulls secures the playoff spot for the Union, and even a loss likely gets them in, as they own an almost certainly insurmountable +14 GD over the Revs.” [Note: The standings at MLSsoccer.com have the Union with a goal difference of -1 , New England of -13, so New England would have to make up 13 goals to pass the Union. More on the improbable scenario that would see the Union knocked out of the sixth place spot at the Union website.]

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young has his weekly player ratings comparison.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George talks to Charlie Davies and Chris Pontius about how their past experiences — Davies as a cancer survivor (among other significant personal events), Pontius in supporting his father in his battle against leukemia — why they embrace their role as player ambassadors in visiting hospitals. More on the visit on Tuesday to the Crozer-Keystone Cancer Center in Broomall, a visit that also included Keegan Rosenberry, from Marisa Pilla at the Union website.

At the Union website, some social media stuff, including a roundup of playful trash-talking tweets between Rosenberry, Pontius, and Maurice Edu, and “a gem of a photo” from six years ago Charlie Davies recently posted on Instagram of himself and Alejandro Bedoya.

Losing out to Gregg Berhalter, Jim Curtin failed to advance to the second round of voting for the Best-Dressed Coach award at MLSsoccer.com. Oh, the injustice of it all.

At the Delco Times, an editorial piece following the article from Matthew De George we linked to on Tuesday on how Power Home Remodeling connection with the Union through the Power Training Complex represents a step forward in the redevelopment of the Chester riverfront.

Philadelphia Union Academy

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph reviews the Union Academy’s productive outings against PDA last weekend. You will recall as of the writing of Monday’s roundup no results had been posted for the Union U-13s and U-14s. The U-13s were 3-1 winners thanks to a goal from Marco Silva (38′) and a brace from Selmir Miscic (37′, 69′). The U-14s were 4-0 victors courtesy of a pair of braces from Julian Anderson (18′, 23′) and Aboubacar Camara (30′, 43′). All in all, the Union Academy teams were an impressive 5-0-1 over the weekend.

Local

City Islanders midfielder Jose Barril has been named to the USL’s All-League Second Team. Also making the side is Reading-native Corey Hertzog, who is now with Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Blue Bell, Pa.’s Joe Farrell, who plays for Rochester Rhinos.

At the USL website, a look back at the 2011 championship final between Harrisburg City Islanders and Orlando City, albeit from an Orlando perspective.

Temple defeated Delaware 21 at the Temple Sports Complex on Tuesday in its final nonconference game of the season. Both teams are now 9-5-1.

MLS

In CONCACAF Champions League play tonight, Kansas City hosts Central of Trinidad and Tobago (8 pm, Facebook, UDN), and Portland hosts Costa Rica’s Saprissa (10 pm, Facebook, Galavision).

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle on how the injury to Mauro Diaz “throws FC Dallas’ treble ambitions into doubt.”

Montreal Gazette reports, “Didier Drogba is back with the Montreal Impact and is willing to accept whatever role coach Mauro Biello assigns him.” More at ESPN.

Portland midfielder Ned Grabavoy has announced he will retire at the end of the 2016 season: “One of a select group of players to play 300 or more league games, Grabavoy will finish his accomplished playing career after 13 professional seasons in Major League Soccer.”

David Villa tells SI he has begun talks with NYCFC to extend his contract, which will expire at the end of 2017.

Andres Iniesta to MLS?

From Soccer America:

MLS heads into Decision Day with a good chance to break its league attendance record for a third year in a row.

The league averages 21,489 fans per game, below last year’s record of 21,574, but the top six teams in average attendance are all at home on Sunday.  In addition, a crowd of more than 37,000 is expected in New England, double its current average. If the 10 home teams hit their season average, the league will surpass the 2015 mark.

MLS surpassed 20,000 fans a game for the first time in 2015 when it broke its attendance record for the fourth time in five years.

Nine teams enter the final weekend with an average of 20,000 or more fans. The Revs will become the 10th if they hit the 37,000 mark on Sunday against Montreal. They have not averaged 20,000 fans a game since 1997.

MLS has renewed its agreement with video game developer EA Sports: “The deal will run for a further five years, and will see EA Sports continue to work alongside MLS on collecting and analysing in-game data. EA Sports will also exclusively retain the rights to use player, team and league likenesses for its flagship FIFA game series, and the company will continue to advertise at all MLS fixtures.”

St. Louis Business Journal reports,

A group led by Dan Cordes, a retired Express Scripts executive, unveiled plans Tuesday to build a Major League Soccer stadium on a 13-acre site owned by Saint Louis University at the northwest corner of the Grand Boulevard and Chouteau Avenue intersection.

The 22,500-seat stadium would likely cost between $135 million and $150 million, and could ultimately lure an MLS soccer team to St. Louis. The stadium, Cordes said, would be mostly privately funded, though the group would seek public assistance in the form of tax increment financing.

The report notes, “The group, and its plan, is separate from the group led by former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock, which appears to be narrowing its focus for a stadium on a site just west of Union Station where the Interstate 64 Market Street interchange is located.

Former Portland Timbers defender Hanyer Mosquera has been arrested in Colombia after being caught on an elevator video assaulting his girlfriend. Mosquera made 26 appearances with Portland between 2012-13.

US

The USWNT hosts Switzerland in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah this evening at 9 pm (ESPN2), just when the final presidential debate will be getting underway. Don’t worry, the teams play again on Sunday at 1:45 pm, although that’ll make a quick turnaround to the Union regular season finale (FS1). More on USA-Switzerland at Soccer America and Fox Soccer. With 11 new players on the roster, the games will give an early look at the direction of the team as it begins preparations for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Pulisic!

You will recall reports we linked to last week that said CONMEBOL is interested in staging the Copa Libertadores final in Miami. At SI, Grant Wahl reports, “U.S. Soccer has communicated to CONMEBOL that it is not supportive of allowing official games of other confederations to take place in the United States.”

Elsewhere

Reuters reports Aaron Davidson, who headed the US arm of the Brazilian sports marketing company Traffic Group and was arrested last year as part of the US Department of Justice FIFA corruption investigation, is scheduled to plead guilty on Thursday.

Also from Reuters, “An Argentine judge on Tuesday denied a U.S. extradition request for three former soccer figures charged as part of the probe into the sport’s world-wide governing body, citing the fact that they were already being tried in Argentina.” The report explains, “Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio rejected the extradition request from a New York court for the father-and-son sports marketing team Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, along with former regional soccer chief Eduardo Deluca, saying the trio should not be tried for the same crimes in two different countries.”

The AP reports, “Former FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi of Thailand was banned from soccer for five years on Tuesday for election forgery.”

The headline of the latest column from The Guardian’s Marina Hyde: “Gianni Infantino and FIFA seem to have a new plan: to kill the World Cup.”

From ESPN: “Fenerbahce were forced to make an unscheduled landing in Budapest en route to Thursday’s Europa League Group A game against Manchester United at Old Trafford after a bird collided with the windscreen of their plane.”

37 Comments

  1. Listened to the KYW show this morning on the way to work and thought the discussion about poor attendance was interesting. And here MLS is reporting that attendance is up, even though we have observers noting low attendance for the Union and the Red Bulls. I’d be inclined to blame the Union’s attendance dip on a team that, while better than the past, is still for too reliably frustrating. If this team was winning consistently, it would likely pack Talen. It’s hard to explain the Red Bulls, though. That team is, although I hate to admit it, pretty fun to watch. It’s talented, and, I think is easily the best team in the eastern conference. Maybe it really is the quality of play. Maybe it is the fact that these suburban stadiums don’t inspire trips from a fan base that has been shown to be more urban. I’d be pretty concerned about this if I were responsible for selling tickets to MLS games. — Of course, DC has been reportedly setting records for attendance now that they’re winning, so maybe the answer really is that simple.

    • Attendance = tickets sold, not, you know, in attendance. Not surprising if you consider a family of four may have bought the season and something else comes up.

      I’d say on field results, unfortunately, have yet to really make an impact on ticket sales. They’ve drifted downward, but half the stadium are casual fans out for a fun afternoon.

      • I feel sometimes like I am the only one Pete and the mantle is heavy. I very much appreciate this post as clearly I’m not the only one….
        .
        RE: Casual fan… that is the demographic.
        .
        What I appreciate the most about all this is the weekly Tweets on Empty Seats Galore that speak to an epidemic of people not giving a damn about ‘their’ team.
        .
        — and guess what nothing changes because the casual fan is the demographic- it’s freaking brilliant… and a tragedy. The hardcore soccer fan has been totally neutered by US Soccer and MLS. It is so truly well done.

      • I think there are a segment of “hard core” fans that will never be interested in MLS. The quality of play will likely never be enough for them (even though to me it has improved drastically the past few years).
        .
        Like the English Championship and League 1 teams, what the MLS is selling is the experience of being in the stadium enjoying the game. Some hardcore fans wanting to watch the best in the world will never buy into that.
        .
        It’s a similar situation in England. I’ve spoken with plenty of fans who prefer following a smaller team because they can actually afford to attend every game. Personally I think there is something to be said in embracing having your own team, they are yours because you sit in the elements and have a physical connection with them. Some will never understand this. And as mentioned, some won’t appreciate the experience enough to spend an hour to an hour and half traveling each way to attend. That’s the real problem with the Union and the Red Bulls. Poor stadium location.

      • +1, Kevin. Prem tickets are ridiculously expensive and have priced out the hard core fan. It’s not hurting them now, but as the years go by, generations of fans will grow up not caring about going to matches and that’s a very bad thing.

      • That’s why TV deals and global brand marketing are incredibly important. The sports entertainment industry makes its money over the airwaves, not at the stadium. All the more reason to put a high-quality product on the field or viewers will absolutely tune it out. Defining a “hardcore fan” by attendance is just silly and at this point irrelevant.

      • Understood, but I’ll ask a silly question…then why are the tickets so expensive? And remember, it’s not just the price of the ticket, it’s parking, concessions, merchandise, etc. It’s also business that game day brings into that particular neighborhood. That adds up to real money.

        TV revenue can only carry things so far. If I’m watching and not at the stadium, there are tons of different options that could convince me to stop watching by turning the channel or just shutting it off. Just look at the NFL’s ratings drop this year. MLB’s ratings and demos have been terrible for a few years now because younger fans are not into the sport as the older ones are.

      • Revenue from TV deals dwarfs that of the game-day business or even secondary revenue captured by local businesses. Why are tickets so expensive? Easy answer: Priced above normal market conditions due to perceived scarcity. The “real” market value for any event can be found on any third-party resale platform. BTW all money is “real money,” unless I’m not understanding how you’re using the phrase.

        RE: turning the TV off. A network has already chosen to purchase access to that particular event regardless if you, as the individual, choose to watch. The real issue comes in with viewership data and ad revenue. So even if you turn it off half-way through, your viewership at some level is still captured.

        The drop in TV viewership for the NFL and MLB can be traced to multiple issues. Some of it is “chord-cutting,” some of it is the on-field product, and some of it is relevancy. And yes, TV revenue is the be-all end-all.

      • Location and ticket prices, like Zizou says below, generally keep me away. It wouldn’t take much to tip the scales in favor of me going — free parking would do it. But it’s a hassle that doesn’t seem worth it when I can pretty easily watch the game on TV, drink my own beer, etc.An urban stadium would likely help. You could build sections of cheap seats that would probably fill up quickly. I’d sit in a section above the midfield bleachers for $25 a ticket. It’s the $40 seat tickets that are steep (because I’m likely bringing my family of 4 with me or at least my two kids).

      • An urban location plus a decent on-field product would fill a similarly-sized stadium almost every match.
        .
        Piss poor choice to place the stadium in Chester – far removed from the soccer first demo… But hey that may have been part of the plan after the tax incentives were factored in.

      • I think we have to make a distinction in how we define “hardcore” soccer fan. If by hardcore do you mean the person that wants to watch the best in world compete and play beautiful soccer, or do you mean the type of fans like the tens of thousand of fans that are still showing up to watch Aston Villa stink up the Championship (or Rotherham no less). MLS has to know that there will be very little chance of converting the former in the short term (thanks NBCSports, ESPN,Fox Soccer BeIn Sports) eurosnobbery and all, so it must by default work on the latter. So why does Villa Park , for example, still rock while the product on the field is so dire? That is the question that I bet MLS is trying to answer. And probably the answer varies from team to team, location to location. Bring in over-the-hill foreign stars, downtown locations, longest bar in the world, local youth development and local ties, free WiFi, bring in not quit over-the-hill stars, Mexican National team stars, or focus on hazing and towel snapping. Who knows? Full disclosure here. I am both type of hardcore fan. I love watching the beautiful game. I also am a six year Union season ticket holder. Do I want to gouge my eyes out sometimes, watching the Union play? Sure. But they are my local professional team. I understand that MLS is a bootstrap type of league. A Ponzi scheme if you will, but show me a business start-up that isn’t a Ponzi scheme in a sense. Early investors cashing out to later investors based on perceived valuation unsupported by the negative cash flow. If the product is ultimately compelling enough the business will survive.

        Hey, did I even make a point here?

      • Your point: It’s not black and white.

      • Paul Goings says:

        The problem with the idea that the television revenue is so much more important than gate revenue is that the “product” is not just (at least in my opinion) the football. Watching matches played in front of small crowds or quiet crowds would not be nearly as appealing. To an extent you can start to see this with, for example, the atmosphere at, say, the Etihad vs. the atmosphere at, say, Carrow Road.

        In the end I am a Union FC supporter and seven-year ticket holder because it’s local football, and watching on television just isn’t the same on a certain level. I’d prefer a better on-field product, sure, but I’m not going to walk away and just watch the top leagues on television. If some people think that this makes me part of the problem, well, so be it.

      • What MLS does not have is tradition. Tradition can sell out Wrigley Field or Fenway in lean years. Best legacy MLS can probably point to is LA or DC… Original teams that are historical only to the youngest millennials. … I think parity hurts the league here. There has to be an element in other leagues where bottom table team stadiums will draw to see the Barcas and the Man Cities and Bayern Munichs of the world. I’m sure there are people who go to Talen to see LA roll into town or Dempsey and Seattle(hope he gets better soon). I know I’ve been to Citizen’s Bank park when the stadium is full of Red Sox fans. People will go see the Euro friendlies in the states to see the big names. A little higher wattage for MLS teams would likely help. But you need to bring in players who aren’t 37. You need more Giovincos.

      • Does the average eurosnob even know who Giovinco is? If a player isn’t a strong contributor on a major National or Champions League team that player will never move the dial with most eurosnobs.
        .
        Again to my point, MLS must market how much better the experience is of watching a game live vs a game on TV. We won’t match on the field performace with Champions League teams for decades, if ever. That is what eurosnobs expect, Champions League quality. If you want to bring them in, you have to stress how much more exciting it is to be there live even if the quality isn’t nearly as good.

      • I wouldn’t work too hard to convince Eurosnobs. I’d just work on making my league better, bringing in better players and mking the experience as good as possible. A lot of that is getting out of the way of the supporters group. It was encouraging to read about the La Union Latina earlier this week. Encourage that. There is still something genteel suburban about the way the Union markets. I understand that. You wouldn’t want to make a 180 and alienate those kids and families. But yeah. I agree. The key is to make the live experience better.

      • Paul Goings says:

        “What MLS does not have is tradition.”
        .
        Not yet, no.
        .
        Which is why I was so upset when they changed the format of the national Anthem this year. And, from what I’ve heard, haven’t been as tight with the supporters’ group(s) of late.

    • MLS is marketed specifically to the casual fan. Ticket sales and attendance are misleading. Basically cut the posted numbers by 15-20% – though MLS, USSF, and SUM really only care about the “paid attendance” not if you actually show up.

  2. The line about Blake being up for SOTW (AGAIN!) reminded me of something. I recently received an MLS Fan Council quick poll with a list of about 10 names and asking who I would vote for league MVP. While I can (barely) understand Blake not being on the list, I could not understand why Tim Howard was on the list when his GAA isn’t even the best on his team (MacMath has allowed 5 fewer goals in 1 more start). So I just voted for other (thinking of Blake).

    • All these cute tiny gimmicks help “you” keep “your” eye off the ball. .
      .
      Like in Catch Me If You Can, when Frank Abagnale’s dad says, “The same reason the Yankees always win. Nobody can keep their eyes off the pinstrips”
      .
      .
      Its okay. Choose to read or not agree or not think deeper or not…but I’m going to keep helping with the a ha moment.
      .
      “I blew it didn’t I. Why didn’t I concur.”
      .
      That’s all for today folk. Sunny. Warm. Lovely.

  3. Losing out to Gregg Berhalter, Jim Curtin failed to advance to the second round of voting for the Best-Dressed Coach award at MLSsoccer.com.
    .
    .
    Come on. Like….Come ON. What the Fuck.
    .
    positive positive positive… okay…
    .
    ummm- I got nothing.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      writer needed a column and wouldn’t know it was a soccer ball if it hit him in the face and broke his nose.

    • Well yeah, all he wears are blue suits and brown leather accessories. I mean branch the eff out on your rigid color palette, amirite? Like his devotion to formations and times for subs. You know what would rock, a bow tie. That would pop! On a “rivalry week” match in July, get nutty and insert a seersucker suit into your fashion starting XI.
      .
      No imagination,no wonder he was one-and-done in the playoffs.

      • This makes me smile— the exact banter I search for… even in drawing a blank myself. Its what makes this place wholly original.
        .
        Half the shit I write is solely to spark debate and stir the pot. Typically this comes in the form of cynicism or hyperbole… my wheelhouses.
        .
        You win the internet today…as some other juggernaut of original genius penned.

  4. Knee over the ball says:

    Maybe I missed it but what is the situation with EDU? Is he a coaches choice not to play or is he still regaining fitness?

    • Edu was on the 18 on Sunday. If he’s fit enough for selection to the 18th, I don’t know why you wouldn’t give him 20 minutes against Red Bull.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Judging by who else was on that bench, Edu was the emergency depth at center back.
      .
      When he got no minutes on the pitch the first time he dressed for the first team, that signaled they have no intent to play him this season unless someone else gets hurt.
      .
      I can think of no evidence that limits the imaginative possibilities in answer to the question “why.”

  5. Attendance issues says:

    Why is New England expecting 37K this week? They’re essentially eliminated. CAnt imagine why they would have that many fans trek to foxboro for a pointless game.

  6. I wonder if the Edu situation is a financial decision with little to do with fitness or health. Is it possible that if Edu finishes the season without taking the pitch, some insurance company will absorb the cost of his injury, his salary or both?this would certainly endear Curtin to the ownership, a circumstance he desperately needs.

  7. I would add a local shout out. Last night, I watched the Conestoga Boys HS team beat Lower Merion to finish their first ever perfect season (18-0 all comps, 11-0 in Central League I believe). This win comes after they climbed to No. 2 on the USA Today coaches poll: http://usatodayhss.com/2016/conestoga-pa-rockets-up-super-25-boys-soccer-rankings
    .
    I’m not kidding, these kids are ridiculous. There are a couple that look like they could step onto an MLS field and not look out of place, and the team showed some better “possession with purpose” gameplay than I’ve seen in a lot of MLS games. I believe their first playoff game will be this coming Tuesday at Conestoga.

  8. I have no real stat to back this idea. I wonder if late season attendance is due to to the start of the NFL,NHLandNBA..Oh playoff MLB. I feel like the casual fan demographic hurts a team that is not winning. And the more sophisticated fan( hard core?), will tune out due to poor play. I have had season Tix for 6 years. I miss a few games a season for one reason or another. But I guess I like watching live pro soccer at “my” teams home stadium,with all the other season ticket holders in 114. And I’m sure my football IQ is a bit lower than others, but I love watching and learning the game. This site is extremely fun for me. So thanks to you my fellow commenters,PSP staff and fan contributors.
    I watch some EPL. And a little bit of the German league. Tonight watched NASL. Jacksonville defeated Miami 3/2. Gabe Farfan scored for Miami. That was co to see!

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