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To rest or not to rest players and other Union news, more

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Philadelphia Union

The Union announced on Thursday “that fewer than 300 tickets remain for Sunday’s Decision Day match against the New York Red Bulls.” Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott says in the announcement, “Due to the demand for a possible playoff-clincher, once all seats are sold for this Sunday’s match, we will add 200 standing-room tickets to accommodate additional supporters.”

Alejandro Bedoya says of Sunday’s game,

It’s very important. I think it’s more than about pride. You gotta play for yourself, for each other. You’re representing this club, this organization, this city. I think we know the last performance was not good enough, not nearly good enough at all. It can only be better. We just have to try to get a result and play our best so we can get some momentum going into the playoffs.

But will we see the full lineup of Union starters on Sunday? In his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Jim Curtin acknowledged “There’s discussions” when asked if the team would rest players for Sunday’s game what with the team having only a few days off before next week’s playoff knockout round match on Wednesday or Thursday against a team to be determined. Curtin explained that “guys that are banged up,” adding, “You have to do what’s best, obviously, to get out of the funk that we’re in, right, and find someone in the group to spark the group. Maybe it’s a new face, a change or a tweak. We won’t change our formation, we won’t change the style that we play, but maybe there’s a new body that comes out on the field and gives us a little bit of a lift.”

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead reviews a number of factors to argue why “there’s really no reason for Jim Curtin to play any of his starters in this game.” Kinkead also says he believes Andre Blake “will be sold in the offseason” and that Brian Carroll “will probably retire.”

As for NYRB’s lineup on Sunday, Jesse Marsch said, “You’re not going to see us take our foot off the pedal. We might make some changes here or there, but we’re going to put a good team on the field and go after it.”

FourFourTwo ranks Sunday’s game the least interesting to watch on “Decision Day”: “There’s nothing significant to play for.”

Previews of Sunday’s game at PSP, Philadelphia Union (reasons to watch, looking ahead), MLSsoccer.com, Brotherly GamePhilly Sports Network, and Philadelphia Sports Nation,

At the Union website and Brotherly Game, reviews of the three scenarios that will determine who the Union will face in next week’s knockout match on Wednesday or Thursday. Whether the face DC United, NYCFC, or Toronto, they will do so on the road.

At Philly Soccer News, more from Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference.

Section 215 on how Union fans, like fans of Philadelphia’s other pro sports teams are never happier than when they are miserable.

Dirty South Soccer has Eric Ayuk, Leo Fernandes, and Ray Gaddis as potential targets for Atlanta United in the Expansion Draft.

Taylor Washington is the Union’s representative for the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year award. Former Union men Andrew Wenger represents Houston and Shea Salinas represents San Jose in the awards, while local lad Zarek Valentin represents Portland.


In Philly Soccer Six games on Saturday, Villanova hosts Creighton in Big East play at 1 pm (I wonder if Fabian Herbers will be there?). Drexel hosts James Madison in CAA play at 4 pm. Temple hosts Tulsa on Saturday in AAC play at 7 pm, with Saint Joseph’s hosting Duquesne in A-10 play at the same time. La Salle is on the road on Saturday to face George Mason in A-10 play at 7 pm, while Penn is on the road to face Yale in Ivy League play, also at 7 pm.


In CONCACAF Champions League play, FC Dallas came from two goals down in Guatemala to defeat Suchitepequez 5-2 to win their group and advance to the quarterfinals.

Quarterfinal play in the tournament begins Feb. 21-23 (cough). Here the pairings of the surviving MLS teams:

New York Red Bulls vs Vancouver Whitecaps
FC Dallas vs Arabe Unido

ESPN writers offer their picks for the team that disappointed the most in failing to reach the MLS playoffs.

Montreal has signed FC Montreal winger Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla to a two-year contract as an MLS Homegrown Player.

San Jose has hired Nolan Partners, “the world’s largest sports executive search firm,” to help the team identify its next general manager.

The Boston Globe has an update on New England Revolution’s hopes to build a stadium in Dorchester.

The USL Championship Final between NYRB II and Swope Park Rangers is on Sunday at 8 pm (ESPNU, SiriusXMFC). Soccer America has a preview.

MLSsoccer.com reports USL president Jake Edwards says the “built-in challenges” and “business-side difficulties” USL teams owned by MLS teams face compared to independently-owned USL teams may result in MLS team’s shifting from owning their own USL team to “affiliating with a nearby independent team to run their soccer operations while local ownership manages the business.”

Edwards explains, “We continue to work with them to find the right solutions…some of them will carry on and keep investing and see the results and some of them will look at perhaps some alternative affiliation models and see if that makes more sense. So it’ll evolve. It’ll evolve slightly for some of those teams over the coming seasons, I believe. We’ll find the right solution that makes sense for some of them if they’re not achieving their goals already.” Edwards says this evolution could begin as soon as 2018.

The report also says, “Edwards said USL is planning on continuing to expand for at least a few more years with an eye on eventually forming three conferences – Eastern, Central and Western – of 12-15 teams each.”


In the latest FIFA rankings, the US drops two spots to No. 24. Mexico drops two spots to No. 17, while Costa Rica remains at No. 18. Argentina remains at No. 1 with Germany moving up one spot at No. 2 and Brazil moving up one spot to No. 3.


From the AP: “The Champions League final could be contested outside Europe for the first time, new UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said Thursday. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Ceferin said he will revive an open bidding process for the right to host the climax to the European club season and is open to the game being staged in New York.” More at Fox Soccer.

Soccer America says US Soccer should say no to hosting the UEFA Champions League final or CONMEBOL’s Copa Libertadores.

The AP reports Ceferin is not ready to back FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s plan to expand the World Cup.

Reuters reports indicted former Traffic Sports USA head Aaron Davidson has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges resulting from the US investigation into FIFA corruption: “Davidson, who also agreed to forfeit $507,900, is one of 42 individuals and entities charged as part of a U.S. investigation that upended Zurich-based FIFA and the soccer world, and one of 18 people and two companies to plead guilty.” More from the AP.


  1. Correct me if I’m wrong…are there not a finite number of seats any stadium can hold and is it safe to agree both continents will sell out every seat at a price far higher than the actual game is worth. If its safe to agree about this WhyTF move the game… maybe next year the Super Bowl can be played in Amsterdam… or Bangalore.
    Good grief. Sometimes the wheel works just fine the way it is, there is no more rounder than…..round.

    • Maybe rebuild the Maracana to its 1950 specs where it held 200,000 and host it in Rio? Or host it at the Bristol Motor Speedway which held almost 157,000 when it hosted an American Football game last month?

    • If it takes place in America, though, you get American fans paying American money and American sponsors paying for advertising. You’re opening up to new markets. I don’t agree with NFL playing games in London, but it’s the same premise – you reward those fans for following the sport, and because it’s a rare event you’re guaranteed to sell it out even if the ticket costs are WAY up there.

      • Now if your MLS, you’d probably prefer to NOT have the euro championship in you backyard, right? Yeah, you’d sell tickets, but you’re making a competing (and superior) product more available. It would only make your product pale in comparison, even though yours is less expensive and more readily available.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      In reference to Uefa Champions League final in New York, on what NYC regulation sized pitch? To played that game in Yankee stadium is a travesty. Met life Stadium is narrow and turf.
      The only stadium in North America appropriate to that game is the sacrificial pyramid of the Aztec war god Huitzilapoctli in the middle of Lake Texcoco, aka The Azteca in Mexico City.

  2. The Revs to Dorchester is an interesting ongoing story, because it speaks directly to the conventional wisdom that MLS stadiums are more successful in urban centers. I recall a long story somewhere about the planning for this and that the team and league consultants had all come to the conclusion — 6 years too late for the Union — that suburban stadiums were not great for long-term attendance figures.

    Playing a Champion’s League final outside of Europe is madness. I would hope all fans would boycott it.

    • Foxboro is a LOT farther from Boston than Chester is from Philly. From Back Bay to Dorchester is probably about the same as Center City is to Talen Energy Stadium.

  3. wow. Steel was among the higher attendance in USL by an MLS affiliate team. that’s crazy. glad the league is looking to revamp.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Read the linked piece also.
      Two general reactions. First, some of the venues are quite small, on the order of a small town high school’s football field. I have no idea how Harrisburg’s attendance was this season at the two baseball diamonds, nor the future significance of finishing out at Millersville U.
      In the led place at City Isad they would have been over the moon for 2,500 a game.
      If the Union are indicative, full control of all soccer decisions was the key to creating Bethlehem. Business-wise they were beginning to learn how to tie into special promotions of local interest. At the very end, their season ticket renewal sales pitch was that a handful of Union tix were the premium for re-upping with the Steel. If you live in Bucks County the markets are mutually competitive, but Not so much elsewhere in the general Philly area.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Whew. The spell checker massacred me. Humblest apologies.
        “In the old place at City Island, … ”

  4. Here’s a question to the Curtin supporters and those who say the season is a success already no matter what. I am not on the “fire Curtin” team, I’d like to be convinced to not go that route.
    If we lose this weekend and lose the play-in game after, playing basically the same as the last 2+ months, what good reason is there to be happy?

    • it’s a difficult thing to accept we’ve made strides this season, delivered what was the intended goal, the playoffs, though wilt like we have in the final stretch.
      we might have lost matches regardless, but there are avoidable pitfalls that Curtin still hits:
      lineups – same lineup, regardless of production. why is CJ still starting? i love the guy, but where’s the hook?
      Injuries – we have some depth (i said some; context: 2012-2015) to replace injured players. why are we sending out injured players?.
      subs – poor choice and use (time, matchup) of subs
      tactics – this team doesn’t come prepared or adjust in-game to their opponent
      regardless what happens over the next 10 days, these all need to be avoided and improve.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      A fair and good question, GO.
      First, the condition of the back line. Compare The state of the back line in 2015 before the final Orlando game with the same in 2016.
      Second, the state of the goal keeping, as above.
      Third, the state of the flank midfielders.
      On the down side, the condition of the defensive center mids is no better.
      The condition of the center mids is much, much worse.
      Attacking center mid is about to become a distinct readjustment at best and a downgrade at worst.
      Striker remains the same, with the reserves less immobile.

    • As much as I appreciate the argument that the team will have accomplished something by making it to the playoffs, it will also have squandered a very nice mid season position through flat performances and stubborn lineup choices (assuming your scenario of two more losses to close out the season and to get bounced directly out of the playoffs).

      I’d be inclined to feel the same way even if the Union manage to win against Red Bull and bounce right out of the playoffs.

      IF this team can win that first playoff game, I’ll be in a much more forgiving mood, at least of the manager, but I’m going to expect a detailed plan for how to overhaul and improve the central midfield and forward. CJ Sapong is not the answer. I’m not sure Bedoya is a great replacement for Barnetta. Maybe he is. But we still need a #8 and a #6. I’m counting Edu as gone in the offseason unless I hear otherwise.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        Is that Curtin or Stewart though? Curtin has played three rookies for most of the year. Although the striker is a problem, who would you replace him with? They were short on depth at that position to start the season and have had injuries to deal with, including CJ. Imagine if the rookies were just okay, would we even in the playoff picture in week 30? Also, what is the record of the team since Vincent Nogueria left? So is it Curtin or Stewart that fixes those problems going forward? The beginning of the season the Union had everything break their way. No so much for the end of it.

  5. Anyone watch the recent Argentina-Paraguay match and wonder WHY Argentina still first? I know, point system but I’m guessing Argentina won’t be able to maintain first in 2017.

    Oh, and interesting read below.

  6. Lucky Striker says:

    Edu got hurt in training today. Stick a fork in him.

  7. MikeRSoccer says:

    Hoping we rest people and give the kids/Alberg a run tomorrow.
    Rosenberry Trusty Marquez Fabinho
    Carroll D. Jones
    Bedoya Barnetta Alberg

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