Daily news roundups

Fallout from Union’s season end, conference semis set, more news

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

At CSN Philly, Dave Zeitlin says the team needs to stay the course and not make wholesale changes: “The season has ended, but in many ways this feels like only the beginning…The key now is to fix the areas that need fixing — a big striker should be a necessity, for starters — while continuing to build upon the foundation that got the Union into the playoffs. And yes, that should mean keeping Jim Curtin as head coach…it will be much harder to continue the building process by undergoing a roster overhaul or switching head coaches in the offseason.”

At Delco Times, Matthew De George writes, “the Union’s season is a success, though perhaps not as profoundly as fans would’ve liked.” He explains,

The real quandary is, why doesn’t it feel like one? You could point to the late-season slump and consecutive home shutouts and the first-round bouncing. But the real answer is the elusive frontier in Stewart’s rebuild: The Union still struggle for relevance in the greater Philadelphia sports landscape…[T]he gateway for the casual fan to increase interest stems from winning meaningful games that generate buzz…By that metric, the Union failed. They had a home game in their sights for months, then hobbled across the line and were shipped to Canada for a done-before-you-know-it ouster. No home stadium full of rabid supporters, no enticement for the casual fan, no chance to even appreciate the playoff accomplishment before it ended.

De George concludes, “Beyond tactics and records, that means the Union [must announce] itself as a mature franchise with a broad appeal. And that has yet to happen.”

At MLSsoccer.com, Andrew Wiebe has a list of “big questions” for the Union in the offseason. More questions at SBI.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead writes of Wednesday night’s playoff exit that the Union “again committed a string of sophomoric defensive errors, turning an otherwise respectable road performance into a fourth straight loss.” Also at Philly Voice, postgame notes and quotes. More postgame quotes at Philadelphia Union.

At MLSsoccer.com, two posts look at how the Union were undone on Wednesday by defensive errors. The first is built around postgame quotes on the Union’s defensive problems. Writes Sam Polak in a more analytical piece, “it was Jim Curtin’s back four and their untimely lackluster performance that put their team under more pressure than any single or group of players from their Canadian opponents.”

Philly Soccer News highlights Jim Curtin’s words of praise following Wednesday’s game for Tranquillo Barnetta as he departs the Union to re-join the club in Switzerland where he began his professional career.

Additional reports on Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia Union, Philly.comRed Nation, Pro Soccer Talk, and MLS Multiplex.

Section 215 looks back over the Union’s 2016 season.

Brotherly Game has a quick list of strikers the Union might consider as free transfer targets in the January transfer window.

Stars and Stripes FC has Keegan Rosenberry at No. 6 on the depth chart for USMNT right backs.

Former Union man Conor Casey has announced his retirement. We wish him all the best.

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union Academy teams face multiple opponents over the weekend.

The Union U-12s host Cedar Stars Academy-Monmouth at YSC in two games on Saturday, the first at 12:30 pm, the second at 2 pm.

The U-13s and U-14s are in North Carolina this weekend for Development Academy regional showcase games. Today, the U-13s face Atlanta United at 3 pm and then Weston FC at 5:50 pm before facing New England Revolution on Saturday at 4:05 pm. The U-14s play Atlanta United on Saturday at 10:25 am, and then Capital Area Railhawks-CASL at 1:15 pm, before playing Orlando City on Sunday at 9 am.

The U-15/16s and U-17/18s are on the road on Saturday to Virginia to face their counterparts from Richmond United. The U-17/18s play at 10:30 am, the U-15/16s at 1 pm.

Local

On Saturday, Saint Joseph’s hosts La Salle in their regular season finale at 7 pm, Temple hosts UCF at 7 pm, and Penn hosts Brown at 7:30 pm. Villanova is on the road to face Georgetown on Saturday, and Drexel is on the road to face William & Mary.

MLS

Montreal rolled over DC United on Wednesday night to claim a 4-2 road victory and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday, where they will host NYRB in the first leg (3 pm, ESPN, MLS Live).

Seattle defeated Kansas City 1-0 with a goal in the 88th minute that was offside and will now host Dallas in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal matchup on Sunday (9:30 pm, FS1). Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes said after the game, “They scored their goal on an offsides play. Referee misses it, changes the outcome of the game. I would tell you, in my opinion and for our organization, I think that PRO and Major League Soccer owe our club an absolute apology because this game was taken away from us today.”

In Sunday’s other conference semifinal first-leg games, LAG hosts Colorado at 5 pm (ESPN, MLS Live), and Toronto hosts NYCFC at 7 pm (FS1, MLS Live).

While he was not in the gameday 18, Didier Drogba traveled with the team and could be available for Montreal on Sunday.

The Boston Globe reports New England Revolution general manager Michael Burns “confirmed Thursday the return of Jay Heaps for his sixth season as coach, saying he believes the team is on the right track.”

Several reports say Wilmer Cabrera will be the next head coach of Houston Dynamo.

Colorado has announced it has extended its affiliation with the USL’s Charlotte Independence through the 2017 season.

Peter Wilt tells Indianapolis Business Journal he believes a Chicago NASL franchise will begin play in 2018: “Wilt said he’s also working with three other ownership groups that could start teams in fall 2017 or spring 2018.” Wilt says, ““I think the league will have some announcements in November. I think you’re going to see some positive growth.”

US

Jill Ellis has named her 24-player roster for the upcoming USWNT friendlies against Romania in San Jose on Nov. 10 and in Carson City on Nov. 13.

Carli Lloyd, who was not among the players called up because she is about to get married, talks to ASN about 2016: “We need more hunger. We need more will, desire. That’s really what it’s all about. For me, 2016 was good. Could I have been better? Absolutely. Everybody can always be better than they think they were, but now it’s about getting married and taking a little time off and then rebuilding and getting after it again.”

As part of its Recognize to Recover (R2R) player health and safety program, US Soccer has released a new video “on recognizing and managing concussions, highlighting the important role parents, players, coaches, referees and health professionals play in the return to play process.” Also at US soccer, a Q&A with the federation’s chief medical officer, George Chiampas, about the video “and how it will further U.S. Soccer’s goals of promoting safe play and reducing injuries in soccer players of all ages.”

Elsewhere

At ESPN, Gabriele Marcotti on why the NFL should not be the economic model for the UEFA Champions League.

The AP reports, “FIFA says the CEO of its $140 million (€128m) football museum in Zurich is leaving amid reports of poor visitor numbers since opening in February.”

37 Comments

  1. America, MLS and the media’s, (yes that means you) obsession with the casual soccer fan is beyond nauseating. Recreational.
    .
    .
    The causal soccer fan doesn’t give a RIP about soccer… that’s the WHOLE problem— haven’t ‘you’ people figured this out yet?
    .
    Good Grief.

    • I think this is spot on. One could argue that MLS’ greatest gains have come from making the “experience” more authentic. From bringing rules of the game in line with FIFA norms to fostering the supporter culture Sure, you could also criticize the tifos and the songs lifted from the PL (Toronto fans singing “When the Saints go Marching In”) as aping European traditions. But those things generate interest among actual soccer fans. And there are plenty of them out there. Actual soccer fans will pack a cup match on a rainy night. Casual fans will stay home.

      There’s still a long way to go, but authenticity sparks interest, not casual appeal.

    • OMG YES.

      I have no idea why so many people have this mythical version of america in their heads where there are legions of soccer fans hiding in the woods just WAITING to come out and watch MLS.

      there isn’t…. people in america hate soccer. thats all there is to it.

      • James correction some people in america hate soccer. Obviously not all of us.

      • I agree in some areas it may feel like “some” instead of “all.”

        But just live around Philly and tune into WIP and tell me some people like soccer. I heard them hang up on a Flyers caller during Eagles opening week. The production probably would hang up on your if you said you wanted to talk Union/soccer.

      • I’ve heard soccer callers to WIP get static played over whatever they were trying to say

      • And yet 110,000 people will show up for a friendly (!) in Michigan between Man U. and Real Madrid.

      • as we see even with the MLS, attendance figures and optimism =/= tv ratings and optimism.

        and when it comes to any league in the world, the single most important thing is TV ratings because that is where all the money comes from.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        People wake up at 4 in the morning PST to watch a match(s) 2 continents away… and yet when they argue about the current incarnation of the US System are labeled Euro-snobs.
        .
        It is a lazy downright obtuse thinking for people who lack the discernment necessary to understand the issue is so much deeper and more complex than eurosnobbery.
        People want authenticity… especially as it relates to this ENORMOUS world wide game.
        .
        MLS will get its casual soccer fans… and MLS can have them – that way less than 5,000 people show up at The Stub Hub center to watch its sacred cow LAG play a playoff game to a near empty stadium…. meanwhile the greater LA futbol demographic will be watching a BPL game 3 hours before sunrise Saturday morning.
        .
        The league gets what the league deserves.
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        Apathy.
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        If even ONE team was forced down so ONE team could rise the ENTIRE structure of US Soccer takes on a different shape…

      • Man, while I completely understand the merits of pro/reg, I just don’t think it’s right for MLS or even American soccer.

        American soccer still has a very real problem when it comes to funding and support. Like you just pointed out, even the sacred cow of LAG only got 5k in a PLAYOFF game. What happens if they get relegated and draw sub 2K every match and die a slow death in the lower leagues? How is that helping soccer in the US?

        I just don’t think it’s sustainable at all. The support isn’t there for a team to toil in the lower leagues and the support isn’t there for a good lower league team in a backwater to get promoted to the MLS, and still draw only 3.5K because that is their market cap.

        This is of course ignoring the simple finances of it. MLS is struggling to get TV airtime as it is – which is where all the money comes from for any league. Why the hell would someone invest in a team with the risk they get relegated, lose support, and go the way of Chivas?

      • There’s a difference between what’s good for the sport and what’s good for an individual team. What Pro/Rel would theoretically do is put the 20 (or whatever) best, most deserving, talented and therefore most enjoyable to watch teams in the first division. That would be good pro soccer in the U.S., whether fans even understand that or not. I get why the pyramid is closed in the US and I don’t even think pro/rel should be the priority (I think the salary cap and single entity ownership are much bigger obstacles right now), but the planning for how to get to it should begin now.

      • Thinking about this a little further — Would you, as an MLS fan on the East Coast, like pro U.S. soccer less if, say, Houston, Chicago and San Jose were relegated to the 2nd division to make way for Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit? I wouldn’t. If those teams had better players, more exciting style, I’d be likely to watch more MLS. If your own team gets relegated, that stinks, but you have every reason to expect your team to fight it’s way back. If team ownership is so poor it can’t do that, then maybe you need a new team.

      • PSP needs a better comment system 🙁

      • Agree. Happy to have this forum, but it’s difficult.

      • vote “Smaller Indentations 2017”

      • I agree and disagree. Yes there are people that hate soccer in America. Absolutely. I used to hate it. But it grew on me. It started with the national team, then some friends showed me the Italian league and then eventually then Union and it just keeps growing from there.
        .
        I have an uncle that used to ridicule soccer. Now he’s talking about what happened in the EPL, and did I see Pulisic. And it’s not because his kids play because they are grown. It shocked me with delight honestly. I think he just got tired of the NFL.
        .
        For whatever reason I think fans can be won. They just need to be given quality. Maybe a playoff victory. Or even a coach who can do something different than the week before. Maybe.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        “They just need to be given quality.”
        .
        your finger has flicked the rim of the crystal glass and imitated the padded hammer’s strike on the tuning fork.
        .

      • el Pachyderm says:

        LAG don’t have quality?
        .

      • When I heard about Fox Soccer and how they dumb down their coverage it really pissed me off. I thought they were bad, but now there was a reason for it. The beauty and elegance of the game at higher levels sells itself.

      • Exactly right… quality. I used to watch NASCAR. I grew up watching local dirt track stuff and grew into NASCAR. But the quality of the product has slipped and I no longer watch…or go.. so I k ow the comparison is not like for like but it plays to the thought of quality…

    • 100%

    • Agree el P! The minute you start watering down the product to make it more consumable for the masses, you start to lose what made it so special in the first place. Then EVERYONE wonders, “What the supposed to be big deal here again…?”

  2. Can’t say I agree that keeping curtin is the right move. I didn’t see him develop as a manager through the season. Maybe if there weren’t any worthwhile managers available I’d agree. But sigi schmid is sitting around with nothing to do (and he KILLED curtin in our game against Seattle early this year) plus Houston seems to think they can do better than wade Barrett. Wade took an absolute mess and at least made them competitive. He got goals out of Andrew wenger. And there are plenty of other names besides them.

    • Listened to a recent interview with Sigi in which he expressed opinions about system soccer that are in direct opposition to comments I’ve heard from Stewart regarding philosophy/plan. No way that will ever happen.

    • While I agree about Curtin, I vehemetly disagree about Sigi. That dude is a dinosaur. I dont want him near my team.

      I think Curtin didn’t show any improvement this season at all.

      HOWEVER, the single important point I also beleive in is the fact that keeping Curtin is very important for continuity at such a nascent era of the ES regime. So for that reason alone, I am ok with giving him another year.

  3. Sigi is a poor coach. A dinosaur like Alardyce. A non teacher, just a lineup juggler.The Union needs someone who can teach and coach.They need to stay with the youngsters. Not easy to find. If you watch Morris play, you can see he has not been taught how to move effectively as a striker. This was a lost year in his development. Too bad for the USA. Fielhaber is available and is a perfect fit for the Union. He was a force against Seattle , terrific passing, distribution and work rate. He would fill a giant void.

    • Would love to have Feilhaber.

      • Feilhaber is such a bitch the only thing I would like from him is for someone to punch him in the face. For all the use he would be to the Union I don’t want to see him anywhere near the team. He doesn’t even listen to his teammates. People say Alberg is a cancer multiple that by 50 and then you get Felihaber. Honestly in last nights match he should’ve been thrown off the pitch three times the referees restraint was actually amazing. While I hate PRO and the overall game was poorly called. To keep your kool with Feilhaber acting like that and not sending him off in the first 30 minutes after about 5 consistent and unsafe challenges that were retaliations is surprising. Feilhaber may be one of my most hated players in MLS and I am pretty sure there aren’t many people who get along with him. Its one of the reason I think SKC probably won’t offer him another contract.

      • + 1 WhineHaber

      • I didn’t realize he’s 31. Might be a little old….

  4. Meh, Zeitlin still thinks Hackworth should be given more time once he brings his guys in.

  5. Vermes is a whiny skunk, but he’s right to be mad. Valdez was as offsides as Besler was on the goal that got called back.
    .
    One other note from the Seattle-Sporting game. I haven’t seen much of Seattle this year; when did ?uestlove start playing center back for them?

  6. Zetlin thinks we should stay the course, huh? That is not even possible. We lost our 2 best players already (Barnetta and Nogs) and will probably lose Edu (not commenting if that is good or bad). We have so far added Bedoya. We barely made the playoffs and are not good enough as is. We need at least 3 new starters next year if not more.

  7. Maybe the casual fan looks at “relevance in the greater Philadelphia sports landscape” as the reason the 2016 season did not feel like a success.
    .
    However, it feels like I’m being influenced to BECOME a “casual” fan of the team because of the quality of play. And it pains me to say this because I truly respect these players and staff. The work and passion they put into their livelihood is real.
    .
    I want to believe that the Union want to play with quality from back to front and creativity in the attack. (It’s not easy and the cliche applies: “The other team is trying to win, too.”)
    .
    Maybe it’s a lack of confidence among some… or the fear of making a critical mistake… or direction (or lack thereof) from the manager/staff… or lack of ability among too many on the pitch to execute consistently.. or maybe a combination of these and other factors.
    .
    I don’t know.
    .
    What I do know is that it became hard to watch. And when the quality of play is hard to watch, it’s hard to be a passionate fan of the team. And when passionate fans no longer come to the stadium and they are replaced by casual fans…
    .
    .
    .

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Must have been an awfully bad missed offside call in that SKC / Seattle game. MLS.com has only one short clip of the goal, only one angle of it, and no replay at all. From what I am reading it was a disgrace that it was allowed.
    .
    Upgrade the refereeing in this league or the league will die. Period.

    • It wasn’t egregious, but it was clear on the replay. What made it worse was a KC goal disallowed for offside like ten minutes before, that was an even closer call.

  9. I hope pro/rel is in the future but I agree it should not be implemented for a while. MLS still does not have long standing fan bases for many of their teams. Say the Union along with three other teams get relegated. It could take a few years after they get back to MLS to regain their fan base. MLS can’t sustain that kind of blow right now.

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