Daily news roundups

Union bits, USA-Mexico and the election, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Roland Alberg, who has returned to Holland for the birth of his first child in December, tweeted a letter to Union fans in three parts in which he began by saying thank you “to all the fans, supporters, teammates, front office, technical staff, owners, employees and volunteers for making the 2016 season special for me and welcoming since I first arrived,” adding, “Although we did not reach our ultimate goals, we made a lot of progress, broke some records, made the playoffs and have more experience to improve for 2017.” He continued,

People told me prior to signing with MLS that it is a very difficult league and it takes time to adjust coming from abroad. It is true and I will do everything I can in the off season to come in more prepared and build upon my minutes, goals, and assists to help the club win more games. Everyone at the club is excited to know that many of our players were playing their first or second MLS season with significant minutes so we will take that with experience into next season with improvements.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead has more from Alberg, who says of playing in the US, “For me, I think everything is bigger. How do you say it.. the cities are bigger, you have to travel, you have to fly. In Holland, it’s maybe two hours in a bus. So that kind of stinks. It’s hard for a player who comes from Europe, but this year, it’s, I don’t know the word, I have to… (media interrupts: you have to prepare differently?). Yeah, I have to prepare differently. That’s the best word for it. But I like it here. We have a good team with good players.”

Alberg says he’s happy with the minutes he got in 2016: “Every player wants to play as many minutes in as many games. But it’s the decision of the coach. I have to work hard in every training session and every game. I think I showed them, that when I play, I’m an important player for the Union. Of course, most of the time (that I played), it was as a substitute. But I’m happy with the minutes I got this year and I’m happy to be here. Hopefully next year we’ll do better.”

At Philly Soccer News, quotes from last week’s end-of-the-season press conference with Earnie Stewart and Jim Curtin on Maurice Edu and the hope that we will be back healthy with the team to start the preseason.

At Union Tally, Matthew De George begins with the brief tenure of Kevin Kratz with the Union before reviewing other players who were on the Union roster but failed to make much of an impact.

The current bracket for the fan vote for the Union’s Player of the Year features Brian Carroll vs. Keegan Rosenberry.

Earnie Stewart comes in at No. 16, and Alejandro Bedoya comes in at No. 37, in Fox Soccer’s list of the top 50 players in USMNT history. Philly Soccer legend Walt Bahr comes in at No. 30. At No. 50 is Pulisic!.

At MLSsoccer.com, Jim Curtin is among the former players who share their thoughts on their time under current Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who briefly led Chicago Fire in 2007 when Curtin was there:

Current Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin was a player on that 2007 team. He got an abrupt introduction to Osorio’s oftentimes prosaic coaching moves when he was moved to left back in Osorio’s first game in charge. He’d never played the position before, and after the Fire lost 4-0 to Houston he never did again.

Like everyone else, Curtin filtered out to the field on the last training day before the New England semifinal expecting a tight practice. Training sessions on the eve of big games are rarely lighthearted. So the surprise slammed into him when Osorio bounded out to the field and had a surprise training regimen for the team.

Handball. The team played a game of handball.

“He was all over the shop,” Curtin said. “It was extreme with him. When you thought you had him figured out, he’d always give you a twist and a wrinkle that always kept you on your toes.”…

Osorio’s time in Chicago burned bright and hot and fast, like a comet entering the upper atmosphere and then breaking apart. And his introduction to the Fire during their first team meeting after his hiring provided an early glimpse at the coach he’d become.

“The intensity with which Juan Carlos walked into the room, it was like, ‘Whoa, this is going to be different,’” Curtin said. “It was almost so emotional that it was a little bit over the top and intense for a first meeting. I remember everyone kind of looking around thinking, ‘Whoa, this is really different.’”

Mexico is record is 12-1-2 since Osorio replaced Miguel Herrera in September 2015.  Goal.com has an interesting interview with Osorio.

Bethlehem Steel FC

Noise Nation reviews some of the challenges Bethlehem Steel faced in its inaugural season.

Philadelphia Union Academy

At the Union website, a post with the results of last weekend’s Union Academy games we reviewed in Monday’s roundup. More on last weekend’s games at Brotherly Game.

Also at the Union website, a “Union Academy 101.

Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben have announced that Jeffrey Mitchell is stepping down as vice president. This follows the departures during the season of Ami Rivera as president and Danny Bauder as membership director. The board has unanimously voted Bill Gusler as president, Tim Sosar as vice president, and Matt Gendaszek as Director of Merchandise, Partnerships and Branding. The following positions are now up for election: Membership Director, Tailgate Director, and Philanthropy Director.

This year’s Help Kick Hunger fundraising event will take place Saturday, Dec. 10 at Neshaminy Creek Brewery, 7 pm-10 pm.

MLS

Real Salt Lake has announced it “will retain current Head Coach Jeff Cassar for the 2017 Major League Soccer season.” Salt Lake finished the 2016 season sixth in the Western Conference.

ESPN on how the international break could affect the remaining teams in the playoffs.

Colorado Rapids and Ireland forward Kevin Doyle on opinion abroad that the level of play in MLS is poor:

That negativity is misplaced and to be honest, I think there are some double standards at play here. I see English fans and their media saying the defending in the MLS is second rate, but I looked at Liverpool beating Crystal Palace 4-2 in the Premier League a few weeks ago and the defending in that game was pretty dreadful. This is hyped up as the best league in the world, but the defending in that game suggested otherwise. It is not the only game I have seen in England this season with pretty dreadful defending. We certainly have no problem with defending at Colorado as we have a fine record in that department and people should open their eyes a little bit before they dismiss MLS as second rate. Okay, it is not the best league in the world, but it has moved forward a lot in recent years and should get more credit than it does from European soccer fans.

At MLSsoccer.com, a look at how LAFC supporters are influencing the design of the team’s new stadium.

Tim Leiweke to the Toronto Sun on David Beckham’s Miami franchise:”We’re close. It’s really, really close. It has fallen apart a couple of times, but I’m optimistic. We may have found someone who feels equally as passionate.” Leiweke added, “If we are a league that’s going to make it — all of the North American leagues are in south Florida — we have to be in Miami. That’s one of the top five or 10 markets. If we can’t make it there, then Major League Soccer has to question its viability. It’s a market that rivals Los Angeles. We can’t fail there.”

US

Tuesday’s presidential election adds a different storyline to Friday’s USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier in Columbus. Michael Bradley said on Wednesday, “Given the way everything has gone the last few months, there is an added layer to this game. I would hope [fans] give every person in the stadium the respect that they deserve, whether they’re American, Mexican, neutral. U.S.-Mexico is the biggest game that we play. It’s the most special, the most passionate.”

Tim Howard would prefer to keep things simple: “All the political stuff, it’s nothing. It’s politics and this is football. Mexico is going to try to kick our asses and we’re going to try and kick theirs. It’s got nothing to do with politics.”

More on Friday’s game in the context of Tuesday’s election from Los Angeles Times, USA TodayThe Guardian, Pro Soccer Talk, Vice Sports, and AFP. The BBC says Donald Trump’s policies could negatively affect a joint US/Mexico/Canada bid to host the 2026 World Cup: “World Cup bids only succeed with firm government backing and solid financial guarantees. It’s difficult to imagine there would be a friendly atmosphere of co-operation over a joint tournament with such big issues being argued over at senior levels within both governments.”

Friday’s game happens to fall on Veteran’s Day. US Soccer has some special events planned to honor the day.

The Guardian has more on how Columbus has become the fortress home for the US against Mexico. At MLSsoccer.com, US players talk about what makes MAPFRE Stadium so special.

Pulisic! PulisicPulisic! PulisicPulisic! PulisicPulisic! Pulisic! Pulisic!

The big question at MLSsoccer.com ahead of Friday’s game for the US is this: “Will it be a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1?”

ESPN looks at the US and Mexico teams by position, and also looks at a few intangibles, to see which team has the edge ahead of Friday’s game.

Brotherly Game reviews the US roster and ranks players by position.

The USWNT plays Romania in a friendly tonight in San Jose (10 pm, ESPN2). The teams meet again on Sunday (9:30 pm, FS1). At the US Soccer website, five things to know about the Romanian team.

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “Qatari World Cup organisers say an investigation into the death of a worker on a stadium construction site has led to ‘extended oversight’ of health and safety procedures.”

From Deutsche Welle:

If Qatari officials get their way, alcohol consumption will be subject to strict regulation at the 2022 World Cup.

Hassan Al Thawadi, who heads the country’s World Cup organizing committee, told state-owned newspaper “Al Sharq” that while there would not be a total ban on alcohol consumption, it would be restricted to “far-away places,” without offering examples.

“There will be no alcohol consumption on the streets, squares and public places and that is final,” Al Thawadi told the Arabic-language newspaper, in an interview published on Tuesday. “We are against the provision of alcohol in stadiums and their surroundings.”

More on the story from AFP.

From the AP: “The Greek soccer federation has indefinitely suspended all league games after a suspected arson attack damaged a referee’s home.”

The Guardian has a good read on Sam Weller Widdowson, the 19th century English footballer who, among other things, came up with the 2-3-5 formation in 1873, the default formation in soccer until the introduction of the WM formation in the 1920s, invented shin pads in 1874, and later in 1891 refereed the first game to be played with goal nets.

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