Daily news roundups

Arena named USMNT manager, Montreal and Seattle win Conference final first leg games, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

US

Official: Bruce Arena is the new head coach of the USMNT. In a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday, Sunil Gulati said Arena’s contract runs through the 2018 World Cup, “with various contingencies as all contracts have.”

Arena described his first work as head coach: “Although I’m very familiar with the pool of players, the most important thing right now is to have conversations and meetings with as many players as I can before we start January camp. I want to touch base with our entire pool of players by the time we get together again in March. I think they need to know who I am and what my thoughts are, where they fit into the program, and the challenge that we have together as a team. We will develop an identity over the next couple of months and hopefully feel comfortable working with each other and understanding that the goal we have is important for the entire group…I don’t think the roster is going to have radical changes from the last couple of camps but there will obviously be some changes. I’ll use our January camp to identify the domestic players, I’m obviously well aware of the pool of players in Major League Soccer, and then continue to keep an eye on our players that are playing abroad and consider them on their strengths and weaknesses and certainly have the opportunity to communicate with them as well. I’m hopeful by the time the first qualifier comes around, we can field the strongest team possible.”

Arena expanded on the question of “identity,” namely in regards to an “American style” of play: “Your style is dictated by the qualities of your players. Certainly, there are things we could do tactically that allows that to blossom, but we are who we are. The American qualities have certainly been teams that are hard to play against and in the modern era, that is qualities that a lot of teams take on…We’re traditionally strong in the goal, we have very good goalkeepers, we have some young attacking talent and we have some experienced players in the midfield. We have to find a way to get the right balance, the right combinations on the field and the right mentality and we’ll produce a good team. What it looks like in the end, I can’t tell you now but I’m certain we’re going to develop a good team.”

Asked about his comments in 2013 regarding foreign-born US players, Arena said, “If I made those comments, I certainly don’t believe that’s my attitude. As a starting point, one of my favorite players in my eight years as National Team coach was Ernie Stewart. I believe that anyone that has a United States passport is certainly eligible to play for our National Team. I embrace all players that are eligible to play and I just want to make sure their heart’s in the right place and when they put the U.S. jersey on they’re playing for that crest on that shirt.”

More at US Soccer (announcement, Arena-Gulati press conference transcript), Philly.com, New York Times, Washington Post (report, commentary), Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, ESPN (report, commentary), Fox SportsSI, Soccer America (report, commentary), MLSsoccer.com (report, analysis), FourFourTwo, Goal.comPro Soccer Talk, Brotherly GameAFP, and the AP (report, commentary).

US Soccer and MLSsoccer.com on what’s changed for Arena in the ten years since he last was USMNT head coach.

At MLSsoccer.com, a list of MLS players who might benefit from the coaching change. More at Fox Sports, SIASN and FourFourTwo.

Asked about filling the vacant Technical Director position, Sunil Gulati said, “We’re not in a rush on that. The priority of the two positions, the two roles that Jurgen had was certainly on the National Team manager. That’s where the urgency is in timing. Tab Ramos is our Youth Technical Director and a lot of the work that goes on falls under his jurisdiction in any case; so Bruce has got one very clear focus, as you’ve already mentioned, which is the National Team, and that means qualification, Gold Cup and performance at the World Cup. We’ll sit down over the days and weeks to come and make a decision on how we’re splitting up the role in terms of the technical direction of the overall program.”

Gulati said no single result led to Klinsmann’s dismissal but the two losses to open the Hexagonal Round of World Cup Qualifying were a factor. He explained,

Really starting at the [2015] Gold Cup, we’ve had some very up and down results – the Gold Cup was a big disappointment for everyone, for Jurgen, for the players, for our fans. We had a chance for a reprieve against Mexico – didn’t get that done in Los Angeles [in the Confederations Cup play-in game] and then had an upswing at Copa America, where after a bad start, we won three consecutive games and got to the semifinals and then of course finished with a disappointing game against Argentina and that last one against Colombia. All of those things are part of the evaluation. It’s not just those. It’s the most recent results, it’s talking with people in and around the team, which we do on a pretty regular basis, so it’s all of those things combined that led to the decision.

Klinsmann posted a farewell video on Facebook on Tuesday thanking the fans and the players and wishing his former team luck in their World Cup qualification campaign. Soccer America has a transcript of his remarks.

Vice Sports says Klinsmann’s biggest mistake was showing American soccer what it really is.

From ESPN: “Klinsmann explained away the losses in public. In private, his excuses were even more bold; he told Gulati that he was convinced that the Gold Cup was fixed so Mexico would win, setting up the big-money playoff match against the U.S., a viewpoint that exasperated his boss.”

At the New York Times, Sam Borden has an interesting read on Gulati’s role as president of US Soccer.

At the US Soccer website: “In 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team played 25 matches and scored 92 goals. More than 65% were scored by four players: Crystal Dunn, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Christen Press.”

Bob Bradley is concerned about how the Donald Trump presidency could affect the chances of the US to host the World Cup and Olympics. Describing Trump’s presidential campaign as “divisive and ugly,” Bradley explained, “Everything that the President does in terms of domestic policy and international relations determines how you are received in all different areas, including sports…I can only hope moving forward that the responsibilities of the job of President will show a marked difference from what we saw throughout the campaign.” Bradley continued, “I didn’t like any part of the Trump campaign, I can’t stand this type of message. I can’t put up with the type of values that don’t include an understanding of people that come from different backgrounds. And I can’t put up with values that don’t take into account that people sometimes don’t have everything that you have. I think our country was built upon caring about people who came from different places. I guess if you want to be optimistic you just have to hope that the responsibilities of the job make a big difference in the way Trump handles himself.”

Philadelphia Union

At the Union website, Fabian Herbers has five takeaways from his rookie season.

The fan vote for the semifinals of the Union’s Save of the Year is now open.

Brotherly Game’s season review series continues with Chris Pontius and Sebastien Le Toux/Charlie Davies.

Philadelphia Union Academy

At the Union website, Matt Bodiford notes Union Academy connections in the NCAA Division I men’s soccer championship.

Local

In the latest NSCAA/USA Today high boys soccer rankings, Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pa.) remains at No. 3, Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.) remains at No. 6, and Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.) returns to the rankings at No. 10. Also receiving votes was West Chester Henderson (West Chester, Pa.) and Pennington School (Pennington, N.J.).

In the NSCAA/USA Today high girls soccer rankings, Hunterdon Central (Flemington, N.J.) remains at No. 5.

MLS

The home teams prevailed in the first leg games of the conference finals on Wednesday night but they both gave up crucial away goals, Montreal winning 3-2 over Toronto at the sold-out Olympic Stadium in front of 61,004 fans, and Seattle winning 2-1 over Colorado in front of 42,774 fans. Toronto hosts Montreal in the second leg on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 pm (FS1, Fox Sports Go, Fox Deportes), while Colorado hosts Seattle on Sunday, November 27 at 4 pm (ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes).

Kickoff of the Montreal-Toronto game was embarrassingly delayed by 30 minutes by a “a field maintenance issue” when match officials discovered the width of the penalty area was too narrow and the lines had to be repainted: “According to league officials, the width of both penalty boxes measured at 16 yards instead of the regulation 18 yards and the match.” Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo said,

Obviously, it’s the first time that it’s happened to us. We’ve been in situations like this before [at Olympic Stadium] where we have 61,000 fans. We had the [CONCACAF] Champions League final here.

It’s the responsibility of the referees to check it out. Unfortunately the referees got here a little bit late whether it was traffic or traffic around the stadium. So it’s unfortunate, but we have to take the responsibility for it. It’s our fault and it’s unfortunate that this has happened.

Toronto captain Michael Bradley suggested the error might have been intentional: “Probably not totally out of the realm of possibilities that they did it on purpose, maybe? Add to the drama of it all? I don’t know. In the end, it was a great night for the league, the two cities. Are there things everybody would hope or wish to be different? Probably. It doesn’t take away from anything.”

Didier Drogba told reporters after the win over Toronto that he will not be returning to the Impact in 2017. Whether he will play elsewhere in MLS, in another league, or is retiring is unclear. More at Goal.com.

Former Union man Zac MacMath, along with his coach and teammates, was pleased with his performance in the loss to Seattle. Former Union man Sebastien Le Toux started and went the full 90.

FC Dallas have signed 15-year-old forward Bryan Reynolds to a Homegrown Contract. Reynolds is the club’s 17th homegrown signing and the team currently has nine homegrown players on its roster.

The ownership group working to bring a MLS franchise to Detroit is confident they will receive one of the final four expansion spots.

At Brotherly Game, Jared Young notes the Deloitte report on pro-rel in the US and says the obstacles in the way of introducing pro-relare inadequately addressed: “There’s not a soul in the offices of US Soccer or MLS that believes Pro/Rel wouldn’t benefit soccer in the states over the long term. The potential is clear. But right now Major League Soccer’s big money is talking and those dollars are the immediate hope for the soccer growth hard core fans long for. You can imagine a better, more engaging structure, but it’s hard to imagine a way the investors earn their return.”

Elsewhere

The AP reports, “Prosecutors in Spain are seeking a two-year prison sentence and a €10 million ($10.6m) fine for Neymar on corruption charges arising from alleged irregularities in his transfer from Santos to Barcelona.”

From Reuters: “Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was left with a conundrum on Tuesday when he was asked what he felt was the more believable — the idea of the Loch Ness Monster existing or of Lionel Messi being human.” Rodgers responded, “That’s the worst question I’ve ever been asked,” before not adding, “Everyone knows Nessie exists.”

8 Comments

  1. John P O'Donnell says:

    I’m guessing after seeing just shy of a 104,000 fans at two midweek playoff games last night a certain crowd might be on moot. More impressive was Seattle where the game was played in a steady rain but the seats looked full. Even better was that the games were entertaining and set up well for next week. Makes me wonder if the Union could ever pull that off?

    • If you are speaking of my tenacious POV, I’m intellectually honest enough to acquiesce to what one would expect to be a favorable showing for a conference semi final match… even the Atlanta Braves eventually sold out the stadium for a playoff series.
      .
      I actually think, though— the funk up with the line painting displays more light on the matter of MLS ineptitude though… humbly of course.

      • Besides MB’s conspiracy theory about the lines. I heard another one that it was so the notoriously late arriving Montreal fans would all be there for start of the game. Either way, I’ll err on the side of some sort of Joey Saputo deviousness was at play, not ineptitude. But,no league is without ineptitude ie Manchester United evacuating a stadium because of a forgotten dummy bomb…Doooh

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        If the MB conspiracy theory was true….I’d have way more respect for Joey Saputo. Nothing stokes a rivalry like cheating.

    • Whether or not the Union can pull it off, I’m pretty sure they can get the lines done right 🙂

    • Both games were pretty great. Loved the Montreal/Toronto game (even though it felt like I was watching something taking place in another time, long ago). Makes me wonder even more about why earlier round playoff matches in NY and LA had so many empty seats. Can’t think of anything more than timing/competition from NFL….

  2. Letoux messed up big time: came in on a difficult angle 1-1 with the goalie and shot rather than pass square to a teammate who came running full speed into the 6yrs box. Could have tied the game.
    .
    MacMath had some good saves but could possibly have done better on the first goal Seattle got (pushing it wide).
    .
    Great advertisement for the league: 104,000 fans for 2 games!

  3. FC Dallas signs another homegrown…. Very interesting interview with Oscar Pareja on a recent podcast at Men in Blazers. He spent a lot of time discussing their academy set up, home growns, the “American” style of play, speed of thought, etc. His goal/dream. Lift a MLS Cup with 11 homegrown players on the field.

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