Daily news roundups

Union bits and league news, Cosmos in trouble, plane carrying Brazilian pro team crashes in Colombia, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

At Goal.com, the Union is included among a list of teams that could benefit by signing Jermaine Jones:

The departure of Tranquillo Barnetta has left a void in the Union midfield, and while we would expect Earnie Stewart to hit the international market for a replacement, he might want to consider Jones anyway. Maurice Edu’s latest injury puts his long-term prospects in doubt, and with Brian Carroll edging closer to the end of his career, the Union can use a central midfielder with Jones’ motor and two-way quality.

Would the Union really want to pay Jones a seven-figure salary at the age of 35? They just might if they saw him as the perfect piece to a puzzle that could use a player just like him. There’s little debate that Jones can still be a force in MLS, and the Union are very reminiscent of the 2014 New England team he helped lead to the MLS Cup final.

A Jones-Alejanro Bedoya central midfield would be a good nucleus to build around, but for a team that heads into the offseason searching for a striker, Jones might be out of the Union’s price range.

The fan vote for Goal of the Year is open at the Union website. First up, Alejandro’s goal against Toronto vs. Fabian Herbers’ goal at Talen Energy Stadium against Columbus, his first-ever MLS goal.

At the Union website, a social media roundup of what some of the players did for Thanksgiving. Also at the Union website, more social media links, this time reactions from Keegan Rosenberry and Maurice Edu to the announcement that Steven Gerrard has retired.

Philadelphia Union Academy

The Union Academy U-16s were on the road to face their NYRB counterparts in Generation adidas play on Sunday, coming from behind to draw 3-3: “Forward Daniel Bloyou netted a hat-trick after the Red Bulls jumped out to a 3-0 lead.”

Local

The City Islanders are hosting an open tryout Dec. 19 and 20.

MLS

Roster moves:

NYRB has exercised the options on four players — Sean Davis, Chris Duvall, Justin Bilyeu, and Bradley Wright-Phillips — and declined the options on Karl Ouimette and Ronald Zubar.

NYCFC has exercised the options on seven players — RJ Allen, Frederic Brillant, Eirik Johansen, Ronald Matarrita, Tommy McNamara, Andre Rawls, and Khiry Shelton, as well as Shannon Gomez, who was on loan from Trinidadian side W Connection — and has reached new deals with Mikey Lopez and former Union man Ethan White. Options were declined on Connor Brandt, Jason Hernandez, Diego Martinez, and Tony Taylor, while Federico Bravo and Steven Mendoza will return to their parent clubs with the expiration of their loans to the team.

New England has exercised options on 12 players — Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Cody Cropper, Andrew Farrell, Zachary Herivaux, Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Brad Knighton, Donnie Smith, Chris Tierney, Matt Turner, Je-Vaughn Watson, and London Woodberry — while declining the options on two: Jordan McCrary and local lad Steve Neumann. Four players are out of contract: Darrius Barnes, José Gonçalves, Daigo Kobayashi, and Gershon Koffie.

Houston Dynamo have exercised the options on five players — Eric Alexander, Calle Brown, Kevin Garcia, Alex Lima, and Joe Willis — and signed Jalil Anibaba to a new contract. Options were declined on Sebastien Ibeagha, Rob Lovejoy, Raúl Rodriguez, Zach Steinberger, and former Union man Cristián Maidana. DaMarcus Beasley, David Horst, Abdoulie Mansally, and Collen Warner are out of contract. Discussions are underway with Yair Arboleda, Keyner Brown, José Escalante, whose loans to the Dynamo expire at the end of the year. Talks are also ongoing with Beasley, Horst, Rodríguez, and Warner for new contracts.

At MLSsoccer.com, and Expansion Draft 101. Also at the league website, an offseason calendar of events.

LA Galaxy have announced former team captain Peter Vagenas as their new general manager.

Galaxy club president Chris Klein says the team expects to announce a replacement for Bruce Arena as head coach before the end of the year.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead notes Western Conference champion Seattle “entered the postseason with 14 losses, the same amount as your team, your town, your Philadelphia Union. The difference is that one side was trending upward, and the other was pretty much cooked.” He also calls for the regular season to be shortened, with the MLS Cup being played on Black Friday:

A better way to approach the season would be to reduce the number of conference games against the same opponent. The addition of Atlanta and Minnesota gives us 22 clubs going into 2017.

If you play each conference opponent home and away, that gives you 20 total games. Add one game against each non-conference opponent, and you would have 11 more matches, giving you a 31 game schedule, down from 34…

We don’t need the playoffs going into December, especially when we already have to pause for that momentum-killing November international break. A post-Thanksgiving MLS Cup would be absolutely perfect for a soccer audience that probably isn’t watching college football and definitely isn’t waiting in line for holiday deals at the King of Prussia Mall.

The teams taking part in the 2017 Desert Friendlies and Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournaments in Tucson have been announced. Participating in the Desert Friendlies (Jan. 27-Feb. 7) are Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, New England Revolution, and Real Salt Lake, with a final team to be announced. Participating in the Desert Diamond Cup (Feb. 15-25) are Sporting KC, New England, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, and Colorado Rapids.

Speaking of Arizona, USL side Arizona United has rebranded as Phoenix Rising FC. Also announced is a partnership with Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) and the Solanna Group “to develop a 15.8-acre soccer-specific training and stadium facility…The club plans to kick off the 2017 soccer season at the new Phoenix Rising FC soccer complex.”  More at USLsoccer.com, AZ Centralabc15KJZZ, and KPNX.

Speaking of the USL, MLS commissioner Don Garber is scheduled to visit Cincinnati today as part of FC Cincinnati’s bid to join MLS. More at Cincinnnati.com.

Speaking of MLS expansion, St. Louis expansion group Foundry St. Louis has proposed joining with rival expansion group SC STL to provide $80 million towards the $200 million stadium SC STL recently announced. SC STL has proposed that 40 percent of the the stadium costs be covered through public money via a new tax. More at St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KTVI.

More MLS expansion: The Telegraph on efforts in Nashville to land a MLS franchise.

Meanwhile, the news from the NASL continues to be bad. On Monday, Empire of Soccer reported the New York Cosmos are in trouble. Quoting at length:

Despite winning their third league cup in four seasons, the Cosmos suffered a fourth straight year of declining attendance and dwindling viability in the market. A similar situation last season meant steep budget cuts to the front office and the team roster.

This year, those cuts will go even deeper, bringing to question the team’s long term viability…The day after Thanksgiving, the majority of the Cosmos front office staff were put on furlough, with numbers ranging from 60-80% of staff. The furlough is expected to last one week, with the largest cuts happening in the ticket sales department…[W]hile other professional teams began their 2017 season ticket campaign in August, the Cosmos haven’t even begun selling tickets for next year. In fact, they aren’t even taking deposits. The club has maintained for months that they will engage ticket sales once a venue is selected…

Payroll has also been an issue, with top-to-bottom delays in weekly salaries across the board…Over the past three months, however, some staff have gone several weeks without pay, with many still owed payment to this day…

Players went nearly two weeks without pay this very month — the same month that they took home the NASL Championship. Many of those outstanding salaries were paid out late last week, but there are still lingering payments owed to a handful of players.

Whether it is massive budget cuts or simply the end of operations, it is clear that the team will certainly not operate at the current level in coming years — if at all. With that in mind, the sporting side is trying to accommodate their roster. Instead of releasing players, several team members are being actively shopped in the transfer market, hoping to find a home ahead of the uncertainty of 2017…

Yes it sounds like the team is on a fire sale, preparing to close its doors for next season. But keep this in mind: several sources have told EoS that USL’s D2 status is all but secured for the 2017 season. We have also heard that, though the provision exists to maintain two D2 leagues under the USSF pyramid, the governing body is against the idea of engaging in such a convoluted scenario.

With the NASL in a tale spin, it could very well be that the Cosmos, like other NASL teams (Jacksonville Armada), are reducing staff and roster budget to get in line with a D3 model.

Big Apple Soccer reports, “The Cosmos’ fate for 2017 and beyond is expected to be decided at the North American Soccer League board of governors meeting in Atlanta Tuesday and Wednesday.” Team CEO Seamus O’Brien says, “We’re just waiting to see which path the league takes and what the future of the league is.” O’Brien acknowledged there have been staff and roster cuts but says the players have been paid.

Recounting the origins of the relaunched Cosmos at Yahoo Sports, Leander Schaerlaeckens writes, “The New York Cosmos were always built on hubris as much as a real plan and a reasonable path to financial sustainability. This was as true for the original Cosmos of the 1970s heyday as it was of the latter-day Cosmos, relaunched in 2010 after a 25 year-hiatus.”

US

The US conceded in the first minute of extra time after scoring an equalizer in the 89th minute to lose 2-1 to North Korea in the semifinals of the U-20 Women’s World Cup in New Guinea earlier today. The US will face the loser of the France-Japan semifinal on Saturday (1 am, FS1).

The Guardian says Bruce Arena’s biggest challenge will be reaching “ignored communities” to expand the player pool. At Philly.com, John Smallwood says Arena’s sole job is to make sure the team qualifies for the 2018 World Cup. Goal.com has five things Arena needs to do.

The Los Angeles Times on how the effects of the reforms Jurgen Klinsmann implemented may shape US Soccer long after his departure. SI on Klinsmann’s “complex, unfulfilled” legacy.

The Guardian wonders if futsal can deliver “a world-class US soccer star from the inner city.”

Pulisic!

Elsewhere

A plane whose passengers included members of Brazilian team Chapecoense — described as “the Leicester City of Brazil” —  and 21 journalists covering the team has crashed outside of Medellin in Colombia. 76 people died in the crash. Six people were rescued, including members of the team, which was on its way for the first leg game of their Copa Sudamericana matchup against Colombian side Atletico Nacional, although one of those rescued, Chapecoense’s goalkeeper, died on the way to hospital. As a result of the crash, play in the Copa Sudamericana has been suspended. Three days of mourning have been declared in Brazil. More from New York TimesThe Guardian (report, report, report, report), CNN (report, reaction), NBC, ESPN, Pro Soccer Talk (report, reaction), Goal.com (report, reportreaction), the AP, and Wikipedia.

The AP reports, “Officials overseeing World Cup preparations in the southern Russian city of Sochi say construction work on the city’s stadium has finished on time.”

35 Comments

  1. So tragic about Chapecoense. Absolutely devastating. Can’t imagine what that’s like for all associated with the club — from families and loved ones of those who died to fans of the club. It’s unbelievable.

  2. Union do not sign Jermaine Jones. I like Jones as a player but do not spend 6 or 7 figures for a 35 year old CM who likes to wander. We already have a 30 year old with a broken leg who does the same thing.

  3. NY Cosmos. 3 time League winners. Developmental Academy. Strong Investors = Relegation.
    .
    .
    Atlanta United. No team. No existence. Nothing. = Promotion.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      I understand the point, but I will counter with this. Cosmos had everything you mentioned but had dwindling ticket sales,fans, and very limited TV exposure which amounts to no base. It boils down to if a tree falls in the woods……

      • The limited exposure is due to a market strange hold by MLS and SUM.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        It is or it isn’t. No one from Sum is stopping fans from going to the games?

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        +1

      • Cosmos situation will be seen by both sides of the pro/rel debate as verification of their opinions on the matter. Closed pyramid proponents, like Garber, will point to the Cosmos situation as the great peril of going solo while pro/rel advocates will see it as evidence that, without more to play for (promotion) it’s difficult to keep paying fans in seats and investors interested. I lean a lot more to the latter view.

      • What seats? They don’t have a stadium. It’s tough to get paying customers when you don’t take ticket deposits. They made their bed.

      • Would the Cosmos be able to extra tax dollars from a community for a stadium if they had a chance to potentially play in the 1st division? My guess is yes.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        My answer would be no if there are no guarantees. What politician would bet his career on if they go up and might go back down our even drop lower than D2?

      • No.
        .
        NYC has spent, through bonds, tax exemptions, deals on land, etc, north of a $1B on the two baseball stadia. There’s fatigue there to foot any bill for the very limited economic impact from sports stadiums. I’m not going to troll the thrill of what a promotion battle could do for the dozens of Cosmos fans, no doubt they’d be parted from the lint, metrocards and spare change in their wallets.

        .
        Their lack of hubris brought this home to roost. There aren’t enough passionate “paying” soccer fans to make a dent on this. It’s not like the Yankees and generation after generation grew up rooting for them. This was a brand experiment, they brought a knife to a gunfight. It’s just business, nuthin personal. Next time, leave the pro/rel and take the cannoli.

      • I don’t know enough to defend the Cosmos as a business. It might very well be it was poorly run. I know they were playing in a college athletic field…. Given that even the wealthy City Football Group can’t get a stadium in NYC, it might have been impossible for the Cosmos to be in a place where they could really build a fan base.

      • They lost that lease and are homeless.

    • The Cosmos were mismanaged from the beginning. As Leander mentions in his article, their aim, like the NASL, was to be bigger than MLS – a goal that is silly, regardless of the reasons why. Had the league and the Cosmos focused on building a sustainable product this may have been avoided.
      —-
      Say what you want about MLS and their financial restraints, but it has allowed them to build a league that is steady. The NASL tried to do the opposite, to show MLS what is was doing wrong, and it is failing.

      • The problem I also see with NASL is the exposure and the competition. I mean the Cosmos now have to compete with NYRB and NYCFC to get fans in the seat. MLS is pushing NY teams down everyones throat cause they can buy players and foreign players know about the city. The Cosmos just have the history. The NASL doesn’t get the mainstream media focus. It does not get the big contracts with Fox or ESPN. There is little to no mention of the league except when a team leaves it for another league. Also if I remember correctly the teams are getting spread further apart making rivalries more difficult to come by. No one thinks much of a league with 10 or fewer teams as it doesn’t reach many people just those that have a team in the area.

      • A few years ago MLS was paying ESPN to have them air games on ESPN 2. The NASL can cry me a river. They were all talk from the beginning. Not that I don’t want as many functioning leagues as possible, but they chose their own path.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Two words, Citizen Insane. HOME DEPOT.
      .
      Even with strong investors, if revenue declines consistently, at some point the investors say enough.
      .
      I am reminded of the lesson presented to us from history by Messers. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison right after the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Their essays published in support of the newly proposed Frame of Government, aka, the rule about how you make all the other rules, illustrate “branding” perfectly. Their cherished document, and their arguments supporting it, are in fact Nationalist in support of an economically and international strong central government functioning as a single united entity.

      But they did not call themselves nationalists since eleven years before they had instigated and participated in a rebellion against precisely that, a single, strong, central government, the British Empire.

      They lied and called themselves Federalists and the writings The Federalist Papers, even though what they were destroying was the federation (the Articles of Confederation by name).

      Our subsequent political history is full of imitative examples, where there has been the opposite of the truth in the label.
      .
      When the founders of the division one soccer league in this country chose their label, they engaged in similar verbal chicanery. And they made sure they had the money to make the trimmings around the product on the pitch seem as though the product was major league, even though it wasn’t very good. They counted on the ignorance of the general public and got away with it.
      .
      The illusion was created and the con game continues. Now, the product on the pitch is certainly better than 20 years ago. But it cannot match the world’s best. These pages have debated fiercely the effective ways to get there, proving my point.
      .
      NASL has no such claim, and if the Cosmos fold, the rest who remain economically credible will be enfolded into D2 USL, with perhaps some differentiation between independent franchises and wholly owned subsidiary farm teams.
      .
      MLS had Hunt brothers Oil Money. NASL did not. That assertion is vulnerable to all kinds of quibbles, but, bottom line and over time, I suspect it will hold up.
      .
      It is in my lifetime only that professional American football has outstripped collegiate American football for pride of place.
      .
      For soccer we have to think in “severals” of decades to join the economically major sports. I will probably die before it happens. Others of you will see it.
      .
      I sure hope Ryan Richter lands on his feet. My gut says Coach Burke would take him back in a heartbeat, were he to ask.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      Welcome back, the newly rebranded El pachyderm!

      • It’s funny, two sentences and you can tell it’s him. I wonder if he was listening to Cypress Hill when he changed his name……….

    • The Cosmos have strong investors? Certainly doesn’t sound like it.

    • They only have an academy at 12s,13s, and 14s. They folded the others years ago……..I think into the BW Gotschee Academy system. Sadly, I don’t think they are sustainable financially…….I was pulling for the Cosmos and NASL.

  4. That recap of the Women’s U-20 semifinal might be the first time I’ve heard about any US Women’s Team being outplayed and outpossessed like that. Is that normal for the U-20’s because the US players aren’t as physically dominant at that age? Or is the world women’s game catching up to us? (Or, is North Korea just going all East Germany with their women’s program??)

    • The USWNT has a window that is slowly slowly and very steadily closing.

    • The worlds women’s game has completely caught up with us……the ladies in Europe and South America learned to play football……we are still relying on athleticism………it’s been apparent for at least 5 years. France, Germany, Brazil, Japan………all outpossess us, and play more attractive football.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Hey Mr. Kinkead… your idea is absolutely perfect about the schedule, and thus will not be adopted.
    .
    Love,
    .
    MLS ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      Schedule I like but playing on black Friday I would disagree with. There were plenty of college games on that day. This year the only game going on that day is Army vs. Navy.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    Also, terrible news out of Brazil. Really sad to see. Thoughts are with anyone and everyone was has been affected. ESPN reported that Atletico National asked CONMEBOL to award the Copa Sudamerica to Chapecoense. Nice gesture. The least they can do.

  7. Way too much time in between the first round of playoffs and the final, it’s not like they are in other competitions right now like domestic cups or champions league where they continue to play meaningful matches…….a lot of training/downtime between stages…….would drive me bonkers as a player.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      True but one of the byproducts was large crowds for all the games.

      • From a supporters perspective you are right, big crowds which is a good thing. I was thinking more from a players perspective……..it would drive me nuts, as a gaffer too……….

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