Daily news roundups

Union bits, Toronto tops Montreal for Eastern Conference championship, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead looks at some players that will be available in the Re-Entry Draft the Union might consider.

At the Union website, Matt Bodiford notes a post at MLSsoccer.com from Matthew Doyle in which the Armchair Analysit predicts Alejandro Bedoya and Keegan Rosenberry will be called up by Bruce Arena for January’s USMNT camp.

Speaking of Keegan Rosenberry, at the Union website, the right back has advice for incoming rookies.

It’s Tranquillo Barnetta’s free kick goal against DC versus Fabian Herbers’ curler against Columbus in the final fan vote for Goal of the Year.

At MLSsoccer.com, the Union selecting Sebastien Le Toux in the 2009 Expansion Draft ranks as as one of the top five picks in MLS Expansion Draft history.

Bethlehem Steel

At the Bethlehem Steel website, Tom Via talks to head coach Brendan Burke about how the minutes played by young players in Bethlehem’s inaugural USL season have laid a strong foundation for the team’s second season. Via notes, “Overall, 35 different players appeared for Steel FC last year. While the number is higher than at many other clubs, it overshadows the true foundation that Burke had built. Of the 29,700 minutes, nearly 68 percent of the game action was dedicated to players under the age of 24.”

Burke says, “We had a number of Union Academy players and other young guys see a ton of minutes down the stretch. Although it didn’t translate to results this year, there were some very good performances in there and they know exactly what is required now going forward…The hope is now that the production that we did get from all of those guys under the age of 24 will jump up in a significant way in 2017. They know what it is about now and soon it will be time to show that we all grew a bit through last year’s experiences.”

Philadelphia Union Academy

Union Academy midfielder Rayshaun McGann came into the game in the 75th minute and then scored the final goal of the match in the 92nd minute as the US U-17 BNT defeated Portugal 7-1 in their opening game at the Nike International friendlies at Lakewood Ranch in Florida on Wednesday. Next up on Friday is Turkey, who lost 4-2 to Brazil in their opening game (7 pm, YouTube).

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralpha notes, “Philadelphia Union Academy goalkeeper Tomas Romero and the El Salvador U17 team booked a spot in the CONCACAF U17 Championship next spring with a third place finish in the Central American qualifying tournament in Costa Rica.”

Local

Top Drawer Soccer talks to Max and Sydney Zandi, cousins who attend West Chester Henderson and will playing in boys and girls High School Soccer All-American Games in North Carolina on Saturday. Both play club soccer with Penn Fusion. Max is committed to play college soccer at Villanova while Sydney, who is a US Youth International, is committed to Virginia.

MLS

Toronto are the Eastern Conference champions after coming from behind at home to defeat Montreal 5-2 in extra time on Wednesday night to conclude a very entertaining conference championship series. Toronto will now host Western Conference champions Seattle on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 pm (Fox).

Toronto is now the first Canadian-based team to reach the MLS Cup final. Jozy Altidore is now the first player to score in five straight playoff games in a single postseason (former Union man Carlos Ruiz scored in five straight playoff games but he did so over two postseasons). The 12 goals scored over the aggregate 7-5 scoreline between Toronto and Montreal is the highest in league history for a two-legged playoff series.

The long-range weather forecast for the December championship game in Toronto? “Teeth-chattering.”

Before Wednesday night’s game, MLS and Canada Soccer announced a joint task force “to focus on advancement of youth development in Canada and expansion of the Generation adidas program to Canada.” Additionally, beginning in 2017, Canadian players who meet certain conditions will no longer count as international players on non-Canadian MLS rosters:

[A]ny player who meets the requirements to qualify as a Homegrown Player as a member of an MLS club academy, either in the U.S. or Canada, or has met similar requirements as a member of a Canadian Approved Youth Club, will count as a domestic player (i.e., he will not occupy an international spot) provided that:
  • The player became a member of an MLS club academy, either in the U.S. or Canada, or a Canadian Approved Youth Club in the year prior to the year in which he turns 16;

AND

  • The player signs his first professional contract with MLS or an MLS club’s USL affiliate.

MLS and the CSA will work together to identify qualifying Canadian Approved Youth Clubs that meet specific standards in relation to competition, environment and coaching. These clubs, which will be announced by MLS at a later date, may or may not be affiliated with an MLS team.

Nine Canadian players would be grandfathered in for domestic player status with the new rules. More on the announcement at MLSsoccer.com (12). Reaction at at least on Canadian soccer site is mixed.

Don Garber says it is more important now for teams to sign players in their prime who can help a team win than to sign aging players whose prime contribution might be more along the lines of name recognition to help sell tickets:

Getting young guys who are at their prime playing in our league is far more important than getting legendary players coming into our league at the end of their career. And I think we needed that a lot more [in the past]. I don’t think we need that as much now…

[Teams] used to sign them because they thought they would help sell tickets. And now it really matters if they’re going to help your team win. Because if your team wins, you have 36,000 people coming to your game. You don’t need to get it artificially. But obviously it’s been an honor to have those players in our league.

Salt Lake has exercised the options on five players: Lalo Fernandez, Chris Schuler, Demar Phillips, Justen Glad, and Ricardo Velazco. Options were declined on veteran players Jamison Olave and Javier Morales, and also Boyd Okwuonu, Phanuel Kavita, John Stertzer, Emery Welshman, and Olmes Garcia. Devon Sandoval, Chris Wingert, and Aaron Maund are out of contract while the loan of Pedro Baez to the club has expired.

From ESPN: “Hull City are set to miss out on top target Nemanja Nikolic in January with the striker in line for a move to Major League Soccer with Chicago Fire, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.”

More on Don Garber’s visit to MLS hopeful Cincinnati on Tuesday at Cincinnati.com and Fox Sports.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a Q&A with MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott about that city’s chances of landing a MLS franchise. More on St. Louis’ MLS hopes here.

Tampa Bay Times looks at some of the challenges the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who have left the NASL for the USL, face in upgrading their stadium, challenges that seem to revolve around whether or not that team can move to MLS.

No word yet on any decisions that have been made at the NASL board of governors meeting that was supposed to conclude on Wednesday and how those decisions might affect the future of the New York Cosmos. As of this writing, the latest on the Cosmos is a rumor based on a since deleted tweet: Is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim interested in buying the team?

Meanwhile, Cosmos broadcaster One World Sports, whose chairman happens to be Cosmos owner Seamus O’Brien, has reportedly, like the Cosmos themselves, furloughed its employees and also reportedly has failed to pay those employees, messed with employee 401k accounts, and also deducted federal taxes but has not transferred that money to the government.

A post at Prost Amerika titled “It’s time to stop mourning the New York Cosmos” begins,

The North American Soccer League is on its knees once again — are we really surprised? When the first iteration of the NASL closed its doors for business in 1984 it was clear what had led to its demise: lack of investment; lack of interest; and an unsustainable business model. Now? NASL 2.0 is facing the same consequences.

Professional soccer in America struggled until Major League Soccer laid the groundwork for responsible, tangible growth. MLS preached stability — it delivered — and for some reason this angered the American soccer fan. They wanted something more… they wanted the NASL back and in 2009 they got their wish. But now? It might be a wish they’d like to take back.

US

ESPN reports, “Borussia Dortmund have told Liverpool they should not waste their time pursuing a deal for U.S. international Christian Pulisic.”

Elsewhere

The first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final between Chapecoense and Atletico Nacional was supposed to be played in Medellin on Wednesday night. Instead, following the crash on Monday of the flight Chapecoense chartered that left 71 dead, Atletico Nacional fans filled Estadio Atanasio Girardot to honor the dead while a second night of mourning took place at Chapecoense’s stadium. More at Goal.com.

The AP reports, “The pilot of the chartered plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team told air traffic controllers he had run out of fuel before crashing into the Andes, according to a leaked recording of the final minutes of the doomed flight.”

A NBC report says:

The downed plane was a British Aerospace Avro RJ85 with a range of around 1842 miles when equipped with standard fuel tanks.

NBC on Monday, citing data from Flightradar, reported that the plane had flown about 1848 miles from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz when it fell from the sky.

The Guardian reports, “Delays getting from São Paulo to Bolivia, where the team chartered the plane that crashed, meant a planned refuelling stop in Cobija, Bolivia, was abandoned because the airport does not operate at night, O Globo said.”

Chapecoense director Cecilio Hans has vowed the club will rebuild: “In the memory of those who died and to honor their families, we will rebuild this club from scratch so it is even stronger.” The AP report notes, “Six players, a handful of support staff, and deep sorrow are all that remain of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer club.”

Goal.com reports, “Chapecoense president Ivan Tozzo says his team have been asked to fulfil their next scheduled league fixture to honour the players and staff that died in an air crash before their Copa Sudamericana final.” Even though the team does not have enough senior players left to fill out the roster, Tozzo said Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Marco Polo del Nero told him to fill out the squad with surviving players and players from the team’s youth sides: “It doesn’t matter what the final score is. We have to have a big party that you deserve, that Chapeco deserves, that the region deserves, that Santa Catarina deserves, and that Brazil deserves.”

Chapecoense goalkeeper Nivaldo, who was not on the flight because he was due to make his 300th league appearance on Saturday, has announced he will retire.

The Press Association reports on the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal in English football:

Referrals from calls to a dedicated football abuse hotline more than tripled the amount made in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the NSPCC has revealed.

Launched on 23 November to support the victims of child sex abuse within football, the charity said more than 860 calls had been made to the helpline in its first week.

PA Sport reports, “More than a quarter of UK police forces are probing allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.”

Reuters reports, “Swiss authorities have searched more houses as part of their criminal investigation into suspected corruption in world soccer and have added former FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi to their list of suspects, they said on Wednesday.”

The AP reports, “Environmental activists in the Russian city of Kazan said Wednesday that they were detained by police as they planned a protest before the Confederations Cup draw.”

33 Comments

  1. So McGann is going to be our next HG signing, right?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Not yet. He is on the Academy U-18 roster, last I looked, but has not played a minute for the Steel as of this writing.
      .
      The current HG signee whose path would most closely approximate McGann’s is Trusty. Trusty’s first tangible step was to earn full-time practice with the Steel, not the U-18s. We have no idea whether McGann has earned that. We did not learn Trusty had done so, at least I didn’t, until early May.
      .
      Also, at least 3 and possibly 5 academicians are ahead of McGann in line to be evaluated as potential homegrown signings, senior Mark McKenzie whom I expect to see trying to learn right back this season but might be moved to right center back where he has played before, senior Matt Real at left back, senior Anthony Fontana at attacking center mid, senior Justin McMaster at left flank mid, and possibly defensive center mid Josue Monge whose academy class I do not have in my memory at the moment. [Monge I know almost nothing about, Real needs improved strength on the ball to survive USL, based on a game late last spring.]
      .
      Finally, if McGann were to start as a defender, and if, as I expect at the beginning of 2017, Trusty starts at LCB, MCGann would mean starting an entire back line of Academy players, teenagers. Whether that maximizes each player’s chances of success is a serious question. Trusty would have to become the lead CB, and he did do that in the last 10-20 minutes of a game last year when Coach Burke went with only three CBs trying to score a goal, but full time full game is a lot to ask.
      .
      Two years from now, yes, McGann might be an HG signing if everything works out nominally. Of course injuries to the young do happen (see McKenzie, Mark, 2016).

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Oops. Forgot.
        .
        Getting onto the pitch as a sub in the 75th minutes of a rout does not suggest a currently “must play” player.
        .
        Getting feet wet for the future is more like it, it seems to me.

  2. That was fun last night! The crowd really got into it even though it was pouring. Montreal should have won but their defense was non-existent.

    • Agreed. Poor defending from both sides, but the frenzied pace that the match was played at was incredible.

      As a purist, I would have liked to see someone put their foot on the ball and slow things down. However, from a neutral’s viewing perspective, it certainly was compelling and exciting to watch.

      Thankfully, TFC has a week and a half before the final as they must be pretty drained after that. Jozy was positively beastly at times.

    • one of the best MLS series i’ve seen. Jozy was great, i swore Drogba coming in and Seba going out was going to swing it MTL way but bam-bam! it was over.

    • I enjoyed it immensely. Sure defense seemed optional if almost non existent. The set piece defending from Montreal was so horrid I thought I was watching the Union. But the atmosphere was amazing. The Canadians definitely know how to put on a show.

  3. The Oenophile says:

    Anyone else find it absurd that the cup final is held the second week of December in Toronto? If MLS wants the season to stretch this far, then they should pick a neutral venue in a warm climate city to hold the final.

    • No, I don’t. That date was set because all of the major college football conference championships are being played this weekend and it will be a less crowded sports landscape on 12/10.

      I think that MLS Cups have been better since they changed from a neutral venue. TFC will get a great crowd next Sat so I’m not sure what the problem is.

      • agreed on no neutral locations. i favor the calls for a couple years now to have the final played thanksgiving or black friday at the expense of a few regular season matches. what kills any momentum for the playoffs, personally, is the international break.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        They expect a sellout on Monday after season ticket holders are done purchasing tickets and the remainder is open to the public. The Canadians shouldn’t have much trouble handling cold weather should they? They didn’t seem to a problem with Seattle’s weather last night.

      • The Oenophile says:

        Long range forecast right now is a Polar Vortex cold front with temperatures in the single digits in degrees F …

    • On Dec. 10, it will have taken MLS 45 days to conduct its playoffs (they began on Oct 26).

      The World Cup was able to decide a winner among 32 teams in 32 days. The 2016 Euro was decided among 22 teams in about 30 days.

      MLS has to reduce the number of teams in the playoffs (8, tops) and get it wrapped up by the Nov. international break.

      I don’t agree with a neutral venue, though. Team supporters are to great a part of what makes any tournament worth it.

      • Agree that the 2 international breaks kill a lot of momentum in the MLS playoffs. However, comparing MLS playoffs which are played in numerous locations across a very large continent vs. the World Cup/Euros which are played in 1-2 smaller countries each time is not really an apples to apples comparison.

      • I hear ya, but Brazil is actually pretty close to the US in size. And those matches weren’t just played on the coast. They got around.

        Point is though, even with it’s vast size, it shouldn’t take MLS 45 days to conduct a tournament of only 12 teams.

      • Great point about Brazil’s size. You’re right.

        I would love to see the MLS playoff size reduced, but we don’t need to have a shorter season in MLS. If anything, it needs to be longer.

        If I had some more time (and the FIFA site wasn’t blocked at work for malware risk…weird), it would be interesting to see how many international breaks there are in April/May vs. Oct/Nov. If there are less in the spring as I suspect, it would be another reason to switch to a Fall-Spring season in MLS.

      • agreed about it happening quicker, it needs to be wrapped up by the international break

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        Oddly one of the byproducts of that schedule was big crowds for the conference finals. I don’t think that would have happened with Montreal if they didn’t get the break to sell 61k.

    • They switched from a neutral venue to a home field advantage a couple of years ago. To me there really is no good reason to play this game at night rather than in the afternoon (and no good reason not to play last night’s game last Saturday afternoon). It’s not that much warmer, but every little bit helps.

      • The CFL Grey Cup was played at BMO on Sun the 27th. Probably didn’t want the field cut up for that game.(the sarcasm drips)

    • I think it is swell they nestle the Gem right inside the beginning to the countless meaningless Bowl Games…. Don’t you? Hell in five years when there are 40 First Tier Teams and 28 qualifying for playoffs all vying for one trophy…. the final will be on President’s Day Weekend.

      • I feel like college football is everywhere now. It’s on TV like 4-5 days each week even in the regular season which is ridiculous.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        As long as the general public keeps tuning in, it will expand. Only when advertising spending drops with the trend cease or reverse.

    • I liked it better when the MLS Cup was, reliably, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I agree that the playoffs feel like they drag on too long with the large number of teams and the international breaks

    • I nominate Tucson, Arizona as the permanent mls cup final city.

  4. Don Fannuci….You mean the legendary players making $6,000,000 to play for a year or two and decide… “to hell with this”… and go back to Africa, Europe or any other manner of footballing country to really see out the rest of their career?
    .
    .
    …if that’s what you mean, then we actually may agree for once on something. Let us stop throwing MILLIONS at players who are 34 – 38.
    .
    .
    Regarding the game last night. It was a sordid affair fraught with all manner of peril and I stand to applaud the bombastic-ness of it all. Ilf that is the mission of MLS…. well Mission accomplished.
    .
    Congratulates to Michael Bradley, who was the only player on the field even remotely attempting to 1: keep the ball on the ground 2: slow down the Manic phase of the bipolar play. Even Giovinco got swept up in the MLS-ness of it all making some strange choices on the ball.
    .
    Phew, when that game was over — I hit the Gin, two Qualuudes and a Tylenol PM jjjuuuuust for good measure then asked my wife to monitor respirations throughout the night. Double PHEW.
    .
    .
    In far more moving news….I tip my hat for the stunning show of grace by an entire nation in Columbia and those in Brazil who showed up at the stadium also. While watching the MLS Semifinal, I also watched the tribute in Medellin via Twitter—- 150,000 people showed up for a game that never occurred. WONDERFUL display of humanity. I stand in awe.
    .
    Seems we may not be on the verge of apocalypse after all.

    • I’m anti-MLS and critical of most things they do as well. But I can’t help but feel this victim mentality of the NASL is overblown. All this finger pointing and blaming. To me, the bottom line seems to be that running a soccer league in american is fucking hard, and you need to practice some financial restraint to succeed.

      The NASL was too idealistic and brash to exist. Look at this line: “He was quite proud of his complete and utter independence, and the ability of his league’s clubs to work as independent operations in a similar manner to clubs around the world.”

      Seriously? You can be proud of it, but don’t act surprised when that is the reason you fail. Maybe independence is NOT what a soccer league in America needs right now.

      This is actually funny to me … since I am strongly anti-single entity too. I hate it and want MLS rules to open up a lot more.

      But seriously, even I’m objective enough to admit MLS’ business savvy is elite and they managed to navigate tough waters to get to this point.

      NASL learned the hard way, again, that idealism and “hey this is how they do it in europe!” is not enough to work in America, yet.

      • Solid rebut…. though as some are saying NASL is arrogant because of a defiance attitude while the commissioner of the league has a Twitter handle, the soccerdon is rather interesting.
        .
        If MLS figuring out a way to get in bed with US Soccer is one part of the ‘elite savvy’ then I one has to acquiesce your point.

    • I wish there was a coherent point to that article.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    To me the real unanswered question about the NASL crisis meetings is WHY were the USL leaders in attendance?.
    .
    Please as we all evaluate the various Cosmos rumors, keep two questions in mind, what prospective Cosmos buyer is trying to drive down the purchase price by starting these rumors, AND what prospective Cosmos seller is trying to maintain the selling price or trying to drive it higher? No one in the conversation has any obligation to be telling anything resembling the truth.

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    With respect to Kevin Kinkead’s catalog of some of the names currently not re-signed and eligible for the ReEntry Draft, … .
    .
    While I have found no direct statement of the fact I infer, Steve Neumann was captain of Reading United in 2013 according to Wikipedia, and Brendan Burke was Reading head coach in 2013. It seems possible that Neumann was Burke’s captain that season. Also, Wikipedia says Jim Curtin was a Inion assistant coach then.
    .
    Neumann checks the box of being known to current Union/Steel technical staff. If they liked him, and should he remain available, and he plays a position of some current uncertainty on the organization’s overall depth chart, etc., etc.

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