Daily news roundups

Jones and Trusty get US U-20 call up, MLS Cup final on Saturday, league news, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty have been called up for the US U-20 MNT camp in Costa Rica, Dec. 13-20. The camp, in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship taking place Feb. 17 – March 5, includes two friendlies against Costa Rica U-20s on Dec. 17 and 19.

At the Union website, a primer for the Waiver Draft.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead answers a variety of Union-related questions from readers.

Mock Draft time! At SB Nation, no Union players are selected but former Union man Jack McInerney is picked to be selected by Atlanta and Zac MacMath by Minnesota.

A post at the Union website notes Jim Curtin’s participation in a fundraising event held by WMMR’s Preston & Steve in support of Philabundance. The post notes, “During the off-season Coach Curtin and the entire technical staff are in ‘discovery mode’, looking to add to next season’s roster.”

Did you know the every member of Keegan Rosenberry’s immediate family has reached an NCAA Final Four at some division in their respective sport? Neither did I.

A post at the Union site notes Chris Pontius joined the team one year ago on Wednesday.

Also at the Union website, another social media-based post on what players are doing in the offseason, this time focusing on Fabian Herbers’ travels in Thailand, and John McCarthy in Europe.

An article at the FIFA website (written by lifting without attribution quotes from two articles written by Dave Zeitlin), Earnie Stewart recalls the celebration after he scored the second goal in the USMNT’s 2-1 win over Colombia at the 1994 World Cup. Well, sort of: “I remember there was a pile and I couldn’t get any air on the bottom of that pile and it was so tremendously hot. And the day after, I remember doing my laundry. That’s pretty much it.” His memory of the celebration may be sketchy but Eric Wynalda recalls, “If you watch Earnie’s celebration, he turns into an eight-year-old kid. It’s just pure joy. Some of us were like, ‘Stay here, stay here, take the yellow card, I can’t breathe.’ I honestly felt like we weren’t going to be able to play just because we exerted more energy in the celebration than we did playing.”

Bethlehem Steel

At the Steel website, James Chambers, who recently inked a new deal with the team, talks about embracing a leadership role

Local

Burlington County Times on Jamie Franks, the 2005 Shawnee High School grad who is head coach of the University of Denver team that faces Wake Forest tonight in the semifinals of the College Cup (6 pm, ESPNU). The team has a 35-1-6 record since Franks became head coach two years ago, including postseason play.

At the American Soccer Pyramid blog, a Q&A with Bearfight FC co-founder Jeremy Sharpe

MLS

The MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle takes place on Saturday (8 pm: Fox, UniMas).

The forecast calls for a chance of some snow before the game with temperatures peaking at 23 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts making it feel like it is 10 degrees. At MLSsoccer.com, a look at how the players will deal with the frigid conditions.

Yahoo Sports on why MLS expects a ratings boost with Saturday’s final.

At Philly.com, Jonathan Tannenwald talks to Shaw Brown, lead producer of Fox’s MLS coverage ahead of the network’s broadcast of the Saturday’s final.

Don Garber will issue his annual State of the League address today at 3 pm, which you can watch live on YouTube.

Garber has been doing interviews ahead of the State of the League address. Some highlights:

  • Echoing recent comments, Garber tells the AP an emphasis on youth development and attracting younger players still in their prime is replacing the signing of older DPs: “Without doubt the target is younger players who are coming at the prime of their career or even as they’re beginning to establish their career.”
  • ESPN reports Garber says “hopes a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will be implemented during the second half of the 2017 regular season.” (Garber’s ESPN interview is quite extensive and covers a wide range of topics. Some more from that below.)

Fox Sports says, “The MLS Cup Playoffs are way too long, but there’s no obvious fix”.

ESPN reports, “MLS will consider changing its playoff format in 2017, with regular season record serving as the first tiebreaker in the conference semis and finals among the possible tweaks, the league’s Vice President of Competition told ESPN FC on Thursday.”

Brotherly Game says, based on previous experience, we still have some time to wait before MLS releases the schedule for next year.

Workers began pouring concrete for the foundation of LAFC’s new stadium on Thursday.

KMOV reports, “Officials from the St. Louis area met with state officials in Jefferson City to discuss the approval of $40 million in tax credits needed to build a soccer stadium for a Major League Soccer team in St. Louis…The officials are trying to move quickly on the approval of funding because half of the $40 million in state tax credits will disappear by the end of the year if they are not used.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the rush to secure tax credits for a MLS stadium in St. Louis is raising red flags.

The Detroit News has an update on efforts to secure a MLS franchise in Detroit.

USA Today wonders when MLS should stop expanding.

Speaking to ESPN, Garber addressed a number of topics related to the ongoing NASL saga. Garber said, “[W]e’re a firm believer that having a vibrant and successful lower-division structure in the U.S. and Canada is going to help grow the game at all levels. The fact that MLS has been stronger and increasingly popular, that’s allowed us to lift the game up from the bottom and to be able to withstand some instability below us. That’s OK, because we’ve gone through some of those challenges many, many years ago.”

Garber also said MLS is not responsible for the NASL’s troubles:

We have never competed in any market in the NASL. There were quite a few NASL owners — and USL owners — who as they saw the opportunity that could be delivered to their investors, their fans, and most importantly their respective communities, would be better served by being an MLS team as opposed to having a team in the lower division.

I want to be very clear about that: At no time did MLS ever reach out to a lower-division team and pitch them on leaving their league and coming into MLS. In every case the opposite has been proven to be true.

Asked what might be the cause of the NASL’s troubles, Garber said, “I think that their strategy was one that didn’t have full alignment amongst all their owners, and that is a really important aspect of what any league needs in any sport in any country in order to be successful.”

Relatedly, Garber said he was not swayed by the recent Deloitte Sports Business Group study funded by the owners of the NASL’s Miami FC calling on promotion/relegation in US soccer. “I think we have been very, very clear in our views on our structure, and the fact that our structure has worked very well in helping to develop our league, and the sport in the U.S. in Canada.”

On to the NASL saga. A “senior official with an NASL club” tells AFP, “Bottom line is, the league’s collapsed.” The report quotes an unnamed “Cosmos source on that club’s status, “We can’t play in a league of seven teams. Doesn’t make any sense for us at all. We’re not going out of business. But we can’t play in a seven-team league. So if we can’t play in a seven-team league, we don’t need players on the payroll. It’s a strategic decision we’ve taken because we can see that the league doesn’t work anymore.”

Empire of Soccer says of New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese, who is under contract with the team through 2017 despite the team having released all of its players last week, “Devoid of any specific role with the team, Savarese has given himself an agenda: playing matchmaker for his former players.”

FiftyFiveOne reported on Thursday a deal that would see the USL the second division league in US soccer is “99% complete,” adding, “The deal wouldn’t involve the NASL becoming a third-division, leaving the league dead in the water.” The report says NASL teams have until Dec. 16 to “to complete their admittance to the USL”:

In November, it was confirmed that Tampa Bay and Ottawa would be joining the USL in 2017. Multiple sources have stated that San Francisco, Indy, and newly-rebranded North Carolina are set to join the USL.

Miami is also interested in making a switch. However, one source has stated that the USL is wary to include the team due to a longstanding potential MLS side in the city, led by David Beckham.

Meanwhile, markets like Puerto Rico and Edmonton are of interest to the USL on paper. However, according to one source, the distance of the two in comparison to the rest of the league are tremendous outliers and would drive up expenses. Of the two, Puerto Rico is a more appealing prospect and isn’t out of talks yet.

The report says it is unclear if the NASL teams desiring to make the move to the USL will have to pay the full expansion fee, reported to be at $5 million. Earlier this week, FiftyFiveOne reported Rayo OKC, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, New York Cosmos, and FC Edmonton are the teams not negotiating with the USL. Neither report mentions where Jacksonville Armada stand in all of this although a report from WTLV notes, “Social media reports suggest that the Armada are one of several NASL sides considering a move to the USL.”

Meanwhile, Edmonton FC co-owner Tom Fath told the11.ca on Thursday, “I am still fully committed to playing in NASL. The plan going forward is that the league will be playing in 2017.

Sun Sentinel has this update on Fort Lauderdale Strikers: “The Strikers have endured their share of upheaval this season: switching stadiums, paying players late and bouncing checks, borrowing money from the rival Rowdies before ultimately being sued for control of the team by Rowdies owner Bill Edwards. The team is being shopped to potential new owners, as well. Edwards loaned the Strikers $770,000 this year, according to court documents, and is suing for the repayment of over $300,000.”

By the way, if you’re interested in some background on how the most recent version of the NASL came to be, take a look at a series I wrote for PSP back in December of 2009, “That USL/TOA/NASL thing” (part one, part two, part three). At FiftyFiveOne, check out “What happened to the TOA’s Original NASL Founders“.

Thursday’s FiftyFiveOne report also contained this interesting passage: “There are also major questions surfacing about the authenticity of [NASL] commissioner & CEO [Bill] Peterson’s public comments. Multiple clubs have affirmed that they were misled by Peterson about the prospect of future NASL expansion as means to keep owners invested. Notably, Peterson told Sports Illustrated that the NASL was in talks with ‘forty groups’ when asked about Tampa Bay and Ottawa’s impending USL departure.”

FiftyFiveOne asks an interesting question: “What Does the Demise of the NASL Mean for Refereeing in the US?”

The USL’s board of governors convened in Florida on Thursday for the league’s annual Winter Summit. Surely there are some unexpectedly interesting discussions going on there.

US

At the Washington Post, Steven Goff on how Sunil Gulati needs to set the stage for his successor as president of US Soccer.

Elsewhere

ESPN reports, “FIFA executives are considering using penalty shootouts to decide any group game that ends in a draw in the proposals for a 48-team World Cup, according to a report in The Times. ”

At SI, “The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider.”

The Guardian has an update on the unfolding child sexual abuse scandal in English football: “The National Police Chiefs’ Council has said 83 potential suspects have been identified in connection with allegations of historical child sexual abuse in football.”

Reuters reports, “Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says successor Gianni Infantino has showed him no respect by failing to return his phone calls.”

FIFA has handed lifetime bans to Former Zimbabwe Football Association official Jonathan Musavengana and ex-Togo coach Banna Tchanile, and former president of the South African Football Association Kirsten Nematandani has been given a five-year ban, in connection with to corruption related to international friendly matches played in South Africa in 2010.

Goal.com reports, “Celia Castedo, a Bolivian aviation official, has revealed that she was ‘harrased and pressured’ into covering up the truth behind the Chapecoense airplane crash which killed 71 passengers and injured six others.”

Checkout the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio for the upcoming week.

21 Comments

  1. It’s pretty awesome how Jones started to get call ups around when he was signed to a HG contract.

  2. “At SI, ‘The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider.'”
    .
    I read this article yesterday. It’s an interesting idea, but I think it would have some logistical nightmares.

  3. Read Garber’s ESPNFC interview. He comes off like MLS is the top league in the world, and that they can do whatever they want. Screw everyone else. What is the viewership for the MLS playoffs outside of the competing cities? Crap would be my guess. MLS had several issues, but the one I think that bothers fans the most is their inability to fix the horrible officiating. This isn’t a top flight league for many reasons, player allocation rules and salaries come to mind, but the quality of officiating just make games unwatchable.

    • Tom- mls CAN do whatever ‘they’ want.
      .
      Kiss the ring sir.

    • What I finally understand, reading Garber’s comments to ESPN, is that, he really believes that MLS is building soccer culture in the United States. All of his statements say this in one way or another. He goes so far as to say, “We’ve created a soccer supporter culture that I think has reverberated throughout stadiums in the U.S. and Canada.” Think of that. They’ve CREATED a supporters culture.

      MLS to Garber is not building a league to match the demands of a market that wants the sport. They’re literally raising the sport and its culture out of the ground, converting that mythical creature “the casual fan” into an MLS season ticket holder through the force of “billions of dollars of investment.” It demonstrates a real difference of world view with those who think that the U.S. actually has a soccer market that just needs to be catered to. Build it and they will come. For Garber, it’s a giant marketing effort. It’s really remarkable.

  4. FIFA needs to STOP tinkering with the WC right now. It isn’t broken so please don’t try to fix it. We are trending toward Montessori soccer at the international level and this is not good. As for deciding group games on PKs, why do you need a winner in a group game?

    • In the format they’re proposing, there are only 3 teams in each group. So ties, in that case, can make it impossible to have a clear order of finish. For example if every game finishes 1-1 there’s no viable tie breaker – Goals For, Goals Against, Goal Differential, etc. all become useless in that group. You’re stuck with stupid things like number of yellow cards or whatever.
      .
      I get why there’s interest in FIFA to expand. But bullshit formats like 16 groups of 3 is a dumbass way to implement it. Which, FIFA being FIFA, means we can expect that’s what format they’ll select.

      • How is that different than having nothing but 1-1 ties in a 4-team group?

      • It’s not, but it’s far less likely to happen in a 4-team group. In a 3 team group, each team only plays twice.

      • Scott of Nazareth says:

        Great point on the ties, didn’t even think of that!

        I just think that a 2 game group stage allows the chance for one bad game, bad call or plain bad luck to get over magnified and result in quality teams getting booted early. Can you imagine how that would go over in Europe or South America?

        Its all about the money, so expanding the #’s is inevitable. I’d prefer they go to 40 and have 8 groups of 5. If they HAVE to have 48, then make the bottom 16 do a play in game to be the 5th team into each group.

    • FIFA just wants to be more inclusive. I get it. Here’s my idea: absolutely every team gets in. Every single footballing nation represented. Of course, the logistics of finishing the tournament in a month are insurmountable, so instead, you break up the competition over, say, three years, getting teams from the same general part of the world to play each other on weekends when their club teams are off. Eventually you would wind up with a nice round number of teams that came out on top, say, oh, I don’t know, 32, and then these teams would finish off the competition in one place, in a tournament that would take about a month. I think that format would actually work very well.

      • 🙂

      • Instead of expanding the field, why not just give every country a participation trophy…

      • the next logical conclusion– thank you for this and for not making it me.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        FIFA is governed by majority vote.
        .
        So, to get approval, you have to have all the small, insignificant-in-terms-of-socccer -quality countries to approve. [just like CONCACAF]. [just like Uefa].
        .
        Those federations would like team exposure, but REALLY they want money, as much as they can extort for their vote. [just like CONCACAF].
        .
        SO pay everyone off generously.
        .
        Keep eight groups, expand each to five teams from the current four. The revenue from the extra games goes into the payoff pot (see above), so current revenue structures stay the same.
        .
        CONCACAF gets one more team. Africa gets one more. Asia gets one. CONMEBOL gets two. UEFA gets two aNd a playoff against Oceania for a third.
        .
        And international soccer remains as corrupt as ever because the wealthy, good leagues are controlled by the majority of poor (in wealthy), poor (in quality) leagues, and have to buy votes in order to get any decisions made.
        .
        Same old same old.
        .

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Probably that was the essence of Infantino’s campaign platform.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Late observation:
    .
    Ed’s link to the article on referee development in Minnesota is quite useful. The article gives some idea how the refs we endure in MLS are generated.
    .
    Each state will be different in its details, but the broad strokes of working your way up are probably pretty similar.
    .
    Says to me, to improve the quality of refereeing, you need to improve the quality of the referee evaluators, probably by importing those individuals.
    .
    Scary thought for all Union fans. What if Mark Geiger becomes one of those evaluators when his legs go?

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Utterly trivial point, only for those who follow USL, and it is only one datum.
    .
    Last season there were Twelve affiliates in USL that seemed from their names to be wholly owned subsidiaries of MLS clubs.
    .
    An article on the USL website announcing the partnership of the Ottawa Fury and the Montreal Impact says there are nine.
    .
    1. Is Montreal no longer running FC Montreal and replacing it with Ottawa?
    .
    2. Are there two other clubs doing something similar, laying down their wholly owned affiliates and having partnerships with independent clubs?

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    My error, last season there were eleven wholly owned affiliates, my bad.
    .
    if the author left out “other” from an intended phrase “Nine other,” then the arithmetic adds up.
    .
    Should’ve looked before I leaped.
    .
    Useful up to date chart of the MLS USL affiliations on Wikipedia.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Soccer_League#Expansion_of_MLS_partnership_and_rebranding_.282015.E2.80.93.29

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Tomorrow we find out whom they have protected in the expansion draft.
    .
    Worth noting that we know more about the Union’s roster for next season than is showing on the MLS Roster page.

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