Daily news roundups

Union signing and national team call ups, league news, sanctioning vote today, more

Photo: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union

Save for the re-signing of Charlie Davies, the Union have been quiet thus far this offseason. On Thursday the team announced the signing of Dutch defender Giliano Wijnaldum. And he’s a left-footed left back to boot!

In a teleconference with reporters after the signing announcement, Earnie Stewart described,

He’s a left defender, can also play on the inside when necessary as a left center back, but his main part is being a left back. He’s a defender with a lot of speed. He has physical ability, he can be good in the air, likes running up and down the line a lot and putting in crosses, so there’s a lot of potential there for Giliano, especially in this league where you have to be an athlete, to move up and down. And it’s not only attacking, it’s defending.

Jim Curtin said,

We want our outside backs to get forward. We want them on the ball making decisions. We want them attacking and getting service into the box. Giliano obviously checks all of those boxes. When we talk about a Philadelphia Union left back, and the qualities that we want, he checks every box for us. He’s a guy that’s a good fit.

The Union’s regular starter at left back, Fabinho, is in the final year of his contract. Stewart said he expects Wijnaldum to compete for that starting spot: “We brought Giliano in to compete for a starting position…He didn’t come to just sit on the bench and warm the bench. He came here to compete.”

Wijnaldum is friends with Roland Alberg, with whom he played with at the AZ Alkmaar academy when Stewart was Director of Football Affairs at the Dutch club. Wijnaldum said of joining the Union, “It’s a dream come true, because I like America. I’m happy that I’m here now,” adding, “I came here because I talked with Roland about the club, and Earnie Stewart called me also. Roland said good things about the city and the club – that’s why it was easy to come here.” While at AZ, Wijnaldum also played with Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson.

Stewart confirmed in the conference call that Wijnaldum will occupy the sixth of the Union’s seven international spots. I confess I’m not sure why the Union have only seven rather than eight international spots at the moment (the spot that was part of the Sheanon Williams to Houston trade reverted back to the Union at the end of 2016). But perhaps some relief is on the way. Ilsinho said in an interview with Brazilian outlet UOL Sport in October, “I’m getting my green card, so I live here. I want to take courses to master the language as soon as possible.” Ilsinho makes clear in the interview that he plans to raise his family in the US “so I can give a good education for my children.” The roster on the Union website lists the Union internationals as Roland Alberg, Eric Ayuk, Ilsinho, Fabian Herbers, Wijnaldum, and Josh Yaro. You will recall Andre Blake and Fabinho have had their green cards since the summer of 2015.

Tribal Football says the Union have “completed a major coup” in signing the 24-year-old defender.

More on the Wijnaldum signing at PSP, Philadelphia Union (announcementfive things to know, photo gallery), Philly.com (1, 2), Delco Times, CSN PhillyPhilly VoicePhilly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, Section 215Philly Sports NetworkMLSsoccer.comGoal.com, ESPN, Soccer AmericaFootball Oranje, and the Daily Mail.

And this:

As expected, Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius, and Keegan Rosenberry PSPPhilly.com, CSN PhillyPhilly Voice, and Brotherly Game.

Stewart said of Rosenberry’s call up, “This is going to be his first camp, but I’m pretty sure it is not going to be his last camp.”

SBI includes Rosenberry in a list of players with the most to gain at the January camp:

If there’s any position that needs a permanent starter, it’s full back. Keegan Rosenberry proved during his rookie season with the Philadelphia Union that he has the potential to fill one of those spots in the future. Right back may not be a direct area of concern for the USMNT at the moment with DeAndre Yedlin fitting in at the position, but there’s always a chance the Newcastle United man gets moved up to midfield…The Georgetown University product isn’t going to bomb forward as much as Yedlin or Timothy Chandler might, but he is positionally sound, which is something the Yanks have lacked in the last few years at full back.

At MLSsoccer.com, Matthew Doyle’s discussion of the USMNT’s January roster includes mention of how the Union trio might fit in and also has a suggested lineup that includes Pontius and Rosenberry.

Reports on Rosenberry being called up at Lancaster Online and the Georgetown Athletics website.

Brotherly Game lays out why the Union would benefit from signing veteran defender Marvell Wynne. The Pittsburgh-native is a free agent.

The context is the Premier League, but FourFourTwo has a good read about how the transfer rumor mill works.

Bethlehem Steel

At the Bethlehem Steel website, new signing Hugh Roberts discusses some key moments that changed his career, beginning with moving from forward to defender in his second year at George Mason.


The City Islanders will see the return of Jamaican midfielder Paul “Kiki” Wilson for the 2017 season.

The Lancaster Online article linked to above contains a link to an article about Manheim Township High School grad Brian Nana-Sinkam being invited to next week’s MLS Players Combine. “This comes after Nana-Sinkam recently wrapped a highly successful career as a starting defender [center back] each of the last three seasons at Stanford, helping the Cardinal win back-to-back NCAA championships and three straight Pac-12 championships.”

Philly.com on how the Camden Youth Soccer Club “is booming year-round.”


Minnesota have signed forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Miguel Ibarra: “Ramirez has played with the Loons for the past three seasons while Ibarra makes his return to Minnesota after being transferred to Club Leon in Mexico in 2015.”

Chicago have re-signed Argentinian forward Luis Solignac “to a two-year contract with a club option for a third.”

Montreal have re-signed homegrown defender Wandrille Lefèvre to “a new two-year deal, with options for 2019 and 2020.”

After selecting him in Stage Two of the Re-entry Draft, Columbus have signed defender Josh Williams, who previously played for the Crew from 2010-2014.

San Jose have named Jesse Fioranelli as general manager. He previously worked for Roma, Lazio, and Samsunspor.

At MLSsoccer.com, everything you need to know about the 2017 SuperDraft as well as a mock draft.

From the Charlotte Observer:

As part of a bid to land Charlotte a Major League Soccer expansion team, Mecklenburg Commissioners met in closed session Wednesday night to discuss a $150 million plan to rebuild Memorial Stadium.

Under the proposal, the county and city of Charlotte would each spend $50 million on the stadium, with the local ownership group of Bruton Smith and his son, Marcus, spending $50 million.

Commissioners did not vote on the idea, and several elected officials questioned whether the public should spend so much money on a new 20,000-seat stadium.

The plan calls for the stadium and the Grady Cole Center to be completely demolished. The ownership group would also want control of the stadium, much like the Charlotte Hornets have with the Spectrum Center, a city-owned building.

More at Charlotte Business Journal.

Tampa Bay Times has more on some of the political obstacles the Rowdies might have to overcome before they can begin the privately-funded renovation of the city-owned Al Lang Stadium as part of their efforts to secure an MLS franchise. The article also notes concerns over a lawsuit in Federal court against the mortgage company owned by team-owner Bill Edwards that could cost the company “up to $173 million in penalties.” The article says, “Edwards’ attorneys have said the lawsuit is baseless.”

At SI, Brian Straus confirms US Soccer’s board of directors will vote this afternoon on whether the NASL will retain Division 2 status, or if the USL will move up from Division 3. Straus reports, “A USSF source told SI.com that about one-third of USL is now non-compliant either with D2 standards or with overall pro criteria related to fields, licenses and other operational issues.” Nevertheless, USL president Jake Edwards (no relation to Rowdies owner Bill Edwards) says, “We’ve got a tremendously strong application on file for division two. They’ve never had something this comprehensive.”

Straus writes that while waivers will be required for some USL teams this year if the league gets Division 2 status, “Edwards stressed that the league and each club will submit a detailed, binding plan to become compliant if they’re not currently.” Edwards explained, “No other league has provided the Federation with a road map for addressing any non-compliance with the standards. It is unprecedented. We’ve provided a road map with dates, deliverables and punitive measures against the club if they don’t become compliant. We’ve laid that out for the last 12-18 months.”

And if the league does not receive Division 2 sanctioning? Edwards said,

Based on decades of past practices from the Federation and the fact that we have the strongest application they’ve ever received, I can’t see a rational reason why they wouldn’t approve it. Why they would turn down the strongest [D2] application would be very hard to understand. However, if they do that, if that happens, we will evaluate the situation at that time. Let me be clear. We will look at all available options to us at that point. We believe this is the strongest application they’ve ever had. If they reject this, we’ll look at all options available to us.

The Oklahoman reports on the frustration of some USL team owners over US Soccer’s delay in announcing a decision. OKC Energy co-owner Bob Funk Jr. says,

I’m flummoxed why this vote is taking so long. The strength of independent USL clubs meeting or exceeding all Division 2 requirements, it is the strongest application U.S. Soccer has received. More than 2.5 times the number of teams meet or exceed the standards for Division 2…Our bid and the NASL’s issues are mutually exclusive. USL stands on its own right. We stand strong and firm that we should be Division 2 based on merit. We’ve earned it. It’s cut and dry as that. Do we qualify for Division 2? Yes. Is there anything holding us back from Division 2? No, I don’t think there is anything that should hold us back.

Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is quoted in The Oklahoman article, “I left the NASL because I believed it to be corrupt. I wanted no part of that. I was tired of the league not meeting Division 2 standards. The USL is organized. It is getting it together from a league standpoint. They are always in contact trying to help in any way it can. I no longer get a call every day from the NASL asking me to finance or partially finance a team.”

Regarding the deficient stadium capacity of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds stadium, Pittsburgh Soccer Report quotes Riverhounds director of communications Anthony Meier as saying last November, “At this time we have currently met the expected league minimums for next season in regards to seat capacity and plan this upcoming fall to begin construction on meeting and exceeding the league minimums for seat capacity for the 2018 season.” Presumably Meier means the team currently meets the league minimums for Division 3, not Division 2, but the description of planned construction this fall to expand seating capacity is notable.

At SI, Brian Straus confirms the reports linked to in Thursday’s roundup that the purchase of the New York Cosmos by Rocco Commisso is contingent on the NASL retaining Division 2 status. Straus explains,

If the Federation allows the NASL to maintain its D2 status, and waivers would be needed since U.S. Soccer requires a second-division league to field 12 teams in its sixth season, then key dominos will fall…

At that point, the NASL will have seven clubs ready to play: the Cosmos, FC Edmonton, Indy Eleven, Miami FC, North Carolina FC, Puerto Rico FC and the expansion San Francisco Deltas. SI.com understands that those owners collectively would fund the Jacksonville Armada as its sale to two potential buyers is finalized. The Strikers also may play again at some point, although they’re more likely to face a hiatus as new investment is sought.

With eight teams, the NASL could play its 2017 season with the understanding that expansion to at least 12 would occur in relatively short order. There are owners in six markets who are in advanced negotiations with the league: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, Orange County and San Diego.

Stay tuned, folks.


The Equalizer and FourFourTwo are reporting that reigning NWSL champions Western New York Flash are moving from Rochester to North Carolina. FourFourTwo’s Jeff Kassouf and Richard Farley report the team is being purchased by North Carolina FC owner Stephen Malik.

This news comes after The Kansas City Star reported on Tuesday that FC Kansas City is being bought by Minnesota businessman Elam Baer. Baer says the team will remain in Kansas City.


The roster for the January USMNT camp is notably made up entirely of MLS players.

The headline at SI: “January camp is no cupcake for U.S. hopefuls eyeing Arena’s favor”. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta observes that opportunities abound for players called into the January camp — “Keegan Rosenberry is a solid choice despite being just a rookie”; Chris Pontius “can play out wide or centrally [and always seems to] look for that final ball” — but how likely are we to see such players break into the the team’s core of regulars? Arena is quoted in an article at US Soccer, “When we get to March and qualifying we’re not going to be experimenting or looking at new players. If there’s an option in 2017 to look at some new or young players, it would be in the January Camp, as well and perhaps July for the Gold Cup. Really our team is fairly set.”

Soccer America and ESPN break down the January camp roster.

ESPN reports, “United States coach Bruce Arena says Clint Dempsey is ‘not fully ready’ to be included on the national team squad for this month’s training camp, but hopes he can return for the World Cup qualifiers in March.”

Jill Ellis has added Sky Blue FC midfielder Sarah Killion to the roster of the USWNT’s January camp.


Reuters reports, “China’s top sports governing body announced plans on Thursday to cap the spending of its leading soccer clubs, accusing them of ‘burning money’ to enlist foreign players while neglecting development of young talent at home.” More at Bloomberg.

At The Guardian: “Why Chinese clubs are breaking transfer records – and why players are wise to go”.

The AP reports, “FIFA has defeated a legal challenge by trade union groups over its decision to pick Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host. World football’s governing body said the Commercial Court in Zurich had rejected a case filed by labour activists in the Netherlands and Bangladesh on behalf of a Bangladeshi construction worker employed on a World Cup project. The case claimed FIFA acted wrongfully in choosing Qatar without demanding the reform of labour laws, and should be held liable for abuses.”

The AP reports, “Germany’s football president is against enlarging the World Cup.” Jose Mourinho tells FIFA.com he’s “totally in favor” of expanding the World Cup field to 48 teams: “As a club manager, if the expansion meant more games, less holidays and less pre-season for players, I would say no. But it’s important for critics to analyse and understand that expansion doesn’t mean more matches. Players are protected and clubs are protected in this way. I prefer groups of three. Two matches and then through to the knock-out stages or go home.”

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


  1. We shouldn’t understate two pieces the roster moves:
    1) Wijnaldum called Alberg, who vouched for the city and the club. Alberg is a guy who had a rough year, but still backed the league, city, and club. That says a lot.
    2) Ilsinho getting his green card for the purpose of raising his kids here. That is a major draw for a lot of players from South and Central American, as well as possibly Eastern Europe. Selling these guys on America can get us players who may not make the roster at Chelsea or Bayern, but who can carve out a very good career in MLS, while providing for their family.
    Always interesting to me to read the viewpoint of the internationals on the league.

    • I made note of point 1 right away, too. Roland might be a bit misunderstood. I hope he get a good shot this season and that he lives up to expectations. It’s great.

      Point 2 is why MLS makes sense for a lot of players. The states are a nice place to live (when you have a bit of money, especially).

      Now lets fill that last international slot with a striker who can bag 15+ in MLS.

      • The part about #2 that I didn’t mention, and the article didn’t either is that in the US, these guys know they are going to get paid. that’s not the case in a lot of leagues. Yeah, you have a contract, but that doesn’t matter if the owners and league have no money.
        As for the striker…I’m being patient. In Earnie We Trust.

      • We need “In Ernie We Trust” t-shirts.

      • Really surprised PSP has not added this item to the shop!

      • Maybe Philadelphia in general could adopt a T-shirt:
        In Earnie We ~ Trust… The Process.

      • Can we get a picture of Earnie and Joel together on the shirt? Those things would sell like hotcakes!

  2. “Can also play on the inside when necessary as a left center back…” Over/under on games we see him play as LCB?

    Also, “he didn’t come here to warm the bench…” The team has had several players, defenders especially, that were brought in and did just that – Anderson last year, Juan Diego Gonzalez and Joe Tait back in the early years – so it’ll refreshing to see this guy on the field.

    Don’t take my cynical comments the wrong way, I love this signing, but the history of the club has skewed my positivity and led to mistrust. Stewart is slowly earning it back though.

    • Anderson sucked though. Dude couldn’t keep up with USL. He was a hopeful depth signing that didn’t work out. Honestly we were lucky Tribbett emerged as much as he did or we really would have been in bad shape at CB last year while Yaro was out.

    • I don’t disagree, but the team has a history of signing “depth” players who either can’t or don’t play, which is as much a waste of money as signing a high-priced DP that doesn’t work out. I would just rather them spend money on proven players who can make a difference and build depth through the draft, home-grown players or GA players who don’t count against the cap. Trusty and Jones may not be ready yet, but in 2 or 3 years they should be. When that time comes, and they merit a pay raise, we can move on from the higher-priced veteran.

  3. I second the Marvell Wynne signing idea. Solid MLS vet who can play along the back line.

  4. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Sitting… waiting…constantly looking at Twitter. USSF is caught between still trying to make it and up and rising but not quite there yet. USL has a plan and its been working. NASL just keeps repeating the mistakes of the past, although Peter Wilt hints at a new direction if they go on……taps fingers….sits…..thinks of when The Sons of Ben didn’t have a team….paging Sunil, step to the microphone….

    • John O'Donnell Jr says:

      Well, what do you know, this should make for an interesting Open Cup. NASL Is gone to have it tough with a small amount of teams being spread out so much. Puerto Rico to Edmonton might be one of the longest road trips in any sports league. If they have eight teams and make it into a 28 game schedule, that’s two trips for both teams. Would make sense to play them back to back and just stay for the week.

  5. So John, what is your opinion of the two-headed coin decision? How much did Sunil aka Harvey Dent influence this call?
    Is it right call in your opinion just punting ball out of play?

    • John O'Donnell Jr says:

      No, I don’t think it’s the right call. We now have no D3 and NASL money issues are only going to get bigger in my opinion. I also am against MLS owned teams going above D3. But since it’s provisional….maybe they have a plan. Lol

  6. “Roland said good things about the city and the club – that’s why it was easy to come here.”
    Good signs.

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