Daily news roundups

Strength of schedule and other Union bits, SoB election update, league news, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

The Union come in at No. 17 in MLSsoccer.com’s look at the strength of each MLS team’s schedule. Last year, the Union’s schedule was ranked the seventh most difficult.

At MLSsoccer.com, the current status of each MLS team’s roster. Here’s the Union roster:

ROSTERED PLAYERS (23 of 28 spots filled):
GK (2): Andre Blake, John McCarthy
DEF (8): Fabinho, Raymon Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Keegan Rosenberry, Ken Tribbett, Auston Trusty (HG), Giliano Wijnaldum (INT’L), Joshua Yaro (GA, INT’L)
MID (9): Roland Alberg (INT’L), Eric Ayuk (INT’L), Alejandro Bedoya (DP), Brian Carroll, Warren Creavalle, Maurice Edu (DP), Ilsinho (INT’L), Derrick Jones (HG), Chris Pontius
FWD (4): Charlie Davies, Fabian Herbers (GA, INT’L), C.J. Sapong, Jay Simpson (INT’L)
DESIGNATED PLAYERS (DP): 2
HOMEGROWN PLAYERS (HG): 2
INT’L ROSTER SPOTS FILLED (INT’L): 7
GENERATION ADIDAS PLAYERS (GA): 2
UNSIGNED DRAFT PICKS: Marcus Epps, Aaron Jones, Chris Nanco, Jack Elliott, Santi Moar

At Philly.com, John Smallwood talks to Keegan Rosenberry about his great first year as a pro.

Prost Amerika looks at the Union’s 2017 defensive depth chart.

Philly Sports Network on why the Union should trade Ray Gaddis to Chicago for Matt Polster.

Bethlehem Steel FC

At the Bethlehem Steel site, a good read on Matt Real’s growth on the path from the Union Juniors to signing with Bethlehem. Brendan Burke says, “Seeing a guy that Jim Curtin and I worked with when he was only nine is really special because he embodies what the whole project and pyramid is all about and it shows that it is working. It takes a long time for things to get off the ground some time, but all of Matt’s hard work to fight his way up that ladder is a great sign of things to come.”

Section 215 has a good Q&A with Real, who says he’s dream has always been to play for the Union: “It means everything to me. Ever since I was nine years old, making the Philadelphia Union was always my main goal, I was always pushing for that. Even before they had an academy system, I was always thinking “hopefully I can play for the Philadelphia Union first team”. And to see that, if it actually happened, to see all my hard work pay off, it would just mean so much to me and definitely fulfill the dream that I’ve had since I was a young boy.”

Philadelphia Union Academy

Top Drawer Soccer ranks the Union’s academy the eighth best in MLS:

Philadelphia’s YSC Academy opened in 2013, but it didn’t seem to make much of a dent until technical director Earnie Stewart arrived in late 2015. YSC is a distinctly European model (sans the monetary cost absent a scholarship) combining school and academy soccer into one, and Philly’s players raved about its convenience and promoted its benefits ceaselessly. The signings, under Stewart, of players like Auston Trusty, Matthew Real and Derrick Jones into the Union system (some for Bethlehem Steel in the USL) proves the system is beginning to churn out tangible value. And, more to the point, that there is tangible value deep into the club’s academy. There should be more where that came from. Philly’s system is one of the most sustainable in MLS, and it should pay out Homegrowns year over year so long as the front office continues to value a pipeline it’s done well to cultivate.

Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben have made an important announcement regarding the election to fill the Membership and Philanthropy board positions:

There was an error with ballot distribution and we are re-starting the voting in order to ensure that everyone who should be able to vote gets an opportunity to do so. If you cast a vote already, you will need to do so again. Because the entire ballot is being resent, no votes will be counted twice.

They will re-deploy the ballots tomorrow January 20th at 5pm and the voting will run until Friday January 27th 5pm.

Local

Tickets for the USWNT-Germany / England-France SheBelieves Cup doubleheader at Talen Energy Stadium on March 1 go on sale today at 10 am.

The Winter 2016 issue of EPYSA’s Touchline magazine has an oral history of the Philadelphia KiXX written by Dillon Friday (article begins on page 6).

At the Burlington County times, a memorial piece and obituary for US National Soccer Hall of Fame Gene Olaff.

MLS

The Galaxy have signed 23-year-old Portuguese midfielder João Pedro Almeida Machado, “known as João Pedro,” from Vitória Guimarães “as a Special Discovery Player through Target Allocation Money (TAM).”

Birmingham City manager Gianfranco Zola has confirmed Jonathan Spector is leaving the club to play in the US: “I am a little bit disappointed and sad that Jonathan Spector will be leaving us. He deserves that. He’s going to go home and I wish him all the best.”

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to LAFC?

At MLSsoccer.com, Andrew Wiebe discusses the importance of the league now announcing the amount of allocation money involved in trades: “No matter where you stand – from owners to GMs to technical and sporting directors to coaches to players to media to fans – there’s no going back now after $725,000 in allocation money changed hands in a single day, the beginning of a new era in MLS trade evaluation, player valuation and general scuttlebutt.”

At MLSsoccer.com, more on David Villa’s comments that MLS doesn’t need promotion/relegation.

At SI, Brian Straus’ series looking at MLS expansion hopefuls continues with Nashville.

The Detroit expansion bid will be submitted in time for the league’s Jan. 31 deadline.

St. Louis expansion bid update from the AP:

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has made it clear he’s opposed to state funding for stadiums, yet a revised proposal for a $200 million soccer stadium in St. Louis calls for the state to contribute land that’s potentially worth millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, a city aldermanic committee delayed a vote Thursday to advance a measure putting the proposal, which also requires city voters to approve $60 million in funding, on the April ballot.

More at St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal, and St. Louis Public Radio.

NASL

At FourFourTwo, Richard Farley has more from acting NASL commissioner Rishi Sehgal about the new direction of the league away from, as Farley describes, “years of casting U.S. and Major League Soccer as adversaries.” Sehgal says,

Fighting, and looking outside of what we need to do, is not going to solve our problems. To a large extent, we have to solve our own problems…We know we need to take a more measured approach to expansion. We’re not just going to rush into it, and jump into markets here or there…We’re going to be in the same situation, which is a waste of time and money…We want to be more collaborative with everybody…All soccer stakeholders, we play the same game. Let’s work together. Let’s stop fighting, take the drama from the boardrooms, and let’s put it on the field…I don’t understand so much of the negativity around the game in this country. I really don’t. I’m really hoping we can change that. I’ll tell you, from our perspective and the owners’ perspectives, they want to change it. That’s part of the mission. We want to be collaborative…Our owners have recognized, we need to take some measures to not be so free market…We needs some controls. We need to have a sustainable model. Being free market can work if the market forces are perfect in a developed market situation. But in the early stages, you need some controls to adjust for market forces that can skew too heavily in one way or the other.

Sehgal is emphatic in his appreciation of the work the Sunil Gulati did to ensure the league would survive: “Sunil Gulati spent a lot of time with our owners, coming to multiple meetings, adjusting his schedule. He’s probably the hardest-working man in the sport…The commitment he’s made to this game is incredible. The effort he put into helping us work into our issues, incredible.”

US

SI has a photo essay reviewing Barack Obama’s connections to soccer during his presidency. At MLSsoccer.com, MLS teams that visited the Obama White House.

At the Washington Post, a look at what is known thus far about where the USMNT will be playing this year.

At SI: “The U.S. national team and the uncomfortable question of commitment.”

The US U-23 WNT will be participating in the Thorns Spring Invitational in Portland, March 26-April 1. The team will face NWSL sides Houston Dash (March 26), Portland Thorns (March 29), and Chicago Red Stars (April 1).

Elsewhere

CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio says there have been no discussions about a merger with CONMEBOL for World Cup qualifications: “Cooperation with CONMEBOL is very important in every way. We saw with the success of the Copa America that it was an all-around success for CONCACAF as well as for CONMEBOL. The idea of cooperation for tournaments always exists and we’re excited to explore different opportunities, but for a combined federation to arrive that would lead to World Cup qualification (being combined), I don’t think it is changing…Nothing like this has been discussed, neither between confederations nor at the FIFA level.”

With the World Cup expanding to 48 teams in 2026, Moggio says the possibility of a joint Canada-Mexico-US hosting bid is greater: “There aren’t many countries in the world which can say they will have no problems in hosting this kind of competition. This makes co-hosting bids, such as the one in our region and with three countries involved, more feasible…It’s still too early to decide on feasibility. However, we have three countries in our region, with Mexico, the United States and Canada, which have a better chance of matching the requirements together, not only when it comes to logistics, but also competitive level.”

Press Association reports, ” The organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have announced a British man has died while working on one of the tournament’s venues.”

Cornish pasties. Yum.

Check out 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. .
    “If you think that you’re strong enough if you think you belong enough
    `if you think that you’re strong enough if you think you belong enough…”
    ~ NICE DREAM~
    .
    boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy…those words from the NASL commissioner are MUS.I.CAL.
    .
    ~particularly this tidbit…. “Being free market can work if the market forces are perfect in a developed market situation. But in the early stages, you need some controls to adjust for market forces that can skew too heavily in one way or the other.”
    .
    NASL ain’t dead yet …. much to the chagrin of many… just corrrecting.

    • They are on deaths door steps though, the only reason they can survive is because they will now approach the growth in the same way MLS did. It’s actually pretty funny. Their old model has now proven completely wrong. It’s not surprising though.

      • I think the remedy is in finding ways to cooperate with the rest of the soccer community rather than set themselves against it.

      • .
        The (old) model is about individual club control. And with that there seems to be a new mandate on fiscal responsibility. This is to be celebrated.
        .
        We should be supporting NASL for the belief in individual club ownership just as much if not more than the current first division model which is and has isolated itself into an anticompetitive safety net…. any anything short of this makes me not only question the sporting worldview of a person but the general worldview as well.
        .

      • My world view is that I want a successful soccer league in this country. Everytime we have taken belief in individual club ownership in this country the league has quickly folded. MLS is different, it take a more American view on the sports league, and American sports leagues are insanely successful. Top 2 leagues (NFL, MLB) by a large margin and 4 of the top 5 (NFL, MLB, EPL, NBA, NHL).

      • I’m fine with a closed model, but I really hope that the lower divisions are more like the lower divisions of Europe and less like the minor leagues of baseball in which dollar beers fund developmental games in which the final score doesn’t matter.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        A gentlemen’s agreement works until one of the Gentlemen sees a short-term competitive advantage in breaking it.
        .
        The principle articulated so badly above is the underlying driving force behind the economic evolution of monopolies.
        .
        The iron-clawed control exercised by a standard Oil Trust, or a Japanese prewar zaibatsu – or indeed most likely a Japanese postwar keiretsu – is “necessary” to maintain the collective discipline that benefits the collective.

        .
        What is the enforcement provision in this “new” NASL? Economic history does suggest that sooner or later some individual owner will perceive an opportunity to profit by breaking the deal and screwing everybody else.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        I have no idea how to get proper italics for foreign language words. I am sorry for the difficulty.

    • So…in lieu of a free market approach…maybe they’ll give single entity a try? We must all hang together, or surely we will all hang separately.

      • I Am Citizen Insane says:

        Only time will tell… what I am certain of- the arc of each major professional sport you have mentioned in your argument has follow thusly and it is important for soccer to do as such – there is always competition until the competition is absorbed for the sake of the game… sometimes with amendments to the rules to accommodate.
        .
        NASL provides the stimulus to keep MLS in check IMO.

      • Not much stimulus for competition…no chance at all for NASL to take any TV dollars from MLS in next decade.
        In my opinion, current NASL teams just biding time to jump to USL or MLS even without fear of that penalty for leaving NASL.
        Sorry you feel so strongly about NASL and hate MLS but if you truly want soccer to thrive in this country, MLS model is only financially stable model for foreseeable future.
        Let MLS be div 1, divide USL into two divisions–one is serious d2 that can grow to offer pro/rel, and d3 that is combo MLS farm team and small regions that can’t support consistently more than 5k/game.

        Open cup and occasional inter division (d1, d2, d3) games will allow soccer to grow much stronger.

        NASL recent crash and burn just shows there is limited pool of interest, money, and resources currently for soccer to survive much less have chance to pass NHL as 4th US sport.
        If you truly want pro/rel, you have to realize NASL staying around drawing resources(sponsors) from the more financially stable league isn’t offering competition at all but delaying pro/rel.
        Let USL and MLS grow to point they split and build their own sustainable single entity models to compete with the existing MLS/USL. That would be sign country is ready to take soccer to surpass MLB as third US sport(NFL and NBA by then being top two).

        UnionGoal

      • .
        The word hate and me never cross paths. ever.
        .
        Beyond that we agree to disagree.

  2. As we inch closer to preseason, I can’t help but think that Ken Tribbett belongs in the USL.
    .
    We need a veteran CB.
    .
    I can live with the mid-field as is, but not the back line. Tribbett simply made too many mistakes and lacks the speed to make up for them.

    • Earnie has mentioned that CB is a priority.
      .
      Jonathan Spector is apparently headed to Orlando, so that’s one option out the door. But I’m sure Earnie has something up his sleeve.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        earnie’s mention said that there had to be some kind of roster change before it could happen. Please don’t lose his qualifying provision.

  3. I think we should appeal to Ginsters of Cornwall to sponsor Union jerseys when our Bimbo deal runs out. Bring ’em to the Talen concessions as well. Nothing will go better with some Dogfish Head 60 Minute than a nice big meat pie.

    • Not too many sponsors I can think of that would be less offensive than Bimbo prominently on our team’s shirts.
      I know that is blasphemy and I should be flogged for saying it, but there are 4 things holding back Philadelphia Union from more success in Philadelphia area:

      1. The jersey sponsor
      2. Deeper run in playoffs–people like winners even if they have no clue about the sport. Witness USWNT popularity in 2015–friends and relatives who would rather watch paint dry than a soccer game were wildly cheering on Carli and Hope and Alex and Cristen and the rest.
      3. “Suck my balls”—supporters sections are supposed to be fun and a draw and while most people have no problem with “Ass-hole” screamed out occasionally (and I do mean occasionally), this chant is disgusting and repulsive especially when screamed at a female line judge and not something I want my kids hearing. Heck you could even hear chant on 2 of the broadcast games last year. Sick.
      4. Well probably just because I am cheap but concession stand prices are far higher than even the movies. Besides a movie, I can take my family of four to a minor league baseball game, pay for game, parking AND food and come out ahead of Talen’s concessions and parking even before game tickets are counted. Most people want to spend under $100 for a 2 hours of entertainment with their family.

      Or maybe it’s just me.
      UnionGoal

      • I think only #2 on your list have held the Union back in anyway. More so than themselves and the usual footshot. Bimbo’s $ has financed player acquisitions(if you want to discuss kit aesthetics and how to better blend the logo in,I’d listen). As for the “in game experience ” and concession pricing, it’s telling you compare them to minor league baseball. The U for a game are cheaper by far than the Big 4. If you think the entertainment is on par with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (are they still a thing?), well, I can’t help you.

  4. does anyone not believe a co-hosted North American World Cup will happen? no one wanted a 48 team Cup though we heard about it for most of 2016. we keep seeing headlines for co-hosted like there’s any other alternative.
    we should be greedy. by 2026 we’ll have so many soccer-specific stadiums in the US that it’s completely feasible to just own it.

  5. Just Woke Up says:

    MLS.com graded the coaches around the league:

    Philadelphia Union, Jim Curtin: C-
    In 2016, Curtin was reluctant to make adjustments in his squad and stuck to players despite their form dropping off. Similarly, he didn’t rotate his squad for tight turnarounds or build reliable depth. During games when he did make substitutions, he was slow to do it. Tactically, again, he was rigid, failing to show flexibility as needed. There’s no reason to believe 2017 will be different, even as Earnie Stewart is working to boost the roster – but if Curtin does find the right formula, he probably won’t let it get away from him.

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