Photo: Nicolae Stoian
Five freaking days to go!!!
Tweet from Sheanon Williams on Monday morning: “Going to work”
Faryd Mondragon and Carlos Ruiz won’t be with the Union as they return to training today from a three day rest. A tweet from Mondragon says they’ll be at ESPN headquarters taping interviews. Ruiz will do a online chat at 11:30am on ESPN Deportes with Mondragon doing one at 2:30pm. An earlier tweet from Mondragon says he practiced on Sunday.
Soccer America talks with Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux admits his first reaction to being selected by the Union in the Expansion Draft was disappointment. “I was happy in Seattle, but it was up to me to make it for the best. I came to the East Coast, where I didn’t really know something over there, so it was brand-new for me.” Le Toux goes on to describe matchday at PPL Park as “sometimes like in Europe when the fans give their strength to the team. It is only 18,000, but 18,000 every game. It’s full and the noise is comparable to Seattle even with less people.” While noting Le Toux’s scoring rate on the road—three goals and five assists—is an area for improvement, Peter Nowak says in the article, “I think Sebastien did a great job playing forward, playing a free role, popping up in different spots. I think this is a good game for him. That is why we moved him and arranged the structure to give him a little bit more freedom.”
“Nowak’s offseason work deserves plaudits with Carroll, Mondragon and Valdes likely to improve the Union’s rickety defensive shape in 2011. The entire group, however, does not inspire quite as much confidence. A lack of creativity in midfield could impair the proceedings going forward if Le Toux stumbles a bit this season, while Ruiz may or may not be up to the burden of regularly leading the line. There are enough questions to suggest Philadelphia may have to settle for mounting a concerted playoff charge rather than sealing a first postseason berth.”
This season preview from The Sports Network concludes that while the playoffs are a reasonable goal for 2011, don’t expect the Union to challenge for the MLS Cup just yet. “With its youth system up and running and strong leadership in place, the team appears to be heading in the right direction for consistent success both now and in the future”
A piece on the Union website looks at local product and Supplemental Draft pick Ryan Richter. While is league-leading 14 goals in the Atlantic 10 Conference put him on the Union’s radar, it was his phenomenal fitness level that got him signed to the team. As Pat Farrell, his coach at La Salle explains, Richter’s fitness level is a product of his tremendous work effort and commitment to the game.
The Brotherly Game reports that the Union have trademarked the word “Doop.” A tweet from Sons of Ben president Bryan James says, “If the @PhilaUnion trademarking #DOOP takes it away from our retailers, we have a problem. If it protects them since we sold it first, fine.”
Friend of the PSP and WYSP DJ Gordon’s Union Sound podcast begins its second season with an interview with Bob Rigby, the former Philadelphia Atoms great and new Union broadcast commentator.
City’s Best Philadelphia has four reasons why skeptical “old-school Philly sports fans—American football-centric as they are” should pay attention to the Union.
Here’s a look at the Union’s first opponent, Houston Dynamo.
Joanna Lohman has a new blog post up that asks the question “What does it take to be great?”
The Independence drew 1–1 in their friendly with University of Maryland.
An alert reader of the March 10 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer noticed an ad from Comcast announcing that, “on or around” April 12, Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV will be available in HD in the Philadelphia market. (Channels 1512 and 1513, respectively.) Great news! Where’s Fox Soccer Plus?
Harrisburg City Islanders captain Dustin Bixler has re-signed with the club. Also signed are defender Andrew Marshall and midfielder Nelson Becerra.
Don Garber wants MLS referees to “reward attacking soccer.” Soccer America wonders if refs will respond to Garber’s “sensible request.”
While the league talks new stadiums and expansion the LA Times wonders if the on-field product is getting any better.
The organizers of Japan’s J-League have postponed all matches scheduled for March, at least 41 matches in total. Vegalta Sendai’s stadium has been destroyed and the club’s foreign players have returned to their home countries while its non-local Japanese players have left the area. Asian Football Confederation matches scheduled to be played in Japan have also been postponed and the national team may temporarily withdraw for competition.
An incredible championship final in the Australian A-League saw Central Coast seemingly win the title when they scored two goals in extra time only for Brisbane to equalize then win the penalty kick shootout.