Photo: Paul Rudderow
Talk about your fixture congestion. Before the Union play San Jose at 4pm on Saturday, the Phillies will host the Mets at 1:10pm and the Flyers will host the Bruins in the first game of whatever round of the NHL playoffs it is at 3pm. At least the Flyers have the night off when LA Galaxy come to town on Wednesday, May 11.
Kerith Gabriel looks at the “impenetrable” Union defense. Along the way, he describes your new favorite comic book characters: El General (Mondragon), the Live Wire (Califf), Senor Garantia/Mr. Assurance (Valdes), the Quiet Consummate (Harvey), the Welcomed Surprise (Williams). Here’s hoping they are all part of this summer’s biggest blockbuster.
The scouting report on the Union website says, “On paper, you’d have to give the edge in this match to the Union, who are well-rested and eager to avenge a late goal to Seattle two Saturdays ago, as well as San Jose’s comeback victory at PPL Park last year.”
Goal.com forecasts a Union win on Saturday. “Philadelphia makes life particularly difficult for its opponents with its approach and sucks the life out of most contests. While the Earthquakes will likely improve at PPL Park, the boost may not immediately yield the desired result.”
Philly Union Talk previews Saturday’s game: “Expect great defense. Expect mysteriously effective leadership from the possibly supernatural Faryd Mondragon. Expect cheap eats. Cautiously hope for an offensive explosion.”
From the Union website, Danny Mwanga is staying focused “despite fluid role.”
PSP photographer Earl Gardner is a man of many talents, as you will learn when you listen to the latest installment of the Union Sound, hosted by WYSP DJ and friend of the PSP Gordon. The guest is Jordan Harvey, who considers a dare from friends of the PSP The IllegitimateS. The song is Harvey All The Time. It’s all pretty awesome.
San Jose Watch
The San Jose Earthquakes “Quakes Cast” podcast features “some sobering talk on the Quakes disappointing 2-1 home loss to previously winless Chivas USA before turning their attention to Saturday’s road contest against the Philadelphia Union” with Taylor Twellman on “the state of affairs with the Union.”
Marc Narducci talks to San Jose midfielder and Philly-native Bobby Convey. Of playing at PPL last summer Convey says, “It was great for me. A lot of people in the crowd recognized me and cheered, and it’s nice to know even though I was an opposing player on an opposing team – because Philadelphia fans normally don’t cheer for the opposing team.” I was one of those people applauding Convey last year and I’ll do it again on Saturday.
Steven Lenhart, now recovered from knee surgery, is “eager to play.”
Lenhart scored two goals against the Union at PPL Park last August when he played for Columbus. Danny Califf, who took responsibility for allowing those goals, says, “Certainly, I need to respect the fact that he’s a big guy and makes good runs and he uses his body well. But it’s not anything that I’ll be focusing extra on or that I want to get revenge or anything like that. It’s going to be a battle.”
Thanks to a weather-postponed game and a bye week, the Independence return to action against magicJack SC on Sunday for the first time since their season opening draw on April 10. Says coach Paul Riley, “We are certainly eager to get the season going after nine weeks of beating each other up in practice.”
Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan has been given a nine game suspension for his literally leg-breaking tackle on Seattle’s Steve Zakuani. He already had an automatic one game suspension as a result of the red card he received for the tackle.
While they won’t appeal, the Rapids think Mullan’s punishment is too harsh: “we strongly disagree that Brian’s tackle, although admittedly harsh by any account, should be punished more severely than premeditated acts in our league’s history.”
Soccer By the Numbers.com looks at a very interesting trend: the number of fouls called in MLS matches has dramatically declined since a peak in the 2000 season. An explanation for why this is so is, at least statistically, unclear.
The Chicago Daily Herald argues that MLS referees allow play that is overly physical.
In the wake of RDL’s loss in the CONCACAF Champions League, Grant Wahl says of US soccer, “if heartbreaking losses make the eventual (inevitable?) triumphs so much sweeter, then soccer in the States is eating enough bitterness these days to throw the party of all parties when the big win finally comes through.”
US Soccer and the State Department will partner for a series of soccer exchanges in conjunction with the upcoming Women’s World Cup. The State Department press release says, “This initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which uses the full range of diplomatic tools – in this case soccer – to bring people together and foster greater understanding among people and cultures.”
The war off the pitch between Barcelona and Real Madrid continues to heat up with Madrid calling on FIFA to charge Barcelona for trying to con the ref by diving and Barcelona asking UEFA to charge Madrid for claiming a conspiracy exists to favor Barcelona. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will examine five charges against Real Madrid and one charge against Barcelona on Friday, May 6. With the second leg of semifinal taking place on Tuesday, May 3, don’t be surprised if the number of charges grows higher.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, there is still beauty to be found in El Clasico.
The player in Colombia who kicked an injured owl that later died has been fined, ordered to pay for the cost of the owl’s treatment and ordered to do community service in a zoo.
Footy on the Telly™
Werder Bremen v Wolfsburg 2:30pm ESPN Deportes
USA v Mexico (beach soccer) 3:30pm FSC
Brazil v Spain (beach soccer) 4:30pm FSC
Houston v D.C. United 8:30pm FSC
Tecos v Santos Laguna 9pm Galavision
Leeds v Burnley 7:30am FSP
Sunderland v Fulham 10am ESPN2
West Brom v Aston Villa 10am FSC
Wigan v Everton 10am FSP
Cesena v Inter Milan 12pm FSP
Real Madrid v Zaragoza 12pm ESPN Deportes
Chelsea v Tottenham 12:30pm FSC
Blackpool v Stoke 2pm FSP
Napoli v Genoa 2:30pm FSC
Philadelphia Union v San Jose Earthquakes 4pm 6abc
Coruna v Atletico Madrid 4pm ESPN Deportes
Jaguares v Queretaro 6pm ESPN Deportes
Chivas v Monterrey 8pm Telemundo
Pachuca v Necaxa 8pm Galavision
Watford v QPR 9pm FSP
Atlante v Toluca 10pm Galavision
San Luis v Cruz Azul 10pm Telefutura
Liverpool v Newcastle 7am FSC
Birmingham v Wolves 7am FSP
Heerenveen v Ajax 8:30am ESPN Deportes
Arsenal v Manchester United 9am FSC
AC Milan v Bologna 9am FSP
Manchester City v West Ham 11am FSC
Santander v Mallorca 11am ESPN Deportes
Blackburn v Bolton 1pm FSP
Pumas v America 1pm Telemundo
Puebla v Morelia 1pm Fox Deportes
Bari v Roma 2:30pm FSC
Saint-Etienne v Monaco 3pm FSP
Boston Breakers v Sky Blue FC 6pm FSC
Dallas FC v LA Galaxy 7pm Galavision
Cardiff v Middlesbrough 12pm FSP
Lazio v Juventus 2:30pm FSC
Portsmouth v Norwich 2:30pm FSP