Who will we see in the midfield tonight? This quote from Peter Nowak may give a clue: “Justin [Mapp] is back after hamstring injury, Brian Carroll is back after his hamstring injury, Stefani [Miglioranzi] is back as well. We have options to shuffle every couple days and make sure guys [are] ready not only for [the] first game but also [the] game after. Last thing we want is to burn players out. We have to have stability in midfield, but also give guys time so that they are not burned after three games.”
Jeld-Wen Field is narrow so before leaving for Portland on Wednesday night, the Union practiced at YSC Sports. Speaking of Portland’s pitch, Peter Nowak said, “It’s a little bit too small and when you watch games they play at home, it’s like pinball. We have to figure out good plan for that, which is why we train here [at YSC], to have similar conditions. We had a couple of good days here to adjust to the turf because it’s completely different.”
The PSP match preview draws attention to the number of offside calls (Union: 13 in 6 games; Timbers: 31 in 7 games) and shots (Union: 45 in 6 games; Timbers: 79 in 7 games) and concludes, “The Timbers attack. The Union seldom do.” The PSP prediction is a 1–1 draw.
More match previews from:
- The Daily News says the key will be keeping Kenny Cooper and playmaker Kalif Alhassan quiet.
- MLSsoccer.com says swagger will be on display.
- In Goal.com’s head-to-head preview, the Portland guy sees a 2–2 draw, the Philly guy a 2–1 win for the Union.
- ASN Philly thinks the key could be the Union scoring first.
- The Brotherly Game says defensive errors make Portland vulnerable.
- Philly Union Talk says whereas the Union try not to let in more goals than the other team, Portland tries to score more goals than the other team using quick counterattacks and set pieces.
- Unholy Union says the Union will score first on a counter attack but the ref will gift Portland a goal and we’ll all once again focus on the sorry state of officiating in MLS.
- SBRforum.com, a betting service, predicts a 2–1 win for Portland.
Danny Mwanga on his return to Portland, his hometown in the US: “There aren’t going to be nerves because I’m used to playing in front of a lot of people already. It’s just going to be more excitement playing in front of my family and friends for the first time in my hometown.”
The Delco Times talks to the Union offense about the lack of goals. Danny Mwanga says, “I’m not worried about it. It’s still early in the season. The chemistry will get there.”
Seeing little playing time last season, the hard work Amobi Okugo has put in to improve his game seems to be paying off. Okugo says, “[T]he coaches did a good job of helping me develop certain points of my game. The key was being patient and always being confident.” Nowak understands the importance of confidence. “We know young players like Amobi are waiting for a chance, and the last thing you want to do is put them in a situation where they can’t succeed. We need to make sure they get the tactical part of the game down.”
Danny Califf talks to the Sporting News. “It feels even more sweet after all the adversity we went through last year, how many goals we leaked, to really come in this year and shut things down has been tremendous.”
Nowak thinks video replays would be a good thing. “I believe we still need to be more open to this kind of stuff,” Nowak told CSN Philly. “Because the game is so fast, coming up and down, we have to find a way to not change the game completely – I don’t believe in replays like in the National Football League – but we can improve this stuff, especially on major calls. For our purposes, it would be good to try. Why not?”
In a well considered article by Kerith Gabriel on the difficulties of implementing changes in how matches are officiated, Nowak says, “We have four officials and everybody knows that the fourth official [on the sideline] is basically there to be a shrink for the two coaches. Why can’t he be the guy looking at a monitor when it comes to some of these serious calls?” (My favorite line in the piece: “One of the key components U.S. Soccer utilizes to train, monitor and assess officials? Video review.”)
Philly Union Talk has a piece from an ex-ref that argues Mark Geiger was correct to issue Jordan Harvey a red card and to award the Union a penalty kick against San Jose.
Wednesday’s home game against LA Galaxy marks the two-year anniversary of the Union’s team name and crest unveiling ceremony. In honor of that wonderful day, the Union is holding a Founding Member Best XI contest. Enter your nomination on the Union website through Sunday, May 8 at 11:59pm.
Portland Timbers Watch
Timber coach John Spencer: “I have known Peter a number of years, and his teams are always well-prepared. They have that Nowak-type mentality. They come at you, are very physical and fit, and never give up.”
Portland captain Jack Jewsbury calls for a strong defensive effort and says the Timbers support is the best in MLS.
The LA Times says, “With Friday’s match marking the first of three more home matches over the next four league fixtures, Portland is in good position to finish the opening-third of the season with a sparkling record. But Philadelphia has other ideas.”
From the Timbers’ website, this video preview of tonight’s match.
On the hope that an early Union goal will silence Portland fans, this Portland preview says, “Sorry, but if the Union hope to win, they can’t put any stock in silencing the crowd. That’s not how the Timbers Army rolls.”
A day after Reading United announced their very impressive final roster comes the announcement that the Union will play a friendly against their PDL affiliate on Tuesday, May 31. The match will be at Exeter High School’s Don Thomas Stadium.
Byron Carmichael, the all-time leading scorer for the Ocean City Nor’easters, will retire after the 2011 season. Carmichael joined the club in 2004.
Soccer America looks at Saturday’s match between LAndon Beckham and the Energy Drinks. Defender Tim Ream, whose gaff led to the only goal in the Union’s win over the Energy Drinks, says of the LA game, “We can’t be considered the best when we haven’t played the best yet. This will be our first test against one of the best.” It will be wonderful when the Union beat the shit out of them in October.
MLS Rumors.com says Orlando is picking up speed as a strong candidate for the 20th MLS franchise in 2013.
The USWNT roster for the 2011 Women’s World Cup will be announced live on ESPN SportsCenter at 10am on Monday, May 9.
One month after the US men’s U-20 team failed to qualify for the U-20 World Cup, US Soccer announces that the contract of head coach Thomas Rongen will not be renewed. Tab Ramos will lead the team until a replacement is announced.
Soccer America argues that coaching changes at US Soccer should not stop at Rongen.
Goal.com lists the Top 5 enemies of US soccer.
Contrary to what is the case at UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation, the CONCACAF Congress in Miami on Tuesday was closed to the press. This report from the Congress gives some insight to the confederation that is supposed to represent our interests in the world of soccer. Make sure your breakfast is well digested before you read it—it kind of gave me the tummy-blech.
Footy on the Telly™
Friday, May 6
Portland Timbers v Philadelphia Union 10:30pm FSC
Saturday, May 7
QPR v Leeds 7:30am FSP
Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund 9:30am GolTV
West Ham v Blackburn 10am ESPN2
Everton v Manchester City 10am FSC
Valencia v Real Sociedad 12pm GolTV
Hercules v Santander 12pm ESPN Deportes
Palermo v Bari 12pm FSP
Tottenham v Blackpool 12:30pm FSC
Atletico Madrid v Malaga 2pm GolTV
St. Pauli v Bayern Munich 2pm ESPN Deportes
Crystal Palace v Nottingham Forest 2pm FSP
Roma v AC Milan 2:30pm FSC
Sevilla v Real Madrid 4pm GolTV
Bolton v Sunderland 4 p.m. FSP
Real Salt Lake v Chivas USA 4pm FSC
Newcastle v Birmingham 5pm FSC
Deportivo Cali v America de Cali 7:15pm GolTV
Tigres v Chivas 8pm Telemundo
Tolima v Nacional 9:30pm GolTV
Atlante v Cruz Azul 10pm Telefutura
Los Angeles Galaxy v New York Red Bulls 11pm ESPN2
Sunday, May 8
Wolverhampton v West Brom 7am FSP
Stoke v Arsenal 9am FSC
Inter Milan v Fiorentina 9am FSP
Manchester United-Chelsea 11am FSC
Burnley v Cardiff City 11am FSP
Barcelona v Espanyol 1pm ESPN2
Pumas v Monterrey 1pm Telemundo
Genoa v Sampdoria 2:30pm FSC
Zaragoza v Osasuna 3pm ESPN Deportes
Lyon v Marseille 3pm FSP
Corinthians v Santos 3pm GolTV
Penarol v Nacional 5pm GolTV
Philadelphia Independence v Boston Breakers 6pm FSC
Juventus v Chievo 2:30pm FSC
Fulham v Liverpool 3pm ESPN2