So, no Union game on Sunday because of Hurricane Irene. What’s a Philly soccer fan supposed to do? Support the Independence in Saturday’s WPS Championship Final (CSN, 4pm), that’s what.
Looking at the title of Kerith Gabriel’s excellent piece in today’s Daily News, “Union’s youth has not been served,” it would be easy to expect a rant about how some deserving young players on the Union roster are not getting enough playing time. Instead, it is a very thoughtful reminder that the second year Union is still in the process of building a team based on very young talent. With such a project, frustration is inevitable. Again, though, by frustration, Gabriel isn’t writing about the obvious. He writes, “It’s rare that a coach finds himself frustrated for his team and not because of his team.” [Emphasis in the original.] Peter Nowak says in the article,
“The frustrating part for me is that the boys work very hard to be in this position, but now the easiest part isn’t coming – finishing. It’s not fair. I’m not frustrated at them, I’m frustrated as a coach to say we didn’t come to any [positive conclusions] from making good decisions. There is only so many times you can say, ‘We competed, the back line was good, we put ourselves in position to score’ and then come away with a loss or a point. “At some point, you look at it and you are like, ‘Come on man, we need to fix this stuff; we need to put the ball in the back of the net.’…
“They all try so hard, and sometimes I think maybe too hard,” said Nowak regarding his roster. “Sometimes I think these guys need to relax; you can’t play the game all [hyped up] . . . it’s all about concentration, focus and putting the ball where it needs to be. That’s what we work on with these guys in training. They have the skills, for a lot of them it’s a mental they have to work on…
“I think in our second year, we are still a very young and inexperienced team and to be where we are shows you how hard these guys work. When you put too much emphasis and pressure on guys that are this young, some of them can take it, some of them can’t. It’s important for us as a coaching staff not to look forward, but to prepare one game at a time. I tell our guys, I don’t want to hear anything about what any other team is doing or where they are in the standings, all I care about is getting us there and to do that you have to focus on right now, not the future.”
“We all know there was a couple games we should have won, especially games where we got goals at the end of the games. As I said, we all know where we are and what kind of team we have. We have to focus. It’s not that these guys aren’t trying, they are trying very hard. I feel bad for them as a coach because I know how much work they put into training, how many drills they do and how many reps they do. Sometimes if you’re too focused or too stressed, you just miss. You hit a crossbar, post and you can’t do anything about it. We tried to calm them down and make sure that if they have a chance, they won’t think, ‘Am I going to score or am I not going to score,’ it’ll be automatic. You can’t hesitate…
“Not scoring goals doesn’t mean we’re not creating chances. I strongly disagree in anyone saying we have offensive struggles. If you see the whole picture, what we don’t like in the last four or five games is lacking the ability finish the games the right way.”
I was with you, Peter, until the “I strongly disagree in anyone saying we have offensive struggles” part.
Marc Narducci looks at the schedule and concludes, “there don’t appear to be many gimmes in the final 10 games of the regular season.” Yep.
Keon Daniel has been called up for the Trinidad & Tobago national team squad. Daniel (46 caps, 8 goals) is one of three MLS players on the roster to face Bermuda on September 2 and Barbados on September 6. Presumably, that means Daniel will be unavailable for the Union when they play RSL away on September 3. Hopefully, he’ll be available for the Union for the rescheduled game against New England on September 7.
Freddy Adu was not among those called up for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium. It is not hard to imagine that if Adu was being considered for the roster that the Union asked that he be passed over so that he could have continuity settling in with his new team.
This fan post at the Brotherly Game by one duckyninja is a very interesting look at the Union’s numbers offensively and defensively with and without Carlos Ruiz as well as Jordan Harvey.
Fresh off of his goal against Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday, Ryan Richter was named Eastern College Athletic Conference’s (ECAC) 2011 Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Thursday. Some of Richter’s other collegiate accomplishments include the Atlantic 10 Sportsmanship Award, A-10 Offensive Player of the Year, A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year, Soccer Six Player of the Year, two-time NSCAA All-Region First Team honoree, NSCAA Scholar All-America First Team honoree, Scholar East Region First Team pick and earned CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team.
Speaking of goal scorers in Wednesday’s friendly, Peter Nowak said that Joe Tait, the trialist who scored the last Union goal of the match, would continue training with the Union for a few days while the coaching staff “make a decision on what to do with him.”
A transcript of sorts from last week’s Supporters Summit is available on the Union website.
There are many reasons why Paul Riley has been named Coach of the Year two year running. He a brilliant tactician, supremely skilled at building his player’s confidence and is open, engaging and downright funny in interviews and press conferences. He’s also a crafty little devil, adept in the ways of propaganda. In the lead up to last weekend’s Super SemiFinal against magicJack, Riley told the press that Amy Rodriguez and Tasha Kai couldn’t play together, resting Kai for the regular season finale. Come the Super SemiFinal what does he do? He starts Rodriguez and Kai and they each score a goal in a 2–0 win. “To be honest, we’ve been selling the world on the fact they couldn’t play together so we could keep [their tactics] quiet,” Riley said. “As different as their personalities are, they’re having great fun together.”
Here’s an article and audio interview with Tasha “#BOOMBAM #MADAFAKA” Kai.
WNY Flash has scored 40 goals while allowing 18 in 18 games played. The Independence has scored 33 goals and allowed 18 goals in 19 games played, including the playoff game. Riley says the key to winning on Saturday is the defense. “It’s going to come down to our back four containing their front three. Our defense is in great form. But we’re going to have to play our best game and limit our mistakes because every mistake will be costly.”
Independence goalkeeper Val Henderson writes, “So with everything getting settled, final training sessions, last double days, video sessions, media days and team meals, there’s just one more thing to do: Make Lady Gaga proud.” You know you want to read on!
The Democrat and Chronicle says you don’t want to make Marta mad.
All White Kit interviews WNY Flash coach Aaran Lines.
Here’s a preview of the game from a western New York perspective.
Former Independence midfielder and current WNY midfielder Caroline Seger will join FC Malmö on a short term contract after the WPS season ends.
Independence owner David Halstead talks to Potomac Soccer Wire about the ups and downs of life in the WPS.
The Harrisburg City Islanders thought Wednesday night’s friendly against the Union was a good way to have some fun before tonight’s USL PRO National Division Final against Rochester Rhinos. The two teams have met three times this season in two league mates, which were split, and in the US Open Cup, which Rochester won and all of the games ended with a 1–0 scoreline. You can watch the game live at usllive.com starting at 7:30pm. The winner will face the winner of the American Division championship game between Richmond Kickers and Orlando City on Saturday, September 3.
Registration is open through September 6 for kids aged 5 to 11 for the Clark Park Youth Soccer League in West Philadelphia. Volunteers and sponsors are also needed.
Sunday’s New York Red Bulls v LA Galaxy game has also been postponed because of Hurricane Irene. The start of Saturday’s DC United v Portland game has been changed from 7:30pm to 2pm..
LA Galaxy defeated Costa Rican champions Alajuelense 2-0 in Thursday night’s CONCACAF Champions League match. FC Dallas defeated Toronto 1–0 on Thursday morning after Wednesday night’s game was called due to bad weather.
German-born and outside back/winger Fabian Johnson of TSG Hoffenheim, who played for Germany at the junior level, is one of those called up for the upcoming USMNT friendlies. More on Johnson here.
Here’s a look at how critically important Latino players are for the future success of the USMNT.
The start of the Serie A season will be postponed as players announce a strike. Last week’s start of the La Liga season was similarly delayed.
Five North Korean players who tested positive for banned substances have been banned from participating in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Lionel Messi is the recipient of the inaugural UEFA Best Player Award.
2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Bayern München (GER)
Villarreal CF (ESP)
Manchester City FC (ENG)
SSC Napoli (ITA)
FC Internazionale Milano (ITA)
PFC CSKA Moskva (RUS)
LOSC Lille Métropole (FRA)
Trabzonspor AŞ (TUR)
Manchester United FC (ENG)
SL Benfica (POR)
FC Basel 1893 (SUI)
FC Oţelul Galaţi (ROU)
Real Madrid CF (ESP)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
AFC Ajax (NED)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Chelsea FC (ENG)
Valencia CF (ESP)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER)
KRC Genk (BEL)
Arsenal FC (ENG)
Olympique de Marseille (FRA)
Olympiacos FC (GRE)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
FC Porto (POR)
FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
FC Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)
APOEL FC (CYP)
FC Barcelona (ESP)
AC Milan (ITA)
FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
FC Viktoria Plzeň (CZE)
Footy on the Telly
Friday, August 26
2:30pm: Barcelona vs FC Porto (FSC)
2:30pm Hertha BSC vs Stuttgart (ESPN Deportes)
6pm: College Of Charleston vs South Carolina (FSC)
Saturday, August 27
7:05am: Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (ESPN2)
7:30am: Wigan Athletic vs Queens Park Rangers (FSP)
9:30am: Kaiserslautern vs Bayern München (GolTV)
10am: Chelsea vs Norwich City (FSC)
10am: Swansea City vs Sunderland (FSP)
12pm: Sporting Gijón vs Real Sociedad (ESPN Deportes)
12:30pm: Liverpool vs Bolton (FSC)
2pm: Valencia vs Racing Santander (GolTV)
2pm: Crystal Palace vs Blackpool (FSP)
2:30pm: Cerro vs Nacional (GolTV)
4pm: WNY Flash v Philadelphia Independence (CSN)
8pm: Monterrey vs Santos Laguna (Telemundo)
8pm: Pachuca vs América (Telefutura)
8pm: Irapuato vs Altamira (GolTV)
9:45pm: San Luis vs Guadalajara (Telefutura)
10pm: Atlas vs Tigres UANL (Galavision)
10:30pm: Chivas USA vs Real Salt Lake (FSC)
Sunday, August 28
8am: Newcastle United vs Fulham (FSP)
8:30am: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City (FSC)
10am: West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City (FSP)
11am: Manchester United vs Arsenal (FSC)
12pm: Mallorca vs Espanyol (ESPN Deportes)
1pm: Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul (Telemundo)
2pm: Real Zaragoza vs Real Madrid (GolTV)
3pm: Lille vs Olympique Marseille (FSP)
4pm: Sevilla vs Málaga (GolTV)
5pm: PSV vs Excelsior (ESPN Deportes)
Monday, August 29
3pm: Barcelona vs Villareal (ESPN Deportes)