Photo: Courtesy US Soccer
Philly Soccer Page
Today marks the return of one series and the start of another. First, fresh on the heels of our series of raves, we begin our series of season reviews of every Philadelphia Union player who saw more than ten minutes of action in 2011 (sorry Morgan!), something we first did at the end of the 2010 season. New reviews will appear every weekday and the series will finish off with a review of Peter Nowak’s year. Second, we begin something we’ve never done before, a fictional series. It’s called The Pine Barrens League and it’s authored by a local writer with an impressive resume in the Philadelphia arts community who also happens to be a lifelong fan of the beautiful game. The story will play out over eight parts with a new installment every Monday. Hopefully, the two new series will both inform and entertain as we move through the offseason.
Kyle Nakazawa sees a bright future. “I feel like my game has improved a lot since I got here and that’s in large part to the teaching by the coaches and the players here with the camaraderie we have. This is a great locker room. There are no egos. We all support each other. We all have a common goal and that’s to win…I think it’s so bright for us in the future with the talent here on this club. I want to be a part of it, sure. I think the young players, veteran players, everyone—we all get along and are on the same page. It’s not always like that.”
The Brotherly Game looks at a list of players recently linked in someway to the Union and passes verdict: pass, if the price is right, buy.
Goal.com thinks Christian Hernandez will be the Union’s next Home Grown signing. His goal against Everton is one of my favorite memories of 2011.
Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo and Zach Pfeffer are all included in this piece from the Guardian looking at the flow of MLS players going to train in England and in Europe. The readers’ comments on the piece make for some interesting discussion.
The Union are holding an open call for Major Molly’s Army—that “team of energetic, young women who serve as ambassadors for the club”—at Kildaire’s in Manayunk on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
The Philadelphia Cricket Clubs League, founded in 1902, is the oldest continuously operated soccer league in the US. On Sunday, Allegro SC won the Mannheim Prize, the league’s title, for the fourth season in a row, defeating Moorestown Field Club 3–3 (3–2 APK).
Last week we linked to the announcement of a study that found heading can result in brain trauma. Jim Cosgrove, executive director of US Youth Soccer later expressed concerns about the validity of the report based on variability and number of participants in the study. “The main concern we have is the data isn’t quite specific enough in regards to heading as the cause of concussions,” Cosgrove said. “Other impacts could create the damage.” Lead study author Dr. Michael Lipton says US soccer officials were too quick to dismiss the study findings. “The general opinion is heading in soccer—everyone does it, so it couldn’t be problem. I don’t see how you could use that as evidence. There used to be time when people thought concussions in football or repeated blows to head in boxing were not a big deal. This should spur further research.”
US International Lee Nguyen confirms that he is coming to MLS.
In case you missed it, San Jose traded Bobby Convey to Kansas City on Friday for an international slot in 2013.
Wondering about the kind of questions you’d be asking yourself if you were the supporter of an underperforming team from, say, Canada? One might be whether the Toronto–Montreal rivalry will be everything the league hopes it will be.
Speaking of Montreal, Jesse Marsch continues to shoot for the stars in the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Alessandro Del Piero. While he says the likelihood of Del Piero going to Montreal is small, he says of Anelka, “We did meet with Nicolas Anelka. The discussions were very good. I think there was great potential for a good fit and I think there still is.” Which may be another way of saying the likelihood of Anelka going to Montreal is also small.
Kyle McCarthy says the Shalrie Joseph’s deal at New England reflects the continued evolution of the Designated Player model.
Today is the deadline for the original 15-day extension issued by US Soccer for WPS to come up with a sixth team in order for the league to receive sanctioning as Division 1 professional soccer.
Peter Wilt, the founding president of former WPS team Chicago Stars, offers a proposal for fixing women’s pro soccer in the US. “It may sound cruel, but I believe the best thing for the future of women’s professional soccer (lower case) in the U.S. is pulling the plug on Women’s Professional Soccer (upper case) as we know it and replacing it with an improved streamlined model that would entice more investors throughout the U.S. and Canada.” It’s a must read piece if you care about the women’s game.
Philadelphia Independence owner David Halstead says he is confident that WPS will receive sanctioning in this wide ranging interview.
Atlanta Beat owner Fitz Johnson says of US Soccer feelings about sanctioning a five-team league, “I wouldn’t characterize them as happy, but that’s the path that we want,” said Fitz Johnson, the Beat’s owner and a WPS board member, of his conversations with U.S. Soccer. “It’s the best women’s league in the world. They understand that and don’t want it to go away any more than we do.” He adds, “We need to play this season with our Division I standing, our Division I status. That’s the start. We have expansion—a decent expansion pipeline—for teams in 2013. The fourth year is so critical for us to actually play.”
Halstead is launching two marketing initiatives aimed at generating bigger ticket sales by creating stronger links with the local soccer community through a Player Ambassador program and a Coaches Corner program. In the first, “each of the 22 rostered Philadelphia Independence players will become an ambassador to a separate soccer club and do camps and clinics with them. In return, that player will be responsible for bringing club teams into games and practices and staying involved with that club.” The second program “will connect the Independence with coaches in the community and allow them to spend time with head coach Paul Riley in practices and even on game day.”
Halstead also explains the unique relationship the Independence have with the Union: “I think MLS does want to support WPS but they haven’t figured out how to do yet, but Nick [Sakiewicz] has.”
The US U-17 team defeated Brazil 3–1 on Sunday to claim the Nike International Friendlies Championship. The first US goal, coming in the second minute from Rubio Rubin, is sweet. And that Junior Flores kid, wow.
More on the win from Soccer America and The Shin Guardian.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi are the nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2011.
Reuters says Friday’s Euro 2012 draw “throws up tasty ties.” I suppose that’s one way of putting it.