Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
The “2011 in Review” articles for the Philadelphia Union are now up on the MLS website. One provides decent insight, the other, not so much. In the Q & A cobbled together from the last press conference of the season, in addition to relating that Freddy Adu was at “60 percent” for much of the end of the season due to a back injury and the need for defensive additions and competition within the various positions on the field, Peter Nowak discusses the mindset the team needs to win a championship:
“I told you guys at the press conferences we’ve had all year long that we believe in what we’re building, we believe what is the culture around the team. But having the real expectations – not being on the spectrum of one time very high, one time very low – I think it was a little bit too much for this group… I think from this perspective, when I look back, I might need to do a better job to handle these things.”
“For us, it’s more important to be consistent in this approach, to say we’re going to shoot for a championship. If you shoot high, you’re going to end up being somewhere over the middle. That’s the part we’re looking to establish: the culture and making sure we have stability and consistency during the season.”
“You have to have guys who provide quality. Our guys were young and making mistakes and we have to accept that – fans, media, us. It’s a process and as much as I want to convince you that we have a championship team, we don’t. We’re very close. We still need to get more understanding what it takes to be a very good team. I’ve told you before there’s a very thin line between being good and being very good. And that’s the part we need to take additional steps toward. This is our goal in the offseason: to make sure when we start in the preseason, we have a group that is going to win the championship.”
What’s my reaction to the depressingly light look at the 2011 season?
1. Ruiz scored six goals, not five.
2. Where is Cosa Rica?
3. Why does Danny Mwanga only need to be healthy to emerge while Jack McInerney needs to improve? Mwanga still needed improvement even when he was healthy last season. After all, he’s only 20.
4. It’s not as simple as saying that height is needed when it comes to set pieces, offensively or defensively. Offensively, even if 6′ Le Toux delivers a good ball from, say, a corner kick (even if both his height and inconsistent delivery mean someone else should be taking them), 6′ 2″ Mwanga—and everybody else—needs to be capable of finishing with his head. That’s a coaching/training thing. The Union had only two headed goals in 2011 – one from 6′ 1″ Keon Daniel, the other from 6′ Veljko Paunovic – while allowing eleven. Defensively, it’s not just height that is needed, it is size. The Union defense ranges in size from Garfan at 5′ 10″ and 165 lbs to Joe Tait at 6′ 1″ and 181 lbs, The biggest guy in the back is Faryd Mondragon at 6′ 3″ and 207 lbs.
5. The highlight reel of all of the Union’s goals from open play is awesome, but me thinks some goals are missing. (Where are the Seattle goals?) Also, they may be gone, but Carlos Ruiz and Justin Mapp scored some sweet, sweet goals. (My favorite just might be the Roger Torres goal agaisnt Colorado. You?)
In an article at ESPN, Union head of scouting and player development Diego Gutierrez says of the benefit to young players of training in Europe in the offseason, ” “It’s a different kind of coaching they get over there. Things are done a little bit differently. It enhances the players’ flexibility for learning, exposes them to different situations, different cultures, which is going to help them down the road.”
Jimmy McLaughlin tells the official site of Colgate Athletics, “My time here at Colgate has been something that I will treasure for my entire life…Coach [Erik] Ronning has not only helped me on the field as a player but has taught me priceless lifelong lessons. The Colgate soccer program has helped me improve my game and all my teammates have become great friends. I have really grown as a person over my time here and I truly appreciate the wonderful opportunities Coach Ronning has given me.” Ronning said, “Although we are disappointed to be losing such a great player, and a person of such high character, I could not be happier for Jimmy. He has worked very hard to get this opportunity, and I know he will be very successful with the Philadelphia Union.”
In Soccer America’s ranking of the top 30 girls soccer clubs in the country, Union-affiliate Players Development Academy is ranked best in the nation. In the boys rankings, PDA came in fifth, PA Classics 19th, and Yardley Makefield Soccer came in 28th.
Cameron Keys (Philadelphia Union academy; Whitehill, PA), Christopher Gomez (PDA; Jamison, PA), and Sean Wilson (PDA; Bethlehem, PA) are among the 36 players called up for the US U-15 camp now taking place in Lakewood, FL.
Here’s a nice look at diversity and family dynamic on the U-15 Upper Freehold/Allentown (UFA) NJ Strikers, a top ranked local boys team.
Steve Davis writes of a skeptic’s rules for the transfer silly season. “That’s why I have always said the same thing about transfer speculation: tap me on the shoulder when someone signs on the dotted line. Then I’ll begin any needed analysis, weighing the ins, outs, connections, consequences, repercussions, etc.” I hear you, brother.
A la Davis, Energy Drinks sporting director Erik Solér says none of his star players are going anywhere, despite what the rumors say.
Julian Valentin, formerly of LA Galaxy, writes about his brother, local lad and new Montreal Impact draftee Zarek Valentin, for the Shin Guardian.
All five WPS teams agreed on Tuesday to accept US Soccer’s conditions for Division 1 status. “The conditions include expanding to at least six teams in 2013 and eight in 2014, plus unspecified financial requirements geared toward stabilizing the league.”
Steven Goff reports at the Washington Post that US Soccer is expecting a deficit of of $4.5 million for fiscal year 2012, $6.6 million for the 2013 fiscal year. Also of note, Goff reports that if the USWNT wins a gold medal in the Summer Olympics, more than $1 million in bonuses will be paid out. If the USMNT wins a medal, there are no bonuses because, while the senior USMNT has a CBA with the federation, the U-23s do not.
USMNT U-23 coach Caleb Porter talks to Yanks Abroad about preparing the team for the Olympic qualifiers in part one of this in depth interview.
AFR suggest that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, will stifle soccer in the US. Interesting stuff.
Jonathan Wilson looks at the rise of the 3–1–4–2.
Apparently, Sydney FC in Australia’s A-League has a no diving policy.
How’s the Union doing this year? FC Union Berlin, that is.