Photo: Nicolae Stoian
Chelsea in Philly?
At ESPNsoccernet.com, the last sentence of a report on word of a Chelsea vs. Celtic friendly at Yankees Stadium this summer says, “[I]t is understood Chelsea, who enjoyed a successful tour of the United States in 2009, will also play matches in Philadelphia, Washington DC and Seattle.”
Could this mean Chelsea will be the opponent in the MLS All-Star Game or will they play the Union? We don’t know. A spokesperson for the Union told PSP, “I’m not aware of anything regarding Chelsea in Philadelphia. As far as announcements about any international friendlies, as soon as contracts are finalized, we’ll let everyone know.” And so will we.
Peter Nowak says improving the Union’s defending of set pieces has been a priority in the preseason. “I think we got generally bigger this year with Porfirio Lopez and Gabriel Gomez. They’re a couple of guys who can (defend set pieces). So we’re working on that, and we’ll see…We need to focus on preventing (goals), instead of just concentrating on the target guys. We have to make sure the guys who are around the area – targets three, four and five – that they’re also covered. So it’s not only a job for a few players, it’s a job for the whole team. We worked on that, we’re going to continue to work on that, and we’re going to try to prevent those goals.”
Kevin Kinkead takes a look at all of the midfield options the Union have at their disposal. Of particular interest is the discussion of various formation possibilities.
Kerith Gabriel looks at all of the Union’s new players.
The season preview on SB Nation, written by SB Nation affiliate blog The Brotherly Game’s Scott Kessler, predicts “Not a single Union forward or striker will score double digits this season…A well-balanced attack could finally bring consistency to the Union offense, but none of the team’s strikers will lay claim to a goal scoring haul close to either of Le Toux’s two seasons in Philadelphia.” Shifting attention to the defense, Kessler writes, “How long the Union can stay lucky with the injury bug will determine how well the team performs this season.” How well the new foreign players, particularly Porfirio Lopez, can adjust to MLS will be key.
At SI, Grant Wahl predicts the Union will finish eight in the East. “I can understand why the Union jettisoned Sébastien Le Toux and is building for the long term, but that vision could be accompanied by some growing pains this season.” Wahl’s top four Eastern Conference finishers are Kansas City, Houston, New York and Chicago.
Earlier at SI, Steve Davis had the Union finishing 6th behing Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, New York and DC. “Nowak has made bold moves before, so he’s earned some benefit of doubt. Still, when coaches let popular players go (especially with proverbial bad blood spilling during the emotional departures), the heat surely rises. Plus, with a respectable expansion season in 2010 and worthy progress (not to mention a playoff spot) in 2011, Nowak has set the bar high going forward.”
SI’s power rankings have the Union at No. 9.
Soccer America has the Union finishing fifth in the East behind Houston, Kansas City, DC, and Columbus.
In a poll of members of North American Soccer Reporters, the Union come out fourth in the East behind Kansas City, Houston, and New York. The poll also asked members to indicate who the most important players on each team would be and the article notes that, along with Vancouver, “The most indecision came for Philadelphia…The Union had four players with at least three votes.” According to NASR, the most important players on the Union will be: Danny Mwanga (6 votes), Freddy Adu (5 votes), Danny Califf (4 votes), Zac MacMath, Gabriel Gomez, Roger Torres, and Carlos Valdez (3 votes each).
At New England Soccer Today, one writer has the Union finishing second, one has them finishing fourth, and another has them finishing outside of the top six teams listed.
NWSportsBeat.com says the odds of the Union winning the MLS Cup are 18/1. Looking at their list of odds, Kansas City, New York and Houston finish ahead of the Union come at fourth in the East.
Kansan.com has the Union finishing fifth behind Kansas City, New York, Houston and DC.
Yanks Abroad’s Brian Sciaretta has his picks for the 20-player US U-23 roster that will play its first Olympic qualifier in Houston later this month. Sciaretta says Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo will make the cut but Jack McInerney will not. He also believes that, should the US qualify, Adu and Okugo will make the final 18-player Olympic roster.
Chris Konopka haas faith in the Union’s group of goalkeepers points to Houston’s Tally Hall as an example of a keeper who, with only a couple of games under his belt, had a fantastic first year as a starter. “Everyone always banks on looking for veteran goalkeepers – guys who have 100 or 200 or 500 games under their belt. But it’s proven at the same time for plenty of teams that they don’t need that veteran guy.” Konopka, who grew up in Tom River, NJ, also reveals he had Eagles season tickets before leaving to play at Providence College and later embarking on his professional career. He says of the Union, “I always told myself it would be an honor and amazing to play for this club.”
Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame president Bob Kozlowski will be honored as a “Hometown Hero” at the Union’s home opener on March 18.
The Union launched its new Philadelphia Union Foundation on Monday night. The charitable organization is aimed at providing Chester’s youth opportunities “through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation. The Foundation’s vision is to use soccer as a conduit for change by reinforcing the traditional family values of honesty, integrity, effort and accountability.”
In Harrisburg City Islanders news, Jason Pelletier returns to the club for a fifth season. Former City Islanders Jose Angulo and Tyler Ruthven have signed with the Red Bulls.
The Goalkeeper catches up with Seattle Sounders defender, and Abington native, Jeff Parke.
Sebastien Le Toux talks about how his experience in Philly can help him be a leader in Vancouver:
“It’s very important to me to give – especially the young guys, or the guys who’ve been through last sea-son and maybe believe they are not as good – to tell them, ‘I know what happened to you, I went through it in Philadelphia and we did a great year after.’
“It’s about saying last year is done and this is a new chapter. Like I told them, for me, the quality of the players here is much better than Philadelphia. It’s a team that can win something.”
What, what what? The quality of players at Vancouver is better than at the Union? Ceux-ci sont la lutte contre les mots! Let Le Backlash begin!
The Goalkeeper collects all of his many tweets to provide a sort of transcript of what Don Garber was saying at Thursday’s press conference. If a series of screen shots is not to your taste, there’s this actual article from AFP.
One thing of note from the press conference is that Garber said the league has looked at 19 potential sites for a stadium for a second New York team. “We want to ensure that when this project is complete that we have the perfect site for a stadium. We’ll take the time—as long as it takes—to ensure we have the right site. That’s how important the second New York team-project is.” At the bottom of the article is a audio player so you can listen to the entire press conference.
Simon Borg, employed as a writer by the league-owned MLSsoccer.com, thinks Steve Nicol, the former New England Revolution coach who now works for ESPN, “may have overstepped his journalistic bounds” by voicing concerns about what he sees as a bias in the league that favors the likes of big market clubs such as LA and New York when it comes to player salaries and the cap. This from a guy who, I say again, is paid by the league to write stories about the league on the website owned by the league. What kind of “journalistic bounds” are in play there? What a load of malarkey.
Speaking of money, Garber announced in Thursday’s press conference the sale of a share of Soccer United Marketing, which is owned by the league, to Providence Equity Partners. Fake Sigi looks at how the sale may be linked the slowing rate of league expansion and more.
ESPN also looks at the five teams with the best offseason moves. What, no Union?
Surprise! Kenny Cooper is happy to be playing for the Energy Drinks.
Real Salt lake coach Jason Kreis says a Reserve League schedule that includes opposition from lower league teams will help improve the league’s youth development. “I would propose a very professional, organized and structured reserve league…Where we can increase our roster size and have a set reserve team that plays in a league like the USL, NASL or the PDL.”
Soccerstories.com looks at the number of ties last season (106 out of 306 games, or 34.6 percent) and wonders if we’ll see more of the same.
Here’s a look at the new game ball for the 2012 season. Maybe it will help in lowering the number of ties.
San Jose fans who download the Aurasma Lite app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices can then aim their device at the Earthquakes logo anywhere in the world to view a special video message from Chris Wondolowski, followed by match highlights. Yikes.
A writer at the Shin Guardian is fired up about how NBC Sports says it will broadcast games.
Women’s Pro Soccer
In this look at the meaning of the growing number of partnerships between MLS and W-League clubs, Seattle Sounders Women General Manager Amy Carnell says: “I think there has always been a market for women’s soccer in this country but the financial and logistical model has never been sustainable. Partnering with MLS clubs strengthens the brand and gives a greater bandwidth to W-League teams who operate on limited budgets. It shows that the W-League is growing and moving toward that sustainable model.”
Hope Solo says women should be able to play with men professionally. “I thought about it [playing in a men's league] when our league folded. I thought about playing for a lower-division men’s club team in Saint Louis. And I do believe I would have been able to take care of myself and handle my own if it was a lower division.”
Two Jozy Altidore assists helped put AZ Alkmaar over Udinese on Thursday in Europa League play.
Tim Howard has a new contract with Everton that extend to 2016.
Prosoccertalk.com thinks that behind the scene negotiations between US Soccer and various European clubs to secure players for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers is the reason why it is taking so long for the 20-player roster to be announced.
The New York Times has a list of five MLS players who should be called up by Jurgen Klinsmann.
Sydney Leroux gets a profile.
Happy birthday to Clint “The Truth” Dempsey.
Manchester United lost 3–2 at Old Trafford to Athletic Bilbao in Europa League play. Manchester City lost at Sporting Lisbon 1–0 off of a back-heel from Xandão.
Readers of Fever Pitch will be enjoy this BBC podcast with author Nick Hornby looking at the impact of the book in the 20 years since it was published in 1992.