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Nowak: Expect fast & physical Rapids. Should Union play MLS teams in preseason? More.

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

What does Peter Nowak expect from Colorado? “As I said to these guys (post-game) in the locker room in Portland, the Colorado team is going to be even more physical than this team. The game is going to be fast, they’re going to go up and down, they’re capable of doing good things. We need to make sure we stay compact and organized.”

With Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo in training in Nashville with the US U-23 team, what’s the status of Roger Torres, who did not make the trip to Portland? Nowak says, “I expect him to be on the roster.”

Nowak and new Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja played against each other 14 times in MLS. Nowak has the better head-to-head record.

Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz grew up in the area and played at Chestnut Hill Academy. He says of playing at PPL, “We’ve played a few good games there, actually. I think that it’s a really tough place to go but I think that the last couple of years we’ve been really committed when we’ve gone there. But regardless, they’re a good team.”

The headline of this match preview from the Denver Post makes one think that the author doesn’t know that Freddy Adu has been called up to the US U-23 Olympic training camp.

Union Dues predicts a 1–0 win for Philly against Colorado on Sunday. Unholy Union predicts a loss. SoB VP Corey Forlan predicts a 2–0 win on the Guardian’s MLS blog.

NBC Sports analyst Kyle Martino tells the Denver Post in another match preview that trading Sebastien Le Toux was a “huge, huge loss.” He adds, “I don’t know how they’re gonna make up for that. How they replace him is a big question. And right now, I don’t see where it comes from.” Of Danny Mwanga he says, “Right now, Danny Mwanga is a thoughtful forward. But he hasn’t been a 90-minute forward. If he can be what he’s been in the past, but for a full 90 week in and week out, he could potentially fill what they lost with Le Toux. But he isn’t there yet…I understand it’ll take time in Philadelphia.”

Kerith Gabriel asks the question that has been on the minds of Philadelphia Union fans following every one of the club’s preseasons: Might playing MLS opposition in the lead-up to the start of the season help the team to be better prepared? Peter Nowak apparently doesn’t think so. “We went to Costa Rica, just because we knew the referees were going to be bad, the pitch was going to not be great and we knew that the environment was going to be very competitive like it was,” he says. Well, if that’s all that the team was after south of the border, they could have just organized a couple of scrimmages against Casa League teams at Pennypack Park and saved a whole lot of travel money. Probably would have gotten some good crowds, too.

More from Wednesday’s press conference. You will recall that Nowak rightly said it is too soon to judge the team after one away game in a hostile environment under very wet conditions. He also said, “I think at the end of the season we can justify whether we made progress as a team or not. I think we added the pieces we needed in the offseason…It’s just a different game, a different environment. And as fast as you’re going to get on the same page, the better. And I think we’re going to get there soon.”

Nowak added, “Everything can change from week to week. We just need to be patient, we need to be stable and we need to believe in the way we do things here.”

In the season preview at the Delco News Network, Nowak says, “I think versatility is the key to being consistent.”

Over at MLS Talk, Earl Reed has a match report/ tactical analysis of Monday night’s loss in Portland. He notes, “For Philadelphia, there was a bit of a problem that stemmed from using guys out of position.” Sometimes when I’m really low after a painful loss I wonder if the Union’s motto could be “Ludens populus de situ cum MMX.” (I kid, I kid.)

The Illegitimates are still steaming over Monday night’s loss.

In a look at the opening games around the league, Sounder at Heart groups the Union with Chivas USA and New York Red Bulls as teams that appear to be suffering from “tactical dysfunction.” The article says, “Peter Nowak continues to want to play a gritty, defense oriented version of the game. That’s OK, but his youthful roster doesn’t seem to fit the mold well.” To be fair, the article says of the Union, “The season is young and one night does not give the measure of the team’s offseason focus, but they have work to do.” Encouragingly, the article also says, “Yet for all of Chivas and Philly’s problems, neither looked anywhere near as dysfunctional as the New York Red Bulls.”

The FC Dallas blog at ESPN predicts the Union will finish third in the East: “I believe in Peter Nowak.” They also predict that Le Toux will be league MVP.

New England Soccer Today has the Union tied with the Revolution and the Crew at 15th in their power rankings.

The ratings for Monday night’s broadcast of the Portland game on ESPN2 were better than their broadcast earlier in the day of the Newcastle v Arsenal game. The Portland game was watched by 337,000 viewers compared to 316,000 for the Premiership game. Last season, MLS games averaged 291,000 viewers on ESPN/ESPN2.

The Union have signed a new deal with Ruffneck Scarves. “Philadelphia has some of the most enthusiastic fans you will find in sports, and our scarves have been around the necks of Union fans these past two seasons,” says Ruffneck Scarves president Jeff McIntyre. “Coming off a playoff appearance last year and with the All-Star Game coming this summer, there should be plenty of scarves raised when the boys march onto the field.”

The Brotherly Game reports that “a source with knowledge of the situation” links “A recent push push [sic] by the Philadelphia Union to sell out Lots A and B” to the opening of a new privately owned lot located between West Front and Delaware Street. Might the effort to sell out of season parking passes also simply be linked to the start of the season?

MLS

Don Garber identifies three “game changers” for the league: Achieving regional dominance by winning the CONCACAF Champions League; the development of world class players through the league’s academies; a growing TV presence so that MLS games are a “must-see” not just for soccer fans, but for casual sports fans. You can listen to the full Grantland interview here.

The Independent Supporters Council has written an open letter to Garber protesting the recent sanctions against Houston Dynamo supporters.

This article arguing that Red Bull Arena was not worth the cost seems to think that the Red Bulls season started last Sunday at home rather than in Dallas.

Steve Davis tells Galaxy fans to keep their chin up.

US Soccer Players wonders what makes a team good or bad in MLS.

Is the Triangle in North Carolina on the list of possible expansion locations?

Women’s Pro Soccer

Beau Dure reports on the latest development in the Borislow lawsuit against WPS. A court document filed on March 9 indicates that WPS is required to provide all documents relating to the decision to suspend the 2012 season as well as those related to the January 30 press conference in which the league made the announcement that the season had been suspended. Dure concludes that “this discovery seems to be less about settling the dispute and more about deciding whether WPS was operating in bad faith when league officials negotiated with Borislow in January.”

US

Peter Nowak believes the quality of the U-23 squad is comparable to that of the Olympic team he coached in 2008 but is concerned about the size and depth of the backline.

Could Middlesbrough’s 23-year-old central defender Seb Hines play for the US?

The USWNT remains in first place in FIFA’s rankings despite missing the Algarve Cup final.

Elsewhere

Chelsea will face Benfica after this morning’s Champions League draw. A Barcelona v Real Madrid final is possible. Here’s the Europa League draw, which is minus Manchester United and Manchester City after United lost 2–1 to Athletic Bilbao (5–2 agg.) and City lost to Lisbon on aggregate despite winning 3–2.

Here’s a cool story on the USL’s Baltimore Bohemians, whose already awesome new kit became even more awesome after the club secured a deal with National Bohemian.

Authorities in Egypt have charged 75 with murder in connection with the soccer riot in Port Said that left 74 people dead in February. Among those charged are nine police officials.

2 Comments

  1. What a great week in terms of Champions & Europa League games! Another hat-trick by Huntelaar and some great (almost) come backs. Altidore looked good for AZ Alkmaar! For those who do not know, GolTV always has a good summary of all the Europa League games at 9pm.

    Everyone thinks it will be a Barcelona v. Madrid final; I doubt it. I hope for Bayern v. Chelsea.

  2. the development of world class players through the league’s academies
    Hahaha.
    Haha.
    Ha.
    What is with this guy and this ridiculous goals? I think a more achievable goal they should be aiming for is something along the lines of “Expose quality soccer to the average American enough so that soccer can become a mainstream sport and is not ridiculed and disrespected.”

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