Photo: Paul Rudderow
Like it or not, everyone with any knowledge of the Union going into Saturday’s game against Vancouver will be watching to see how the fans at PPL Park react to the return of Sebastien Le Toux. The Inquirer’s Marc Narducci reports that Peter Nowak says, “I hope and believe that the fans will support and stand behind our team and help us to win the game because we need them more than anything right now.” Narducci adds, “They could also use a tighter defense and an accomplished finisher, but that’s another story.”
In his article, Narducci says the “word around the team” is that Le Toux was sold because he “was becoming a distraction by complaining about his contract.” Le Toux tells Narducci, “That wasn’t true.”
Writing that the Union “look like one of those teams with a fair bit of talent that are waiting for a high draft pick and some veterans to compete,” and adding “the understanding of Nowak [is] at an all time low,” the Shin Guardian anticipates “a very peculiar atmosphere” for Saturday’s game. Their prediction? “I’m going to say a surprise Philly win 2-1 with Le Toux getting the goal for Vancouver and not celebrating. Specific enough for you?”
Goal.com writes, “Le Toux’s presence serves as a massive distraction for a Union side that has started slowly and desperately needs to collect all three points against the unbeaten Whitecaps. Will all of the attention on Le Toux inspire Philadelphia to focus a bit more keenly or will the distractions cause them to waver once again?” They predict a Vancouver win: “What are the odds that Le Toux scores at least once in this game and sticks it to his former boss in the process? 50 percent? 75 percent?” Their match preview is here.
In the Guardian’s preview, SoB VP Corey Furlan says, “Hopefully we can turn that around and get a result at home…Le Toux? When he’s introduced he’ll get applause of course, because of what he’s done here, but once the game starts he’ll have to deal with the crowd just like anyone else.” Brenton Walters, Communications Director of the Vancouver Southsiders says, “Away to Philadelphia would have been intimidating last season; this year it’s a winnable game, and we’ll be looking to capitalize on the Union’s ongoing struggles. We need our attackers to gel, and I would love to see Le Toux score against his old club and show Peter Nowak what a mistake he made.”
SB Nation’s prediction for Saturday’s game reads, “The Union have been Nowaked. Sebastien Le Toux and Jordan Harvey will further remind the fans of that this weekend.” Their prediction for the final score? “Vancouver, 100-0.” Ha, ha. Ha.
You’re not alone if you’ve noticed Danny Mwanga and Lionard Pajoy sometimes occupying the same space. The reason for that may be simple. Says Danny Mwanga, “We have a little bit of a barrier between us, a language barrier – well, basically we don’t speak the same language.”
The language issue is also mentioned in this profile of Gabriel Gomez. Gomez goes on to say, “Wherever I go, I don’t like to go as a passerby. I like to leave an impact, I like to win, I like to push, I like to have that personality to help the team out. That’s why I came here: to give my all until my last game with Philadelphia.” He adds, “[T]he positive results have not come but I have complete confidence in the work we’ve done, the group, my teammates, the coaching staff, that we are going to get better and that the victories will come.”
Zac MacMath tells Goal.com, “The team, we’re building every game, and trying to improve every game. As the season goes on, the team will only get better and better as we build chemistry.”
MacMath, whose father won two city championships as a goalkeeper for Frankford High School in the late 1960s, tells 6abc about his Philly roots.
Back from the US Olympic qualifiers squad, Amobi Okugo says, “I just want to get back on the field as soon as possible to try to forget what happened in Tennessee. It sat with me, especially after the [U-20s failed to qualify for the World Cup] and now this. It’s frustrating. But life goes on. You’ve got to learn from it and use it as motivation. You can’t change the past; you’ve just got to try to make up for it.”
The Union are at No. 19 in New England Soccer Today’s power rankings.
Asked if he has anything to prove to Peter Nowak, Sebastien Le Toux says, “I have nothing to prove to him. I think I proved enough in two years there and it’s just a decision he took. I’m not going to talk about it any more. It’s something old for me and I’m just going to concentrate on the positive and the Whitecaps.”
Of his return, along with former Union players Jordan Harvey and Brad Knighton, to PPL Le Toux says, “It’s with a great spirit we go there. There’s a mutual respect between us and the fans. It’s going to be a great game and I’m very happy to have a chance to play in Philly because it’s a great stadium, even as the opponent. It’s going to be a little different to play there in another jersey but I’m just going to enjoy the moment and try to win the game.”
The Province reports that Eric Hassli, who missed training with the Whitecaps this week with an ankle injury, will not be available for Saturday’s game. “Le Toux has been playing in more of a withdrawn role but expect him to lead the line against the Union.”
Ryan Richter, the Southampton, Pa.-native and La Salle standout released by the Union during the preseason, has signed with Charleston Battery of the USL. Also now with the Battery is Glenside, Pa.-native and Temple grad Tony Donatelli, who comes to the club from the Rochestor Rhinos. Before that Donatelli was signed by San Jose Earthquakes but waived before the start of the 2011 season.
Pennlive.com has the low-down on where to watch Union games in the Harrisburg area.
Four area high schools make the NSCAA top 20 list for girls soccer: No. 4: Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), No. 10: Penn Manor (Millersville, Pa.), No. 14: Mechanicsburg (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), and No. 20: Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pa.).
Something about Manchester United sponsor Aon, autographed soccer balls, a global journey, the Art Museum steps on April 13, and “pass it on”—I really don’t know.
Don Garber says, “The biggest driver of the league’s recent success is the development of a soccer culture driven by the passion of supporters. They are the engine driving major league soccer today…If people in the UK really understood what was happening in a lot of markets, what’s happening in Seattle, or Kansas City or Philadelphia, they would be surprised…Organic growth is the most important growth that you can have, you can try to manufacture cultural relevance but you’ll never win that way, you’ve got to have it kind of bubble up in an organic way and that is happening.”
The Timbers Army supporters group has asked its members to wear hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin and the “Show Racism the Red Card” campaign during Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake.
Gina DiMartino is yet another former Independence player to sign with former Independence coach Paul Riley’s New York Fury. He sister and Independence teammate Tina DiMartino signed with the club last week.
ESPN says Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo are two players whose Olympic qualifiers form has improved their senior team prospects.
What’s Soccer America’s resident curmudgeon Paul Gardner’s reaction to the US not advancing to the Olympics? “Well, big deal…I’ve been monitoring this b.s. for some 50 years now. Fifty years during which the USA has achieved virtually nothing in Olympic soccer, and during which I have seen absolutely no evidence of any wildly negative effects attributable to this failure. ”
The New York Times’ Jack Bell offers his thoughts on the US exit.
The Coaches’ Union says, “Although I might have been upset when the US were beaten by El Salvador, if the full side crashed out of qualification I would not want to even fathom the emotions that would be thrust upon us.”
Looking for a positive story, US Soccer reports that more than 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the May 26 match between the USMNT and Scotland.
A photograph of a smiling Fabrice Muamba was sent via his Twitter account today. The message accompanying the photo reads, “Fab wanted me to post this pic for you all and to also say thank you for such overwhelming support.”
Liam Stacey, the cretin how tweeted racist messages while Muamba was lying dead on the pitch at White Hart Lane, has lost his appeal against his conviction for racially aggravated public disorder.
Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands will run unopposed for the presidency of CONCACAF to replace the seat left vacant by the resignation of well-known crook Jack Warner.
Brazil’s lower house of Congress has approved a bill suspending the ban on the sale of alcohol at soccer stadiums during the World Cup. The bill still must be approved by the Senate before being signed by the president.