Photo: Nicolae Stoian
Sheanon Williams says of Toronto, “They have no pressure on them, the only way they can look is up. That’s definitely dangerous for us. But just looking at ourselves, we need wins, as well. We can’t take anyone for granted.”
Says Williams of his new center back role, “You won’t see me bombing up the wings anymore. The first responsibility now is to really defend and have good shape and watch against counters and things like that. It definitely changes the way I play and some stuff that I do. I can’t give away ball. It’s defend-first position and that’s the way I’ll take it.”
Williams adds, while hopefully knocking on wood, “I don’t mean to disrespect any center back, but I think [it’s one of the] easiest transitions. A lot of the position is just reading the game. If you can do that, you can be pretty successful. I’d definitely say a lot easier than right back or left back or any other position.”
Michael Lahoud acknowledges that being the guy who was received in return for Danny Califf comes with some pressure. “Yeah, that’s always going to put a little pressure on you. But I’m excited for it. I relish that pressure to be honest, because it means you’re in a place where you’re wanted.”
Lahoud adds, “While I’m here, I just want to be me. Hard work, honest effort and discipline – that’s my discipline.”
The Brotherly Game reports that, despite getting the start in Dallas two days after joining the Union, Lahoud is not yet fully integrated into the team. TBG also recounts Peter Nowak’s comments at Wednesday’s press conference on the injury status of several Union players: Nowak expects Zac MacMath to be available against Toronto; Gabriel Gomez’s knee, injured as he scored against Dallas, is too swollen for him to practice; Carlos Valdes, who required nine stitches after a collision in Dallas, has no other complications from his injury; Gabriel Farfan is back to training with the team. Nowak also said that Union goalkeepers are now required to wear helmets when they train with the club. For the most current injury report from the league, click here.
Raymon Gaddis remains at No. 5 in MLSsocer.com’s Rookie Power Rankings.
Says Carl Cherkin, the Union executive, former FOX-29 sports director and, along with Daily News reporter Kerith Gabriel, the co-host of the new 90th Minute radio show on 610 WIP, “This is extraordinary. This has been a long time coming. This is good for the fans, good for our supporters, it’s good for the Union. It’s good to bring in other sponsors, who may not want to be huge sponsors at this point, but want to get their feet wet, they want to get involved.”
You can listen to a podcast of the first episode here.
Looking at storylines from across the league, JP Dellacamera reminds everyone that, “The Union are just five points out of a playoff spot, prior to games being played on Wednesday, so the good news is they are not that far away from the hunt.”
US Open Cup/Local
If the Union defeat Rochester Rhinos in the third round of the US Open Cup on Tuesday, they will face the winner of DC United v Richmond Kickers in the fourth round. You can buy tickets for the game agaisnt the Rhinos here.
If the Harrisburg City Islanders defeat New England Revolution, they will host the winner of New York Red Bulls v Charleston Battery in the fourth round at Hershey Park. Harrisburg are 3–3–0 against MLS opposition in Cup play.
Kenn.com looks at the kerfuffle over the selling of third round hosting rights by lower division clubs such as Minnesota Stars and Atlanta Silverbacks to MLS teams like Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders and concludes business is business.
“[F]ans think like fans, not like business owners. Fans haven’t lost millions trying to stabilize a club and make it profitable. Fans always want to run clubs, but they only want to do the sexy things like pick the colors and design the badge and fire the coach and decide who plays left back. They’ve never had to make tough financial decisions in a public arena with emotional customers (and, no, I’m sorry, whatever emotional investment you’ve made pales in comparison to the actual money people lose in creating a team for your entertainment).”
Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to read the Kenn.com article and consider its application — is it valid or not valid? — to recent personnel moves by the Union and then comment below. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.
Ocean City Nor’easters suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 1–0 to Jersey Express in Newark. They’ll have their first home game of 2012 on Sunday at 7pm when they host Central Jersey Spartans.
Toronto FC Watch
A few days ago, Toronto FC forward Danny Koevermans called his team “the worst team in the world.” That team will be coming off of a rare victory when they host the Union on Saturday after defeating Vancouver 1–0 (2–1 aggregate) to win the Canada Championship for the fourth year in a row. Sebastien Le Toux and Toronto’s Julian de Guzman were ejected in the second half.
“You lose nine games, all of a sudden you’re a champion,” said Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic. “It’s kind of like a different mentality in the locker-room now. You can hear everybody’s happy, everybody’s laughing. We need to celebrate. You need to feel happy inside.”
Sportsnet.ca wonders if the defensive paring of Canadian center backs Adrian Cann and Doneil Henry might be a foundation on which Toronto can build.
New York remains in first place in the East after drawing 1–1 with Chivas USA at home.
Danny Califf put in another fine performance for Chivas in the draw. Before the game he said of his Player of the Match and Team of the Week performance for Chivas last Saturday, “I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t worried going in because I was trying to really concentrate on doing my job well and trying to be a good communicator and be aware of all the guys around me. It seemed to kind of click into place [on Saturday]. It was my first win of 2012, so I’m overjoyed.”
Chicago Fire defeated FC Dallas 2–1 to remain in fourth place in the East.
Columbus Crew moves into fifth place in the East after defeating Seattle Sounders 2–0 on the road.
In more Western conference action, San Jose returned to first place after scoring in stoppage time to defeat the Galaxy 3–2 in LA. David Beckham and the rest of the last-place-in-the-West Galaxy were not pleased with the ref.
Goal.com’s Alex Labidou is not pleased with Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez’s efforts at being ambassadors for MLS. He also thinks the Energy Drinks failed to properly honor the return of Juan Pablo Angel to Red Bull Arena for the first time since being traded. For his part, Angel, who scored 58 goals in his four years in New York, scored a cracking goal for Chivas and refused to celebrate it in front of his former fans. That, my friends, is class.
Montreal Impact will host Olympique Lyonnais on July 24.
ProSoccerTalk looks at the meaningfulness of “rivalries” in MLS and asks, “Real rivalries or ginned-up sales jobs?”
The Salt Lake Tribune looks at the trend that soccer enjoys the greatest level of support among the 18-to-34 age demographic.
Dejan Stankovic has dismissed reports linking him with a move from Inter to MLS.
Valencia defeated Portland 1–0 in a friendly.
In the WPSL Elite League, the Boston Breakers are 3–0–0 and in first place after defeating NY Fury 2–1.
The demise of WPS has led to calls that the next women’s pro league should partner with MLS. Julie Foudy writes at ESPNW, “It may be a viable option for some MLS owners, but not all of them. And that really is the key moving forward for women’s soccer to make it in this country over the long term. It needs a group of owners who want to do it because it makes sense financially and they believe in it, not because it is something they ‘should’ do.”
Don’t forget that the USWNT’s training session at PPL Park on Saturday is open to the public from 11:30am to 12:30pm. Tickets are still available to Sunday evening’s friendly against China and you can buy them here. The game will not be broadcast.
Landon Donovan speaks candidly with Grant Wahl about his future. “I think all players reach a point in their career where it’s natural to lose some of that hunger, that desire, to sort of break out or be a star,” Donovan says. “There’s no question that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, I’ll be pretty burned out. And when that time comes, then I’ll take a step back and take a look at it and see if I want to keep going.”
Goal.com looks at the USMNT roster as it stands ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Scotland.
Just minutes after the election of Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb as the new president of CONCACAF, allegations of financial mismanagement at the confederation while it was under the control of well-known crook Jack Warner and American gnome Chuck Blazer were outlined to members. The AP reports that CONCACAF “has reported itself to the United States Internal Revenue Service because of reporting and compliance deficiencies.”
Blazer says, “I’m perfectly satisfied that I did an excellent job. I spent 21 years building the confederation and its competitions and its revenues, and I’m the one responsible for its good levels of income.” A ten percent commission paid by the confederation to the his offshore company Sportvertising on all of the television and sponsorship deals made by the CONCACAF since a 1994 agreement with Warner certainly has gone a long way toward building Blazer’s personal revenues.