Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
Get up to speed on the Union’s past encounters with Toronto FC with our quick reference. Look for our match preview later today.
Make no mistake, the Union are not taking winless in league play but champions of Canada Toronto lightly. Says Brian Carroll, “Anytime you go up against a team in a situation where their backs are against the wall, they will fight and scratch and do everything they can to get that first one.”
Says Sheanon Williams, “We’re going to Toronto with the intent we’re going to get points if we play like we’ve been playing and we fight and we’re aggressive. I think we have a good chance of getting a good result.”
Peter Nowak is quoted by Marc Narducci as saying, “How we play, the way we play, is more important than anything.” More important than winning? Anybody?
Gabriel Gomez has been called up to the Panamanian national team for World Cup qualifying. A Union press release says the he “will depart on Sunday following the Union’s match at Toronto FC tomorrow (4:30 p.m. ET on The Comcast Network) and return to Philadelphia following Panama’s match against Cuba on June 12.” The Union will play DC United at PPL Park on June 16.
Nowak says Gabriel Gomez has been receiving treatment three times a day for a left knee contusion. “We’re not scratching him from the game yet.”
Kevin Kinkead’s scouting report says the Union game plan should be simple: “[G]o after Toronto’s defense. Scoring that first goal against a demoralized team can set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Goal.com predicts a draw.
New Union captain Carlos Valdes acknowledges “a huge responsibility” goes with the role. “But I feel capable of completing the duties and returning the favor to the coaching staff for trusting in me. I feel like this is an opportunity to demonstrate my capabilities and abilities and prove to them why they brought me here in the first place…There’s huge pressure because I’m directly responsible for guiding this team to better results.”
Valdes says of Danny Califf’s influence on his new position, “I couldn’t have had a better teacher than him.”
Williams says of his new center back position, “Me and the coaches have had a conversation. And that’s what I’ll do moving forward, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Greg Jordan is the guest on the latest installment of the Union Sound podcast.
The Union’s Zach Pfeffer and academy player Zackary Steffen are with the US U-18 team in the Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal. On Wednesday, the team drew 1–1 with Poland. On Thursday, it was 0–0 with Slovakia. There’s no lineup info for the first game at US Soccer, but Steffen was the keeper in the second with Pfeffer an unused substitute. The team faces Portugal on Saturday.
From the Department of Defender Speculation, we have two items:
- MLSsoccer.com has a post on New York-born Miguel Ibarra, “an attacking fullback with a fierce right foot” who plays for Barcelona in Ecuador’s first division. Ibarra says, “The idea is to play outside of Ecuador. The MLS interests me. And I wouldn’t take up a foreigner’s spot.” So, Mr. Ibarra, how does the idea of playing for the Philadelphia Union interest you, what with the summer transfer window opening on June 27?
- 34-year-old defender Ryan Nelsen is apparently set to return to MLS from Tottenham on a free transfer. The New Zealander spent four years at DC United including two under Nowak with whom he won the MLS Cup before moving to Blackburn Rovers. We all know how much Nowak likes to bring in people he once worked with…
Harrisburg City Islanders play host to Rochester Rhinos tonight at 6pm. (The Rhinos then travel to Ohio to play Dayton Dutch Lions on Saturday before coming to PPL Park to play the Union on Tuesday. Understandably, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says “U$L” needs to do something about its league schedule during the US Open Cup.)
Reading United have a busy weekend. Tonight they host Central Jersey Spartans tonight with a 7pm kickoff at Albright College’s Shirk Stadium. On Sunday, they travel to Brooklyn Knights for a 4pm kickoff. Reading Defender Greg Cochrane was just named to the PDL Team of the Week.
Ocean City Nor’easter kickoff their home season on Sunday night at 7pm agaisnt Central Jersey Spartans at Carey Stadium in Ocean City. Ocean City goalkeeper John McCarthy was just named to the PDL Team of the Week.
Danny Califf continues to demonstrate just how much of a class act he is. He tells SBI of his time in Philly, “I look back on it with extreme fondness. I was embraced by the city, I was embraced by the fans. My family loved it, my kids loved it, so I look back on it with nothing but positive. I’m over all the garbage that went on at the end. I don’t have time to worry about it anymore, so I’m focusing on the happy time I had there, which was pretty much the whole time.”
Poor Energy Drinks supporters. it sucks being you for yours is such a complicated life.
Following David Beckham’s very critical comments about the referee in Wednesday’s LA Galaxy loss to San Jose, ProSoccerTalk says we’ll now see if a double standard exists when it comes to punishing the league’s gold nugget. PST also says it’s good that the Galaxy are so bad this season.
Soccer America’s Paul Gardner argues something needs to be done about encroachment when penalty kicks are taken.
US Open Cup
More on the fallout from MLS teams paying off lower division clubs so that they can host third round games rather than travel. Jeremiah Oshan writes that you can’t blame teams like Seattle “for looking out for their best interests.” If you want to point fingers, he say, point them at US Soccer for allowing such deals to happen.
US Soccer Players writes, “a tournament that just underwent a revamp seems to be right back where it started.”
Sigi Schmid says the buying of home field advantage happens all the time in college sports.
Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey reiterates that such deals are all about winning. “I think that shows our commitment to winning…The Open Cup is a tournament that qualifies our team for CONCACAF [Champions League],” Lagerwey said, “and we say repeatedly that that’s a very important tournament for us and our fans have told us the same thing.”
WV Hooligan writes of such a commitment to winning the tournament, “At the end of the day, that’s what we’ve all really wanted for this tournament all along – for MLS clubs to actually give a damn about it.”
If you’re not going to see the USWNT take on China at PPL Park on Sunday, perhaps you’d like to see the Philadelphia Fever as they host Chesapeake Charge at Egg Harbor High School, which is conveniently located to many shore locations. Kickoff is at 7pm. Before the Fever, the men’s team AC Crusaders of the NPSL will be playing and they looked great last weekend.
The 91st Minute has a post mortem on WPS.
The Inquirer talks to Lauren Cheney ahead of Sunday’s USWNT match against China about the 2008 Olympics and being the boyfriend of 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday. Tickets for the game, which US Soccer says is at a near sellout, are available here.
By the way, if you are taking the train to PPL Park on Sunday, shuttle buses will be running between the station and the stadium.
Jurgen Klinsmann will announce the 23-player roster for the upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers today at 2pm.
Philly Union Talk previews the USA v Scotland game (NBC Sports Network, 8pm).
Does the USMNT now have the talent who can score goals?
Clint “The Truth” Dempsey talks to SI. “I didn’t turn pro until I was 20, and before my first MLS season started I turned 21. So it’s almost been like a race against time for me, to make the most I can of the time I have left. I’m still hungrier than ever.”
Soccer America says “General Bradley” is ready for USMNT duty.
Soccer Insider on how ticket sales have been for Wednesday’s USA v Brazil friendly in Andover, Maryland. They’ve been strong (some 53,000 so far) and the Redskins, who are backing the game, want them to be stronger.
The LA Times delves into American soccer history with a look at the first pro soccer league in the US, founded by National League baseball team owners in 1894. The article mentions local soccer historian Steve Holroyd, whose research was the starting point for PSP’s two-part series on the Philadelphia Phillies’ participation in the league.
The formal request from CONCACAF to oust Chuck Blazer from FIFA’s executive committee cannot be heard because it was sent too late. FIFA rules require two months notice.
Sepp Blatter has asked the Franz Beckenbauer-led Football Task Force 2014 to come up with an alternative to the penalty kick shootout.
The Hawk-Eye goal line technology system will be tested at Wembley during the England v Belgium friendly on June 2.
FIFA will begin testing referees for performance-enhancing drugs.