Photo: Earl Gardner
John Hackworth noted at Wednesday’s press conference that the Union will play eight games between Saturday’s match in Houston and the New England game on July 29, a rate of a game about every four days. Saying, “It’s all about managing our guys wisely,” Hackworth acknowledged, “It’s going to be a challenge. But we have set goals for each block, and guys are going to have to make sure they are ready. The one thing I have been asking of our players is that it’s imperative we continue to improve our game fitness. And the only way to get a player truly game fit is to get them playing in games. I have asked guys whenever they are out there to leave it all on the field and also trust our bench to come in and pick up where they left off.”
Continuing on the issue of match fitness, Hackworth also talked about when Bakary Soumare might appear in a Union lineup. “We plan to be very conservative with Soumare. Amobi is turning out to be a fantastic center back, and I told Soumare that he will have to battle both Amobi and Carlos Valdes for a spot. [Soumare] still needs to get match fit and, during this stretch, it’s important we get him up to speed, because, with all these matches, we will need him.”
The question of whether Sheanon Williams will be able to play on Saturday becomes even more pressing after Raymon Gaddis is listed as suspended for Saturday’s game in Houston on the league’s latest disciplinary report. The report says the reason is “second yellow card,” which, given the league’s rules about yellow card accumulation doesn’t really make sense because you need five yellows to be given a suspension and, according to his stats on the Union website, Gaddis only has two on the season. Union Dues says Gaddis is receiving the one game suspension because of disciplinary committee review of the foul that earned him the yellow against Kansas City last Saturday, which makes sense, even if it isn’t listed that way in the disciplinary report. [UPDATE: The league's disciplinary committee announced on Thursday afternoon that, after reviewing the foul that resulted in a yellow card, Raymon Gaddis is suspended for Saturday's game against Houston.]
Williams is listed in the latest injury report as doubtful (R big toe avulsion fracture). Hackworth said at Wednesday’s press conference, “Sheanon is looking good. Looks like he could potentially be back. There’s a big test (Thursday) and a big test Friday to see how he does. He was striking the ball (Tuesday) in pregame and he said he felt pretty good. I’m hopeful we’ll have him back.
What’s with all of the goals lately? Lionard Pajoy says, “It’s been the hard work we’ve put in,” while Jack McInerney says, “It’s about confidence. People are wanting to go forward, wanting to get into position and we’re finishing our chances.” Freddy Adu says, “I had said in the beginning of the season that once the floodgates open, they’re going to be wide open. It seems like that’s the case now. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Antoine Hoppenot adds, “I think we’re starting to click and guys have so much confidence in each other,” while Brian Carroll says, “It’s just how it goes sometimes in this league.”
This report suggests that, among the younger players, the improved confidence on the team stems in part from Hackworth’s connection with and faith in his players.
Union Tally looks at Pajoy’s improved play. I gotta say, he’s growing on me.
The Guardian reviews Tuesday’s Open Cup results.
Philly Union Talk says there are many reasons why winning the US Open Cup would be awesome, in particular that Union fans “could hold this over NYRB’s head for the rest of time.” Exactly.
The Union move to No. 17 in ESPN LA’s power rankings.
Here’s video of Coach Hackworth getting his free haircut thanks to the Union’s win over KC. Can you imagine Peter Nowak doing this?
Will a Bolton Wanderers preseason tour include a stop in Harrisburg?
US Soccer points to Christiano Francois’ hat trick in PDA’s 5-0 win over Lonestar SC as one of the standout’s in Tuesday’s second round ofU-17/18 games at the Development Academy playoffs. In the U-15/16 matchups on Wednesday, PDA defeated Solar Chelsea SC 3-0, while PA Classics topped Weston FC, 2-0.
Toronto picked up its second win of the season, and first on the road, with a 3-0 victory over Montreal Impact on Wednesday night. The win brings them within three points of the Union.
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Major League Soccer officials have zeroed in on a run-down section of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens as their preferred site for the league’s first New York stadium.”
FC Dallas have their first shirt sponsor, the “health and wellness company” AdvoCare.
Here’s an interesting read about Robbie Rodgers’ time with Leeds. “The guys in England are very interested in MLS.”
Speaking of England, New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft says he would only invest in English football if there was a salary cap. “Manchester City won the championship this year and I hear they’re going to lose $156 million. I would rather give that money to charity if I had it.” New England fans are surely thinking the Revolution Soccer Specific Stadium Fund is a worthy charity.
It’s official: Juventus has cancelled its participation in the World Football Challenge. Now, DC United will play Paris Saint-Germain at RFK and Real Madrid will play Mexican champs Santos Laguna in Las Vegas. A replacement for the scheduled match in Montreal “that had schedule availabilities and matched the level of excitement of the rest of the clubs participating in the competition was unable to be secured.”
Our Game Magazine’s review of the Elite League season so far notes the improvement shown by the Philadelphia Fever and the play of their goalkeeper, Michelle Dalton. “She has kept her team in almost every match this year, and despite allowing 17 goals in the eight matches this season, she has also proven herself for the future as a top goalkeeper.”
The mood at the USWNT camp ahead of Saturday’s Olympics sendoff game is “We’re in a good place.”
ESPN says the Olympics are the “Redemption Games” for the USWNT.
The Star-Ledger profiles Alexi Lalas.
MTV’s Clutch blog says the reason soccer “hasn’t taken hold in the States” is because soccer players pat each others heads when they score while “our professional athletes display camaraderie by slapping butts.”
In the second Euro 2012 semifinal it is Germany vs. Italy (2:45pm; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3, ESPN Radio). Hopefully it will be better than yesterday’s display of crapitude between Spain and Portugal.
In case you were wondering, Cristiano Ronaldo says the coach told him to take the penalty kick that never was.