Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
At Wednesday’s press conference, John Hackworth described Friday night’s match against Real Salt Lake as a “must-win.” Hackworth said, “I can’t stress enough the importance of pulling maximum points from this match. However, it’s certainly not going to be easy, with Real playing some really good soccer right now.”
Hackworth described a conversation he had with Freddy Adu following the game in DC. “We talked on the bus, just me and him, on the way home. He said, ‘Hey, I could’ve contributed longer.’ I said, ‘You know what? I need you to contribute the way you did today, every single game.’ He said, ‘Fair enough.’ I said, ‘Freddy, if you do that, we will win more games,’ and I think he understands that.”
Hackworth continued, “I’m still trying to push Freddy in the right ways to be an effective player for us. There are so many expectations on Freddy that have nothing to do with whether a team does well. I’m trying to get Freddy, specifically, to understand that it’s not about Freddy Adu at all. It’s about the Philadelphia Union, it’s about this team right now and what he contributes every single day, and I think he’s doing a much better job of that.”
The assessment of Freddy Adu’s performance on the DC United website reads, “Other than a 31st minute rebound which he failed to really connect with, Adu was quiet throughout his 69-minute run.”
Hackworth praised Raymon Gaddis, who will start for the suspended Sheanon Williams. “To see a rookie have this type of impact on a team, it’s impressive. Ray wants to be in this league for a long time and wants to be an important player — which he is already in his first year.”
Hackworth also indicated that while Bakary Soumare will be available for Friday, he is still returning to form and that the team is taking a conservative approach to giving him starts. Also, Gabriel Farfan, who had picked up a few knocks in the DC game, should be good to start against RSL.
Chris Albright says he wants to stay in Philadelphia even if the opportunity comes up to go to a team where he would see more playing time. “No, I want to be with this organization. I’m committed to the Union and to the staff. That situation is evolving and John’s doing a great job. I’m a Philly kid and I’d love to stay involved here.”
Sheanon Williams praises Antoine Hoppenot. “He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen. He fights and scraps for everything. He’s very, very skilled. He’s smart and knows how to finish. He’s just a tough soccer player and we’re lucky to have him.”
The Union drop one spot to No. 15 in SBI’s power rankings.
You will recall the documentary about the Anderson Monarchs that was recently in production under the helm of local filmmaker Eugene Martin. Many of you generously contributed money to the production via a Kickstarter campaign. The film is now being shown at select festivals and recently received this very favorable review from Variety. We’ll let you know when the film will be making its Philadelphia debut.
In midweek Eastern Conference play, DC United moved to within one point of Chicago and Houston with a 4–2 home win over the Fire. Lionard Pajoy scored the go ahead goal for DC with both teams tied at 1 all, which ought to improve his player rating. Seventh place Columbus is now nine points above the eighth place Union after they defeated last place Toronto 2–1.
Here’s Pajoy’s goal:
Houston defeated El Salvadoran club CD FAS 3–1on the road in CONCACAF Champions League play. LA Galaxy host Isidro Metapan tonight (10pm, FSC).
US Soccer Players looks at some of the difficulties the CONCACAF Champions League has when it comes to real engagement.
ProSoccerTalk quotes Peter Walton, the new head of the Professional Referees Organization who appeared on the latest ExtraTIme podcast, as saying MLS refs aren’t as bad as people think. “I don’t think our referees are as bad as people perceive them to be. It’s just that they’ve been fed, hand fed, world class referees from abroad on their TV screen every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. That’s what my aim is. They will get the same, but it will take time.”
The Guardian re-posts an article that originally appeared at the Shin Guardian about how the mid-season form of MLS teams can be quantified statistically. I prefer the re-post because the featured photo has Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, and Gabriel Farfan in it.
Former Canadian international, Dundee United and Wigan Athletic defender Jason De Vos points to the moves by Scottish players to MLS as a sign that the league’s profile is rising in Europe. “MLS is becoming more attractive for players,” De Vos says. “The standard of the MLS is improving and the physical nature of the game is a real eye-opener for foreigners.”
One of those Scots, Vancouver’s Kenny Miller, isn’t exactly thrilled with his start with the club. “A horrendous week…For me, first two starts, and to be beat two-nil, two-nil, it couldn’t have went much worse, to be honest.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber, Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, and Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer will host a panel at the 5th annual Leaders in Football conference to be held in London in October and hosted by Chelsea FC. A press release says, “The panel will tackle a range of topics, including why they invest in US soccer, the long-term plans and vision for football in the country, and driving growth in a crowded and competitive market. ”
Sporting Innovations, the sports information technology company affiliated with Sporting Kansas City, is praised by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon for its plan to invest $20 million in the renovation of a downtown Kansas City building that will become the company’s new headquarters, housing a projected 120 employees.
Hope Solo’s autobiography, Solo: A Memoir of Hope (written with Ann Killion), will debut at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list, the highest debut ever for a soccer book.
A petition has been started in Houston to bring the USWNT to BBVA Compass Stadium during its upcoming victory tour.
Megan Rapinoe is the guest on the latest Men in Blazers podcast.
New sports network beIN Sports has acquired the rights to all USMNT away qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup cycle, beginning with the match in Jamaica on Sept. 7, as well as the rights to all other CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers except those involving Mexico.
US Soccer president Sunil Gulati tells the New York Times, “We don’t control the rights for our away matches but have talked with beIN Sport and know that they have an aggressive plan to expand distribution over the weeks and months to come. Obviously, we’d like as wide a distribution in the US as possible for our WCQ matches.”
The only providers carrying beIN Sports at present are DirectTV and Dish Network. That equals approximately 7 percent of US television households. You can contact your provider to demand beIN Sports here.
A tweet from @comcastcares says, “Comcast is currently working with beIN Sports so that we can offer more European soccer to Xfinity customers. We will keep you up-to-date.”
The New York Post weighs in on the Al Jazeera-owned beIN Sports, which, in addition to USMNT away World Cup qualifiers, owns the US rights to La Liga, Serie A, Ligue Un, England’s Championship, and more. According to the Post, “Western democratic-style sports TV business” (whatever that is) is in danger because Al Jazeera is state owned. “As for now, any semblance of a level playing field in buying and selling TV rights is losing out to a kingdom and its oil fields.” I’m as ticked off as the next guy that beIN Sports isn’t more widely available but the point of view of this article is just ridiculous.
MLS Talk’s Earl Reed has a much more reasoned take on the subject.
SBI says of the beIN Sports announcement, “Fans in the United States will no longer have to worry about U.S. men’s national team World Cup qualifiers being shown on pay-per-view.”
The USWNT drew 1–1 with China at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. Penn State’s Maya Hayes scored for the US.
At US Soccer Players, Jason Davis argues that because so many American players are now playing abroad, our obsessive tracking of them—”It’s the ultimate expression of American soccer’s inferiority complex, even as it makes perfect sense as a way to track the progress of the USA’s rise within the world’s game”—is close to being rendered moot as a way of measuring the quality of American players.
“The need for validation is still there, and every American who makes a mark in a league other than MLS serves to feed that need. But with Americans showing well in a glut of competitions and more popping up every year, the need is no longer as pressing. Satiation isn’t here, not yet, but neither is the legitimacy of America’s role in the global soccer ecosystem turning on what a few players do in a few disparate leagues on a week-to-week basis.”
Davis concludes, “These days, we’re pretty comfortable in the knowledge that Yanks can play too, even the ones not allowed to use their hands.”
Demosphere has a very interesting article looking at declining registration at US Youth Soccer, the largest governing body for youth soccer in the United States. While USYS registered some 3.025 million kids aged 5-19 in 2011, player registration declined by more than 50,000 between 2009 and 2011 and a further decline of 164,590 is projected for 2012, which would USYS to under 3 million registered members for the first time in 12 years. Demosphere identifies the problem largely to come down to marketing.
Tickets to the USWNT friendly against Costa Rica in Rochester on Sept. 1 will go on sale today at noon. Some 11,000 tickets have already been sold through an earlier pre-sale.
The Huffington Post looks at the New York City World Cup, now in its third year.
A floating soccer field in New York City?
With league play to start this weekend, Soccer America says the Bundesliga is the league to watch if you want lots of goals and lots of excitement.
Is Liverpool trying to sell players to bring in Clint Dempsey?
Union Dues has some beginner’s Spanish for soccer fans.