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Supplemental Draft today, news from open practice, reaction to Hackworth presser, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Today’s Supplemental Draft begins at 2pm and will be live streamed at MLSsoccer.com.

Hundred’s of Philadelphia Union supporters were at YSC Sports in Wayne for Monday’s open training session. Check out PSP photographer Earl Gardner’s photo essay for a look at what was going on. Feel free to join in on crowd sourcing the names of the unnamed trialists.

The Daily Doop notes the sizable presence Conor Casey brings to the attack, that Bakary Soumare looked fit and calm on the ball, and that the team will practice at YSC through the end of the week before moving to the Eagles NovaCare facility on Jan. 28. On Feb. 8, the Union head to Florida for two weeks.

Who’s this Alex Mendoza guy trialing with the Union?

Union Dues shares some impressions from the open training session.

The press conference that followed the training session was another occasion for Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth to be as refreshingly candid as he was in Sunday’s letter to season ticket holders about a number of issues surrounding the club at the start of the preseason. Chief among the issues discussed was The Freddy Adu Situation™ (I kid). And as the partial transcript posted by PSP’s Mike Servedio, who was at the press conference, makes clear, Hackworth was once again emphatic that Adu’s time with the Union is done. When asked if Adu could return to the team if he agreed to a renegotiated contract, Hackworth said, “That time has passed.”

Dave Zeitlin explains that the split between the Union and Freddy Adu revolved around two issues: salary and performance. Regarding the question of Adu’s performance, “He might have wanted to have a different role. But I think he was given plenty of opportunity to play a significant role for us and be the player we expected him to be when we signed him. That didn’t happen…You guys can look at the numbers, you guys can look at the stats. It didn’t happen for us as a team or for Freddy. Some people said that was because his service was great and there wasn’t anybody at the end of it. There were lots of different opinions out there but the reality is it didn’t work.”

One of the reactions to Hackworth’s letter to season ticket holders and his comments in Monday’s press conference has been something along these lines: By publicly airing the fact that the Union are finished with Adu, the club has undercut whatever bargaining position it might have had with potential suitors. It’s a reasonable enough reaction that has been expressed with greater or lesser eloquence. (One misleadingly titled example of the later is this piece of nonsense—”Philadelphia Union: The latest team to mishandle Freddy Adu”—parachuted in by someone who clearly hasn’t followed the Adu story closely.)

But such a reaction begs several questions. Is there a team in the league (or abroad) that doesn’t already know that Adu, whatever talents he possesses, is inconsistent in their application? Is there a team in the league (or abroad) that doesn’t already know that Adu is on a contract that is out of proportion to the contributions he has made on the pitch? The Union’s bargaining position was already undercut—both by the Union agreeing to a poor contract and by Adu’s failure to match the value of that contract or exceed it (not a new occurrence for him)—and any organization looking to become the ninth team he has played on in the past nine years already knows it.

Perhaps a more thoughtful view can be found in this piece at the 700 Level from Steve Moore, who describes himself as “Freddy Adu’s biggest supporter.” Moore writes, “While it may cost them transfer dollars, [Hackworth's] willingness to push Adu aside before training camp for the sake of team chemistry should be commended. Because if this team was all about ‘making a buck’ and not about winning trophies—a complaint I hear surprisingly often from Union fans—Hackworth would be talking up Adu and running him out there in preseason friendlies to try to boost his worth.” To expand on Moore’s point, Hackworth made the hard choice to take what may be a short term loss in transfer fees (and some fans’ opinions) rather than risk a disgruntled player poisoning the locker room with long term consequences of far greater value, be they financial, in terms of team chemistry, or turning off the larger fan base.

According to Hackworth, the Union have already heard from clubs interested in Adu, they just don’t seem to be in MLS. “There’s lots of teams around the world that have been interested. He certainly has a name that has a lot of value. As a player, I think that’s where coaches look at some of the things he is able to do as a player–he’s got talent, there is no question about that, but how he puts that together is up to Freddy.”

With MLS essentially being out of the picture, a problem remains. As Hackworth said, “He wants to play first division soccer in the highest league possible and that’s been part of the difficulties in this whole process.”

In other news from the press conference, Brian Carroll has been named team captain.

Hackworth had praise for Roger Torres. “Roger is really important to our team, and we threw down the gauntlet at the end of the [2012] season,” Hackworth said. “You come back to preseason fit… or you’re not going to be part of this team. To his credit, Roger came in the door ready…his fitness is the best I’ve ever seen in four years, [and] his mentality and approach is different…I think Roger senses that it is time for him to take this opportunity.”

More on the press conference from the Union website, Philly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Sporting News, the Examiner.

Michael Lewis writes, “Potential and promise is such a terrible thing to waste, and like it or not, Freddy Adu has become American soccer’s poster man-child for that phrase.”

SBI gives the Union a C for their SuperDraft picks. The description notes, “Stephen Okai is a skilled central midfielder who the Union know well, and who could help provide some depth in place of Freddy Adu.” Which is interesting because Okai says, “I play defensive midfielder. I’m a holding player, sort of like Michael Essien who was with Chelsea and plays for Real Madrid now. That’s the kind of style I play.” So the Union should have been playing Adu in a holding midfield role?

Former Union midfielder Kyle Nakazawa has retired from the game. He’s a good egg.

Union academy (PDA) and US U-15 defender Chris Gomez has tweeted that he will be trialing in Spain with Malaga and Sevilla next month.

Local

Reading United will open the 14-game 2013 season on May 11 at home against Westchester Flames at Albright College’s Shirk Stadium.

Reading United has announced it is partnering with German fourth division club SSV Reutlingen 05 to offer a German Soccer Camp to be held July 5 – 20, 2013 for male players age 14 – 18. Reutlingen is Reading’s sister city.

La Salle women’s assistant coach Ally Kenney has been named NSCAA assistant coach of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region.

MLS

Bruce Arena assures us that Landon Donovan will be back, “He just needs a little bit more time.”

At Goal.com, Avi Creditor says the potential move of Brek Shea to Stoke (if it happens) would be another of big name exits from MLS ahead of the 2013 season that includes the likes of, among others, David Beckham, Fredy Montero, Carlos Valdes, and Freddy Adu.

Here’s a list of the top ten former MLSers who found success in Europe.

Are the plans for a MLS stadium in Queens leading to a tug-of-war for Hispanic support?

Grantland has a behind the scenes look at last week’s Combine.

Elsewhere

UEFA president Michel Platini says match-fixing is the greatest threat to the future of the game.

A police officer in Argentina was shot during a clash between hooligans supporting Rosario Central and Newell’s Old Boys.

 

7 Comments

  1. Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

    Seconded on Kyle Nakazawa. He never really found a position in MLS, but he’s a good egg, indeed. best of luck to him.

  2. I’m in agreement that the Adunouncement that hes Adun (ok I’ll stop it) doesn’t actually undercut the Union’s position. Everyone is looking at this as if Adu has value. He doesn’t. He’s dead money. By appearing weak, Hackworth might clear the salary quicker for a team who will lowball him. What the other teams haven’t figured out is that Hack is prepared to Terrell Owens Freddy and let him sit home. A year out of soccer will hurt what little marketing cred Adu has, that’s the leverage to get Adu to renegotiate with another team. Hack will just be thrilled to salvage any transfer fees (even minus Dandy Don’s vig).The salary clearance alone makes this a win. This may actually (if he intended it this way, otherwise just partial credit) the most adroit move the Union have made.

    • +1. It would be careericidal for Freddie to sit out an entire season due to petulance. He’ll end up with somebody else eventually, and the Union will at least regain a piece of his salary. And kudos to Hack for being straight about this. It’s always good PR to get out ahead of a ticklish issue. Define it, before other people define it for you based upon rumors.

  3. Very interesting to see the comments about Roger Torres. I always wondered if there were fitness/application issues behind the scenes. He’s clearly got a lot of talent, and hopefully his newfound “mentality” means an end to the ineffective cameos and DNP’s that have been a feature of his recent career.

  4. OK, I understand the upside of putting Freddy Adu on the sidelines, but I will never understand the public decision to do that until the last possible moment. I agree that there is some merit to Hackworth’s blunt position on this, but the “gamesmanship” of general managers is not the same thing as simple deceit. There are benefits to the team for the opposing parties in a transaction thinking that the player could be of value to the Union, and it could help cash flow, even if a slightly larger portion of the salary is assumed by the transferee club. Since the fall, and the decision to leave him off of the game day eligible lists, it has been very clear that the team was trying to get the message through to him. It is now clear that the message was not getting through, and that Hack has decided to say to him that this could be your last paycheck as a professional player if you decide to sit and not approve the best loans that we can arrange for us and for you. It would simply confirm all of the negatives that the world has watched in his career, and seal his image as being all about Freddy and not at all about the team. I hope for his sake that Adu sees that possibility as “careericidal”, to seal scottso’s word, and that this is resolved without an adverse impact on both the Union’s payroll and Adu’s career.

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