Photo: Earl Gardner
Note: As potentially groundbreaking as the MLS-USL PRO partnership that was announced on Wednesday is—a partnership in which the Union and Harrisburg City Islanders were pathmakers with their affiliation that dates back to March of 2010—the details are still emerging. We gather some sources about what is known so far in the Local section of today’s roundup below.
The Union announced the signing of midfielder and Harrisburg native Alex Mendoza on Thursday morning.
On the new Union trialist front comes this big news in the form of two tweets from the Washington Post’s Steven Goff:
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 24, 2013
Restrepo scheduled to report to Philly Union tonight #mls
— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 24, 2013
Restrepo, won a national championship with University of Virginia in 2009 before playing professionally with America de Cali in 2011 (4 appearances) and Venezuelan club Deportivo Táchira (6 appearances) in 2012. He was a member of the U-17 US national team squad coached by John Hackworth that reached the quarterfinals of the 2005 U-17 World Cup. That team included current Union players Gabriel and Michael Farfan, as well as former Union players Kyle Nakazawa and Brian Perk (and one “Josmer Altidore”).
West Virginia University’s The Daily Athenaeum talks to Yardley, Pa. native Eric Schoenle about being drafted by the Union. “I couldn’t stop smiling…This is definitely the team that I would have hoped to go to from the beginning. I love the stadium, love the atmosphere, love the fans. It’s something I was hoping for, and now that I’ve got the opportunity, I’ve got to make the most of it.”
Kevin Kinkead provides a look at what went on during Wednesday’s training session at YSC Sports along with some observations on how various players are looking.
John Hackworth on Conor Casey and Aaron Wheeler: “We now have two true No. 9s, and we didn’t have one true No. 9 last year. Now we have a couple of big boys if you will with soft feet and that’s what we like. We like guys that are technical and can also bring the physicality.”
Bakary Soumare talks about his recovery from knee injury and why he played only one game with the Union in 2012:
“I was training every day with the team and sometimes you felt good and sometimes you felt terrible,” Soumare explained. “We tried to grind it out, we tried to find ways to make it work towards the end of the season, but then you got to a point where there was nothing to play for. We weren’t going to the playoffs, so why even push it? We (felt like we) might as well go and have the scope done, and recover, and use the offseason wisely to work on the things I need to work on. That’s how it worked out.”
Soumare says, “It was very frustrating…But that’s part of the game. Sometimes you have to deal with the ups and the downs and that was one of the downs. But I was able to recover, and I’m feeling good, and I’m just happy to be back and healthy.”
Union Tally wonders where Amobi Okugo will fit into the game-day lineup. For his part, Okugo says, “Whenever I’m on the field, it doesn’t matter where it’s at. I’m having fun, and I’m here for business.” (In the piece from Kevin Kinkead linked to above, Kinkead says, “Amobi Okugo looks like he’s in mid-season form. It’s almost like he never had a Winter break. Amobi has clearly stood out this week after his breakout season in 2012.”)
How will the new MLS-USL PRO partnership manifest itself for the Union and Harrisburg City Islanders? Kerith Gabriel writes,
“In the case of the Union, the reserve league format announced by MLS Wednesday is not the exact structure Philadelphia will utilize. Instead, CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz and team manager John Hackworth decided to expand on the club’s partnership with Harrisburg to infuse reserve league players onto the roster of the City Islanders. Those players would still be on the Union roster and the club would still hold all rights, and responsibility of player salaries. In the past where Union players were loaned for a game or two to a developmental affiliate, this new structure allows players to stay, practice and play vital games along their USL counterparts for an extended time—possibly even the entire length of a USL campaign.”
At Sporting News, Brian Straus provides some more detail about how the new MLS/USL PRO partnership will work in its first year:
- “MLS clubs will be permitted to sign affiliation agreements with USL Pro teams similar to those common in pro baseball and hockey. Affiliation is not, and likely never will be, mandatory and four partnerships will be in place in 2013.”
- “Each of those four MLS clubs will send a minimum of four players on season-long loans to their USL affiliate…More than four players can be loaned; the number will be up to the individual teams.”
- “The remaining 15 MLS clubs will field squads in the MLS reserve league and can still, on a case-by-case basis, arrange loans to USL Pro for their players.”
- “Twelve of those 15 MLS teams will augment their reserve league schedule with a home-and-home series against a USL Pro opponent that will count in the standings of both circuits (meaning the four USL Pro teams with MLS affiliates in 2013 will play the reserve team of a different MLS club).”
- “Two additional MLS teams will host one extra reserve match against Antigua Barracuda, whose primary mission is to develop players for the Antigua and Barbuda national side.”
- “That leaves one MLS club, unidentified Wednesday, that might not participate in the partnership with USL Pro during the first year.”
Straus concludes, “Like just about everything associated with American soccer, there are sure to be fits, starts and a few wrong turns. It has a bit of a ‘making this up as we go’ quality to it, just as most journeys worth taking do. But for a uniquely American problem, MLS and USL appear to have conjured a necessary, long-awaited and uniquely American solution.”
At Indy Week, Neil Morris applies some much needed critical thinking to what is known about the MLS-USL PRO partnership and raises important questions about what the partnership could mean.
In addition to the already existing Union-City Islanders partnership, the first four MLS/USL PRO affiliations include Sporting Kansas City-Orlando City, New England Revolution-Rochester Rhinos, and DC United-Richmond Kickers.
More on the partnership from MLSsoccer.com, Philly.com, Soccer America, SBI, Patriot News, WHPTV.com, Examiner, orlandocitysoccer.com, and the March to the Match podcast. Here’s a look at how the partnership could affect the sanctioning of new teams in Canada.
The Patriot News checks in on how Tyler Witmer is doing with the Harrisburg Heat.
New York Red Bulls still don’t have a coach. Soccer America has a short list of reported frontrunners.
Chivas USA, I don’t know what to say.
Sky Sports reports Norwich have made an offer for Sporting Kansas City’s Kai Kamara.
William Conde is no longer a Red Bull.
Juan Pablo Angel has returned to Colombian club Atletico Nacional, where he started his career in 1993.
More on Tuesday’s conference call between the Cascadia Cup Council and MLS.
Several weeks ago we linked to reports about plans to development a new soccer-specific stadium in Tampa. Well, the effort has a snazzy new website.
Seattle Reign have announced their home stadium and ticket prices.
“Total football” takes on a new meaning as Jurgen Klinsmann explains what he means by “24/7.”
ProSoccerTalk takes a look at some of the lesser known players who were just called up for the USWNT.
Soccer America has positional rankings for USMNT forwards.
In a shocking distraction from Wednesday’s Ballboy Kicking Contest semifinal in England, Swansea held Chelsea scoreless to win 2-0 on aggregate and advance to the League Cup final. There they will face fourth division Bradford.
At ESPN, Iain MacIntosh reports on the reaction to Wednesday’s Ballboy Kicking Contest.
Things aren’t looking good for the future of Fox Soccer.