Daily news roundups

Mendoza signed, GK Restrepo trialing, training camp updates, reaction to MLS-USL PRO deal, more

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.

Philadelphia Union

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:

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.”)

Local

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.

MLS

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.

NWSL

Seattle Reign have announced their home stadium and ticket prices.

US

“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.

Elsewhere

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.

Real Madrid remains the richest club in the world. In doing so, they became “the first sports team anywhere to break the 500 million euro ($666 million) revenue barrier.”

Things aren’t looking good for the future of Fox Soccer.

21 Comments

  1. July 12: I expect to hear “Chivas! USA! I don’t know! what to say!” coming from the river end

  2. As for Okugo, since a Carrol captaincy means he will be starting for a while now, I hope our midfield is Okugo – Carrol – Marfan. I would have no complaints with that.

  3. Chivas USA is a joke.

    • Kind of disgusting, actually. But we’ll see where it gets them.

      • In all fairness this isn’t too far off from the Union hyping the hell out of all of its signings with local connections.

        • Actually, it is quite far off. Chivas is actively casting off talent in order to replace them with players who fit the “identity” of the team (that is, players of Mexican descent).

          The Union brings in players with local connections because 1. The soccer culture in this area develops good players and 2. Players who are from the area generally want to play here and will play with pride and commitment for their hometown club. It has nothing to do with nationality, unlike Chivas’ misguided approach.

          • It is marketing and identity, the exact same thing. Some identify via nationality some identify via location. Granted Chivas are taking it to the extreme but really it is not that different.

            Was Chris Albrigh the best player for defensive cover the Union last year? No. Was he marketed to the fanbase disproportionally to the amount of time he was actually on the field. yes.(and this is no slag towards Albright who is by all reports a good guy and a good teammate) Why was he marketed because he was local. Hell when we hired Brendan Burke If all I had to go on was what the Union were saying about him is that he bleed cheese steak grease and he openly weeps when he hears the Rocky theme song. I only found out he was qualified for the job when I can to PSP and saw their write up.
            All of those thing you mentioned. The pride and the development are side bonuses, not to mention players giving a hometown discount for salary, are side bonuses compared with a team who knowing they aren’t going to compete realistically for the championship this year giving the fanbase something to rally behing and root for. Kind of makes sense when you see that the Unions marketing slogan this year is “What do you stand for.” pretty secretarian in connotation no?
            Look I never said it was a bad thing, Chivas are just going all in… They have no chance appealing to fans on a local level, Why root for Chivas when you have the Galaxy in your city. The Union are better suited to play the local card by hyping local players and players the city adopted like Letoux. But i’d imagine if the Union had the talent pool Chivas have they would be tempted to go all in too.
            In the end these are both stopgap measures for non playoff teams. Nothing grows interest like winning (or maybe a culture like Portlands) and that will sustain and grow a soccer culture more that a handful of local players.

            • You’re really sanitizing it. Going for some local kids and deliberately creating something dangerously close to an ethnically homogenous team are quite different, both in scope and in implication.

              • I don’t think I am sanitizing anything.

                Soccer has a strong tradition of teams with very strong Identities two major examples are Celtic and Barcelona. They are very much international teams now, but at their core is this sense of identity that often drives their following.
                What Chivas did or what Sanchez Sola did was in fact create an identity that I has a Philadelphia Union fan kind of have to admire weather I agree with that that identity or not. He said “This is who we are, This is what we go, this is why we are doing it.” In hopes of getting a fan base to find something in that team to get behind. This is true for Chivas, This is True for Celtic, This is true for teams like St. Pauli. (Barcelona not so much when you have Messi, Xavi and Iniesta you don’t need “reasons”.”
                It should be noted that despite the rhetoric they still have Dan Kennedy and I don’t think he is going anywhere and that would put him closer to the Unions and the Celtics than OMG MEXICAN RACE WAR.
                I somehow suspect that people who are the most offended by this would bust a nut if Hackworth came out and declared that from now on the Union would only sign natural born Americans.

                • Suspect what you want. Just don’t accuse, directly or by implication, because you’re way off base. Anyway, “local” identity is NOT what they’re going for here. You can’t seriously believe that. If a Caribbean-American player and a Mexican-American player grew up across the street from one another in Orange County, Chivas would recruit one and not the other. They would also prefer a Mexican-American kid from New Jersey or Chicago to the Jamaican kid or Italian kid who grew up in their backyard. It’s absolutely nothing like a “Philadelphia area only” policy that the Union would never institute anyway. We have the Chicago Fire and the Philadelphia Union, and not the New York White Guy Red Bulls for a reason. But re: Chivas, I’m sure some of their best friends are Dan Kennedy.

                  • I never said it was the same thing. I just said it’s not to far off. And Like I said they still had Dan Kennedy.
                    So in fact they are gaining a core identity along with a core fanbase., while still keeping the players on the field who give them the best chance to win.

                    Like I said this is more than likely a stopgap while the team is rebuilding. (again) And While they will always be on the lookout for players that appeal to their base. (Chris Albright) They will still find players who will give their team the best chance to win (Dan Kennedy)

                    And I never said The Union have a Philadelphia area only policy, (many of the players they claim are local are really pushing credibility as is) I just said If the Philly area had a deeper talent pool they would be tempted to give it a shot.

                    also Local identity is exactly who they are going for. Who lives in LA that aren’t trasnplants? Mexican Americans. According to the US Census 48% of the people in the Los Angeles are of Hispanic of Latino origin.
                    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/06037.html

                    They are appealing to approx half the local population and the half that are more likely to be interested in soccer than the other half too. So in fact appealing to Mexican American kids is very much like appealing to the local population.
                    Its not like they are dismantling a good team here, remember that. they are rebuilding with players that they feel are good enough to play on the field that the local population can get behind. A LOT (not the same) like the Union.

                • The Black Hand says:

                  A VERY fine line is being tread at Chivas. Barcelona has a tremendous developmental academy that draws lots of young talent from the surrounding areas, but not solely Spanish. Celtic could hardly be considered an all Catholic club. It is fine to draw from local talent, which is how football, and team sport, clubs began. To use nationalism as your underlying objective, when selecting your club, is a bit irresponsible and insensitive. Football should not be about highlighting racial and cultural differences.

                  • I am not using Nationalism. Anything but. If I wanted to use Nationalism I wouldn’t have thrown in St. Pauli later. (when I took Barca off the table because Messi) And at this point Celtic aren’t a Catholic club in my opinion but they and many other teams I support have a very strong ANTIFA tradition, very often initiated by the fans. Not every team can be a winner and only schmucks root for the Yankees and Manchester United. So in a place like LA where there is a much better (and douchy)team to root for, they are giving the local population they want to root for.

                    • The Black Hand says:

                      I was referring to Chivas’ nationalistic philosophy, as the basis of their team selection. It, in itself, seems a bit fascist in nature. I am all in favor of supporting a ‘peoples’ club, just not a club that only seeks the support of a certain group of people.

                    • But St. Pauli is a red herring, then.

                      When you speak above of the percentage of the population in that area that is Mexican (or Latino/Hispanic, specifically,) that just drives home how dangerous this is. By your own admission, they are not trying to establish a “local” identity, but a local/national origin identity — only asking 48% to “identify” with them. If a team belongs to half of the people in an area, and not all of the people, based on race, culture, and national origin, that is divisive — especially given some of the tensions in the LA area. I agree with Black Hand 100%.

              • Well said. But great discussion on all sides.

  4. If the Union want someone to challenge macmath, why not guadette, who was very good during his run for NY this year. Older, but more proven option.

    • Because and older guy isn’t as much as a challenge… He is kind of a lame duck. But when I heard they brought in a new guy I was thinking that isn’t a challenge that is direct competition.

    • Plus if there is one thing MAcMAth already has is great shot stopping ability. Old GKs lose that fast, and even if Gaudette isnt there yet all itll take is one slow reaction or one savable goal for it too look like a bad idea.

  5. Philly Cheese says:

    Neil Morris in the Imdy Week link above expresses the question I didn’t put into words well in earlier post about the “great” USL/MLS relationship between Union and Harrisburg, “If the parent club only loans out four or five players to their affiliates, where will the rest of the unloaned reservists get their competitive experience?” I think this might include players who will make 18 for some games but not necessarily get many minutes if starters stay healthy. Lahoud, Cruz, Gaddis, Hoffman, Jordan, Torres, Daniels, and 2nd and 3rd goal keepers likely to fit this description unless they displace one of 11 most often mentioned as starters. 10-15 game Reserve schedule gave them that competition at least a couple times a month.

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