Photo: Earl Gardner
Inspired by the desire to erase painful memories of their semifinal loss in the 2012 USL PRO playoffs, Orlando Cityhope for another good showing against the Union when the two team’s meet on Saturday in their first game in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic (6pm, PhiladelphiaUnion.com, MLSsoccer.com).
Here’s Orlando City’s 23-player roster and a brief look of their history against the Union.
Here’s our match report, first and second half player ratings, and photo essay from last year’s exhibition game against Orlando City. So many of the Union players are now “ex”. Video highlights below.
One gets the sense that the days of the Union flying off to Mexico, Greece, or Costa Rica in the preseason are over. John Hackworth said from the Union’s camp in Florida, “We’re here now. We’re a little settled. We don’t have to worry about any more travel and losing any training days. It’s something the staff has planned out.”
Hackworth said of the return of Sebastien Le Toux,
It’s been good. I would say that the fans of Philadelphia Union have missed Sebastien. In a lot of ways him coming back for the guys that were here when he left, it’s been kind of seamless…It’s been nice to have him back. With his experience, he steps into a role where he is showing some of that veteran leadership and he’s supporting Brian Carroll in his job as the captain. All those things have been good. Obviously he is a hard worker, so that has helped some of the younger guys understand that if they are going to be a part of this team just the pure work ethic on the field has to be at a certain level and that’s been fantastic.
We broke the news last week that Bob Rigby would not be returning in 2013 as the color commentator during Union broadcasts. On Thursday the club announced that former Union forward Alejandro Moreno would be JP Dellacamera’s partner in the broadcast booth. Nick Sakiewicz said, “We’ve listened to our viewers and have worked very hard in the off season to provide the best possible viewing experience for Union fans.” The pre- and post-game shows will be hosted by Tony Limazri, who will be joined by former Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas
The Union also released its local broadcast schedule for 2013. Three games will be on 6abc, one on Live Well, and the rest of the local broadcasts will be on The Comcast Channel or Comcast Sports Net.
Union academy goalkeeper Zackary Steffen (FC Delco) has been named to the US roster for the CONCACAF U-20 championship in Peubla, Mexico Feb. 18-Match 3.
The next two rounds of the Bearfight Winter Classic will be taking place on Saturday from 7pm at Franklin’s East Falls.
Montreal Impact have acquired Argentinean forward Andrés Fabricio Romero on loan from Brazilian club Tombense.
Three unions in New York representing more than 200,000 workers have announced their support of the league’s plan to build a soccer specific stadium in Queens.
Union Dues looks at the lack of logistical support new MLS players receive from their club.
At ProSoccerTalk, Richard Farley rounds up the selections in Thursday’s Supplemental Draft. Farley makes the interesting observation that motivated by the need to keep costs down, and Canadian and Mexican allocated players aside, the league is looking like it will be without some of the international flavor that characterized WPS as roster spots are filled with lower cost players recently out of college rather than big international names like Marta, Camile Abily, and Veronic Boquete. “But that step back in talent doesn’t necessarily mean the quality won’t be there.”
More draft news here.
ESPNW looks at two US players who decided to continue their professional careers in Japan rather than return to play in the NWSL.
ASN has a tactical breakdown of the USMNT’s World Cup qualification loss in Honduras.
At Sporting News, Brian Straus notes that Wednesday’s loss was similar to the earlier qualification round loss to Jamaica and wonders if Jurgen Klinsmann is learning from the team’s setbacks. “[T]he underlying trend was the same in both games: The U.S. didn’t have a team on the field—tactically or technically—suited to handle the unique challenges posed by a road qualifier…His challenge will be to diversify the midfield, regain control over the flanks and deploy a player or two who can help establish a bit of possession. No team can defend for nearly 90 minutes, especially in unfriendly confines.”
Hannover 96 confirmed on Thursday that Steve Cherundolo has undergone minor surgery on his left knee. He is expected to be back training in two to three weeks.
The Florida Times-Union examines the hopes of the eight newcomers called up by new USWNT coach Tom Sermanni ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Scotland. Both Saturday’s 5pm game in Jacksonville and the Feb. 12 8pm game in Nashville will be available via live stream at ussoccer.com.
At the US Soccer website, a look at the “O’Hara Experiment,” Pia Sundhage’s effort to “turn one of the best attacking players in college history into an international defender and do it in less than a year.”
US U-20 midfielder Marc Pelosi has been added to Liverpool’s Europa League roster.
ESPN has a match-fixing primer.
Sepp Blatter says that most of the matches that were a part of the Europol report on match-fixing “have already been analyzed, dealt with and even were at court.”
Soccer America notes that the Europol match-fixing report was distressingly short on details. “[W]hatever may be the looming menace of widespread gambling, the latest Europol report does not make a very convincing case. The report seems to be based heavily on old cases and an investigation that has already been reported, and it is short on names and games and most details. It is difficult not to question the validity of a report that raises the specter of game-fixing, but totally fails to give any details of what sort of fixing is involved (e.g. is it result-fixing, or is it the much simpler spot-fixing?), and also omits to explain how the fixing was accomplished.”
Premiership clubs have voted to adopt cost-control measures. In an article breaking down what the new measures will mean, the Guardian’s Owen Gibson says the “financial restrictions are designed to rein in player wages and encourage youth investment, but may increase ticket prices.”