Photo: Earl Gardner
8 days, people.
The Union’s 2013 preseason camp has included a large pool of new faces–draftees, new signings, and trialists—and, as far as the history of the Union goes, an unprecedented level of openness from the club about who the trialists are. The purpose of all of this is of course to create the strongest roster possible and this week has seen an announcement from the club that two new signings, Alex Mendoza and Damani Richards, have been waived. Also came the news that SuperDraft pick Stephen Okai was now training with Seattle. At Thursday’s weekly press conference, John Hackworth announced that several other cuts.
Hackworth said that Supplemental Draft pick and Yardley-native Eric Schoenle is also no longer with the Union in Florida. Hackworth said of Schoenle, “He’s a guy we really like and he’s a fantastic soccer player, and if we had a way to keep him we would certainly keep him. He’s a guy we want to put on a developmental path. It’s important for him to grow and continue developing.” Of the 2013 SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft picks, only Don Anding and Leo Fernandes remain.
Hackworth said that he expects Damani Richards and Eric Schoenle to end up with Union-affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders where the team can continue to monitor their development. Hackworth said of the Harrisburg option, “My argument would be that it’s a shame that we don’t have more spots for some of these guys. But if you really dig down deep and look at our affiliation with Harrisburg, I think you’ll see that we’re building a good model, from Harrisburg to Reading all the way down to our youth academy. We’re putting together a player development model that allows us to maybe put these guys at a more appropriate level at this point in their careers.”
Harrisburg City Islanders coach Bill Becher talks with Michael Bullock of the Patriot News about the possibility of Richards and Schoenle ending up with his team. Becher says that Richards’ name in particular has come up in discussions with the Union coaching staff.
Hackworth is confident in the depth at left back, with Gabriel Farfan backed up by Raymon Gaddis and Don Anding. “We’ve had excellent competition at left back and we’ll start this season with three very qualified players in our humble estimation.”
34-year-old Greek trialist Pantelis Kafes is also no longer with the team, leaving Matt Kassel, Georgi Hristov, and Jordi Vidal as the remaining trialists (Kerith Gabriel confirmed that Shaun Francis is also no longer on trial). Hackworth said of Pantelis “He’s a good player but he’s a little older and doesn’t really fit what we were trying to do. So he will not be with us and is not with us any longer.”
Hackworth mentioned that Vidal has impressed. “I can tell you very honestly that [Vidal] is going to be an extremely tough decision for us to make because of our roster spots that we have open. The likelihood is that we will have to have another one of these guys that we have signed released in order to sign Jordi.” Hackworth added, “He has a really tough job of trying to beat out a guy who is currently under contract at one of our forward spots but he is currently doing very well.” Which player might he be trying to beat out?
Tomorrow’s match against DC United will likely be the last chance the trialists will have to make their case for a contract (1pm, philadelphiaunion.com/live). Hackworth said, “We’ll probably have seven guys that are going to be starters for sure on March 2. Our plan is to get as many of those 11 that we start on Saturday the full 90 minutes, and then we’ll use some substitutions to see if some different relationships are maybe a little better than others.”
Responding to questions about the release of players who were highly touted by the coaching staff after they were drafted or signed, Hackworth said,
All of these guys are good players, and there’s a reason why they were here in the first place. But our job is to take a very large number of players with a limited number of roster sports going into our season and narrow that down. That process is extremely competitive…
When we pick players and announce them, I don’t know what you guys want me to do except talk about their good qualities. I certainly am not going to say that a guy stinks so that when I release him later you can write an article about that.
Hackworth added, “It’s interesting that we’re talking about the preseason and getting ready for opening day and you guys are more concerned about three guys that are not on our team and not in the picture.”
Or as Dave Zeitlin tweeted after the press conference:
A little perspective for some fans: Nowak traded Le Toux, Califf & Mwanga. Hackworth released Damani Richards, Alex Mendoza & Stephen Okai.
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) February 21, 2013
The bottom line is that the club brought in players to create a competitive environment both to find new talent and to challenge players already on the roster. The roster on the Union website lists 27 players, two of which are on loan (Pfeffer, Valdes) and so don’t count. (Chase Harrison is listed on the roster even though he does not have a contract with the club.) One player does count, even though he will not be playing and that of course is Freddy Adu. Hackworth obliquely referenced Adu when he said, “We also have some roster constraints that continue to be some challenges. I think you all know at least one of those guys that we’re talking about. My argument would be it’s a shame that we don’t have more spots for some of these guys.”
It seems Chivas USA coach Jose Luis “Chellis” Sanchez Sola wants the Farfans. At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle writes, “Chelis remarked that the club is aiming to bring both Gabriel and Michael Farfan in from Philadelphia, although it seems inconceivable that the Union would let either player go.”
Alexi Lalas, tweeting truth:
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) February 21, 2013
Here’s a season preview from MLSsoccer.com:
What do you think, is Jack McInerney the next Chris Wondolowski?
Michael Lahoud talks about the trip to South Africa he took in the offseason.
The rosters for the 2013 ODP Championships have been set. Representing Region I in the 1996 Boys Championship is an Eastern Pennsylvania team with players from Lehigh Valley United, HMMS Eagles, Penn Fusion, YMS, and Ukrainian Nationals. Representing Region I in the 1996 Girls Championship is a New Jersey team with players from PDA, Match Fit Chelsea, Mt. Laurel AA, Hibernian AA, NJSA 04, Randolph, and Greater Flemington.
Vancouver Whitecaps have signed Nigel Reo-Coker, former captain of West Ham, Aston Villa, and Bolton.
Real Salt Lake have signed 20-year-old Colombian forward Olmes Garcia.
Michael Nanchoff, yet another player under Caleb Porter when he was coaching at Akron, has signed with the now Porter-led Portland Timbers. Nanchoff played the last two seasons with Vancouver.
Carlos Ruiz does a Q&A about his return to MLS. Chris Albright was his roommate at LA Galaxy. I did not know that.
ProSoccerTalk puts the over/under on Ruiz’ stay in DC at six months.
Wondering what’s going on with Landon Donovan? Read on.
Robbie Keane believes MLS needs to increase the number of DPs to five per team if the league is to take an step forward toward its goal of being one of the best leagues in the world.
At Goal.com, Kyle McCarthy talks to Peter Walton, the head of the Professional Referees Organization.
Chivas USA manager Jose Luis ‘Chelis’ Sanchez Sola says recent roster moves have been motivated by salary concerns, not demographics. Claro que tienen.
The US will need a draw or a win to finish atop Group A when they play Costa Rica tonight in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship (6:30pm, FSC). The team already qualified for the quarterfinals after Costa Rica defeated Haiti on Wednesday.
Here’s a look at possible changes in the US’ starting lineup.
At US Soccer Players, Jason Davis explains what is at stake for the US at the U-20 tournament.
USWNT coach Tom Sermanni has announced his roster for the Algarve Cup, March 6-13.
Hope Solo is not on the roster. She’ll be back in the States being treated for a longstanding injury to her left wrist that recently worsened.
It seems the previously announced deal with Al Bann Media to offer the US games via live streaming has fallen through. All of the team’s matches will now be available only by cable or satellite pay-per-view for $14.95 per match from Integrated Sports Media.
Confirmed: The USWNT will play Netherlands away on April 9 (1pm, no TV or live stream). The match is part of a two-game European tour that kicks off against Germany on April 5.
A married couple in Germany have initiated legal action because the flapping of the Borussia Dortmund flag in a neighbor’s yard prevents them from reading in peace.
The New York Times looks at how soccer is doing in Puerto Rico.