Daily news roundups

US ready for the semi, supporters summit, scouting network, RU advances to playoffs

Photo: Barb Colligon

US

The USMNT will face Honduras tonight in the Gold Cup semifinals (7 pm, FSC, UniMás, Fox Soccer 2Go).

Jurgen Klinsmann said of tonight’s contest, “It’s not going to be an easy game at all. I think (Honduras coach) Luis Suarez, over the last two years has formed a team that is very compact, very individually gifted, good individual players that can make a difference within a second.”

Klinsmann said of Honduras,

They don’t leave any space open, especially around the box. They make it tough. I think you saw the last 15 minutes against Costa Rica literally all of them were in the box. They defended it well, they got their result, they grinded it out and they’re in the semifinal. I think it has to do a lot with commitment, with discipline. That shows the handwriting of [head coach] Luis Suárez. He gives that team the belief [to get results]…

Does Honduras have a chance? Absolutely. We start this game nil-nil, so it’s 50-50. We know it’s going to be a tough game. It’s a game where we’ll have to be patient, we’ll have to keep a high rhythm, keep the tempo going. We’ll have to find ways to score first and not give a goal away first. We are ready for that, but every game in the knockout stage, there is no favorite team.

He explained further, “Honduras is a very, very tough team because of the way they compete, the way they stay compact on the field both ways. They’re moving forward in a 4-3-3, defensively switch over in a 4-5-1, and they do that really well.

Landon Donovan said of Honduras, “They’re a little atypical for Central American countries in that they’re more physical. They’re a little more athletic, generally, so that matches up a little better against us. We tend to be more athletic than some of the teams we play in Central America, but they have players that can compete in that way.”

Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suárez said, “A coach from any national team can say a million things about Honduras, but one thing that they will say is that they’re a difficult team to go up against.”

He continued, “There are several ways [to defend against the US]. Having possession of the ball is one of the main ones, and also with a great defensive line and being aggressive against them. With the US condition, with their speed and explosion, we have to perform that way as well. We can’t come and stay in our backline, but rather we have to propose the game against them.”

How would Suarez characterize his team? “You can classify Honduras today as an annoying team,” he said. “Because of the competition of the players who are in the team, although they might be losing, they always have attitude, the desire to win and to give everything to get it.”

The game—and the match between Mexico and Panama that will follow it—will be played on a temporary grass pitch that was laid on top of the artificial surface at Cowboy Stadium on Sunday. As late as Tuesday, the LA Times described the surface as “lumpy and uneven” and notes that it is “four meters narrower than a standard soccer pitch.” Klinsmann said about the field, “Whatever it is, both teams have to play on it. So we always make the best out of it. There’s no complaints on our end.”

Calling the temporary field “atrocious,” Grant Wahl reports,

Unlike most temporary grass surfaces, which are usually laid over an artificial-turf base, the one at Cowboys Stadium is laid directly over concrete. “It seems like concrete on top,” U.S. goalkeepers coach Kasey Keller told me as he checked out the surface. “Hard. Real hard.”

ProSoccerTalk’s take on the temporary field at Cowboys Stadium: “terrible.”

Previews from PSP, US Soccer, and MLSsoccer.com.

The team is on an nine-game winning streak, the longest such run in the team’s history. Landon Donovan says, “I’ve never been part of a run like this. It’s a lot of fun, not only the goals, but we’re creating lots of chances and that’s enjoyable.”

At SI, Grant Wahl talks to Matt Besler about becoming a mainstay in the US defense.

ASN has a Q&A with Omar Gonzalez, who joins the US for tonight’s game.

Soccer America profiles Eddie Johnson’s impact on the USMNT.

At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle notes that the success of the US at the Gold Cup is greatly due to the speed with which the team is moving the ball. But before we all get carried away with thoughts that the US can suddenly hang with the best teams in the world, Carlisle warns that it is important to remember that, like the US, many of the teams are fielding their “B” team.

At The Shin Guardian, Jay Bell reviews the results of the USMNT since the 2007 Gold Cup, the last time the US men won a tournament. “Credit has to be given to American players and teams for working their way to the finals of the competitions, but it is proving to be a difficult task to find that elusive championship victory…The US, especially in this Gold Cup, can match Mexico’s talent and tactics, but can they match El Tri’s championship intensity? The Americans have not been able to match neither Mexico’s determination nor focus since 2007.”

ProSoccerTalk plays the name the strongest US XI game.

Grantland jumps aboard the Klinsmann-as-fashion-icon bandwagon.

Former USMNT coach Bob Bradley will be the guest on Thursday’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Philadelphia Union

The Soccer Desk has a helpful recap of topics discussed at Tuesday night’s Supporters Summit. It doesn’t seem that much was said that hasn’t already been talked about with the exception of two things: 2014 season ticket prices, which will reflect the results of s survey that went out to season ticket holders Tuesday evening, and SoB road trips.

  • If the survey results show that STHs want the 2014 ticket package to remain at 20 games, the price will remain the same as in 2013, if the number of bonus games is reduced, the price of season ticket packages will be reduced.
  • Also, season ticket holders could receive free parking passes in honor of the team’s five-year anniversary in 2014.
  • Member and non-member bus tickets prices will likely be available going forward for SoB road trips.

While Zac MacMath recorded his sixth clean sheet of the season against Portland, Andy Jasner suggests that it is a collective defensive effort that is getting the Union results. Sheanon Williams says in the article, “Obviously, there are some things to work on and we’re working every day to get better as a group. I think it shows we’re working hard together and we’re getting better…If we keep playing like that, we can continue to get results. Every 90 minutes under our belt gives us more confidence, more understanding with each other. We definitely had some rough times early. Were starting to understand each other better and it has definitely helped us. I think we’re in a very good place defensively and getting clean sheets always helps.”

MacMath received an honorable mention in this week’s MLS Best XI at SBI.

Portland may be disappointed with Saturday’s draw against the Union but Timbers head coach Caleb Porter is quick to put the result in context. in context. “We didn’t come here for a point,” said Porter, “we came here for three points. But we knew we’d have a battle. Credit to Philly, I thought they fought us tooth and nail, and they were certainly up for it as well. In the end it was probably fair…Listen, Philly’s a good team and there’s a reason why they have 30 points, and now 31. They’re a team that scores a lot of goals, and they do it by getting balls in the box. I’m happy that our guys were up for the challenge.”

In the second part of a Q&A with Tommy Wilson, the Union academy director talks about efforts aimed at developing an extensive local scouting network. “We’re currently putting in a scouting structure that will, if you consider the Philadelphia area your home territory, as a country, you know I think [Nick Sakiewicz] mentioned that there’s around seven million people that we can recruit from. That’s a country. That’s bigger than Scotland. I need to put in place a comprehensive scouting network that looks right across that region…our scouting needs to be comprehensive and inclusive, not focused on those who have the ability to pay but those who have the ability to play. That’s the most important thing for me.”

More power rankings! At MLSsoccer.com, the Union stay at No. 8. ProSoccerTalk has the Union at No. 6.

In the latest Castrol Weekly Top 20, Zac MacMath comes in at No. 9 and Jeff Parke at No. 14. In the full Castrol Index, the top five Union players are Jack McInerney (no. 2), Conor Casey (No. 19), Sebastien Le Toux (No. 49), Amobi Okugo (No. 56), and Zac MacMath (No. 69).

Local

Reading United has booked its ticket to the PDL Eastern Conference playoffs after defeating Baltimore Bohemians 3-1 in a play-in game on Tuesday evening. Reading took an early lead with a goal from Mario Pinto Neto in the second minute before conceding a free kick that lead to a goal in the 29th minute. The score would remain level until the end of regulation time with Reading playing down a man for most of the second half after Keegan Rosenberry was shown a second yellow card in the 49th minute. Six minutes into extra time, Fatai Alashe put Reading ahead before Dante Marini scored again six minutes later. Both extra time goals were scored by recent PSP Player of the Week winner Jason Plumhoff.

Reading next faces Ottawa Fury at 3 pm on Saturday in the Eastern Conference playoffs, which are being hosted by Mid Atlantic Division champions Ocean City Nor’easters with Saturday’s games at the Tennessee Avenue Complex. A win sill see the Union affiliate in the conference final at Carey Stadium on Sunday at 7 pm.

More on the win from Reading Eagle.

Harrisburg will look to solidify their spot in the postseason when they host Dayton Dutch Lions tonight (7 pm, USL Live).

At Penn Live, Michael Bullock says that Sainey Touray, who missed the last two games with a hamstring strain, could play tonight. Bullock also says, “No word yet on when center back Greg Jordan may return from the knee injury that’s kept him idle for the past six weeks.”

Harrisburg City Islanders forward Lucky Mkosana has been named to the USL PRO Team of the Week after scoring goals in each of the team’s recent two-game trip to Florida. Tom Mellor and Union loanee Jimmy McLaughlin received honorable mentions.

Derek Meluzio has an update on how Harrisburg’s U-20 and U-23 teams have been doing.

MLS

Donovan Rickett’s save of Conor Casey’s blistering shot is up for Save of the Week.

Montreal Impact have signed Argentinian defensive midfielder Hernan Bernardello as their second designated player.

Chicago Fire have signed Ecuadorian striker Juan Luis Anangonó from Argentinos Juniors as a designated player.

FC Dallas forward Eric Hassli and Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert have each received a one-game suspension for violent conduct from the league’s disciplinary committee. Portland’s Andrew Jean-Baptiste was fined for embellishment in the draw against the Union.

The New York Times looks at the rise of Kansas City as one of the country’s premier pro soccer hotbeds. The key? “Serious Investment and Savvy Marketing.”

In an article about Toronto’s plans to upgrade BMO Field, Tim Leiweke says, “Kansas City’s stadium is fantastic. They market it the right way, they sell it the right way. Robb and Cliff (Sporting Kansas City co-owners Robb Heineman and Cliff Illig) do the best job in the league. I am in awe of Kansas City and the way they built that team and the way they built that stadium and the way they sell that product and the position they have in that marketplace. They are phenomenal and we should all aspire to be Kansas City and Portland and Vancouver and now Montreal.” I’m pissed off every time I see a story like this and Philadelphia isn’t included in the list of the league’s big success stories.

Believe it or not, Toronto have not won at home in league play since July 18, 2012.

New York Cosmos play English third division side Leyton Orient in England today. Asked about where the Cosmos, who play their first NASL game on Aug. 3, are competitively, Alecko Eskanderian says, “I would say we’re right there, level with most MLS. teams. And in some respects, we’re ahead of M.L.S. teams, better than MLS. teams. And in other respects, we still have a little work to do.”

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos says the return of the Cosmos could mean up to $19 million in new revenue for area businesses. The Cosmos will play their home games at Hofstra University.

NWSL

FC Kansas City, unbeaten in seven games, host the Boston Breakers tonight (7:35 pm, YouTube). A win would see KC move into first place.

Elsewhere

Reuters reports, “Conditions at Brazil’s new soccer stadiums have plummeted since the Confederations Cup ended and the arenas started holding Brazilian league matches, say fans and journalists who accuse football authorities of double standards. Media facilities have been dismantled, roads to stadiums are clogged with traffic and high ticket prices have left seats empty, they say.”

The Guardian uses Game of Thrones as the inspiration for a look at how calls to move the 2022 World Cup to winter could spark a civil war in the world of football.

Reuters reports, “The Italian football federation launched an investigation on Wednesday after the Milan midfielder Kevin Constant walked off the field following racist abuse during a friendly match.”

33 Comments

  1. From the Supporters Summit recap.

    “The Status of Roger Torres: Team manager John Hackworth came right out with it; Roger Torres has not played as well as other guys on the roster this year, leading to him not getting the minutes many believe he deserves. Hackworth also tried to make it clear that the coaching staff still believe in Torres and think he can still grow as a player.”

    Really? You got that from how many few minutes?

    • Torres only completed 9 of his 10 passes in his last short stint against Houston, and the acres of space he opened up for LeToux and Anding were wasted by poor crosses, or otherwise we would have scored to tie that game. So, clearly and objectively, Torres sucks.
      .
      I think he’s good enough to start. But if Hackworth doesn’t think he’s good enough to play, then he’s taking up way too much cap space for a benchwarmer and should be moved out of Philly, plain and simple.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    I can’t understand why the Gold Cup feels the need to use stadiums like Cowgirls stadium where they have to use temporary grass when there are plenty of natural grass facilities across the country.

    • Money. Plain and simple.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Do they really make more money in Dallas than at the Rose Bowl? I would think that a stadium with full time grass would be cheaper than having temporary grass.

      • John Ling says:

        Dunno. Did the Rose Bowl even put in a bid to host the event? If they did, how much money did they offer CONCACAF compared to what Jerry’s World offered them? Or what other venues offered?
        .
        Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see this someplace that actually has grass rather than temporary grass.

      • John Ling says:

        Of course, I could be talking out of my ass. I’m making an assumption that cities / venues bid to host the games. Is that a true assumption on my part?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The Rose Bowl hosted the opening game (not to mention the finals in 2011 was there).

  3. Nothing on the HBO special on Chivas last night?

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Other than some reactions tweets on Twitter when I was compiling today’s roundup, no, and that’s not really roundup material. I don’t have HBO so I didn’t see the segment. But reaction that I saw on Twitter suggests that all of the information presented is familiar to anyone who has been following the goings on at Chivas, which I’ve regularly linked to in the past.

      • Yeah, I watched it. Not much new, other than James Riley saying bluntly that he feels he was traded because he’s not Mexican.

  4. 1) How is it we are still discussing how awful pitches are with grass laid over something else? How does this happen? Are there no other venues in the SW that would have held large crowds with grass? The Houston Texans field is grass, no? It would generate the same revenues as Dallas you would imagine.

    2)I’m pretty sure I’ve never said this before: “That Guardian piece was brilliant.” Feels weird, but I’ll roll with it.

  5. How do the Cosmos expect to make money and attract players if they stay in the NASL? Am I missing something here?

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      What does that have to do with it? If they get solid ticket numbers, merchandising, and marketing, they’re fine. They already have the built-in brand and a television contract, if I recall.
      .
      If anything, they may make more money as NASL isn’t set up the way MLS is. The club will be able to keep a much larger share of the profits than the league.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      It helps when a team is owned by Saudi gazillionaires who might not be particularly worried about losing money.
      -
      So far as the TV deal goes, it’s with One World Sports, which is owned by the company that owns the Cosmos. As readers of our TV listings know, it mainly shows games from China, Japan, and Korea.
      -
      Speaking off the cuff, it looks like NASL part 2 is in danger of repeating the mistakes of NASL part 1 in which the rest of the league struggles to keep pace with the big spending of New York and end up driving themselves into the ground. While a few past their prime international players might be enticed to play in New York (or Long Island), how many are going to be willing to play in Indianapolis or Edmonton or San Antonio?

  6. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    “I’m pissed off every time I see a story like this and Philadelphia isn’t included in the list of the league’s big success stories.”
    .
    I get the sentiment, but I think it’s probably fair. Philly draws a good crowd and the supporters give it all they got, but our crowd atmosphere is noticeably lacking compared to the Seattles, Portlands, and KCs of the world. It’s as if there’s a ‘no singing’ rule outside of the River End.
    .
    The songs are all the same, don’t seem to extend in repertoire, and the rest of the crowd isn’t brought into the action. The only exception is ‘doop,’ which is stupid.

    • Welcome to team Fuck Doop expect your membership packet in the mail in the next 3-5 buisness days.

      But seriously Philly, especially the Sons of Ben (of which I am a member) really tend to overrate themselves.
      In reality we are what we are an average team in the weaker conference with a great stadium in a bad location(without even a paved parking lot.) with a slightly better than average supporters group. It’s my team but I am not deluding myself.

      • John Ling says:

        Generally, I agree. A few folks in our section try, but it’s pretty quite. I actually like the Union’s efforts to get more folks up and singing 4-leaf Clover at the 20:10 mark in the game. It’s a good effort, and I hope it continues. It’s the sort of effort that should’ve been made from Day 1, and if it had maybe there would be more singing and chanting throughout the stadium now that we’re in Year 4.

      • WilkersonMcLaser says:

        I say this out of love, not malice. I hope that someone in the SoB leadership will take note to freshen the musical repertoire and do a better job engaging the whole stadium.
        .
        Doop is horrible, but it’s illustrative of what you need to do to get the entire stadium involved. Simple, earworm-type songs that are easy to pick up on the fly. Seattle’s Boom Boom Clap (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDxMbhjSNkY) is a terrific example of this. I’m always embarrassed by the singing of the national anthem because besides myself and a sprinkling in the stands, the sound is pathetic. I dread the newcomer who hears that after being first exposed to Portland’s rendition.
        .
        I don’t know if it’s possible, but maybe there’s a way for some new, simple songs/chants to be devised and for groups of supporters to be interspersed around the stadium to lead other parts of the crowd. .
        .
        Anyway, if we want to be considered in the same breath as the likes of Seattle, then we really need to step it up.

      • John Ling says:

        Well, on that note, the “BOOM!” on Williams throw-ins seems to be spreading beyond just the River End. I know my daughter – who’s generally to why to loudly sing an entire song – lets a decently loud “boom” out, as do almost my entire section.
        .
        And I think that plays to your point. It’s something simple that spreads to the whole stadium easily.

      • John I agree that this is something that should have been paid attention to more from the word go. The thing that some of those teams have over us is they have been a team longer than their time in MLS, and therefor had standing traditions when they arrived. The Union had to start from square one and should have tried to help support things like the four leaf clover song before this year.

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      Actually, PSP, would you guys be willing to do an article on this at some point? I think it’s an interesting and multifaceted issue to explore. We’re kind of used to being regarded as a marquee club, but the success of other teams in other markets seem to have taken that away. Tsar Piotr and his shenanigans didn’t help, and Hack’s steadier (if not particularly awe inspiring) hand has restored faith somewhat, but I don’t know how we can honestly count ourselves as Seattle’s peer at this point.

    • Doop was fine. Kinda. When it was the song that played whenever we scored a goal. Hell at the time we wern’t scoring much so it would never wear out its welcome. But then the front office went all in and it became this pervasive annoyance. the low points of Doopamania was for me was 1. the annoying “dooping for the Cup Tshirs” that are no doubt languishing at the bottom of some landfill somewhere a snug bed for a colony for rats. and 2. during an LA game where the scoreboard tried to get the crowd to chant “Doop LA” I think my soul died a little when that happened.
      As far as the national anthem goes it has to be one of the most hamfisted attempts to manufacture tradition at PPL park I have ever seen. It was never in fact a tradition until Portlan became known for doing it and even then the PA announcer would announce it as a league traadition until the next week when the nationally televised when I think it was Houston had some kid do the national anthem. After that it was our tradition. A tradition in the sense that the PA announcer says so.

      • John Ling says:

        And then Doop got hijacked by the Flyers. That, to me, also made it less special.

      • I got funny looks from my fellow spectators at the Chivas match cause I sang the anthem really loud. Attendance was light, it was raining. I was trying to help out. I think maybe all season ticket holders should be asked to sign an agreement to sing the anthem loudly.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Maybe my memory is fading as I get older, but I seem to recall the word tradition was used with the anthem back in season 1 before Portland was in the league.

        Also, my wife and I have been singing along with 4 Leaf Clover since season 1 even though we are all the way over in 127.

      • If they let me be in charge for one day, we’d all sing ‘God Bless America’ before the game, not the Star-Spangled Banner.

      • I recall it starting after Portland made a name for themselves with it. But it goes without saying at this point I could be wrong.

      • It may not be the case, but I remember it staring after Portland got known for it.

      • Yea I after some thought I remember it starting after Portland. And going to a league tradition back to our tradition.

  7. Also from the Supporter’s Summit:
    .
    Lineup against Stoke City will be similar to previous friendlies in that we may see a top squad (minus a few that need some rest) for the first half, then a reserve squad the second.

    Two interesting tidbits from this topic – we should get to see Oka Nikolov in goal. And Hack commented something to the effect of “if we happen to bring in another player during this transfer window, we’ll probably get our first look at him as well.” This was a very quick comment that stopped abruptly and then a knowing glance was shared between Coach and a couple FO guys. Maybe I’m totally reading into this, but perhaps another interesting signing coming? Sorry to speculate.

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