Daily news roundups

Hack on points U need to reach playoffs, injury update, Conor sees similarities, Nikolov may retire, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

In Wednesday’s weekly press conference — a video and transcript of which you can see here at PSP — John Hackworth was asked how the Union will approach Saturday’s contest with Toronto compared to last week’s game in Kansas City. Hackworth said, “I think tactically we have to approach the game a little differently. You know, last Friday we were the underdogs and, quite honestly, we’re pretty good in that role. But this week, people are gonna say, ‘Hey, we’re at home, Philly’s gotta win to keep pace with the playoff race,’ and the pressure is truly on us this week. But, that’s OK, cause I think anybody in our locker room would want it that way before a game is played.”

Hackworth said of the Union’s injury concerns, “Keon is back and training a hundred percent. Danny is pretty close to being a hundred percent. Sheanon’s good. Right now Sebastien’s still having a little bit of an issue with his plantar fasciitis but that kind of inflammation is just something he’s gonna have to work through. So, overall, we’re pretty healthy.”

Hackworth also said he thinks two wins and a draw over the final four games should see the Union into the playoffs.

If anything, the results from the past weekend might have — it’s hard to tell, but the results from this past weekend might have lowered it by a point. We’re in an interesting situation because our opponents that are playing for that final, or last two, playoff spots are in the same position we are and we’re all playing each other. So, somebody’s gonna lose points along the way and other teams are gonna gain them. So, right now, I still think that two victories and a draw would certainly put us in — and again, when you look at the math and you just look at some of the other results — you think 7 points in gonna get you there. But, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time too because this game right now is our second-to-last home game, it’s one that we have to put a premium on, unlike last week when I was sitting up here and saying I thought a result, a draw, in Kansas City would have been OK. This is a game that we really need to try to maximize the points.

At the Delco Times, Matthew De George has more from the press conference, including Hackworth’s hope that Jack McInerney will breakout of his goalscoring slump against Toronto, a team he’s had some success against in the past.

On the Union website, Kerith Gabriel’s “The Push” series continues with a talk with Conor Casey, who sees similarities between the Union and the 2010 MLS Cup-winning Colorado Rapids. Casey says,

We were pretty similar of being a blue collar team. Working hard was the motto, we were never a team that was real fancy but we had that workmanlike mentality. To be honest, [Colorado] was probably in the same spot [as I am here with the Union] with just four games left to go. We were on the cusp of the playoffs and we just really needed to ramp it up and get wins.

It’s a good read.

Picking up on a report from German publication Bild (click here for a particularly crappy Google translation). ESPN reports that Oka Nikolov, who has four weeks left on his contract, may retire at the end of this season. Nikolov said, “Everything can happen. I will sit down with Union following our last game. I don’t know what the club plans. There are several options.” If given the opportunity to stay for another season, would he do so? “Everything is thinkable. I will confer with my family,” Nikolov said.

In a post at The 700 Level that considers the expectation that a home team must win and do so with attractive, attacking soccer, Steve Moore hopes the Union can find a middle ground between the bunker/counterattack tactics they used against KC and pushing for goals at the expense of leaving the defense exposed when they face Toronto on Saturday.

David Murphy says it’s crunch time for the Union. “The Union has a grand opportunity the next two weeks to take back the firm hold of a playoff position that was so steadily relinquished over the last month…Should the Union falter over the next two weeks, though, they may as well kiss the post-season goodbye.”

ProSoccerTalk’s Steve Davis calls out Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes for hypocrisy in the the whiney post-game comments we linked to the other day.

The Brotherly Game reviews the good (MacMath), the bad (NBCSN’s Robbie Earle), and the ugly (Hackworth’s tactics) from last Friday’s win in Kansas City.

Local

In Wednesday’s 40th edition of the West Philadelphia Derby, Penn edged out Drexel, 3-2. Penn ended a six-game losing streak with the win, while Drexel’s five-game winning streak came to an end, as did the Dragon’s chance of winning at least a share of the Philly Soccer Six title.

Also on Wednesday, Villanova topped La Salle 3-1. La Salle scored first before conceding three unanswered goals.

Drexel’s women’s team hosts William & Mary tonight at 7 pm in their first home conference match of the season.

MLS

The Houston Dynamo is trying to decide whether to field its own team in USL PRO next season or go the affiliate route.

At US Soccer Players, Jason Davis on the similarities between the Dynamo and the Western Conference.

Also at US Soccer Players, Luis Bueno on the ups and downs of the MLS Super Clasico. The Galaxy “host” Chivas USA on Sunday (5 pm, UniMas).

More reports on a possible David Beckham-owned MLS franchise in Miami and news of a rival bid. In case you missed it, the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday that Beckham’s option to buy a franchise at a discounted rate — reportedly as low as $25 million — expires in December.

Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti says the sale of the club to Erick Thohir, co-owner of DC United and the 76ers, could be completed “within the week.”

US

Soccer America reports that the announcement of the US roster for the final two World Cup qualifiers, which was expected to be made today, has been delayed until the weekend because of injury questions.

At MLSsoccer.com, Greg Seltzer proposes converting Maurice Edu and/or Jermaine Jones into left backs.

At Grantland, Graham Parker has a good read on why “any sports fan with a pulse” should follow the US Open Cup.

Possible changes to the US Open Cup format is always an interesting topic of discussion. MLSsoccer.com reports it has learned “a proposal is being discussed by members of the US Open Cup Committee to play at least one of the rounds of the 2014 edition on a weekend.”

At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep on the USMNT player pool and the dual national dilemma.

Is Manchester City Ladies FC trying to sign Hope Solo?

Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney talks to Alexi Lalas about his return to Rutgers to finish his degree (mostly online). Lalas says, “I’m on the 26-year plan.”

Elsewhere

Check out the latest installment of Footy on the Telly for listings of today’s Europa League games. ProSoccerTalk has a roundup of Wednesday’s Champions League results.

FIFA begins two days of discussions on switching the timing of the 2022 World Cup today in Zurich.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, head of the European Club Association, says of the proposed shifting of the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter, “The fact that at the last World Cup 75 percent of all participant players were contracted in Europe is a fact that can’t be shifted away…We have to be sitting at the table when it comes to a final decision. We want to avoid a decision that will cause too much impact on the leagues and the clubs.”

The AP’s Rob Harris considers the challenges that moving the timing of the 2022 World Cup poses to league schedules and has a possible schedule for how a move to a November-December tournament could work. He has more challenges to consider here.

Victim’s groups and the United Nations are urging FIFA to apply pressure on authorities in Qatar to do something about working conditions for migrant workers engaged in preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking of working conditions, a Brazilian judge has halted construction of the Arena da Baixada 2014 World Cup stadium in Curitiba because of concerns about workers’ safety. The stadium is 80 percent complete.

Sky Sports reports that UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson believes Sepp Blatter may have deliberately sunk England’s 2018 World Cup bid by addressing delegates before the vote to remind them of unfavorable press coverage in Britain of various FIFA scandals.

At ProSoccerTalk, Joe Prince-Wright begins a two-part series looking at how OPTA “altered the Premier League, and soccer, forever.”

9 Comments

  1. Oh yay, I sure can’t wait for Daniel to put on another backwards/sideways passing clinic this saturday against a worse team at home!

  2. Any Rutgers grad could have told Lalas that dealing with Rutgers was going to suck. There is no statute of limitations on the RU Screw.

  3. That’s funny that Casey makes the analogy of the Union to the ’10 Rapids team that won MLS Cup. In my opinion, that Rapids team was the least deserving MLS champs in recent memory as Dallas was such a better team that year.

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