Photo: Courtesy of The Bolton News
Tonight’s preseason friendly in Jacksonville against the New York Red Bulls will be live streamed on the Red Bulls website beginning at 6 pm.
The Florida Times-Union previews the game.
In Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, John Hackworth confirmed there have been talks with the agent of Bolton Wanderer’s center back Zat Knight, emphasizing that Knight is only one option the Union are considering.
Hackworth said, “Truthfully, we have been in some conversations [with Knight]. But at the same time, we are looking at a lot of different countries and have vetted out many different center back options.”
Hackworth explained, “We still think we need to add a potential center back to our roster. However, it’s been a good battle with players playing well at center back so far. Some pleasant surprises out of that group. We’ve made a couple of adjustments, moved some players around. I am pretty happy with the group right now. The guys we have in are pretty inexperienced at that spot, so we need to test them, and tomorrow night will certainly be a much better evaluation tool for that.”
Hackworth indicated that any acquisition likely would not happen until after the slate of preseason games that begins tonight against New York and continues at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic tournament through Feb. 26 against Toronto with tournament championship and consolation games on March 1. “I would think it depends on how these next couple of games go and where we are.”
At ProSoccerTalk, Richard Farley writes, “If Philadelphia can get a Knight-like player on the cheap — say, low $100,000 range — the risk is low. But for a team with a young core that should see itself as still building a contender, Knight is a strange fit. Rather than investing in a player that will be around when the team’s closer to the top of the conference, the Union will be cutting checks to a player entering the last years of his career.”
More on Knight, who was not in the squad for Bolton’s 1-0 loss to Burnley on Tuesday, from The Bolton News and Burnden Aces. SB Nation Bolton Wanderers blog The Lion of Vienna Suite, which describes him as “perma-shite,” says of the Union’s interest in Knight, “If they want him, they can have him. No bother.”
In related news, Brotherly Game’s series looking at positional depth continues with a look at the Union’s center backs.
During Tuesday’s conference call, Hackworth also commented on competition among the outside backs. “Fabinho has played well. He played well at the end of last year, so we felt that we had something to work with. We have Ray Gaddis, who we know can play there and did a fantastic job for us last year. We played him more as a right back in the preseason. Then you’ve got Robbie Derschang, a draft pick, who has been really solid. That’s one of those little battles that we do feel like compared to last year, we’re in a much better position and have greater depth. You can play first team, second team, third team even and really have guys that have played the position and are comfortable there.”
Hackworth also talked more generally about how the preseason has been going. “From a tactical perspective, we’ve been working on a new kind of system, trying to get players aware of all of those roles and responsibilities. It’s gone pretty well so far, but [the exhibition game against New York] is probably our first true test.”
A “new kind of system” aside, Hackworth said,
The real big change is that we have some players in our team and in our camp right now that can execute the kind of system that we always train, and have continually tried to build. So in one aspect, we have a really good foundation of players, guys that are coming back that are a core group. Having them come back to what is now the second full preseason, and they know exactly what we are trying to do, they know the plan, they know the progression, they know the standards. They know the amount of work that’s going to have to be put out; all of those things make our coaching staff’s job much easier. They in fact do a lot of leading of those new acquisitions or new players, whether they are draft picks or guys that have been brought into the team. That makes this process easier.
Hackworth continued, “I think when you are trying to build a team, it’s really important to have that continuity. So while we have new players that can maybe execute that plan to a higher level, I would say much of what we are continuing to do is similar to what we’ve done in the past.”
Soccer America notes that Cristian Maidana should plug the hole that was left mid for the Union in 2013.
Zac MacMath didn’t make either list of the Top 10 MLS goalkeepers at SBI.
If you haven’t already, checkout the latest KYW Philly Soccer Show podcast, hosted by KYW’s Greg Orlandini and PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch, with this week’s guest Mike Sorber, the Union’s new assistant coach.
In a Q&A with Kevin Kinkead on the Union website, Sorber describes his long working relationship with John Hackworth at the US National Team and how his playing experience informs his approach to coaching. Sorber says of his role as assistant coach, “more or less you’re a part of everything. You’re a part of scouting. You’re a part of running sessions. You’re a part of coming up with different ideas and solutions to make the team the best you possibly can.”
The Union announced its local broadcast schedule on Tuesday. Three games will be on 6abc, 25 on Comcast Sports Network/The Comcast Channel, all of which will be available in HD. As was previously announced by Nick Sakiewicz, JP Dellacamera will be joined by Peter Pappas in the booth. Tony Limarzi will host the pregame show and halftime segments during home games and Heather Mitts returns to the sidelines for a second season.
Reading native Corey Hertzog has signed a one-year deal with Orlando City.
Everyone’s favorite referee, Beachwood, New Jersey-native Mark Geiger, talks about being selected to officiate during the World Cup.
Toronto officials may not yet be willing to do so, but Luiz Felipe Scolari, head coach of the Brazil national team, confirms that Júlio César is about to join Toronto FC. Scolari said of César, who has been called up for Brazil’s friendly against South Africa in March, “Toronto should be finalizing the last few details, and he should be in great condition. There will be no problem with him. Lots of players arrive in the United States thinking it will be easy and then end up not playing. They stay for four or five months and then leave. We wish he were playing and now he will be. The MLS is not the end of [a] career.”
Brazil’s technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira said MLS “is not technically one of the best in the world but, undoubtedly, it has improved its level with the signing of great players and one important thing is that it is very competitive. For us it was important to have Julio Cesar playing and he’ll be playing in a competitive league.”
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen says he doesn’t need to say anything to his players about the soaring expectations surrounding the team. “I don’t have to tell them anything, they love it. They thrive under it. This is what professional football is all about.”
You will recall that we recently linked to news that the Professional Soccer Referees Association, the organizing body for MLS referees had filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Professional Referee Organization, the governing body of referees. The two organizations are also trying to reach their first collective bargaining agreement. PRO head Peter Walton says of the CBA negotiations, “I am not as optimistic as I would like to be. We have come to a number of tentative agreements in many areas. We are some distance apart on our economics, but I don’t think the slowness will impact the season.” Lead PSRA negotiator Steve Taylor says that if the CBA isn’t finalized before the start of the MLS season, “we are considering several different options how to proceed.”
Here’s a look at the league’s social media strategy.
A calf strain will see Oguchi Oneywu out for two to three weeks, which is likely to affect his chances of being selected for the March 5 friendly against Ukraine.
At Goal.com, Ives Galarcep writes that Jurgen Klinsmann misfired when he said that US players lack the belief needed to succeed in Europe.
Becky Sauerbrunn gets some well-deserved props from ASN. USWNT coach Tom Sermanni says of Sauerbrunn, “She embodies what’s required in a modern-day defender. She has defensive qualities, she reads the game well, but also has that ability to bring the ball into midfield in possession comfortably and make good decisions. That’s a big asset she’s got over most center-backs that I’ve seen in women’s football.”
Don’t forget that the USWNT friendly against Russia that was scheduled for today in Atlanta has been postponed until Thursday due to the winter storm that is making its way up the East Coast. You can watch a live stream of the game from 7:30 pm on Thursday on the US Soccer website.
Gilberto Silva explains why players are ready to go on strike in Brazil.
Did you know the town of Sialkot in Pakistan “produces up to 60 million footballs a year, making up 70% of the world’s total production”? Roads & Kingdoms explores. Fascinating.
A zombie soccer movie? Count me in!
More fun from Italy’s lower divisions.