Photo: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.
Union 1-2 Red Bulls
After drawing 1-1 with the New England Revolution, and defeating University of North Florida 9-1 in scrimmages played over three 30-minute periods, the Philadelphia Union fell 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls on a chilly and rainy Wednesday evening at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field in front of 5,656 spectators. This time, the game was played over two 45-minute halves, with the Union using different lineups for each half.
As was to be expected from an early preseason game, passages of fine play were matched by sloppy touches and passes and the kind of defensive breakdowns that stem from rustiness, unfamiliarity, and miscommunication. Preseason games are less about the scoreline and final result than putting into place in a match environment the kind of training camp work that is largely out of the view of fans. It that sense, Wednesday’s game wasn’t at all a terrible showing — there was much to be encouraged by — but it is evident that work remains to be done before the season opener on March 8 in Portland. And that surely comes as no surprise.
John Hackworth said after the game, “We were just focused on our own preparations. It was good to play an opponent like Red Bull that really tests the things you’re trying to work on. But the whole goal for us tonight was to try to implement the things we’ve been working on throughout the preseason.”
The game started with the Union’s three newest signings — Maurice Edu, Cristian Maidana, and also Vincent Nogueira, who had arrived in camp on Sunday — on the field together. Hackworth said, “Vincent, I think he showed his qualities in there. Maidana did the same thing. It’s going to take a little bit of time, a little bit of work to get those guys on the same page and syncing the way we would like. But so far, so good.”
Edu, who described Nogueira as a “spark,” said of the Frenchman, “I think him being so eager to get on the ball will create opportunities for me to get forward more.”
Jack McInerney, who scored the first Union goal of the preseason in the draw against New England, scored his second with a rocket of an indirect free kick after Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles held on to the ball too long, a call last seen by most of us in the USWNT vs. Canada semifinal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Hackworth explained the seldom called rule had become “a point of emphasis” in the preseason. “That’s what MLS is going to call. As a coach, I’d rather have them start calling it in preseason so that we can get used to that kind of thing.”
Recaps and reaction from PSP, PhiladelphiaUnion.com, CSN Philly, Union Tally, Philly Soccer News, The Florida Times-Union, New York Red Bulls.com, SBI, Empire of Soccer, Big Apple Soccer, and Soccer America. 101 Goals picks up on a bit of keepy-uppy from Thierry Henry.
Practice facility to be built in Lot B
At the Delco Times, Chris Vito reports that “Permits and approvals from the City of Chester” are all that now stands in the way of the Union building a new training facility in the shadow of PPL Park. The news comes only one week after Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said that an “inconsistent” relationship with Chester’s current administration and “generally unfriendly business environment” meant that the club was looking at other locations in Delaware County.
Chester state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland said Sakiewicz’s comments “stirred interest and rekindled the fire under all parties.” Kirkland added, “We all need to work together to make this happen. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and Nick last week was squeaking.”
Sakiewicz said, “This project is off the shelf and back on the drawing board. I don’t want to represent this as an about-face. I want to represent it as an opportunity with the city. Being productive means, ‘Let’s get things done. Let’s build some stuff. Let’s reinvest in Chester for its future.’ … We had given up on building anything in Chester because of a business-unfriendly atmosphere. But actions speak louder than words.”
Vito writes, “Sakiewicz credited [Chester mayor John Linder] with ‘reaching out’ in order to revive the project, and Kirkland with ‘being open’ to any development opportunities in Chester.”
Vito describes the project will include the construction of “two grass-surface, professional-grade soccer pitches along with the development of 2,400 square feet of office space at the Wharf at Rivertown that will house the Union’s headquarters and technical staff.” So what kind of timeline can be expected?
- Rep. Kirkland said, “In 20 to 30 days, permits being issued is the dream and it is the hope. Once that happens, everything starts snowballing.”
- Vito reports, “Sakiewicz said the Union’s practice-facility pitches could be completed ‘by the middle of July.’ The office space, however, is ‘a 12-month buildout,’ he said, and could be wrapped up in the first two months of the new year.”
- Sakiewicz added, “From our end, all of the designs are done and this project is shovel-ready today.”
The training facility will be built on Lot B, which means the Union will need new land to replace the lost parking. Vito reports, “Sakiewicz has earmarked land further south from PPL Park near the intersection of Highland Avenue and Seaport Drive that could be repurposed for parking.”
One of the two training fields will be reserved exclusively for the use of the Union first team. The second field could become the site of a variety of events ranging from youth soccer games to early-round US Open Cup games. Sakiewicz said, “Nothing is off the table.”
More Union news
At the Union website, Kevin Kinkead talks to Amobi Okugo about his role as a veteran leader at the ripe old age of 22. Okugo says, “At the end of the year meeting, coach Hack said that they’re going to rely on me more from a leadership aspect. Jack, Sheanon, and myself, (our role is) just to help ease the transition from the younger guys to the older guys, just being sort of the middle man and closing the gap.” Okugo got a taste of that when he was partnered with draft pick Richie Marquez in central defense to start Wednesday’s game.
Video of KInkead’s preseason interviews with Okugo, Jack McInerney, Zach Pfeffer, Corben Bone, Andre Blake, and Pedro Ribeiro can be viewed here.
At the Union website, Kerith Gabriel has a good read in which he talks with JP Dellacamera about his career as a broadcaster. The article includes a great photo of “John Paul Dellacamera” from his days calling MISL games for Prism back in the early 1980s.
The new American Soccer League, which is currently unsanctioned by US Soccer although it has aspirations of gaining sanctioning as the third division in the US soccer pyramid, will be holding a residential combine March 28-30 at Total Turf Experience in Pitman, NJ. Registration is $435, which includes accommodations as well as breakfast and lunch on the Saturday and Sunday of the combine.
FC Dallas have acquired Honduran international Hendry Thomas from Colorado Rapids.
At Goal.com, Rudi Schuller writes that Michael Bradley is relishing his role as the new face of Toronto FC and the pressure that comes with all of the spending that brought him there.
At Soccer America, Ridge Mahoney writes, “The MLS market may have gone a bit wacky and once again the league is taking body blows from critics for its byzantine ways of doing business, but past performance suggest it knows what it’s doing.”
Former Union man Justin Mapp says the Disney Pro Soccer Classic can be a vital springboard to a successful start to the season.
The Palm Beach Post published photos of a possible crest and uniform for David Beckham’s Miami franchise that were used by Beckham’s investment group “in its recent presentations to the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and potential investors.” Among the names reportedly being considered are Miami Vice and Miami Current. Beckham’s publicist, Simon Oliviera, described the Palm Beach Post article as “complete hogwash,” adding “Nothing ever surprises me and some media actually believe it..sheesh.”
You will recall news of an impasse in negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement between the Professional Referee Organization, the governing body of MLS match officials, and the Professional Soccer Referees Association, the organization that represents them. PRO boss Peter Walton tells MLSsoccer.com that he can “see no reasons why the 2014 season should not kick off with all officials being available.”
Seeing as we’re in the midst of a snow storm that is affecting much of the entire East Coast, the Washington Post’s Steven Goff takes a look at some of the various obstacles in the way of the league moving to a European schedule that accords with FIFA’s international calendar. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Moving MLS to a winter schedule is a terrible, terrible idea.
In the latest FIFA rankings, the USMNT moved up one spot to No. 13. Mexico remains at No. 21.
At ESPN, Jeff Carlise has a very good read on what makes Eddie Johnson tick.
The USWNT takes on Russia this evening at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game will be live streamed on the US Soccer website beginning at 7:30 pm.
At Fox Soccer, Leander Schaerlaeckens on why Abby Wambach will be vital to the USWNT’s 2015 Women’s World Cup campaign, even though the forward will turn 35 four days before the tournament gets underway in Canada.
Ric Lee traveled 7,000 miles from Kuala Lumpur to realize his dream to see Everton play in person. Unfortunately for, Lee, Wednesday’s game was postponed late due to poor weather. Fortunately for Lee, Everton saw his tweets on the situation and, locating him in the grounds, brought him into the locker room to meet the team and head coach Roberto Martinez. Very cool. Lee was invited back for a personal tour of the stadium with former Everton center forward Graeme Sharp but he had to leave for Paris to meet his wife.
Soccerly reports, “Spanish police have charged a man with animal cruelty after he attempted to injure a referee by throwing a dog towards him.”
James Dorsey has an interesting read on the fear among Saudi clerics that soccer is a threat “to both Saudi society and Islam itself.”