Daily news roundups

Jack strikes and new DPs debut in loss to NYRB, training facility in Chester is go, more

Photo: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

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.”

John Hackworth, Cristian Maidana, Vincent Nogueira, and Nick Sakiewicz before Wednesday's game in Jacksonville. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

John Hackworth, Cristian Maidana, Vincent Nogueira, and Nick Sakiewicz before Wednesday’s game in Jacksonville. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

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 NewsThe Florida Times-UnionNew 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.

Local

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.

MLS

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.

SB Nation columnist Jeremiah Oshan looks at reasons for encouragement in the Nielsen ratings report we linked to on Monday. Also from Oshan, why a MLS franchise in Atlanta is a bad idea.

US

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.

Elsewhere

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.”

30 Comments

  1. Will it just be the two fields or will there be more to the facility for the player such as a good weight room?

  2. ~Sak is on a George Costanza like roll. He started doing the opposite (spent money, did interviews, questioned chester publicly) and everything is falling his way. I’m not surprised that the opposite of every natural instinct he possesses is the correct decision. That said, keep up the good work.
    .

    ~I thought the game yesterday was better than i expected. truth is this team is going to need to gel quickly. Although it would take lifetimes to gel with the likes of Cruz and Carroll, they have to start somewhere.
    .

    ~Danny Cruz has 0 technical ability. 0. Not even close.
    .

    ~I think we have a legit GK controversy on our hands. From a distribution pov, McMath has the edge, but the guy is legit questionable with shot stopping and in the air.
    .

    ~Ribby (I’d like credit for the start of this nickname) is going to push Carroll or Cruz off the field. It makes too much sense.

    • Ribby it is! :-)

    • It’s amazing how perception changes between GK. Blake spills a shot and gets praise for the follow up save that didn’t need to be.

      That’s the exact same kind of peaks and valley play MacMath has gone through. But for MacMath he sucks because of the valleys, and with Blake he is awesome because of his peaks.

      • Call me when Blake punches the ball into his own net…

        • This just in:

          Zac MacMath is the first goalie ever to have an embarrassing gaffe.

          No word on if he has burst into flames yet, but we will keep an eye out.

          More at 11l.

      • John O'Donnell says:

        Backup Quarterback syndrome?

      • Agreed. Blake had a number of questionable moments along with flashes of great play. Pretty standard young goalkeeper, but nothing YET to prove that he’s any particular advantage over MacMath.

      • Yea, but Blake has the athletic ability to make the second save. MacMath doesn’t come anywhere close to his raw talent…that’s what people find exciting.

    • old soccer coach says:

      If you remember Hackworth’s management of preseason last year, everyone got equal chances to play in the Disney games. I doubt that much can be inferred yet about his thinking on who makes his roster aside from the obvious, such as Conner Casey an old veteran not being asked to make a long bus ride to and from a night game. He likes Cruz, he likes Cruz’s energy and attitude. Those have value, my own judgment would be as a sub off the bench with Hoppenot late in a game against a tired slow defense. Remember that a coach must be perceived as just by his players in order to maintain his authority with them. Hackworth has a plan to accumulate observation on each candidate, also to accumulate training minutes for each player. final thought, years and years and years ago when Paul Brown was starting the Bengals, he drafted a hotshot rookie running back everybody knew was going to make the team, but in training camp that rookie started out running drills with the third string just like all the other rookies. At the beginning, the old vet whose job was gone still ran with the first team. We have to give the evaluation process time to execute, s frustrating as that is in the age of instant gratification.

    • Re: Ribeiro vs. Carroll and Cruz, you may be underestimating Hackworth’s resolve.

    • A George Costanza to Sack comparison is fantastic! It’s so spot on it’s amazing! I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have any trophies yet so he can’t drag them through the parking lot!!! Also I agree with your whole statement! Good stuff!

  3. Pedro Ribeiro is a stud. Once there is a system in place to play to his strengths look out!

  4. While the news about training facility is great, I’m not looking forward to walking from/to Highland Ave, and then driving at night through the streets of Chester to get to the bridge… Oh, well…. I have to admit that training fields next to the stadium will make the place into a really nice and scenic “soccer complex”.

    • I drive through Chester after each game to catch the exit on the other side of town. It really isn’t that bad. No one has ever bothered me or my friends. Never had any issues. And the walk is like half a mile on the waterfront. Not “through” the town.

      • You are right, it will be fine. I just got used to Lot B and then getting on the bridge via Flower St. I’m STH since ZOLO and also never had any problems driving to/from games.

    • Driving through Chester is not a problem. Since 2005 I’ve worked in the old power plant where the Union offices are and drive through the local streets every day with no issues. The new ramps cut down on the number of stop signs and traffic lights, so I do like them.

      However, I don’t think building on lot B makes the most sense. Increasing the distance to the nearest parking lot has the potential to be a real hassle for less mobile patrons and those with young kids.

      While they may not qualify for a handicapped parking placard, that doesn’t mean they want to be walking twice as far to get to their cars.

  5. So the “squeaky wheel” is now the “greasy wheel?” Didn’t see that coming. Either way, well done Sak! I love that last week he came out saying they were looking at two other facilities and then all of a sudden, Chester caves. Way to use the media to manipulate the deal. If only he could manipulate Garber as easily…

  6. I can’t see them building the new facility by July. They’ve already sent out STH parking passes (and scarves and tickets!). A lot of people would be pretty angry if they have passes for Lot B and then find out it no longer exists.

  7. It was pretty clear that Sak was just playing hardball. His comments to the media were a pretty thinly veiled way of saying “Listen, Chester, stop d*cking around, we’re all you’ve got.”
    .
    I don’t have all the facts, but as a general rule, I feel very icky about big businesses strong-arming impoverished cities for favorable treatment (tax, zoning, or otherwise), and that appears to be at least part of what was happening here. At the same time, if the Union were to build elsewhere and shelve all the other proposed development, that couldn’t possibly be good for the city. Again, I don’t have all the facts, so for now I’ll just be content that a potentially awful situation has been avoided.

    • John O'Donnell says:

      Zoning in Chester? That’s a good one, he must be like the Maytag repair man.

    • You’re probably right, but Sak didn’t really complain or make a fuss of the issue, he just mentioned it. Chester was willing to play, and they’re not completely innocent in all of this as well. I think for the entire existence of the Union in Chester both sides have contributed to the “negative” business relationship.

  8. Great news about the facility. Does anyone know for sure what it entails? Is it a couple of fields and an office building or is there a weight and recovery facility as well?
    .
    Positives: reason for excitement from all 3 new signings. Jack is finding the back of the net. Ribeiro looks like a steal. Blake has skills.
    .
    Negatives: LB and LCB look very bad. Macmath looks shaky. Where is Casey?… But number ONE, Hackworth. Why is Cruz still starting? At least there is SOME history to want to rely on Carroll as a steadying force (even though he looks slower than ever). Cruz has shown nothing to make him a guaranteed start, yet Hackworth keeps his boys in.

    • Ah and here’s the rub. Hack has to get out of his own way. There were more than a few times where the returnees played “Hack” ball and you could see the new guys getting angry.
      -
      I think Carroll will just screw Edu up positionally.
      At the same time, the backs aren’t good enough to leave Maidana out wide. He could be a defensive liability.
      -
      Nogs looks good. “Ribby” looked good.White looked pretty good, but he’s the same as Okugo with less ability it seems. Def need height there.
      -
      Blake botched the first save. He knew it. But man can he move.

      • I don’t think Carroll will be as much of a detriment to Edu as you suggest. Carroll has made a living of staying (perhaps getting) out of the way, and he’ll happy to let Edu do all the heavy lifting. With players like Edu and Nogueria in front of him B.C. shouldn’t be required to do as much work, and move around as much, which should be a benefit to everyone. He may have to provide extra cover in front of the other CB spot if they don’t pick anyone up.

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