Photo: Paul Rudderow
Fans who are concerned about the short amount of time remaining for the Union to gel into season opening form may now have a new concern: the Union’s injury list.
In Thursday’s teleconference with reporters, John Hackworth outlined the current injury status of Conor Casey, Sheanon Williams, Antoine Hoppenot, Michael Lahoud, Richie Marquez, and Pedro Ribeiro. While Hoppenot and Lahoud should shortly return to full training and be available for the season opener next Saturday in Portland, Marquez and Ribeiro will need more time.
Of prime concern, however, is the status of Casey and Williams. Hackworth said that Williams, who left Wednesday’s game against Toronto early in the first half after appearing to go down with no contact, was “getting a MRI to figure out exactly how long he’ll be out.”
Hackworth said he is hopeful that Casey, who is “nursing a soft tissue injury” to one of his calves, will be available for the opener. “We clearly miss Conor right now,” Hackworth said, “but our priority is to try to get him and other guys who are banged up healthy.”
Is Hackworth concerned about integrating Casey back into the lineup? The Union head coach said, “We’re not real concerned. Conor is a fantastic pro. He also has qualities about him that quite frankly we don’t have on our team in other players. He’s working hard to get himself healthy, and when he’s healthy, it’ll be an easy integration for him to get back on the team. We just want to make sure we get him back 100 percent to make sure we don’t risk having him out longer.”
So, what of the team’s current form? Is the team ready to start the season? Hackworth said, “In the big picture, yeah, we have a ways to go before I think we’re going to be ready. The hard part is knowing how far away that is…I feel we’ve made some real progress, and at the same time, you’re never really satisfied with where you are.”
Hackworth affirmed that “Zac is still our number one” goalkeeper.” Other topics in the teleconference included more details on the Austin Berry signing and Keon Daniel’s status as the coaching staff prepares to make its final preseason cuts ahead of Saturday’s roster compliance deadline.
As we mentioned in Thursday’s roundup, the Union are set to face Montreal in the fifth place game at the Disney tournament on Saturday. While start time has not yet been announced, the championship game is at 8 pm, and Orlando is playing New York at 6 pm in the third place game. It would make sense then that the Union game, which is unlikely to be streamed, will be at 3 or 4 pm.
The Union have announced that PPL Park will be the host of a World Cup warm-up match between Greece and Nigeria on June 3. Very cool.
In ProSoccerTalk’s Union season preview, Mike Prindiville writes, “The Union are a steadily improving squad, one that knows its identity under Hackworth and ultimately could prove to be the team no one wants to face. After falling short the last two seasons the target will be to make the playoffs and assuming the new boys gel with the old guard – and that quintessential Philly chemistry remains intact – it’s an objective well within reach.”
KYW’s Matt Leon talks to Austin Berry about being traded to the Union and settling in with the team.
Jack McInerney comes in at No. 19 in Bleacher Reports annoying slideshow of the Top 20 strikers in MLS.
Brotherly Game wonders if the Union are better off tactically under John Hackworth then they were under Peter Nowak.
In an article at the USL PRO website on the Harrisburg-Union partnership. John Hackworth says, “I think when you have young players that are trying to make a big step from being a youth player, and a very good youth academy player, to make that jump to the first team, but literally to the first division, is a massive jump. Being able to have an affiliation like we have with Harrisburg allows those guys to play in meaningful games, and that’s so important to their development.”
Hackworth goes on to perhaps signal his thoughts on how the Union will handle future homegrown players, saying of the partnership with Harrisburg, “That should be our testing ground. No longer should we sign players straight from our academy without first testing them at the USL level. That’s going to be so important. I think players will get tested, players will get pushed, players will develop and then that allows the first team to make much better decisions on those homegrown players.”
Zack Steffen, Zach Pfeffer, and Russell Canouse are all mentioned in Brian Sciaretta’s predictions for who will make the 2016 Olympic team. Who’s up for my predictions about who will make the 2022 World Cup squad?
The Development Academy season picks up again tomorrow when the Union academy teams face their counterparts from Continental FC at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken.
Harrisburg City Islanders have re-signed defender Coady Andrews.
Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid has all but ruled out playing Clint Dempsey for the Sounders season opener against Kansas City on March 8. Dempsey, who has been on loan to Fulham during the offseason, will be with the USMNT for Wednesday’s game against Ukraine on March 5 and the earliest he will be back in Seattle is Thursday. “That’s a full day worth of flying from Cyprus to get back,” Schmid said. “We’ve got to see how he feels, you know; because the one thing that we don’t want to do is overload him and get him injured, because we’ve got a lot of games after the first game of the year.
Jermaine Defoe has been called up for the England squad against Denmark on Wednesday, which presumably means the hamstring injury that he reportedly suffered in training with Tottenham this week mustn’t be very bad.
England manager Roy Hodgson says playing in MLS “won’t necessarily count against” Defoe when it comes time for selecting England’s World Cup squad. “You can’t deny of course that playing for Toronto can’t be put on a par with playing in the Premier League — nobody would expect me to say that. And all these factors will be taken into consideration when we make a (squad) decision.”
Big D Soccer has an interesting look at the Homegrown Player system.
Former Montreal defender Alessandro Nesta has joined the team’s technical staff as a consultant. He will principally work analyzing video.
At ASN, Josh Deaver spends entirely too much time trying to find evidence about what David Beckham’s Miami franchise will be called.
In a press conference announcing a new playoff format, NASL commissioner Bill Peterson had some remarks about MLS expansion. “Can somebody tell me, is [Don Garber] going to have 32 teams or 42 teams? How many is he going to have? Every day he announces another city. I’ve got to send him an update of where we’re going so he can announce that next.” He said competition between the two leagues is “starting to change a little bit now when technically we were in New York before they made that (New York City FC) announcement. Now, they’re talking about Minnesota and Atlanta and San Antonio and other places, Miami. I can’t follow it.”
Peterson is down with Freddy Adu joining the Atlanta Silverbacks. You will recall that we linked to a SI article on Thursday in which Silverbacks head coach Eric Wynalda said of Adu, “I think he can still play at a high level. He proved to me he was capable of that against Mexico in the Gold Cup final (in 2011). His ego can’t get in the way because the level will be questioned, but he needs to find a team that wants him, and I want him.”
Jurgen Klinsmann has called up 24 players ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Ukraine in Cyprus (1:50pm: ESPN2, WatchESPN and UniMas). That number includes 18-year-old Bayern Munich forward Julian Green, who will train with the team in Frankfurt but is not yet eligible to play for the US.
The roster is unsurprisingly made up of European-based players, with the exception of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. Klinsmann said, “Having this Ukraine game is a huge opportunity, mainly for our European-based players. You want to give them a chance to show where they are at and what’s going on in their specific situation…It’s a huge opportunity for all those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the World Cup. We will get a good picture of them over those couple of days, and therefore, we left almost all the MLS players back in the United States.”
ESPN and Goal.com look at the roster while ProSoccerTalk looks at those players for whom the friendly is likely their last chance to prove they should make the World Cup squad. Soccer America has four questions for Wednesday’s game against Ukraine.
Klinsmann will be participating in a Google+ Hangout today at 11:45 am.
At SI, Grant Wahl considers the current political climate in Brazil and the effect it might have on the World Cup.
Meanwhile, The AP reports, “The World Cup host city of Recife is scrambling to find private partners to organize the FIFA-required fanfest during the tournament.”
Ah, remember when Umbros were the soccer shorts to have.