Photo: Earl Gardner
Thursday was the Union’s Media Day. Here at PSP, we have video shot by PSP videographer and photographer Daniel Gajdamowicz on the sessions with the press with Earnie Stewart, Jim Curtin, Maurice Edu, Andre Blake, CJ Sapong, Ray Gaddis, as well as draft picks Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers, and Joshua Yaro.
At Delco Times, Matthew De George notes Stewart’s comments on adding to the roster, which currently has 20 of 28 spots filled. Stewart is focused on, as De George writes, waiting “for the right, rather than the most expedient, transactions”:
It’s not to fill every spot. We have to make sure that we have a competitive group together. Our goal is to have good players at every position. Having said that, that means that you’re not going to fill every roster spot that there is. It’s not so much the numbers game when it comes to, you have to fill those. As long as there’s quality and they make sure they raise the level of all the other players, that’s the choice you make…
The ideal thing is before the first practice that Jim has all of his players in and we’re fixed and we’re set for the season, except it never works out that way. You can’t let time rush you, because you’ll overpay here and there, and that’s not the intention. So you want to make sure you’re cautious in the process and you bring in the right players for the right prices. You have to be smart, and rushing is never the right way to go.
Remember, the MLS transfer window for players under contract in another country runs from Feb. 18 to May 12. And, as De George writes, Bethlehem Steel should also be factored in. “Flexibility is preferable for the Union to be able to promote high achievers or based on need from Steel. You can expect one or two roster spots left vacant specifically for that consideration.”
At Union Tally, De George has a transcript of some of the remarks from Stewart, Curtin, Sapong, and Gaddis. Stewart’s comments on CBA-mandated rest days are interesting:
There’s rules that you have to abide by that I’m not used to, when it comes to days off in a week that are mandatory from a players’ union perspective or mandatory vacation days that there are. I’m not used to that. It’s a short period of time. I feel in the United States, we’re working very hard to create players that are world class players. And on the other hand, we have a lot of days off, and the combination of those two, I don’t get. So those are things that I have to get used to, and hopefully towards the future, we can tweak those because I think for every sport, no matter if it’s soccer or if you look at swimmers or what they do every single day getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning and then practicing in the afternoon. If they want to be Olympians and they want to get a gold medal, they have to work hard. And vacation will come someday. But not when you’re in the prime of your life. So those are things that you have to get used to, but they are what they are.
At the Daily News, John Smallwood on the Union’s pressing need for “a legitimate, big-time scoring threat.” Smallwood notes there’s plenty of time for a signing, in view of the Feb. 18 to May 12 MLS transfer window for players under contract in another country, but emphasizes a move needs to be made: “[M]anagement needs to do something because the only thing worse than being bad is playing boring soccer when you are bad.”
A Union spokesperson told PSP on Thursday the new Union first kit will be released in February. Is this a sneak peak?
Brotherly Game looks for clarification of the Union’s international roster spots. But you’ve already read at the extensive clarification outlined in our roundup on Jan. 21.
Also at Brotherly Game, a look at new Union CBO Tim McDermott’s successful — and not so successful – branding efforts with the NHL’s Washington Capitals and 76ers.
Brotherly Game’s series on “silly offseason complaints” continues with “The Union keep their cards too close to their chest.”
Union VP and CFO Dave Rowan was in Florida on Thursday for a press conference on the Tampa Bay Rowdies-hosted Suncoast Invitational preseason tournament. Fox 13 reports Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is close to requesting funding to expand Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, home to the Rowdies and site of several Suncoast Invitational games.
Speaking of the Rowdies, former Union man and current Rowdie Freddy Adu says in an interview with Ives Galarcep at Goal.com that he accepts responsibility for the many failings of his disappointing career. “Everything that I’ve been through and everything that hurt my career, I brought it on myself because I didn’t dedicate enough time to it. You can say, ‘Oh, I had a lot too early,’ or say whatever you want. But at the end of the day we all need to grow up at some point, and that has just all hit me this offseason. It really did.”
Adu admits he took his contract with the Union for granted:
“I did take it for granted. At that point I had a four-year deal with MLS, and it was guaranteed and everything was fine. I let myself relax, and it was just immaturity,” Adu said. “When I was playing in Turkey, in a little village where there wasn’t much else to do, you were dedicated. You weren’t distracted about going out or partying. I just wanted to play soccer and be out on the field training. I was happy going to training every day, it was something fun to do and I didn’t need anything else.”
Peter Nowak’s firing as Union coach helped expedite Adu’s departure from Philadelphia as new coach John Hackworth grew tired of the player’s lack of focus and his penchant for partying, which the club felt was having a negative effect on a young squad.
“With me not performing to the level expected of someone making designated player money in Philly, coupled with the fact I had the young guys looking up to me on that team, in (Hackworth’s) eyes maybe I wasn’t setting a good enough example for those young guys on the team,” Adu said.
“Looking back on it, he was right. I can’t even be mad at Hackworth for pushing me out of Philly. At the end of the day, you have to take some responsibility for yourself. You have to put yourself in the best situation to succeed, on the field or off the field, and at that time I wasn’t performing great on the field or off the field.”
The Union shipped Adu to Brazilian side Bahia, which led to more instability as the club went through three coaches during Adu’s season there. He struggled to find playing time and eventually turned his attention back to Europe, where he previously endured a string of loan moves during a disappointing stint with Benfica, which bought him from Real Salt Lake in 2007.
Adu says, “I’ve looked back on these past few years and I’ve wasted a lot of time, wasted years of my career, just not dedicating the time I should have to the sport. That’s time wasted. Lucky for me, I started so early that time wasted doesn’t mean I’m 33 or 34 and it’s too late for me. I’m only 26 and I can change and correct the things I’ve done wrong, and that’s what I’m focused on right now.”
Actions always speak louder than words.
At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph rounds up verbal commitments to colleges from current and former Union Academy players ahead of Signing Day on Feb. 3.
West Chester, Pa.’s Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion) has been named to the 20-player roster for the CONCACAF qualification tournament in Guatemala for the U-17 World Cup, March 3-13. Before that, the team will play in the 2016 U-17 NTC Invitational from Feb. 11-15 in Carson, Ca. The U-17 World Cup will take place in Jordan, Sept. 30-Oct. 21. At US Soccer, head coach BJ Snow talks about the roster and the upcoming tournaments. Soccer America notes three of those called up are 14.
Philly Soccer News on the new EDP Super Club U-20 League, which is aimed at providing “high-level play for players aged 17-20 as they advance beyond the youth level.”
From the Celtic FC website: The third Annual East Coast Celtic Supporters’ Féile takes place this weekend January 29-31, 2016 at the club’s home, The Plough & Stars at 123 Chestnut Street in the Old City section of Philadelphia. Celtic supporters from all over the world will gather in Philly for the biggest Celtic supporters’ weekend this side of the Atlantic.”
- NYCFC have signed 30-year old French center back Frédéric Brillant from Belgian first division side K.V. Oostende. The deal involved Targeted Acquisition Money.
- Official: Orlando City have re-signed midfielder Darwin Cerén to a multi-year contract.
- Vancouver Whitecaps and Welsh International striker Robert Earnshaw has announced his retirement. Earnshaw will “immediately take over the head coaching duties for the Whitecaps FC U-14 Pre-Residency team and also serve as the club’s strikers coach.”
Jermaine Jones says the six-game suspension he must serve for losing his mind at, and then touching Mark Geiger, is complicating his chances of getting a new contract in Europe. (FIFA regulations say suspensions must be served across leagues.) Jones also isn’t pleased with the latest contract offer from New England, which he described as “a joke” and is “less than 20 percent” of what he earned last season.
No official announcement yet on Matt Miazga signing with Chelsea. But there is this:
Here is a quote I got from a former teammate of new Chelsea signing Matt Miazga … pic.twitter.com/yvAe8o0a67
— Secret Footballer (@TSF) January 28, 2016
No Nemanja Vidic to MLS after all. The former Manchester United captain has retired, citing the toll of injuries.
At Goal.com, Mexico national coach Juan Carlos Osorio has attempted to clarify remarks that suggested to single out MLS as a league where players go “for the end of a career.” Osorio says he meant young players should focus on success in Europe and that he would not pass on selecting a player in MLS:
I did say that for any player the ultimate goal, especially at their peak, should be playing in Europe. This goes for any league in the Americas, whether it’s MLS, the Mexican league, Brazilian league, Argentinian league or any other…I have never said that I won’t call in players from MLS. Any suggestion of that idea is false. I would never ignore a player because of the league they play in…I said players should look to MLS for the future and later in their career, but not that they should only go to MLS to retire. The league is a growing league and improving league. It is not an easy league.
Osorio has previously been the head coach of NYRB and Chicago Fire.
At MLSsoccer.com, a look at the ongoing renovations of Toronto FC’s BMO Field. The team will start the season with an eight-match road trip.
Orlando City will soon announce plans for a new 23-acre training facility in Lake Nona that is expected to open in 2017. “As planned, the soccer campus will include six practice fields, training and fitness centers, a players’ clubhouse, locker rooms and a rehab and injury center. The building will also include film rooms and classrooms for Orlando City players and academy players…Orlando City also holds an option to acquire 20-plus acres directly in front of the new facilities to expand in the future. The Tavistock Group, which owns Lake Nona, will develop the privately funded campus.”
Don Garber and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon are supposed to talk this week about an expansion team in St. Louis. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Garber said in a letter to Nixon, “I look forward to working with you, your staff and local leaders to explore ownership candidates and to investigate viable stadium solutions to bring MLS to St. Louis.” More at MLSsoccer.com.
The USMNT hosts Iceland in a friendly on Sunday (3:45 pm: ESPN2, UniMás, Univision Deportes), their first game of 2016.
Michael Bradley tries to put the breaks on the Darlington Nagbe hype train: “I think everyone needs to be a little bit careful in terms of trying to put too much on his plate too soon. He’s still young — certainly young in terms of the national team. He will start to get his chance now to come into the group and see where it all fits in…He has natural ability, for sure. But again, I think for any new player who comes into the group, you want to be careful not to expect too much.”
More from the USMNT camp at ESPN.
At ESPN, a list of the top 25 USMNT players. Topping the list at No. 1 is Fabian Johnson.
Bloomberg reports, “Fox Sports has paid $15 million to broadcast the Copa America Centenario, the biggest soccer tournament to take place in the U.S. in more than 20 years, according to people with knowledge of the contract.”
Soccer projects from Hollywood in the works for the big screen and on network TV.
Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio.
The Press Association reports, “Swiss prosecutors say they have been given important evidence by a whistle-blower in their investigation into FIFA and its suspended president Sepp Blatter. The Swiss attorney general’s spokesman Andre Marty said the case was making progress and says formal charges could be brought by the end of the year. Marty told German broadcaster ARD: ‘A witness, a so-called whistle-blower, gave us interesting information relevant to the case, which brought us markedly forward in the criminal investigation.'” More from Inside World Football and the AP.
The AP reports, “The German football federation (DFB) says the findings of an internal investigation into bribery allegations concerning the awarding of the 2006 World Cup will be published on March 4.”
Sky Sports reports, “Sepp Blatter expects to attend the FIFA election on February 26 even though his appeal against an eight-year ban is unlikely to be resolved by then.” More from Reuters and the AP.
From Reuters: “The disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter will return to the headquarters of the world governing body on 16 February when his appeal against his ban from the sport will be heard, according to his adviser.”
The French FA has announced it is backing Infantino. I wonder if that has anything to do with an earlier Reuters report that began, “Jérôme Champagne, the French FIFA presidential candidate, and Noël Le Graët, the French Football Federation (FFF) chief, had a heated exchange in public on Thursday, with Le Graët hurling insults at Champagne before storming out of a restaurant.”
Reuters reports, “Four of the candidates for president of FIFA are heading to Qatar for meetings on Saturday, with one of them, South African Tokyo Sexwale, saying ‘the time for alliances is coming.'”
Cristiano Ronaldo and Donald Trump have partnered to buy a hotel in Monaco.