Photo: Earl Gardner
Preseason picture a little clearer
The Union announced its preseason schedule of games on Tuesday. Once again, the team will be participating in the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Suncoast Invitational tournament. Here’s the schedule:
Saturday, February 18: vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (Al Lang Stadium, 7:30 pm)
Wednesday, February 22: vs. Montreal Impact (Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, 7:00 pm)
Saturday, February 25: vs. DC United (Al Lang Stadium, 5:00 pm)
Stay tuned for information about live streams for the games. Tickets to the games will be available through Ticketmaster.com and go on sale on Thursday, January 19, at 9 am. Also participating in the tournament are Chicago Fire and Toronto FC (click here for the full tournament schedule). If you are interested in information about preseason fan events in Florida, contact the Union at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preseason training will begin on Monday, January 23 in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania (no word yet on when an open practice for fans might take place). After that, the team will depart for Clearwater, Fl. for training, January 31-February 10. Following a break between February 11-13, training resumes in Florida on February 14 with the preseason camp concluding on February 26.
The Union played six preseason games in 2016, including three at the Suncoast Invitational, so we can probably expect to see more games added this year.
Three more drafted
The Union made three selections in Rounds Three and Four of the SuperDraft on Tuesday. With the 55th overall pick, the Union selected Canadian-born forward Chris Nanco (Syracuse). With the 77th overall pick, the Union selected English-born defender/defensive midfielder Jack Elliott (West Virginia). With the 82nd overall pick, the Union selected Spanish-born forward Santi Moar (Pfeiffer University). With Tuesday’s selections, four out of five of the Union’s 2017 draft picks are foreign born. More on the selections at PSP, Philadelphia Union (video: Nanco, Elliot), Philly.com, Delco Times, CSN Philly, Philly Voice, Syracuse Athletics, WVU Athletics, and Pfeiffer Athletics.
At Union Tally, Matthew De George makes an interesting observation about the Union’s 2017 picks,
Cliché as “you can’t teach speed” may be, it’s helpful to look at the Union’s picks through a risk-reward lens. There are plenty of solid players available in the SuperDraft with elite club and college upbringings who are what they are at age 23 – that is a five-foot-something center mid or undersized but cerebral center back or a college center mid turned right back because that’s his best chance. Call it the Eric Bird mold. The Union seem to eschew that and look not for a complete player who has met his (middling) potential but one who could have an elite skill around which the Union staff can mold a fully-formed whole.
That molding process for those who make it out of the Union’s preseason camp is likely to begin with Bethlehem Steel, although it should be noted, given the foreign origins of four of the five selections, that the USL roster rules state (p. 72), “A maximum of seven players on the Master Roster may be Foreign Players…Inactive Players do not count against a team’s Foreign Player limit.” At present, six of the ten players currently on the Bethlehem roster are foreign born. Whether any of them possess a Green Card is unclear.
At CBS Philly, Matt Leon talks to the Union’s first 2017 SuperDraft pick, Marcus Epps. Epps says, “I was talking to my father the other day and I told him I’m still shaking, still an exciting moment. It’s starting to settle in. I’m just looking forward to getting to Philadelphia and beginning this part of my career.” More on Epps and Aaron Jones at Philly Sports Network.
At SBI, Ryan Tolmich talks to Keegan Rosenberry about being called into the USMNT January camp. Rosenberry says, “I think the biggest difference between club and here is the speed. Everyone is trying to earn a spot and make first impressions with Bruce here, and you can tell in these first couple sessions that everyone is working hard. Especially in the tighter drills, everything is higher paced, and that’s for everybody, not just the first-time guys here. We’re doing our best to get used to it.
Bethlehem Steel FC
On Tuesday, Bethlehem Steel announced the signing of Philadelphia Union Academy product, and US youth international, Matthew Real. At Union Tally, Matthew De George writes of Real, “With all due respect to the three draftees enjoying a monumental achievement [in the Third and Fourth rounds of the SuperDraft on Tuesday], the big story is Matthew Real, who should be the Union’s left back of the future in two or three years, signing his first pro contract with Bethlehem Steel…Now they’ve finalized a full pro deal, Real joining the likes of Auston Trusty, Derrick Jones and Yosef Samuel to sign out of the Academy. Of the four, Real could end up being the most impressive. Expect Real to train with the Union regularly this season.” More on the Real signing at PSP, USLsoccer.com, Delco Times, and Brotherly Game.
Sons of Ben
Tuesday was the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Sons of Ben. At the Union website, SoB president Bill Gusler writes in thanks of the many people who have been a part of the group’s success. Also at the Union site, Carl Cherkin has an “I was there” piece, and a social media roundup of Founders Day messages. More at MLSsoccer.com.
The City Islanders have announced midfielder Danny DiPrima will be back for the 2017 season.
Jorge Gomez Sanchez is the first Temple player to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft after being picked in the Third Round by Vancouver Whitecaps.
Former Reading United and Union Academy forward Conor Maloney was selected by Columbus in the Third Round of the SuperDraft on Tuesday. Former Reading defender Jordan Scarlett was selected in the Third Round by NYRB. Scarlett also played for Lehigh Valley United.
Former Ocean City Nor’easters goalkeeper Logan Ketterer was selected by Columbus in the Fourth Round of the SuperDraft on Tuesday.
Robby Sagel, Connor Maloney’s teammate at Penn State who formerly played at Temple, was selected in the Fourth Round by Houston.
At MLSsoccer.com, “What you need to know about the 2017 MLS primary transfer window”:
“The transfer windows – the dates between which MLS may request the (ITC) of a player under contract in another country – are as follows:
- Primary Transfer Window | Feb. 14 – May 8, 2017
- Secondary Transfer Window | July 10 – Aug. 9, 2017″
San Jose have re-signed midfielder Tommy Thompson and defender Marvell Wynne to “new multi-year contracts.”
Birmingham City manager Gianfranco Zola has confirmed Jonathan Spector could be headed back to the US: “He has been a very loyal player for this club, in six months his contract is going to be up and if we can help him with something we will try to do that, he deserves that. I cannot say about the team but there might be the possibility that Jonathan will be going back home and that’s the reason why we are active in that position – possibly in this transfer window.”
Herculez Gomez has announced his retirement. He’ll now work as an analyst for ESPN.
David Villa doesn’t believe promotion/relegation is needed for MLS.
Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy talks to NASL interim commissioner Rishi Sehgal, who says there is “a change in mentality” among the league owners. Kennedy writes,
The NASL has operated with teams allowed to spend as they wish, but Sehgal says that will change as the league works to protect the competitive balance of the league.
“We live in greatest free-market country in world,” he said, “but we have a lot of regulation in business and in government. We need that in our business. We can be free-market but regulation is good. It will eliminate market inefficiencies.”
The Cosmos won three championships in four seasons but lost a reported $30 million and almost folded. Without committing to limiting club spending, Sehgal says there will be “consequences,” but it gets away from what he believes is the most important issue the NASL faces.
“Our biggest priority,” he said, “is winning over the hearts and minds in their communities.”
Sehgal also says the league will be much more prudent about expansion: “Our owners could have made the decision to rush into markets but didn’t. It’s not in the best interest of the sport. The best interest of the sport and our collective business is not a repeat of the past.” That could mean not expanding into markets that already have a MLS or USL team: “We don’t want to go into markets that are 50-50. We want to go into markets that will work.”
At The Guardian: “The US soccer pay dispute: will a fix be found before the NWSL season begins?”
Reuters reports, “English-born Major League Soccer forward Dominic Dwyer expects to move closer to a call-up to the United States national team after revealing he will apply for U.S. citizenship next month.”
In an interview at USA Today with Martin Rogers, Tim Howard says pride in playing for the US will return under Bruce Arena:
What I think (Bruce Arena) will add is this ability to truly believe in the shirt and I think we lost that a little bit over the last couple of years…I think it slips away because you bring in …Jurgen Klinsmann had a project to unearth talent around the world that had American roots. But having American roots doesn’t mean you are passionate about playing for that country…I know there were players that came in that it didn’t matter as much to. If you get enough of those players, one or two can get found out, but if you get enough of those players you lose sight of what you are all about. While it was a good idea in theory, it had its flaws. Bruce will 100% get that back.
Howard adds that there has been too much talk about US players needing to play in Europe: “I think there has been this rhetoric that has been spewed out over the last couple of years – players have to go to Europe. If you want to go to Europe that’s fine, but I would guess that come 2018, 80% of our roster will be made up of MLS players. It is not about where you play, it is about what you bring to the team and how much you care.” Howard also says he believe’s Klinsmann’s contract should not have been renewed in 2014.
I agree, Stars and Stripes FC, Nike’s latest USNT gear is terrible.
After soccer’s international governing body moved to expand the World Cup, regional officials are considering creating a new tournament pitting the best national teams in the Americas against each other, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions.
CONCACAF, which oversees the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is weighing holding its biennial national team competition every four years, said the people, who asked not to be identified as talks continue. The switch would create room for a new quadrennial tournament that would also include teams from South America, perhaps as early as 2020.
Revamping the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which has always been held in the U.S., would bring it into line with other major regional competitions and the World Cup, which are played every four years. The global tournament this month was expanded to include 48 teams, up from 32, starting in 2026.
ESPN reports, “Marco van Basten has said FIFA is considering using shootouts in group-stage games at the 2026 World Cup and may revive the old NASL-style penalties for the tournament.” Van Basten is FIFA’s chief officer for technical development.
PA Sport reports, “Manchester United believe they have become the first sports club in the country to have a full-time counter-terrorism manager.”