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What Medunjanin will bring and other Union bits, league news, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead considers where new signing Haris Medunjanin is likely to be on the field: “Medunjanin is a ball-moving number eight who should hopefully solve a lot of the problems the Union had down the stretch in 2016.” The potential starting lineup in the article is possibly the most exciting in potential as any any Union lineup has ever been.

At MLSsoccer.com, Greg Seltzer has some interesting observations about Medunjanin:

Though he typically enjoys a noticeable size advantage over opposing midfielders, Medunjanin’s feet are as nimble as you’d like. He has supreme technical skills, most notably with his first touch, close-quarter dribbling and distance shots.

While Medunjanin excels at sending the attack forward with pinpoint lead passes, he draws more attention as a very patient player of danger in and around the box. He can use the smallest of movements to gain space for a pass or shot, and those who don’t close him down often suffer at the whims of his tricky left foot. To boot, he strikes a nasty free kick…

Medunjanin is certainly not what one consider speedy, and this sticks out when he’s not on the ball. To that end, his defensive movement can be rather wooden…

While Bosnia’s central park depth has often forced him back into a defensive midfield role while on international duty, Medunjanin can do much more damage as either a deep-lying playmaker or an outright No. 10…

Philadelphia has picked up a player that can feed the offense and support it with skill as the late runner, much in the way that Michael Bradley did during his big season at Heerenveen. On a Union team loaded with eager runners, he should come in very handy. It’s certainly not too much to ask for him to notch a 5-6 goals and 8-10 helpers.

More insight at Bosnian soccer blog BurekBlog:

The Union seem to have a need at the playmaking midfield position and if that’s what they’re looking for – Medunjanin can certainly provide it. We won’t address his defensive capabilities (or lack thereof)…

As far as style is concerned, Medunjanin is a purely creative midfielder – preferably attacking. Do not expect defensive hustle, or neck breaking speed from him. The stamina might also be an issue but the positives are also there. An extremely technical player, Medunjanin has excellent control of the field, spacial awareness, and ball distribution skills. If his team can surround him with runners – especially on the wings, he could add a new dimension to a hard working team. Medunjanin’s strength is undoubtedly his technical skill and creativity, but on occasion, he can also score from distance…

Laziness can often be a problem with Medunjanin, as well as stamina conditioning, but again, if properly utilized, these problems can be circumnavigated.

Overall, at 31 Medunjanin will bring considerable experience, composure, and technical skill to this Union side.

Oguchi Onyewu had a conference call with reporters on Wednesday to discuss his signing with the Union (full transcript here at PSP). And while he accepts part of his role will be as a mentor of the Union’s young corps of center backs and a veteran leader for the team, he clearly intends to play: “I don’t ever join a team not intending to play. My ambition and my goal is to play every minute and every opportunity that I can. Whether that’s a reality in the season, because a lot of things happen, a lot of different games, competitions, injuries, little knicks and knacks here, but my goal is obviously to compete and I’ve never not been a 90 minute player. To answer your question in short, I’m here to make an impact and help the squad. And for me personally, that would be on the field.”

More on Onyewu at Philadelphia Union (conference call audio, Davies and Edu on Onyewu), Philly.comDelco TimesMLSsoccer.com, Soccer AmericaBrotherly Game, and Playing for 90.

At US Soccer, Chris Pontius says of getting his first USMNT cap, “There was a lot of hard work to get to that point. It was incredible stepping on the field, putting the jersey on and I’m just grateful for the opportunity.

At Union Tally, Matthew De George reports on Keegan Rosenberry’s return to the Union after participating in the USMNT’s January camp. Rosenberry says, “It was a good experience. I was happy to be out there. Very honored to get the call and to be a part of it. Obviously disappointed not to be involved in the friendlies, but I think they’re in an interesting situation going into March with the friendlies. I just use it as motivation going forward.”

Philly Sports Network reviews the Union’s first week of preseason.

MLSsoccer.com notes the Unio’s new second jersey is now available for purchase.

Sons of Ben

The results of the election to fill to seats on the board of the Sons of Ben are in. Lauren Murray is the new Philanthropy Director and
Ashley Cunningham is the new Membership Director.

The SoBs have also announced the formation of two new committees, the Events Committee and the Game Day Committee:

Events: Meg Torpey, Heather Reppert, David Peart, Jessica Gusler, Sid MacLeod, and Frankie Sorrentino

Game Day: Trevor Machinia, Rob Migliaccio, Kenny Hanson, Erick Jusino, Paul Ethridge, and Mike Petrocelli

The announcement notes the committee members “won’t just be volunteers, they will have active roles in both what the committees do, and how they do it.”

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem’s preseason is officially open!

Harrisburg City Islanders

Harrisburg City Islanders have exercised the option on defender Jamie Thomas’ contract for his return this season.

MLS

NYCFC have signed 25-year old Finland international midfielder Alexander Ring from Kaiserslautern: “Targeted Allocation Money was used to acquire the player.”

The Galaxy have signed 33-year-old defender Jelle Van Damme to a contract extension: “Van Damme will occupy a Designated Player spot on the Galaxy’s roster.”

Toronto have re-signed midfielder Benoît Cheyrou.

NYRB head coach Jesse Marsch on the trading of Dax McCarty to Chicago:

I don’t think that the trade and the way it happened honored the relationship that I had with Dax, and the relationship the club had with Dax, and that’s the unfortunate part. When you look around the world when transfers are made, players have to agree to it and then there’s more control of what you do and where you go. Here it doesn’t work that way. That’s just the flat-out reality of our business…I wish the circumstances would’ve been different, everything from the timing around his wedding, to the manner in which it caught him by surprise. Yeah, I wish that there was a world we lived in that didn’t put him in that situation. I’ll take responsibility for it and I know that Dax harbors ill will about it and frustration, and I understand that. It’s an incredibly awful situation that he and I may never really have the relationship that we once had.

Former NYCFC man Frank Lampard has officially announced his retirement.

Is trouble brewing with Sacramento’s expansion bid, previously thought to be a sure thing? When the Sacramento bid was submitted ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, no mention was made of Sacramento Republic, the wildly successful USL team that has been at the center of the efforts to bring a MLS franchise to the city. The team soon released a statement that read in part, “We are just as surprised as our fans to hear that various news outlets are reporting that a bid was submitted to MLS for Sacramento which does not reference Sacramento Republic FC. If these reports are true, this is deeply troubling to us…If the bid submitted yesterday by Mr. Nagle did not include Sacramento Republic FC, it was in violation of our agreements and without our authorization; and we will take this up with the appropriate parties immediately.”

Sacramento Bee reports,

On Wednesday, the city’s MLS bid was plunged into chaos amid a dispute over control of its minor league team, Sacramento Republic FC, and the Republic FC brand.

Simmering behind the scenes for months, a rift between lead investor Kevin Nagle and Warren Smith, the team’s founder and president, erupted in public when Smith accused Nagle of violating his agreement with the club by formally submitting a bid to MLS that omitted the Republic brand. Nagle, however, said he doesn’t control the team or the rights to the Republic brand – and hasn’t yet been able to close a deal with Smith to secure control. That meant he had to submit the expansion bid without Republic’s stamp on it to meet a Tuesday deadline set by MLS officials.

Warren Smith is the majority owner of Sacramento Republic, while Kevin Nagle is the lead investor behind Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, the group that submitted the Sacramento bid and is behind the plan to build a new stadium. Nagle says he does not own the rights to the Sacramento Republic brand and therefore could not include it in the bid. As Jeff Carlisle summarizes at ESPN, “Essentially, what is happening now is that for months, the two entities have been engaged in talks to merge, and they are haggling over the price.”

MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott downplayed the controversy on Wednesday: “From the league’s perspective, we should give those discussions time to play out. So I’d like to minimize some of the brouhaha and hysteria around this. I actually think it’s really straightforward when you take a look at it.” He explained, “The groups, at least from Kevin’s perspective, continue to want to be in negotiations about presenting a unified front and that is their ideal situation. From the league’s perspective, [the best option] is to allow that process and those discussion to continue. And I think that’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile, Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg has called for a meeting between the two sides to resolve the situation: “I am not going to allow a private business dispute to get in the way of what Sacramento deserves — a major league soccer franchise.”

More on the Sacramento bid controversy at Sacramento Business Journal (1, 2), CBS Sacramento (1, 2), SI, Soccer America, Fox Sports, and Goal.com.

Conspicuously absent in a roundup at MLSsoccer.com of comments from Mark Abbott on the 12 expansion bids are comments on the Sacramento and Raleigh/Durham-North Carolina FC bids.

In case you’re wondering, Abbott said the league remains “focused on finalizing a stadium deal in Miami.”

SI’s review of the expansion hopefuls continues with a look at Cincinnati.

ESPN has a review of the 12 cities making expansion bids.

NWSL

The NWSL has announced a three-year deal with Lifetime to broadcast a weekly game on Saturday’s at 4 pm. As of this writing, details are still emerging about the new partnership.

US

CONCACAF has announced Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California will be the site of the 2017 Gold Cup final on on Wednesday, July 26. You will recall the Linc, which hosted the 2015 final, has been announced as the site of one of the knockout round games — will it be a quarterfinal or semifinal game? Stay tuned.

42 Comments

  1. On an unrelated note, does anyone remember when Brek was in Philly with a floppy mowhawk and we were chanting “HEY, BREK, WHAT’S ON YOUR HEAD?”?

  2. The more I hear about Medunjanin the more giddy I get.

  3. They should let all 12 of those teams in and split the league into two conferences that only play each other in the playoffs

    • Better yet … put all 12 into a league of their own. Then the champion of that league joins MLS the next year. Heck you could even balance it back out by having the last-place MLS team get dropped into this new league.

      • nah, i think if we started relegating teams a lot of them would just go out of business. i’ll be honest, i don’t even really understand the love of promotion and relegation. people seem really fascinated by it though

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        Right and the team going down would get $150M franchise fee. This would help cover player salaries and any other little bills they might have. For instance, new stadium, new academy, new training facility, maybe a high school. Now some of those bids like Detroit don’t have a team, so they can pay maybe $5M to the promotion league just too keep a place in line till they get that new stadium and team. Great idea….now what should we call this?

        • I Am Citizen Insane says:

          $1.8 Billion dollars sitting on the sidelines just in these 12 teams hoping to catch The Don’s eye.
          .
          ~~~seems like a lot of money to invest reallocate put into development etc etc etc ..especially if A Club didn’t have to spend $150,000,000 on a fee to divide amongst The Don, SUM and the 20 other Franchises in the One Club.
          .
          You are me John, we live in a free market. Capitalism of the Little Guy who has to survive with new ideas and being better than the other guy down the street.
          .
          The top 1% live in a socialist one sharing the wealth amongst themselves and at the very center of this debate is that one truth… as it plays out in this ‘young’ sport finding its way in a manner opposed to every viable other league in the world.

          • John O'Donnell Jr says:

            No I’m realist who likes to understand the big picture, not relate one set of facts to another and say it will have the same outcome. I believe every situation is unique and there is always more than one solution.

            First there isn’t 1.8 billion dollars looking to invest in their club. It’s $150M to invest into single entity. Single entity gives the team protection and shares the the risk against peril. They have tv contracts and corporate partners that the new team gets a share of. Something that took years of risk to create. In fact 15 years ago millions in investment was about to be lost until Don Garber got three guys to double down. Like the little guy they also compete against the some mean elitist. You might know them by name, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL & major college sports. They are what you might call “old money”.

            But these little guys, they stuck together and carved out a portion of the American sports market. Soon people saw they had vision, even though they had little to show for it. But they persuaded more people to invest in their cause. As they grew there was less peril, so more were interested in joining their cause and today they are on the brink of changing the way the world looks at a system.

            Of course with every story about a hero, there is always a bad guy and these were some pretty bad hombres. They wanted part of their success and they wanted to steal it from them instead of sharing in the peril. Their name was NASL and their leader was called the Cosmos. He balked at having to pay his fair share and said he could use the same money on his team just like the rest of the world. But in trying this he nearly killed all his friends and was tossed from their gang and made to sell his team after losing $30M. Makes you wonder why he didn’t say no problem, I still have $70M left to make this work but he didn’t. Hmm, End of story.

          • I Am Citizen Insane says:

            As usual, I applaud a well reasoned argument. Can’t say I remember the same.
            .
            ~ and you are to erudite a person to say….end of story.
            .
            lastly, you rail on the Cosmos and seem to lump everyone else into the same boat which is a bit unauthentic.

          • John O'Donnell Jr says:

            Of course you can’t….said the pot to the kettle.

          • I Am Citizen Insane says:

            I compliment well reasoned arguments here all the time.
            .
            None more than yours.
            .
            The implication is that it would be nice to receive similarly regardless of whether you agree.
            .
            Sincerely,
            -JFL

          • John O'Donnell Jr says:

            I like the way you write….. It’s witty. I agree with a lot of your thoughts on the Union, just not all of them. I see you seem to cheer the liberal cause but I’m surprisingly an independent. Shocking,I know. I found yesterday’s back an forth more what they are calling interne activism. I really don’t think it works, much like a lot of the conversations that go on this site. People only see what they want to see even if it might be wrong. Go figure but I find it fun to shout at the clouds when it comes to soccer.

    • … or split it into MLS A and MLS B with pro/rel between the two…. do something truly different in American sports. …

      • i prefer splitting them geographically to cut down on the travel rather than having promotion and relegation

      • I Am Citizen Insane says:

        but…
        .
        thisisthewayitsalwaysbeendone.

          • this brings up an interesting point I hadn’t considered…. when the door to expansion shuts, what happens when MLS starts to develop what is happening now with the NFL — teams simply up and leaving for other cities (greener pastures/more “cooperative” local govts that like funding stadiums”) Will we all just shrug our shoulders and say, “it’s just a business.” After all, what we’re pursuing here are franchises, not CLUBS, right? Not sure why having that point of view is just naive and/or idealistic. Or maybe it is….

          • dark period for me in hockey was the 90s. but those moves largely flourished. new teams in Dallas, Colorado, Carolina all found success (championships).
            i’ve given up on the NFL so these recent moves don’t affect me in the same way.
            as for MLS, benefit of single entity would prevent the owner’s group move and any support a floundering club would need if things were dire would likely be there. i don’t think we can look at Chivas scenario as the norm in these cases. too many cities queueing up to snatch up a team. with that said, if we had a hard team cap and something like a Miami came along, the league would likely relocate an under-performing team to the richer pastures.

  4. I Am Citizen Insane says:

    Round of Applause to PhillySoccerPage. What a great place.
    .
    Like National Public Radio. I can’t do without. It’s a primary source for my information… as I know its just the news.
    .
    With editorial content along the way.
    .
    Stellar Stellar Stellar.

    • I Am Citizen Insane says:

      …Now back to the stump.
      .
      I can’t even blame MLS anymore. I’ve come to my senses… as the depth of damage rendering is so much deeper than a League.
      .
      Some big brothers are just assholes and thats the way of it— its the parents who allowed him to grow up in such a way to be a bully- completely unawares of the greater havoc he wreaks and the resentment that grows amongst his siblings. I’ve seen it many times.
      .
      And so it is with MLS and US Soccer and the policy that has pit vipered and will continue to pit viper organic clubs against one another in the holy-un-holy hopes that…
      .
      …The Don and his Cartel will turn one or two or three into MADE members of The Organization.
      .
      Phoeey and Fuck off. You’re not fooling me. Once there was a plan… Once there was a VISION and a promise of an open system… then power came and wealth and protection of assets as the number one motivator.
      .
      I support local…love the Union- but I sure as shit can’t sit by without saying something about the asshole brother and his ignorant ass parents or The Don and his band of MADE men.

      • There’s something distasteful about this whole expansion process that clearly escapes MLS. The whole public display of — for lack of a more precise term — groveling for these precious expansion slots…. The following of it as if it were its own sport… fans discussing non-sporting things like stadium financing and market size… I suppose that making the process somewhat transparent has its benefits, but it’s hard to imagine MLS didn’t already have the “winners” of this round of expansion selected before the first bid crossed the transom.

        I can accept that the league is young and the model appears to be successful by a number of metrics, but there really has to be a better way to do this (if it needs to be done at all).

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        ………Fake news. “\_(`~`)_/”

  5. I sure wish MLS would just tell Bekham to eff off already and give up on Miami…

    • +1. It’s a bad sports city anyway.

    • He could be just as splashy in Vegas, and a team would have a better chance of succeeding there.

    • Amen, John, A. and pragmatist. I don’t understand why Miami is such a crappy sports town, but it sure is. I always hear the excuse, “Well, the weather is soooo nice here, and there is soooo much else to do.” Bollocks. On March 11th, it could still be in the 30s in Chester. I’ll be there, as many of you will be. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer the weather to be 85 and sunny. Skip your windsurfing lesson and get down to a game, Miami Guy. And not everyone in the entire metro area is a geriatric transplant, so that’s a BS excuse, too.

      • Florida is football. Everything else is secondary, at best. Unless you are a trendy team, they don’t care. Orlando City is different, but they still have the new franchise smell, and they have the new stadium. Let’s check back in 4 years when they are the Union 2.0.

  6. When I hear questions about lack of fitness and defensive effort, I have two immediate reactions:
    1. Maidana
    2. We need Mo back and healthy assap

    • I Am Citizen Insane says:

      I stipulate to your point but no worries. Will be nothing alike. Two entirely different sets of expectations with entirely different teammate too.

    • The problem with Madiana wasn’t just that he didn’t do his defensive duties, it’s that he also vacated his offensive area almost exclusively. He destroyed the team shape on defense as well as offense. To me he really is a big nogs clone from what I have seen (which isn’t much) with probably a little more final ball (than 2nd or 3rd to final ball) and maybe a little less D effort. But I can live with that, especially with your number 2. Edu can cover all the ground we need, and we do need him healthy this year.

  7. Saw the Kevin Kinkead starting line up. Looks really strong. I think the best news is we have 5-6 players looking to play on the right wing and/or in CAM slots. Bedoya, Herbers, Ilsinho, Alberg all got time at both positions last year. With the *potential* addition of Picault, that gives another quality player in a dangerous spot. I can see this formation shifting with that right sided wing pressing higher and the 10 hanging out on the right half of the field, especially with the left sided dominance of Medunjanin. If nothing else, the competition for those two positions will be great for the team progress.

    • Generally curious about the starting XI. Seems like 5 slots are up for grabs: CAM, Right Wing, Left Back, Center Back, CDM. I’m not even convinced of who will start up top…

      • Eh, CAM, RW, CDMx2 is 4 spots with Edu, Bedoya, and Medunjanin pretty much locked in starting spots. So there’s one spot open there for someone. But still, lots of good competition here.

        • Edu’s fitness hasn’t been confirmed back to full strength yet. Bedoya is penciled in sure, but out wide or in the 10?

      • I would actually say there are about 7 spots up for grabs. Right now I think you can pencil in Blake, Rosenberry, Bedoya, and Pontius. After that, everyone pretty much has to show what they can do. Some such as Medunjanin are more likely than others to slot in but I don’t think he’s a lock until he fits in.

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