Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union
From CSN, Jay Simpson met up with his new Union teammates in Florida and talked a lot about Philadelphia:
I’ve got to say that the dressing room that they have here is very impressive. It’s rare when you’re going into a place where everyone is so welcoming toward you. It’s a great bunch of boys here and everyone gets on really well here together. It’s kind of like one unit, and from my early impressions like a family.
Simpson also praised the technique and tactical awareness of MLS, saying, “In England, it’s very physical and very direct,” he said. “It’s very physical. In MLS, they try to keep the ball on the ground in games that I’ve watched. They’re tactical players with good technique, so I’m looking forward to getting started over here.”
The Union’s official website lists some takeaways from Simpson’s presser. They are:
- He’s working on things that will help his score (good plan for a striker)
- He found out there is a lot of travel, and he’s fine with that.
- He seems to really like Philly, so hopefully Philly will like him, too.
Kevin Kinkead has some good quotes from Simpson about his role in the Union system and the positions he’s played in the past.
If you missed it, Matt De George hopped on the KYW Philly Soccer Show pod to talk Union this week.
The Goalkeeper sets up an unnecessary straw man (who ends up needing to be silenced by his creator) in order to discuss the growth and aims of academic side of the Union’s academy. There are interesting quotes from Richie Graham, who says that the academy is looking to “increase the total size of the pool of players that are getting developed.” Though The Goalkeeper argues this is an indisputably positive goal, it’s worth keeping in mind that there should likely be a balance between quality and quantity.
There are also a lot of quotes from Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee, head of the school at the academy, and she gives a lot to chew on:
Soccer at the highest level for elite kids is all about decision-making and creativity and synthesis and analysis, and that’s what the highest-level teaching is – it’s not about recall and listening to the coach and the teacher and getting the basic information. It’s higher-level thinking. So to be able to intersect those two pieces is a really cool, amazing thing to do, which I hadn’t been challenged to do in the past.
Though most of the article deals with education in abstract, there are some concrete details about how the school implements a learning environment. Dr. Ahmed-Lee again: “It is kids who already have a passion for what they’re doing, so they have drive. They have the ability to be able to have and set a goal. Transferring that to academics – where we trust the kids that they have a brain that is operational, that they have teachers that are giving them the time, they have resources available, they have a small class size – you can’t have somebody who is not going to transfer those skills.”
But in the end, it seems as though there is still some sorting out as to what exactly the academy is about. As The Goalkeeper writes:
“What is fair is asking for a precise definition of the Union’s high school mission. Officially, it’s to find the truly elite players who will make it as pros. But there’s also a clear sense of responsibility for those who don’t.”
So does that mean the academy is officially about only soccer but has an implicit focus on academics? That seems like the wrong takeaway based on the rest of the piece.
In fact, it may be that the most telling line is also one of the most oblique: “In the end, Ahmed-Lee admitted, the Union’s high school is ‘a college prep place.’ But it is so much more than that, as it has to be.”
ICYMI: Section215 looks at Santi Moar: Union draft pick and Bethlehem Steel striker.
Sunil Gulati spoke about why pro/rel is not a thing in US soccer.
There’s two images when you think about New York that maybe come into play for people here, and they’re both downtown around New York harbor,” he said. “One is the memorial from 9/11, which still is in a lot of people’s minds and raises security concerns where it’s not a question of whether they’re rational or less rational, but those are concerns for people. So security is obviously something that’s very important to us.
Obviously, the other major image is that poem on the Statue of Liberty. I think while there’s always a balance between those things, everything America stands for in terms of openness, in terms of being welcoming, is challenged by such an executive order. It’s going to be challenged and has been challenged successfully already in courts. And my guess is you’re going to see modifications in that. So it doesn’t represent what I believe is the best of us. My guess is some years from now a lot of people will look back at this and say we shouldn’t have done that.
Gulati also commented on CBA negotiations with the USWNT:
I always use the term ‘equitable pay.’ What is fair. And I have no doubt we’ll come to an equitable agreement with the players. There are so many differences in the agreements now in some of the benefits that the women’s players get and some of the benefits the men’s players get. There are differences in revenues. All of that will be part of the discussion. The men don’t have guaranteed contracts year-round. The women do. And it’s for a very important set of reasons.
Also, the US development academy is expanding.