Daily news roundups

News roundup: Season previews and predictions, Union head to Canada, more

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Jay Simpson looked to BWP while deciding whether to make the journey across the pond. “Since he’s come over, he’s been excellent,” Simpson told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s been the top scorer in the league. He’s obviously enjoying his time over here, so you look at that and you think, ‘Why not give it a try yourself?’”

Oguchi Onyewu is looking forward to his first club game on North American soil, but isn’t treating it any different than any other game.

The Union kick off their season against a pair of Canadian teams. Jacob Born explains why Philadelphia is better than Canada.

Section 215 previews the 2017 Philadelphia Union season. “As such my prediction is that the team will go and have a record of 14-7-13 with 49 points at the end of the campaign. This would all but assure them a spot in the playoffs, and my prediction is they will finish 4th in the east.”

Kevin Kinkead spoke with Haris Medunjanin and captain Alejandro Bedoya.

Alejandro Bedoya explains why he won’t “stick to sports.”

Local

Bethlehem Steel FC have acquired defender Charlie Reymann.

Harrisburg City Islanders, Reading United, Ocean City Nor’easters, and Junior Lone Star FC join the Union in this year’s US Open Cup. First round matchups will be announced April 12.

The WPSL Philly Fever are holding open tryouts next weekend.

MLS

Referee assignments for this weekend! The Union drew reigning referee of the year Alan Kelly.

ESPNFC has released their preseason rankings, placing the Union in 13th: “As always, the Union will have to avoid injuries to have a chance in the East this year. An offseason marked by cautious spending means it’s another season of fine lines in Chester. But there are players in place — Alejandro Bedoya and Charlie Davies, to name a couple — to help Jim Curtin’s team reach the postseason again.”

SI has released their preseason rankings, placing the Union 18th: “The Big Question: Can reclamation projects perform? The Union were a surprise story much like Colorado through much of last season…and then midfielder Vincent Nogueira abruptly left and returned to France. The Union sputtered the rest of the season. However, with Bosnian international Haris Medunjanin joining incumbents Alejandro Bedoya and Roland Alberg, the midfield should be fine. Biggest questions come up top, where the team will rely on former English fourth-tier striker Jay Simpson for goals, and in the back, where Oguchi Onyewu must recover from years of inactivity to lead the back line with Josh Yaro ruled out for months with a shoulder injury.”

SI also released their 2017 MLS season predictions. All three analysts predicted the Union to miss the playoffs. Brian Straus predicted Fabian Herbers could be a breakout player. Grant Wahl noted that Chris Pontius was the leading American goalscorer in MLS last season, something I didn’t know.

Matthew Doyle did his preseason rankings by tier rather than in a straight ranking. The Union were listed in the bottom tier: “I end up talking myself into the Union being contenders every year, and it hasn’t happened. And they’re one of the few teams in the East that I can look at and think “They didn’t really get better this offseason, did they?”… Philly racked up points at the level of a playoff team with Nogueira in the lineup over the last two years, and at something much, much less than that when he wasn’t. It’s Haris Medunjanin’s job to replicate that in 2017, and Jim Curtin’s first big decision will be who to pair in deep central midfield with the talented but relatively stationary Bosnian string-puller. If the Union don’t get that right, almost none of the other stuff really matters all that much.”

NBCSports is a little more bullish on the Union in their Eastern Conference season preview: “Curtin and co. will be expected to reach the postseason, but they might still be a step behind the likes of Toronto, Red Bulls and NYCFC.” NBCS also previewed the Western Conference.

SoccerByIves’ preseason rankings. The Union place 10th: “The Union vaulted back in to relevancy in 2016, making the push into the postseason. The potential return of Maurice Edu should add another piece to a talented group headlined by Alejandro Bedoya, Keegan Rosenberry and Andre Blake, but questions remain at the forward position. The club is gambling on English forward Jay Simpson to provide answers but, if he doesn’t, they’ll be in big trouble.”

FoxSports looks at a homegrown player to watch on each team. They named Derrick Jones for the Union.

FoxSports also lists one reason each team could win the MLS Cup. For the Union, it’s their depth.

15 MLS General Managers and Technical Directors participated in this MLSSoccer survey predicting the season.

The Audi Player Index has been revised for 2017.

Striker Matteo Mancosu signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Impact.

Mix Diskerud now finds himself in a state of limbo as he is officially no longer part of NYCFC but still officially part of MLS but cannot join any other MLS team. MLS rules!

Atlanta United has reportedly sold over 33K season tickets. Legitimately impressive from the new club on the block.

Around the globe

Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres suffered a nasty head injury, but appears to be relatively okay.

Earnie Stewart’s former club, AZ Alkmaar, has qualified for the KNVB (Dutch) Cup final. They advanced on penalties after video refereeing waved off their would-be stoppage time winner.

Highlight of the day

Antoine Griezmann’s one-timer from well outside the box.

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13 Comments

  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    In reference to the article on the MLS website linked above by Adam that reports the survey of 15 of the 22 leaders of this year’s MLS technical staffs, 10 of them cited either Kekutah Manneh or Alphonse Davies as best young prospect.
    .
    Last night’s CONCACAF CCL game between Red Bulls and Whitecaps reinforces the idea. Red Bulls had no real answer for Davies, it seemed to me.
    .
    Vancouver showed no particular offensive tactical sophistication, but the REd Bulls defense felt poorly organized, and speed kills.
    .
    Davies goal in the 5th minute went near post and beat both a defender and the keeper who were each trying to defend said post.
    .
    The other came off a rebound from a corner kick and was taken by Fredy Montero.
    .
    We do not face a tactically sophisticated offense, but a fast, athletic dangerous one that exploits open space behind the backline very well. They played to catch Red Bulls on the break and succeeded.
    .
    Vancouver’s defense was not particularly suffocating as a whole. They did have numbers back on the 18 consistently. But they did restrain Kljestan, who may well have missed McCarty finding him with the ball. New York had chances, but theirs missed, obviously, since the final was 2-0.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    3 part trivia question: Based on PSP’s quick reference guide, who is (1) the only player to start every game in the Union-Whitecap series, (2) the only other player to play in every Union-Whitecap game, and (3) the only other player to be in the 18 for every game in the series (although there were a couple he didn’t see the field)?

    • My guess is that Harvey and Le Toux are the answers to (1) and (2)…not sure which is which though (not looking at the reference guide). I don’t have an answer for (3).

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Torres released from hospital. Heavens.
    .
    Mix…I hope the best for you sir… I’ve seen it happen to many, next thing, your in the Mirror Dimension and Dr. Strange put you there.

  4. From the article about the revisions to the Audi Player Index:
    .
    Also, the points awarded for specific actions are available for all to see. Each player has a full breakdown of their points in every Matchcenter.
    .
    For those of us who love stats, even if we don’t always understand some of the more complicated ones, this looks like a big deal. The Player Index has always been a “black box” of sorts, where there was no clue at all what the inputs or computations were, so there was no real “value” to the output. If this process is going to be more open this year, that could generate some real interesting conversation – for example, when comparing a forward’s score to that of a defender or goalkeeper.

    • Lengths of contract, amount of TAM/GAM included in a trade, and now this??? Pro/rel is right around the corner!

      • On a serious note now – the Steel just signed Matt Mahoney, a right back who went to Temple.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    I’m not saying I want to sign Mix, but how can this league, which has a freakin rule for every little stupid unnecessary detail – NOT have a mechanism for a player who is currently UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE LEAGUE – to join another team. This league sometimes. One step forward… two steps back SMH

  6. To add to the pile of preseason predictions (as of today, I guess early season), fivethirty eight uses stats to rate clubs and places Philly at 20th of 22 teams:

    https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/soccer-predictions/mls/

    Interestingly, Philly’s offensive rating puts it mid pack. It’s the expected defense of the club that number crunchers expect to be its undoing. I think 20 of 22 teams is a pessimistic view, but agree that the key to competing for this club is going to be keeping the defense strong. Onyewyu is going to need to dial the clock back 5 or 8 years to keep that defense performing above expectations.

  7. to have a great start like last season against all these predictions… we have a serious chip on our shoulder, armed with our mantra “no one likes us, we don’t care.”

    Atlanta United selling tix i hope is a lasting thing. losing two(!) hockey clubs and fair weather falcon fans made me worry about the market for a rising sport.

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