Archive: March, 2010
After only 78 minutes on the field for the Union, defender David Myrie was released this afternoon.
As I wrote yesterday, Myrie didn't play all that well in Seattle. But I'm surprised the Union got rid of him altogether.
As fun as Thursday night's liveblog was, I spent so much time looking at my computer that I didn't get to watch as much of the game in real time as I wanted to. So I went back and watched a replay of the game, and I'd like to share a few thoughts about what I saw.
- The biggest thing I wanted to focus on was whether the five yellow cards assesed to the Union were good calls.
Seattle Sounders 2, Philadelphia Union 0
SEATTLE - Well, this was one way to make a first impression.
After the Union's 2-0 loss to the Sounders at Qwest Field last night, Peter Nowak started out by talking about his team's defense and the effort it gave despite being down a man amid 36,241 green-clad fanatics.
Then he made a subtle transition. But by the time the reporters in the room realized what was going, Nowak was well on his way through a considerable rant about what he perceived as unfair play by two of Seattle's biggest stars.
From the other standpoint, you've got to say that all this flopping and diving - you see the stats, we had eight fouls and six cards - it's a little bit too much for any of those standards. These guys rolling on the pitch like they got shot. I think we need to recognize that these guys are doing this stuff and they're trying to take advantage of the referees, of the decisions of the referees, and trying to make themselves protected.
I don't know why. I expect Freddie Ljungberg, who scored so many goals and played, I don't know, 80 too 100 games with [Sweden's] national team, and won so many trophies, that he's going to be more honest than he's being, and complaining and whining about every single call, and trying to push the referee to give the yellow cards. For his standards, it's not up to his standards.
We both played the game, and I believe that if you play the game, you try to not only win, but you try to be honest with your effort, and not something like that. I think it's below his standards. But whatever. That's just my opinion.
In most situations, I probably would have dismissed this as having been forged in the heat of the moment. Nowak's team picked up five yellow cards - including one in the very first minute of play - during the match, and rookie defensive midfielder Toni Stahl was sent off in the 41st minute.
But Nowak returned to the matter later in his remarks.
This is a man's sport. I'm sorry, but this is how the men play. Let me see the stats again... eight fouls, six yellow cards. It's a little bit too much, for the standards, as I said, of the guys who are on the field. Even with Freddie Ljungberg, if he would do this back in England with Arsenal against West Ham, I'm sure that 98 percent of the crowd would boo him. This is below his standards and I believe he's a better player than this.
You can hear audio of Nowak's press conference in the player below.
I am certainly not going to deny Nowak the right to say whatever he wants about what he sees in a game. I agree that Alejandro Moreno's yellow card wasn't for much. But from where I sat, both of Stahl's tackles were worthy of bookings, and if you get two yellows you're gone.
There's also no question that the Union clearly intended to be the more physical team on the field, and they were. There were times when they put some really nice passing sequences together, but because they didn't score any goals, the rough stuff will be remembered far more.
A few other things for you to check out this morning. Also in the audio player are postgame interviews with Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, forwards Jack McInerney and Sebastien Le Toux, midfielder Danny Mwanga, defender Danny Califf and goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
The last track is MLS commissioner Don Garber's interview session with reporters that was held during halftime. Garber discussed Philadelphia's arrival in the league, Seattle's success, the new stadium in New York, the lack of a new stadium in D.C. and a range of other subjects.
Finally, I put together a video of Union fans' pregame celebrations last night. You can watch it in the video player at right. I hope it conveys at least some of the passion and energy that everyone who was in Qwest Field got to enjoy.
Like a beautiful child,
growing up, free and wild
Full of hopes and full of fears,
full of laughter, full of tears
Full of dreams to last the years…
SEATTLE – Forty-one years ago, Perry Como took his thoughts on this city and turned them into music.
It's been at least a generation, if not two generations, since Como’s heyday. But the song lives anew, as of the anthems sung at Sounders games by the Emerald City Supporters.
The Union put out their game notes this afternoon ahead of Thursday's season opener at Seattle, and there were a few interesting tidbits.
First of all, we learned that four Union players are currently dealing with injuries. While the game notes did not state the severity of the injuries, the following information was published.
- Defender David Myrie has a right ankle spraiin.
- Midfielder Amobi Okugo has a right knee strain.
- Midfielder Roger Torres has a right hamstring strain.
- Forward Sebastien Le Toux has a left ankle sprain.
As I said, there's no statement about the degree of any of these injuries. It looks like at least the last three of them aren't too serious, because Okugo, Torres and Le Toux are listed as "Probable Starters."
The stated lineup runs in a 4-3-3 formation, as follows:
Goalkeeper: Chris Seitz
Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Shavar Thomas, Michael Orozco
Midfielders: Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres
Forwards: Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno, Nick Zimmerman
We also learned from the game notes that Kyle Martino will be JP Dellacamera's braodcast partner on WPVI's local broadcasts of Union games. It looks like WPVI's broadcast schedule finalized yet, as the only games in the game notes with TV information listed are national telecatss.
The game notes state that WPVI "will broadcast all those matches not on national television on either its HD network (6.1) or its’ digital channel 6.2."
Elsewhere in TV-land, ESPN announced the slate of 26 MLS games that it will air this season. ESPN2 will show 24 of them, and ESPN will show two: the MLS Cup final on November 21 and Chicago at New York on March 27. That's is the first regular season game at Red Bull Arena.
The venue for MLS Cup has not been set yet. New York and Philadelphia would certainly be in the running, but MLS commissioner Don Garber said this afternoon that Toronto is a "good prospect" to be the host.
(As a not-so-small aside, Garber was speaking on a conference call about the league's new CBA. He also discussed potential expansion to Montreal Expansion. Click here to read more.)
Anyway, back to the TV stuff. All 26 ESPN/ESPN2 games will be simulcast on ESPN360.com and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes.
JP Dellacamera and John Harkes will be the lead ESPN commentary crew, with Allen Hopkins as the sideline reporter. Dellacamera, Harkes and Hopkins will call the Union-Sounders game on Thursday.
Glenn Davis and Kyle Martino will be the second crew, and Saturday's game at Red Bull Arena will be called by none other than Max Bretos. He moved from Fox Soccer Channel to ESPNews in February.
Rob Stone will be the main telecast host, and Alexi Lalas the primary studio analyst. As you can imagine, a lot of these roles will be juggled during the World Cup.
The Spanish-speakers and MLS veterans among you will be interested to know that former MetroStars forward Giovanni Savarese will be ESPN Deportes' color analyst.
Here's the full ESPN schedule for the season, with the exception of the All-Star Game. The date and opponent have not been finalized yet; all we know is that it will be played in Houston at some point in July.
All times are Eastern.
March 25: Philadelphia Union at Seattle Sounders FC, 9:30 p.m.
March 27: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls, 7:00 p.m.
April 1: Real Salt Lake at Houston Dynamo, 9:00 p.m.
April 1: Chivas USA at Los Angeles Galaxy, 11:00 p.m.
April 15: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC, 7:00 p.m.
April 22: Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas, 8:00 p.m.
May 5: Kansas City Wizards at D.C. United. 7:00 p.m.
May 13: Houston Dynamo at Real Salt Lake, 9:00 p.m.
May 20: Columbus Crew at New York Redd Bulls, 8:00 p.m.
May 27: FC Dallas at Chicago Fire, 8:00 p.m.
June 10: D.C. United at Seattle Sounders, 10:00 p.m.
June 27: Seattle Sounders at Philadelphia Union, 5:00 p.m.
July 1: Houston Dynamo at Toronto F.C., 7:00 p.m.
July 8: Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire, 9:30 p.m.
July 15: Seattle Sounders at D.C. United, 8:00 p.m.
July 22: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.
August 5: Columbus Crew at Philadelphia Union, 8:00 p.m.
August 8: New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire, 9:00 p.m.
August 29: D.C. United at Chivas USA, 10:00 p.m.
September 9: Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders, 11:00 p.m.
September 24: New York Red Bulls at Los Angeles Galaxy, 11:00 p.m.
September 29: Chicago Fire at San Jose Earthquakes, 11:00 p.m.
October 3: Los Angeles Galaxy at Chivas USA, 8:00 p.m.
October 7: Los Angeles Galaxy at Philadelphia Union 8:00 p.m.
Octobert 15: Chivas USA at Seattle Sounders, 11:00 p.m.
October 21: New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
October 26: MLS Cup Playoff game/time TBD
November 4: MLS Cup Playoff game/time TBD
November 11: MLS Cup Playoff game/time TBD
November 21: MLS Cup Final at venue TBD, 8:30 p.m.
As the countdown continues to the Union’s MLS debut Thursday night, I’ve been thinking a fair amount about exactly what we’ll see when the team takes the field.
To be completely honest with you, I still have no idea.
Part of that is because I’ve been swamped with basketball lately. But I’ve talked to a number of fans and writers over the last few days, and none of them have figured much out either.
I and my Philly.com colleague Litty Samuel spent Monday afternoon with the Independence, as the players and front office staff took a bus tour of some of the city's most famous landmarks.
It was a neat way for the team, and especially its foreign contingent, to get acquainted with the city. And there was quite a bit of humor along the way.
Check out the video over in the player at right.
NOTE: This is a long post because I put a lot of quotes in it. But I think it's better to get as much out there on the record as possible, so stick with it if you can.
As many of you know by now, Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union announced a new five-year collective bargaining agreement this afternoon. The announcement was made right as Villanova's NCAA Tournamente game against Saint Mary's tipped off, so I couldn't be on the conference call with MLS commissioner Don Garber and union chief Bob Foose.
But after the game ended, the Union held a conference call with president Tom Veit, CEO Nick Sakiewicz and defender Danny Califf, who is the team's player representative with the union (lower case).
(And many, many thanks to the Union for waiting for the Villanova game to end. I know it's a selfish thing, but I'm not the only soccer writer in town who also covers college basketball. This made things so helpful.)
The main story from the Associated Press, with quotes from Garber and Foose, is here. More from the Washington Post's Steve Goff here.
We don't have many details yet of exactly what is in the new collective bargaining agreement. But the most important thing to know is that according to Califf, the players would have gone on strike at midnight tonight had no agreement been reached. They would not have boarded their flight to Seattle on Tuesday.
"We as an organization, as league, as players, as fans - everybody is very happy and relieved and delighted that we got this behind us," Sakewicz said. "Now we can focus on the most important stuff, which is the soccer."
Sakiewicz admitted he "thought this might come down to the wire."
But he praised both sides in the negotiations, concluding that "the relationship between the players and the teams and the management is going to be that much stronger for having gone through the process."
Califf praised the Union front office for being "receptive - not that we always agreed, but it was a man-to-man conversation, and it helped out a lot. It gave me a lot of support, it gave me a lot of confidence that I could go in and speak for us as players."
The report originated on the other side of the Atlantic, and now we have confirmation from the Union that powerhouse Spanish club Valencia CF will visit Philadelphia.
Valencia put out a statement on its website that the game will be on July 31. A spokesperson for the Union told me this morning that the game will be at PPL Park but a date and time have not yet been confirmed.
The reason why the date and time have not been confirmed is that the Union host New England on the same day. So the Valencia game has to be on another day.
The Union have announced the signing of 18-year-old Colombian midfielder Roger Torres on loan from Colombian powerhouse club América de Cali.
"He's another young, talented player with a lot of potential, and he'll be a strong addition to our midfield attack" Union manager Peter Nowak told the team's website. "His creativity and ability to see the whole field will help us play the way we want to play."
From where I sit, it's good to see that the Union has signed an outright central attacking midfield type. I say that knowing that Fred is on the team, and is much more likely to start in an attacking midfield position than Torres because of his experience. But Fred's best season in MLS, 2007, was spent on the left side of midfield.