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Category Archives: USMNT
July 16, 2013Posted by on
I am a Chris Wondolowski Hater. I got frustrated seeing Wondolowski’s name on the preliminary Gold Cup roster and hoped like hell that he would not make the 23, and then he did and I hoped he would never see the field. Of course now that he has “proved himself on the international stage” everyone loves Wondolowski. I’m here to through some cold water on all of that.
1 He’s Old
Wondolowski will be 31 by the time World Cup 2014 starts. He’s as old as Landon, Onyewu and Beasley. He’s as old as Herculez Gomez. Yes, some of these players are still core parts of the team but, unlike Wondolowski, they’ve been here before. They are all at similar points in their career arcs. Wondo’s age is catching up with him. He hasn’t put up nearly the goal numbers for San Jose that he’s been putting up over the past few years. Wondo is fading and whereas these players have already shown great moments in the USA jersey and have proved they have the potential and savvy to do it again…
2 This Was Wondo’s Moment Of USMNT Glory
Before last week, this was what Wondolowski was most known for in the USMNT jersey. He had never scored a goal. Klinsmann hadn’t seen fit to give him very much time. This Gold Cup was his last chance to prove he had anything. That Gold Cup was at the same level as this one. It was a B tournament and he couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities shown to him.
3. Belize, Cuba and Guatemala
I head someone argue that since Wondolowski had seven goals in three games he had outplayed Jozy Altidore who had “only” four goals in four games, and therefore deserved not only to make the roster, but to start for the A team. Jozy scored against Germany, Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras which included players playing at the highest level in North America, South America and Europe. Belize, Cuba and Guatemala fielded amateur players at the worst and players from their own National leagues at the best. When people argue that Wondo doesn’t cut it against international opponents it’s about the skill level not about the jersey. These teams are lower than MLS quality. Everyone should score against these teams.
4. Only Four Strikers
In 2006 and 2010 the US sent four strikers to the World Cup. This is more or less standard for World Cup rosters around the world. Jozy is a core part of the team and a lock to take up one of those spots. Gomez is only a half step behind him. Eddie Johnson is a much more versatile player, who has already seen what a World Cup looks like. He’s not a lock, but Johnson has been playing better for both the National team and in MLS all year. So there is essentially one spot left for a striker.
Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have both played the second striker position under Klinsmann. Dempsey has generally been listed as a midfielder on Jurgen’s rosters, but he has consistently played second striker. Donovan was consistently listed as a forward for Klinsmann’s teams before his sabbatical. There is still one spot open for a striker but if Landon is listed as a striker there probably isn’t a spot for Wondo and even if Donovan isn’t…
5. He Is Old
If given the choice between a player who has never been to a World Cup and is too old to be around next cycle, or a young player who has never had a chance at a World Cup and is a potential part of the next few World Cup teams, who would you rather have on the end of your bench? Wondo isn’t much better than Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Mike Magee. If these four players, and any other strikers to come out of the woodwork over the next year, (maybe McInerney, Luis Gil, Omar Salgado, etc.) are competing for one spot would you really pick Wondo over all of them?
Wondo has earned minutes and I believe that he gets his start against Costa Rica tonight, but he won’t be able to keep up this rate of scoring against the competition in the elimination stages of the Gold Cup. If he continues scoring regularly, he will likely have locked up the Golden Ball before we even get close to the final and will have earned an opportunity on a World Cup Qualifying roster, but a Qualifying roster is far from a World Cup roster. Wondolowski is probably on a better track than he was a week ago, but he really hasn’t proved anything yet. Goals against minor league teams don’t earn you a spot in Brazil. Wondo will get his shot, and I still expect it to be a waste of time, but what he has done so far doesn’t in anyway deserve anything.
July 4, 2013Posted by on
This year’s Gold Cup is a secondary tournament to the World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal for the United States, but 11 other countries have made their way to the USA for the summer. These nations and their teams are looking for success and making this tournament may even be a significant level of success for a few of them. The tournament’s format has stayed the same as past years. Twelve teams, including three from North America, four from the Carribean and five from Central America, have made their way here.
These twelve teams have been split into three groups. Group A includes Mexico, Panama, Canada and Martinique. Group B includes Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti. Group C includes the United Staes, Costa Rica, Belize and Cuba. Two teams will automatically qualify for the round of eight from each group. The top two third place qualifiers from all groups will be placed into the round of eight as well. The tournament then proceeds as a single elimination leading up to the final in Chicago’s Soldier field on July 28th. The only significant change to this years tournament is that the winner will compete in a one game play-off with the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup to be CONCACAF’s representative at the 2017 Confederations Cup. This is intended to give the tournament more weight despite being played in a summer which also includes World Cup Qualifiying.
Canada, Mexico and the United States are again automatic qualifiers for this tournament based on past performances and lack of competition in the North American region. Every Gold Cup in the past has been won by a North American team and second string USA and Mexico teams are the favorites to win the tournament as usual. Canada is the only North American team which has already been eliminated from World Cup contention and will have a very different outlook than the other North American squads.
The four Carribean teams, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Martinique qualified through the 2010 Carribean Cup in Antigua and Barbuda. Cuba won this tournament by defeating Jamaica 1-0 with a goal “from way downtown” in the 113th minute of the final. Haiti and Martinique also qulified based on performance at this tournament. Also of note, in July’s FIFA rankings Haiti was placed at 69, with no other Carribean nation until Cuba at 82. Cuba. Haiti recently tied an Italian team and held Spain to a one point victory as both teams prepared for the Confederations Cup. All four Carribean teams have been eliminated from the World Cup.
The Central American Region sends Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Panama after each team qualified through this years Copa Centroamericana. Belize gave a historic result in this tournament, reaching the semifinals and qualifying for their first Gold Cup while Costa Rica defeated Honduras 1-0. Honduras and Costa Rica, along with Panama are both still in contention for spots in the 2014 World Cup. Costa Rica has sent the core of the World Cup Qualifying team excepting Bryan Ruiz and a few others, while Hondura has left their starters at home and sent a team of players from the Honduran league along with Andy Najar and a few MLS players.
June 18, 2013Posted by on
USA vs Honduras
Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah
The USA is finally in a very comfortable position in the group. They’ve got ten points through their first five games. Honduras is also in a position of strength. In fourth place and with seven points over five games they look likely to move on as well, but their position is not nearly as solid, but they do have a game in hand over Mexico who sits in third place. Honduras will need to make a good run to beat the Americans, but they will have a few key missing characters. Houston Dynamo’s star striker Oscar Boniek Garcia along with Honduras lead WCQ scorer and Revs’ striker Jerry Bengston, midfielder Luis Garrido, and starting defenders Maynor Figueroa and San Jose’s Victor Bernardez will all be missing from the team with either injury or yellow card suspension along with a few other less key players. The team was so depleted that only 15 players were available at a training camp in San Jose on Thursday.
F. Johnson Dempsey Zusi
Castillo Besler Gonzalez Evans
The USA has had to deal with a lot of switching due to injuries and suspensions lately. Once again this is a key issue in the run up to the game. Jermaine Jones has been cleared to play, and Klinsmann has said that is all it will take to get Jones the start despite Geoff Cameron’s fantastic play against Panama. Even if Jones is held back out of an abundance of caution, the Cameron who played against Panama isn’t a step down at all. Defensive midfield is a position of depth, and as our depth becomes neccesary it becomes obvious how deep we are there. Cameron’s showing at defensive mid have all but locked up a spot for him on the 2014 World Cup roster based on his versatility alone, but don’t be surprised if he digs out a starting spot somewhere on the field.
Beasley’s yellow card suspension seems to be more troubling. The best left back on the roster, Fabian Johnson, has established himself on the left wing and Edgar Castillo, the most significant left back depth hasn’t shown particularly well in that position. Castillo will most likely get the start and another opportunity in his natural position, but it’s unclear that he has earned that trust on the field for the national team. If not Castillo, Johnson could get the call at left back and either Castillo or Eddie Johnson, who have both played well on the left wing, could get the start in Fabian’s place.
Honduras’ attack is depleted and there centerback tandem is out. The USA should win this game handily.
2-0 with another goal from Jozy and maybe even a set piece.
June 6, 2013Posted by on
USA at Jamaica
“The Office” National Stadium, Kingston Jamaica
Televised on BeIn Sports
Mexico just took the lead in the Hex with six points, of course they’ve played one game more than everyone but Jamaica. The USA is two points back and in the playoff position, while Jamaica sits in the final spot with only two points. Donovan Ricketts and crew are under tons of pressure to pick up all of the points they can from this match-up and every game they’ve got left to have any opportunity to move on to the World Cup Finals. The United States isn’t gonna be an easy team to pick off though. Dempsey, Bradley and Howard lead a strong team coming off of a win against one of the best teams in the world into the Office and are looking for three points as well.
Evans Cameron Besler Beasley
F.Johnson Dempsey Zusi
Players to watch:
There are a few things to watch about Fabian Johnson in this game. First we’ll have to see whether his injury keeps him out of the game or from starting. If this is the case, Eddie Johnson seems to be the bet to start given his performance in the friendlies and Brad Davis’ weak performance as an already slow player. The next thing to watch about Johnson is how he combines with DMB behind him on the overlap. This game will go the way that Johnson’s left flank goes. If Beasley and Johnson cause mistakes in the back by poor communication and switching, Jamaica’s speed in the attack will take advantage. If Beasley and Johnson attack as well as they can they will tear apart whoever Jamaica puts at right back, especially if Jamaica continues to rely on national team rookie Alvas Powell who got torn up by Mexico at outside back like a younger more promising Johnny Bornstein.
Another spot to watch is the centerback position. This is a real toss-up, and honestly I expect Jurgen to stick with Gonzalez and Besler but given the speed of Jamaica’s frontline Cameron should get the cap. Cameron has speed that Gonzalez doesn’t and will be able to defend Jamaica’s counterattack much more thoroughly than the heavy-footed Gonzalez.
With the schedule congestion forced on Jamaica, they’ve likely got to make a few changes. With the way that the left side of their defense looked against Mexico, they’ve likely got to make a few more changes. Two players who were unavailable for them against Mexico will likely play key roles against Mexico. Veteran forward Jobi McAnuff will be expected to get the start on the wing after taking time away for family reasons. Jermaine Johnson will be expected back in the middle after a card suspension. Both men would have likely started against Mexico, but when considering the heavy feet of a team that played 90 minutes only Tuesday night and has another qualifier right ahead, they have to get new faces on the field. The biggest issue they had against Mexico was Powell. The USA doesn’t have the wing strength that Mexico has, but a bruised rookie will likely be benched for what amounts to do or die qualifiers for Jamaica and brought back in for friendlies later on.
O.Daley Marriappa Gordon Woodbine
Beckford R.Johnson McAnuff
Players to Watch:
Young attackers off the bench
Darren Mattocks and Theo Whitmore are both threatening young attackers for Jamaica. It’s unlikely that either of them will get the start, unless McAnuff is still unavailable but at least one of them will get time coming off of the bench. Those fresh legs up-top will reinvigorate the Jamaican counter. Besler and Cameron or Gonzalez had better be able to hold their line more effectively than they have shown if they hope to stop the speed of these fresh-legged Jamaican strikers.
On this bumpy pitch, with The Office vibing like it’s expected to it will be a tough match for the USA. A friendly against Germany’s B’s is tough, but it’s a very different kind of tough to go into Kingston and play in front of those fans and pull out three points. Even if they hit their stride, they won’t be able to pull away from a strong Jamaican side. The game will turn on the American left-flank where DeMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson will likely be bearing down on Alvas Powell. Of course it is just as likely that Jamaica runs their offense through Brad Evans and Omar Gonzalez. Whoever wins those battles will win those games and given the experience that MLS standouts Gonzalez, Cameron and Besler have against Johnson and Mattocks with Portland and Vancouver, it seems likely that that battle will go to the defense. If Alvas Powell starts again for Jamaica the results might not be so good for the defender. Beasley and Johnson showed well in their limited time together.
Prediction : USA 1- Jamaica 0
Johnson to Johnson with substitute Eddie scoring a late game-winner after Fabian reverses a Jamaican counter attack.
June 4, 2013Posted by on
Pressure Released From Jozy
It has been hard to watch Jozy Altidore struggle to score consistently for the past few months as news and highlights of his scoring for AZ Alkmaar make it’s way over the pond. Coming off of a season where he scored the most goals by any American in Europe, it was USMNT fans’ hope that his scoring form would continue for this set of friendlies. Although he struggled during the friendly against Belgium, it seemed Altidore’s National team form finally began to improve with his performance against Germany. With credit also due to Graham Zusi’s fantastic one-time cross, Jozy was able put an impressive volley into the back of the net for the US Men’s National Team’s first goal of the day.
Not only was Altidore’s finishing and runs off the ball impressive, but Jozy’s hold up play was some of the best we have seen from the player for sometime. This hold up play eventually lead to Dempsey’s first goal of the match. After receiving a nice ball in Germany’s third of the field, Altidore was able to hold off the German defender long enough to allow multiple other American’s to flood into the box. Jozy then played a lobbed pass to Dempsey who finished it cleanly.
With this play from the previously struggling player, it will be interesting if Jozy can match the performances he has been putting in over seas and continue to find the back of the net for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
National Teams’ Defense Still Is Not There
The German attack was bound to be a major test for the defense for the National team and the backline’s inexperience shined through. Beasley, although looking good going forward, struggled to consistently make defensive plays. This can be chalked up to the fact that he is being played out of position, but DeMarcus will need to step up his game in order to help the USMNT qualify for Brazil 2014.
The young central defensive pair of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler had multiple struggles when it came to man marking and set piece defending. Gonzalez was essentially the main cause of Germany’s first goal by not marking Germany’s Westermann closely enough on a corner kick. Matt Besler arguably looked better then Gonzalez but still needs much more work to shore up the United States’ defense.
The shining star of the defense in yesterday’s game was the performance put in by Sounder’s Brad Evans. Evans made a name for himself with both his offensive and defensive workrate. Evans tracked back multiple times to help his CB’s out and put pressure on Germany’s defense with his spot on long balls. Coupled with the help from Jermaine Jones, Evans’ performance could be one of the main reasons the USMNT did not tie or lose.
I have to say, I was impressed with the environment the U.S. Soccer Federation created at RFK. It was a pleasant sight to see the stadium full unlike the usual spotty spectatorship that you get at a normal DC United game. Despite the occasional wave, the fans were awesome and supported the national team strongly. This was one of the first USMNT games I have been to where the majority of the fans actually supported the national team. I am a strong believer that you need to support the team where you live and it was a sight for sore eyes to see that support present. Now if we can only get that kind of support at every national team game.
August 12, 2012Posted by on
Its that time again folks, Shark Weeks a coming and in honor of this great week I am going to do something special. I am going to write a post that combines this JAWsome week with the beautiful game. It is sure to be FINtastic. Sharks come in all different shapes and sizes and shark has individual traits that allows them to survive. I am going to take some of the top sharks and compare the similarities between Shark and soccer player.
********Side note, I am using the MLS and US players**********
The Great White/Abby Wambach: The great white shark is the ultimate predator and the most prolific hunter in the sea. They are fast, and powerful with a bite force second to none.If a great white grabs a hold of you, the chances of you getting away in one piece are slim. Great White’s have an hora about them, with a reputation of being one of the most dangerous animals on Earth. Abby Wambach has some of the same traits, she is a prolific striker who instills fear in the hearts of defenders. Abby has great vision and sense, along with being physically dominate. The Great White and Abby also share one more quality that is very unique, they both are deadly in the air. Great Whites have been known to jump out of water to feed on seals, Abby is known for getting airborne and netting spectacular headed goals.
The Bull Shark/Chris Wondolowski: The Bull Shark is a ruthless killing machine just how Wondo is a ruthless goal scoring machine. Alot like Wondo, Bull Sharks are coastal animals that are very versatile. Bull Sharks can both be in oceans and rivers. Bull Sharks are medium sized sharks but have a very imposing force, just like Wondo. Bull Sharks get their name from their tenacity along with their tendency to head but prey. A lot like Bull Sharks Wondo is known to stay shallow in the defense and strike with precision. Also a very unique characteristic they both share is they are both overlooked. Wondo has been hands down the best striker in MLS for the last few years but does not get the attention that Henry gets. Bull Shark’s could be the most dangerous shark but do not get the attention or stigma the Great White has.
The Tiger Shark/Thierry Henry: Another two voracious predators are Tiger Shark’s and Mr. Theirry Henry. Both are lethal hunters who attack with precision. Tiger Sharks are found allover the world just as Mr. Henry’s reputation. Tiger Sharks have a very long life span and Henry’s career feels like it has been going on forever. Tiger Sharks have been known to swim in deep waters along with swim outside their habitats. Henry has been known to play out wide or drop down into the midfield. The similarities continue, a Tiger Shark is a massive shark very large could grow up to 13 feet. Henry stands at a towering 6’2.
Mako/ Dominic Oduro: The Mako shark is a medium sized shark that is not very bulky, they are slim and slender. Mako’s and Oduro are both known for their blazing speed. The Mako is the fastest shark and Oduro maybe the fastest player in MLS. Alot like Oduro, Makos are not that dangerous, their high speed offers up a form of shock but they are not prolific. It may take a Mako a few strikers before they kill their target. Oduro will score goals but by no chance is he an elite finisher in the league.
The Goblin Shark/ American’s in Germany: The Goblin Shark is the most mysterious animal. Every time I plan on educating myself on thees oddly shaped creatures I am met at a cross roads of what to believe. I am always hit with opposing and contradictory statements. It reminds me of some US players who are playing in Germany. When I first learned about these guys I was told that Fabian Johnson was a outside mid, Danny Williams is a holding midfielder and Timmy Chandler is left or right back. When in reality they can all play almost every position. I watched a Hoffenheim game once and witnessed Fabian Johnson playing right mid, left mid and left back while Danny Williams played on the wing and then in holding mid. I have seen Chandler play winger, striker, mid and defense. Like the Goblin Shark it is hard to get a read on thees guys. Does Chandler want to play for the US or for Germany? All I know is that like the Goblin Shark I want to see more of them.
Any comments? QUestions?
August 8, 2012Posted by on
Jurgen hasn’t announced his rosters, and neither has de la Torre. It’s expected that much of the Mexican roster will come from the Olympic squad which is currently making a run at the Gold Medal. Unfortunately Jurgen doesn’t have that luxury and will not be able to call in new names who have shown well in a high level international competition. Instead it seems he will have to call in as many regulars as possible for a match at Azteca stadium, one of the most notoriously difficult stadiums for any team to play in. It’s well noted that the USMNT has never won a game at Azteca and it seems odd that the FMF would give them any more opportunities to do so, and shake a bit of the lore off of it, in something as unimportant as an August friendly. Then again these decisions always seem to come down to many anyway.
Any expected roster for a match of this level will surely involve every piece of the central core of the team who is available. As it is a FIFA date, that should be everyone, but I wouldn’t count on recent transfers coming in. Jurgen has shown a preference to let players settle in with clubs. That would likely mean Michael Bradley will be staying in Italy and Terrence Boyd will be staying in Vienna, along with any of the other USMNT regulars who may be looking for transfers (Dempsey, Bocanegra and Edu.) So that throws a bit of a wrench into the plan of calling in all the regulars.
GK: Howard, Guzan, (I expect Guzan to actually get substantial minutes as he’s the back-up for the rest of WCQ and could use a little just-in-case time with the team) Hamid (Many are calling for NYRB Meara, but if he’s losing his starting spot for club I don’t see why you call him in for this. Johnson and Rimando both make more sense with more sustained succcess)
D: Goodson(surprising he’s the first name in but I had CBs on the mind and he’s the only one we can really count on at all) Cherundolo, Lichaj(shocked he wasn’t called for WCQ), Johnson, Bocanegra (Because he’s about the only player who hasn’t commited to leaving Rangers yet), Parkhurst, (cause I don’t want Onyewu in camp again, he showed poorly since he came back from injury) Chandler (Yes I think he’s one of the best player’s in the pool so I will give him a call until he says no firmly. Many suggest waiting till qualifying, and I’m sure Jurgen knows the situation and will handle it in an appropriate way)
M:Jones, Beckerman, Edu, (I see these three starting with Bradley left in Rome.) Kljestan(although if he couldn’t get a call for WCQ why would he get one now that he’s not starting. He is scoring in UCL), Torres, Dempsey (unless of course he gets his transfer), D.Williams, Corona,(almost entirely because the space left by Bradley is gaping. I’m not sure Corona gets a call for a full strength game. He didn’t get any minutes in WCQ, but that’s not exactly unexpected. I think he sticks around like Jurgen has shown he likes to do with newly integrated players.)
F:Gomez, Altidore(even though Alkmaar may not be willing to give him up), Donovan, Young MLS Player To Be Named Later (Probably one of the younger players in the pool, I expect this to go to an MLS standout,not an Eddie Johnson or Kenny Cooper. Wondo is the only older MLS player whos really earned a look and I’m reluctant to even give him that.), Wondolowski (I hate giving it to him, I already feel like he’s to old to be playing for the USMNT, but his pace in MLS is so high that you have to call him in and see if you can make it work. Gomez did and has almost cemented the starting spot, so give him a bit more time. I don’t want him to take time from a younger player, but there’s not a clear player he’s taking time from.)
and for those who don’t want to read my ramblings
GK: Howard, Guzan Hamid
D: Goodson, Cherundolo, Lichaj, Johnson, Bocanegra, Parkhurst, Chandler
M: Jones, Beckerman, Edu, Kljestan, Torres, Dempsey, D. Williams, Corona,
F: Gomez, Altidore, Donovan, Young MLS PTBNL, Wondolowski
July 18, 2012Posted by on
While many have been hoping that Mo Edu and Carlos Bocanegra, not to mention Alejandro Bedoya, would stop playing in the SPL as soon as possible, it has taken quite a long time and a few interesting turns to have them released (Bedoya’s still stuck there though). Edu, Bocanegra and Dorin Goian have been given the “blessing” of the Rangers Newco owners to leave the fourth division Scottish club. Each of the players are at very different points in their career and will likely have very different options available to them.
Carlos Bocanegra is largely expected to come home to MLS this summer, most likely joining former USMNT CB Jay Demerit in Vancouver.(Edit: As Pat mentioned in the comments I somehow forgot that Vancouver lost their allocation spot in the Union’s Soumare deal. Therefore it would be New England at the top of the allocation order instead of Vancouver with first dibs on him. I’d say its more likely New England trades the spot, than takes him, but of course that’s assuming Bocanegra wants to come back to MLS already anyway.) The odds of this happening seem fairly high, but maybe I’ve just heard too much of it recently. Other teams have also expressed interest in Bocanegra’s services in the defensive third. Greek club Olympiakos, which has a decent shot at Champions League has expressed interest and it has been assumed that clubs in France and England would have a look at him too. Bocanegra confirmed his interest in retunring to MLS at some vague time in the future, about a week and a half ago while playing softball in Kansas City.
Maurice Edu also has an expected club, although these rumors are a bit more recent and a bit more haughty. The latest rumors have Edu moving to Valencia C.F. where he would likely have to replace David Albelda who is a local boy and has been the captain of Valencia for nearly a decade to earn a starting spot. While it’d be great to see Edu move to one of the top mid-table teams in La Liga, if he’s rotting on the bench he may as well be better of playing in Scottish lower divisions. This transfer makes sense both for Edu, to move to a club which will likely be playing Champions League soccer, and for Valencia, who are a bit cash-strapped themselves and will likely get Edu on a free transfer. It would also mean another step forward for U.S. players in general. With Michael Bradley joining A.S. Roma, Americans are being welcomed into the more prestigious clubs. Again if neither of them starts this year neither deal even merits a mention, but if they do these could be two of the most substantial transfer in USMNT history.
To bring things back into perspective Edu also has sparked interest from Turkey, Bursaspor and Trazbonspor have both expressed interest. Even if not Valencia, and not Champions League quality, the Turkish league is substantially ahead of the SPL. While Bocanegra could potentially bring fans out in MLS and Edu could have a great Champions League run with Valencia, pretty much wherever they end up is better than them playing another season in Scotland.
July 18, 2012Posted by on
Last week our writer Pat posted a list of 15 reasons why you should have been at the US Open Cup semi final. We decided that we will try to post a similar list once a week on a variety of MLS or soccer related subjects. Today we will look at why the Philadelphia Union, and MLS as a whole, deserve more media coverage then they are receiving.
1. The Union recently look good
Over the past few weeks Union fans have been enjoying some of the most exciting soccer we have seen from the team since their creation. We are scoring goals, playing incredible defense, and using an entertaining style of soccer. If non-soccer fans are going to watch a match, this is the type of team they should take a look at. Unfortunately, Union games are only broadcast on the Comcast Network with a minimum amount of advertising. The games that do make it onto channels like ESPN 2 or NBC may hit more viewers but still are not marketed well. When was the last time you saw a commercial for a soccer game on a major network that was not shown during another soccer game? Exactly.
2. Other Philadelphia teams either look bad or are out of season.
The Eagles are in pre-season, the Sixers and Flyers are also in their off season, and the Phillies are in last place of the NL East with a 40-51 record. Being a Philadelphia sports fan is a bit of a drag right now. Many people in the city are looking for a team that has been performing well and strives under pressure; the perfect fit for the Union. Sport’s news has also been slow and will probably continue to be until the Olympics start, so why not fill some of that gap with a local team?
3. There is an audience for soccer in Philadelphia
PPL Park holds a little over eighteen thousand fans and the Union have consistently sold out the stadium for league games. When the Union played Spanish giants Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field last season the total attendance was over 57 thousand. Over 30 thousand fans came out to see the US Men’s National Team play Mexico last year also. These numbers all prove that soccer does have an audience in the Philadelphia area. Of course teams like the Phillies and Eagles have a stronger hold on the sports fans of the city but these numbers are not low enough to 100% cut soccer out of the media spot light.
4. Philly is already a sports town
As mentioned multiple times above, Philadelphia is a huge sports town. The city tends to soak in any major sporting event that comes to it. If more marketing and advertising were done in the area, there is no doubt in my mind that the number of Union and soccer fans will grow. Thankfully the city is seeing its fair share of large teams coming in, with the next being the return of Real Madrid as they play Scottish Premier league champions Celtic. These games with well known foreign teams are probably the best advertisement the Union can get until they are shown more through television ads.
5. The Union and fans can basically market themselves
Anytime I bring a soccer virgin to a Philadelphia Union game they always leave telling me the same thing: “the atmosphere was amazing.” Yes, the River End is full of passionate and loud fans but so is most of the stadium. Being part of this “third team” in the stands whose only purpose is to yell at players and question the referee’s decisions is quite the experience for most non-soccer fans. It makes you want to go to as many games as you can and to support this club. The team also wants you to pay attention to them. They are a third year team full of young but talented players. This underdog of a team basically is a movie script. All you would need to do for commercials is show the passion of the SoBs and the youth of the team and BAM, commercial. Then you would need to air it once in awhile. I know the Union have some commercials like this already but how often do you see them used?
6. No one knows who we are
You ask any Philadelphian to name some players on the Philadelphia Union and you will get one of two responses: either “The Philadelphia who?” or “Freddy Adu”. There is no connection between the Union and Philadelphians mostly because no one knows who is on the team. Even if you are not a football fan you knew who Donavon McNabb was. The signing of Freddy Adu was great if just to give the team a face that people recognize. Now that the team has a player that most people have at least heard of we can start getting him out there more. Get him interviews on TV, then start bringing in a few other players with him. Eventually, and slowly, the city will start recognizing the faces of the team.
7. Watch the future of American soccer grow up
Last summer we learned that the only time America cares about soccer is during the World Cup. What many people in Philadelphia don’t know is that there are many players on the Union that have a legitimate chance of playing for the US Men’s National Team either this World Cup cycle or early next cycle. Talented players like Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams, Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan, Jack McInerney, and Zac MacMath all have shot to be called into the men’s camp. Of course not all of them will be chosen but wouldn’t it be cool to say you were a fan of them before they became national sensations?
8. You still have time to be a fan and not a bandwagoner
Since this team is only three years old the fan base is still growing. If you start following the Union now you will not be thought of as jumping on the bandwagon because you will be one of the originals. Add the fact that the Union started off shaky at the beginning of the season and there is no way you can be called a front runner. Being able to market the team to the population by saying they can be part of the beginning is not something many franchises get the opportunity to do.
9. Union fans are awesome
As passionate as the Union fans are, they are also genuinely good people. There is a sense of community among fans, particularly the Bens, that you do not get with many other teams. I have met numerous awesome people by just going to a few tailgates, walking around the parking lots before games, or talking on Twitter. The Sons of Ben give back to the community by holding charity events or doing public works. The SoBs will be joining the Philadelphia Union Foundation with building a playground in Chester that was partly designed by Chester kids.