Rumor Radar – February 24, 2019

Extra Time, MLS, News, Rumor Radar

Welcome to the Rumor Radar, a weekly column by Philly Football Daily MLS contributor, Noah Barnes. Each week, Barnes breaks down the top MLS transfer rumors of the week.

Its official! The MLS primary transfer window has been open for a week now, and that means the time for transfer rumors is upon us. It also means the return of The Rumor Radar, where we will break down the top five transfer rumors of the week, and assess their likelihood! So without further ado, here are the most compelling rumors to come out of this week leading up to Opening Day.

Steven Naismith – Sporting KC

It seems as though every transfer window, Peter Vermes’ side are linked with at least two or three centre forwards to add depth to an already excellent attack. It also seems as though that trend will continue into the current transfer window, as Sporting KC are being linked with 32-year-old attacker Steven Naismith, as per reports in the BBC and the Scottish Sun.

Naismith is currently on loan at Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership, where he has scored 10 times in just 17 league appearances for the club. This mark is good enough for the third highest tally in the league, and is incredibly efficient for a player his age. However while this form has potentially caught the eye of MLS clubs, including SKC, it has also made current Hearts boss Craig Levian keen on keeping the player once his contract with parent club Norwich City ends this summer.

Naismith’s current form could make him an ideal signing for a Kansas City side lacking in attacking depth, and his experience in the English Premier League would only bolster that notion. Naismith amassed 73 appearances for Everton in four seasons with the club, scoring 18 times as a withdrawn centre forward. This experience, combined with the fact he would leave his home country of Scotland on a free transfer, could be mouthwatering.

Yet while the prospect of playing alongside his fellow countryman Johnny Russell could be intriguing for Naismith, it seems unlikely that he would leave his home country at this time in his career. At 32, he is only a year or so away from retirement, and this is something he would likely want to to in Scotland where he began his career.

Transfer Probability: 2.2 / 5

 

Quentin Westberg – Toronto FC

 

After a 4-0 drubbing by Panamanian side Independiente in the Concacaf Champions League on Tuesday, Toronto FC could well be looking to bolster their defense before the start of the season. According to The Athletic’s Kristian Dyer, this could mean dipping into their transfer budget to sign a new goalkeeper to challenge current shot stopper Alex Bono. This new keeper is rumored to be former United States youth international Quentin Westberg.

Westberg, who currently plays in the second tier of French football for AJ Auxerre, has spent most of his career as a backup goalkeeper, and would likely fulfil that same role in Toronto, at least to start. At 32 years of age, he could well be a reliable second option to Bono, especially considering he has racked up more appearances this season (13) than in any prior season.

Westberg, a dual-national player, would not fill a designated player spot for TFC, a prospect that could make this transfer more likely to happen. His limited appearances in a top flight league, combined with his age, would also likely make him a cheap option for the club to pursue. Westberg, due to his experience at the US youth international level, could also be beneficial to the young US based players in the side hoping to crack the international squad.

Transfer Probability: 3.4 / 5

 

Darlington Nagbe – Columbus Crew

 

In all fairness, this transfer rumor is not exactly new. Rumors have been swirling for weeks now surrounding the future of US international Darlington Nagbe, with reports linking him with a move out of Atlanta. The most prominent reports have linked Nagbe with the Columbus Crew and a reunion with former head coach Caleb Porter. These speculations have only continued to grow since last week, when Dirty South Soccer reported that the attacker had requested to be traded to the Columbus club.

While the same publication is now reporting that Nagbe is “happy in Atlanta,” suggesting that the transfer saga may be approaching a positive end for ATL fans, it is not difficult to imagine how a player of Nagbe’s ability would fit into a Columbus side under a new head coach. Nagbe has shown flashes of his potential over the course of his time in both the MLS and for the US and the international level, netting 20 times in 163 appearances over a five year tenure with the Portland Timbers.

Nagbe, a player skilled on the dribble, would certainly add some creativity to Porter’s side, as he has contributed 21 assists over his career. Add in an average of 1.5 key passes per game, and Nagbe does not have bad numbers for a center mid. Though these number might seem low to some, especially considering Nagbe is 28 and yet to realize his full potential, Columbus fans might hope that a reunion with Porter could bring out some of the spark many have tipped Nagbe to possess.

However, it appears that the player is increasingly likely to stay in Atlanta under new coach Frank De Boer. After a reported rift with the team and management, Nagbe is back in training, which is a fact sure to disappoint some in Ohio.

Transfer Probability: 1.7 / 5

 

Pablo Aranguiz – Back to Chile?

 

While FC Dallas are not currently being linked with any potential reinforcements to their squad, rumors are certainly flying considering the future of young midfielder Pablo Aranguiz and a potential departure from the club he signed for less than a year ago. According to Dallas soccer site Big D Soccer, the club are reportedly looking to send the out of sorts youngster back to his home country of Chile.

Aranguiz, who the club bought last season to help sort out midfield depth issues, has yet to settle in Dallas, and has made only nine appearances since arriving. Given that the 21-year-old has shown flashes of his potential, it seems reasonable that any potential loan move will strictly be for future development, and not a signal of a lack of future with the club.

Reportedly, Aranguiz is being shopped to Universidad de Chile in the Chilean first division. Aranguiz’s ability as a creative midfielder would serve the club perfectly, as they have been in desperate need of such a player since the loss of Yeferson Soteldo to Brazilian club Santos. And while FC Dallas fans might be upset about the potential loss of a player for the upcoming season, manager Luchi Gonzalez seems confident that a move back to Chile may be the perfect way to jumpstart Aranguiz’s development.

Transfer Probability: 3.7 / 5

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Noble: My Reaction to NYCFC vs. Philadelphia Union

News, Opinion

Editor’s Note: Philly Football Daily’s newest contributor, Wyatt Noble, reacts to the Union’s loss to NYCFC, in what is Noble’s first for the site. 

Philadelphia Union looked plain hapless at times during Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the New York City Football Club.

But despite missing out on the opportunity to secure their first home playoff game since 2011 and playing some of the worst soccer imaginable during the first half, it’s not time to panic for the Union. In fact, there may even be cause for optimism heading into a knockout round rematch with NYCFC.

There’s no denying the Union looked out-of-sorts during the first half, with the team conceding three goals in just over half an hour, managing a measly three shots and 31 percent of possession.

And then there was the noticeable infighting between two of the Union’s best players in Borek Dockal and Cory Burke to couple the off-ball stagnation. Philly’s young, touted backline seemed afraid to touch the NYCFC players they were tasked with marking.

But looks can be deceiving, and so can stats.

New York central defender Maxime Chanot did well to shake off and rise above C.J. Sapong, before nodding in City’s first goal in the eighth minute. But the header itself was a pretty tame one, one that Andre Blake would normally save with ease.

Expect Blake to make this kind of save nine times out of 10 and on Wednesday night, too.

Then, Auston Trusty’s unfortunate own goal in the 10th minute could have broken the Union’s spirit completely. Despite being two-nil down, Jim Curtin’s team began to claw their way back less than five minutes later, courtesy of Burke’s tenth goal on the year.

 

It’s probably safe to assume Trusty won’t be scoring any more bangers for opposing teams this season. Only time will tell, however. 

While the Union conceded a third goal in the 34th minute, their play at the other end going forward improved drastically. Nevertheless, the Union’s back-four must do better than they did on this play that ultimately led to New York’s third goal, courtesy of their captain David Villa

Pivoting to the positives from Sunday’s loss.

Down two goals at the half, the Union came out fighting, and were it not for a series of stellar saves from Sean Johnson, which included a penalty stop on Fafa Picault in the 59th minute, the two teams would’ve been level.

New York’s backline looked susceptible to through balls, and Dockal often found himself with more space than he knew what to do with.

Philadelphia ended the game with a 45 percent share of possession and nine shots to boot, but with some sharper finishing and admittedly a little bit of luck, it could have quite easily been enough to win this game.

Putting this loss to the side, the Union have only been beaten once in their last six games away from Talen Energy Stadium, and it just so happens that the rematch with NYCFC will be another away game. 

Sunday’s 3-1 scoreline may have some City fans feeling confident heading into Wednesday’s rematch, however, it’s important to remember that New York has won just three of its last 11 games. And that is counting the game on Decision Day.

Remember, this New York team was eyeing up the Supporters’ Shield midway through the season. But after the departure of its head coach, Patrick Viera, the team’s form dropped off drastically.

If the Union can correct the unfortunate individual errors that ultimately cost them a home playoff game, there’s no doubting Philadelphia will be well-prepared to right its wrongs from Sunday and remind the league why it finished with a franchise record 50 points this season.

Kickoff for Wednesday night’s knockout game is slated for 7:00 P.M. EST, and will be broadcasted on FS1 as well as UniMas.  

 

U in Review — NYCFC vs. Philadelphia Union

Match Coverage, Match Recap, News, Union

On Decision Day, the Philadelphia Union were defeated by the New York City Football Club, 3-1, conceding three first half goals including an own-goal and failing to convert a penalty kick.

Philadelphia Union were rightfully up for Sunday’s game against the New York City Football Club, the final game of the 2018 Major League Soccer regular season.

A win on Decision Day would have secured a third place finish in the Eastern Conference as well as a home playoff game, something the Union have been in search of since crashing out against the Houston Dynamo in 2011.

But the visitors went down early, failing to recover from their first half blunders.

Philadelphia’s mistakes included an Auston Trusty own-goal and consecutive missed clearances from Union defenders that eventually led to a David Villa dagger in the 34th minute. Villa’s goal widened his team’s lead to three goals to one, while Sean Johnson’s saved penalty in the second half kept the home side two goals to the good.

New York (16W, 10L, 8D) ended its regular season campaign with a win, defeating Philadelphia (15W, 14L, 5D), 3-1. Despite their recent struggles, NYCFC locked down third in the East as well as hosting rights against the Union for the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.


NYCFC drew first blood, scoring in the 8th minute. New York’s goal came courtesy of cumbersome French defender Maxime Chanot.

Chanot separated himself from his marker, C.J. Sapong, before rising to meet the in-swinger from teammate Maxi Moralez. Chanot headed past Andre Blake to notch the first goal of the contest, the Frenchman’s first goal of the season.

New York would double their advantage just minutes later, with help from an Auston Trusty mishap.

Philly’s young defender attempted a stab at the ball, which took an unfortunate deflection into the Union’s side netting. It is the second own-goal for the Homegrown, with his last coming in the U.S. Open Cup Final against Houston.

Philadelphia received a spark a few minutes later, however, with Cory Burke pulling a goal back for the visitors in the 13th minute.

Following an appealing piece of interplay with Fafa Picault, league assist-leader Borek Dockal split the seams, threading a well-timed pass into the path of Burke. Philadelphia’s joint top-scorer bagged his 10th goal of the campaign.

Following a brief lull in the action, City’s captain, David Villa, complicated matters for the Union. Villa followed up a diving save by Blake with a slotted shot past the rooted Jamaican.

Villa was mostly held in check by the Union’s young center-halves throughout the half and ultimately the game, too. But a lapse in the reactions by the Union backline provided the Spaniard with more than enough time to pounce on the loose ball and widen City’s lead to two.

On a yellow card and risking a ban for the playoffs, Cory Burke was subbed off at the start of the second half, making way for Ilsinho. Television cameras picked up on an exchange of words between Burke and head coach Jim Curtin, with the Jamaican looking teary-eyed.

Philadelphia was unable to generate many chances in the second half. Undoubtedly the Union’s best opportunity to pull within a goal of City came in the 59th minute. Philadelphia was awarded a penalty kick after Johnson was deemed to have brought down a Union player.

Picault elected to take the spot kick, and his ensuing shot was parried out by Johnson to keep the score 3-1.

Johnson’s save was one of the few he was forced to make on the day. Philly registered five total shots on New York’s No. 1, but the visitors sorely needed three of them to eek past Johnson for a guaranteed game at Talen Energy Stadium.

Starting XI —

New York City Football Club (4-2-3-1):

Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot (Ebenezer Ofori, 87′), Anton Tinnerholm; Yangel Herrera, Alexander Ring; Jesús Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, 85′), Maxi Moralez (Eloi Amagat, 69′), Ronald Matarrita; David Villa

Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1):

Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry (Fabinho, 69′); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Fabrice-Jean Picault, Borek Dockal, C.J. Sapong (Jay Simpson, 76′); Cory Burke (Ilsinho, 45′)

Scoresheet —

New York City Football Club:

Maxime Chanot (8′), David Villa (34′) 

Philadelphia Union:

Auston Trusty (OG, 10′), Cory Burke (13′)

Disciplinary —

Philadelphia Union:

Auston Trusty (Caution: Unsporting Behavior, 15′), Cory Burke (Caution: Unsporting Behavior, 40′), Haris Medunjanin (Dissent, 70′)  

Next Match —

Following the defeat to New York along with the result in Columbus, Philadelphia will return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to play in a knockout game. Kick off is still to be determined.

 

U in Preview — Matchday Promo: NYCFC vs. Philadelphia Union

Match Coverage, Match Preview, News, Union, UnionFanTV

Before each Philadelphia Union Matchday, Philly Football Daily Executive Video Producer Andrew Treves brings you the sights and sounds from the Union’s last time out.  

Andrew Treves captured the sights and sounds from the stands, concourse and field during the Philadelphia Union’s last meeting with the New York City Football Club. Check it:

 

Wednesday Roundup — October 24, 2018

News, Roundup

News Roundups are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning with quick hits on what you may have missed and what is still to come in The Beautiful Game.

Here’s what you may have missed and what is still developing. And, as always, here’s to helping bring you, the Fan, up to speed and Ahead of the Game.

High School Soccer 

PIAA 4A Playoffs

No. 24 Penn Wood was edged by No. 9 Unionville, 1-0, in the opening of the PIAA District I 4A Playoffs on Tuesday night. Unionville senior forward Tom Kelly added the game’s winning goal. Kelly’s goal came inside the first 11 minutes.

Penn Wood (12W, 7L) outshot Unionville (14W, 1L, 1D) nine to seven on the night, but the Patriots were unable to break the Indians’ staunch backline through the remaining 80 minutes of Tuesday’s game. Penn Wood finishes its season having won the DelVal Title for a fifth time in six years while Unionville advances in the tournament.

Next up for the Indians is a pivotal match on Thursday night against No. 8 Harrison, the lowest ranked of the remaining four Central Athletic League teams represented in this year’s tournament.

No. 20 Haverford fell to Cesar May and No. 13 Downingtown East, 2-1, on Tuesday night. May played both hero and helper, scoring on a free kick in the 54th minute before assisting on the game’s eventual winner later in the contest. Fords’ senior Alex Reardon notched the lone goal for the visitors in the 80th minute.

Downingtown East (14W, 1L, 1D) advances to play No. 4 Abington on Thursday night while Haverford’s (11W, 8L) season comes to an end.

Entering the District One tournament along with top-seeded Conestoga on Thursday are Central Athletic League rivals No. 5 Lower Merion, No. 7 Radnor and No. 8 Harriton.

Conestoga will begin its quest for another PIAA State Championship when it hosts No. 16 Council Rock North at Teamer Field on Thursday night.

Lower Merion will play host to No. 12 Owen J. Roberts.

Radnor will host No. 10 West Chester Henderson, in what is a touted matchup of two district giants.

Harriton will welcome in-form Unionville.

Check out the rest of the PIAA District I 4A bracket here.

College Soccer 

Nothing Separating Temple, Penn on Tuesday

There was nothing to separate the men’s soccer teams of Temple University and The University of Penn after 110 minutes of scoreless, grueling soccer played at Temple’s Sports Complex on Tuesday night.

Temple nearly notched the game’s winning goal in the 110th minute, but senior Belal Mohamed was deemed offside just moments after. Penn edged Temple in shots (16 to 14) on the night, but the Quakers were unable to beat Owls’ keeper Simon Lefebvre. Lefebvre earned his sixth clean sheet of the campaign.

Temple (4W, 8L 4D) will play its last game of the season on Saturday, October 27, an American Athletic Conference game against Tulsa. Before the game, the Owls’ program will recognize its six seniors for Senior Night. Kick off is slated for 7:00 PM EST.

Next up for the Quakers (2W, 4L, 6D) is an important Ivy League game at Rhodes Field against Brown. Penn currently sits winless at the bottom of the Ivy League. A win would see the Quakers move past the Bears in the league.

Senior Day, Soccer Six Showdown Between Drexel and St. Joe’s

Drexel University Men’s Soccer team will recognize its seniors tonight, at 6:00 PM EST, before hosting their season finale at Vidas Field. Tonight’s game is a crucial Soccer Six showdown with city rivals Saint Joseph’s University.

Drexel (8W, 5L, 3D) will be playing for more than just pride and its seniors in the Dragons’ last game. A share of the Philadelphia Soccer Six league championship is still at stake.

Saint Joseph’s (8W, 5L, 2D) enters tonight’s contest having won eight games during the current campaign. It is the program’s most wins in a season since 2003. Saint Joe’s offense features three of the four best scorers in the city and is led by Alvin Dahn. Dahn has bagged seven goals and eight assists this year.

Drexel leads the all-time series with Saint Joseph’s, with 30 wins, 13 defeats and four draws. In the last meeting at Vidas Field, on September 22, 2015, the Hawks and Dragons settled for a scoreless draw.

Philadelphia Union 

Homegrown Trio Receive Under-20 Call-Ups

On Tuesday, Philadelphia Union’s Homegrown triumvirate, comprising defenders Matt Real and Mark McKenzie as well as midfielder Anthony Fontana, received call-ups to the United States Under-20 National Team. Philly’s trio will represent the U20s in their upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign. Qualifying will run from November 1 to 21 in Florida.

Head coach Tab Ramos selected the three Union players to his list of 20 players that have been called upon to represent the USYNT in its campaign to qualify for the 2019 U20 World Cup.

Real, McKenzie and Fontana will link up with former Philadelphia Union Youth Academy teammate, goalkeeper C.J. dos Santos who is currently plying his trade in Portugal with the S.L. Benfica U19 team.

Philadelphia, with three players in Ramos’ squad, is the most represented of any Major League Soccer team. Only FC Dallas has more than one player selected to represent the top-seeded Americans in the qualifying tournament.

Only the top-four teams, in the qualifying campaign that consists of 34 nations, will qualify for U20 World Cup in South Korea. The World Cup will be played from May 23 to June 15.

Major League Soccer

MLS Players’ Association Releases Updated Salary Guide

Last night, the MLS Players’ Association released its updated Players’ Salary Guide for the current season. It is the sixth straight year that the MLSPA has disclosed the Guide.

MLSPA’s Players’ Salary Guide contains salary information of every player under contract in the league (as of September 15). Check out the complete guide, comprising MLS players’ base salary and annual average guaranteed compensation here.

Atlanta’s Martino Denies Contract Extension

It’s official.

Ending weeks of speculation, Atlanta United announced that head coach Tata Martino will not be returning to The Five Stripes in 2019. Martino has denied a contract extension that was proposed by the club.

Following United’s playoff run, Martino and Atlanta will part ways and explore other options. According to the club’s release, Martino made the decision to move on due to “personal reasons.”

No further comments have been made regarding his future. Martino has been rumored for the Mexican National Team job. Atlanta United is currently first in the Eastern Conference with 69 points and on pace to win the MLS Supporters’ Shield.

U.S. Soccer

Sargent Scores Game-Winner in Bremen Friendly

Weeks after scoring the lone goal for the United States Men’s National Team in its friendly against Peru, Josh Sargent, 18, scored a winning goal for his club, Werder Bremen.

Sargent’s goal came in the 86th minute of a friendly against Bundesliga 2. outfit DSC Arminia Bielefeld, and it looked a little something like this:

Thank you for checking out Wednesday’s News Roundup. Check back here, on Friday morning, for all the latest happening in The Beautiful Game. Until then, Cheers.