Philadelphia Union

Preaching patience, Union stay quiet during summer transfer window

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Preaching patience, Union stay quiet during summer transfer window

From Alejandro Bedoya last year to Tranquillo Barnetta the year prior, to Rais Mbolhi and Freddy Adu and Bakary Soumare and others before that, the Union have made some of their splashiest signings over the summer.

But current Union sporting director Earnie Stewart isn’t a splashy kind of guy. He’s about careful scrutiny, analytics and building a foundation.

And with that in mind, he decided that this summer’s MLS secondary transfer window, which ended Wednesday night, was not the time for the club to make a move.

“Sometimes I think people want to go very fast with some things,” said Stewart, who’s been in charge of personnel moves for the last 18 months. “It’s as simple as that. It’s up to us to judge if going that fast is good. And I don’t believe that right now.”

Few would argue against prioritizing long-term growth over short-term sizzle, especially for a franchise that’s struggled with consistency and roster turnover since their 2010 expansion season. 

The counterpoint, of course, is that acquiring a talented player at this point of the season, especially at a key position like attacking midfield, could provide a jolt of energy or even prove to be the missing piece for a team trying to sneak into one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.

But it seems like that kind of difference-maker wasn’t on the table when evaluating possible options — at least not for the kind of dollars ownership was willing to shell out.

“We don’t want to make a mistake and make a judgment for a significant amount of money where it’s not right for the Philadelphia Union,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “We’ve been smart and I think sometimes the best move is not to make a move.”

While many of the Union's midseason transfers haven’t panned out (the Mbolhi move, for one, may have been the worst in Union history), their last two summer signings yielded well-liked and talented players in Barnetta and Bedoya who certainly raised the bar.

But even in both of those cases, they struggled to adjust to the demands of joining a new team and new league with only a couple of months left in the season. It’s particularly hard for European-based players who are currently in their offseason or preseason.

“It’s a tough time to hit a home run, to have a [Nicolas] Lodeiro-type situation,” said Curtin, referring to Seattle’s prized acquisition last year who led them to the 2016 MLS Cup. 

“This is not an easy league to play in,” Stewart added. “It takes time to adapt to the physicality and travel that there is.”

Integrating new players into the club, of course, is much easier in January and February when MLS preseason begins. The Union will also then have much more money and roster space at their disposal when Maurice Edu, who’s been injured for the last two years, comes off the books, along with others who haven’t been giving the Union the necessary bang for their buck.

But it makes sense why fans may be upset no moves got done this week, especially when nearby rival D.C. United opened up its wallet as it never has before. (The fact that the Union announced the signing of a “Chief Tattoo Officer” on deadline day certainly didn’t help with the optics, either.)

For now, though, those fans will just have to try to be as patient as Stewart and hope the exciting changes come in a few months. Perhaps some may also take a little bit of solace in the fact that the Union are optimistic they can still do some damage in 2017 with their current roster — even though they’re currently in eighth place in the East, sport a 1-7-3 road record, and have a very difficult remaining schedule.

“The difference between being really good and where people perceive us to be, it’s not that big,” Stewart said. “It’s not as big as people think. Is there a difference between our home games and away games? That’s for sure. But you only want to add something you know will help you.”

Added Curtin: “We’ll have a lot of freedom, a lot of flexibility going into the next year and we still have a group we believe can get into the playoffs this year. That’s my main focus right now: getting this group into the playoffs. Because from there, we all know anything can happen.”

Philadelphia one of numerous possible sites for 2026 World Cup matches

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Philadelphia one of numerous possible sites for 2026 World Cup matches

CHICAGO — The committee that is hoping to bring the 2026 World Cup to the United States, Mexico and Canada is seeking bids from 44 cities that may be interested in hosting matches.

The United Bid Committee is considering 49 stadiums in those regions for inclusion in the official bid that will be sent to soccer's international governing body, FIFA, in March.

The committee announced Tuesday that it will review interest and select a short list of possible host cities in September. The bid ultimately sent to FIFA is expected to include up to 25 venues, but it is expected that 12 cities will be designated as official hosts.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first with a 48-team field. Morocco has also declared its intention to bid for the event.

A list of the possible games sites, broken down by market, venue and capacity:

United States:

Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 75,000.

Baltimore, M&T Bank Stadium, 71,008.

Birmingham, Alabama, Legion Field, 71,594.

Boston, Gillette Stadium (Foxboro), 65,892.

Charlotte, North Carolina, Bank of America Stadium, 75,400.

Chicago, Soldier Field, 61,500.

Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium, 65,515.

Cleveland, FirstEnergy Stadium, 68,710.

Dallas, Cotton Bowl, 92,100.

Dallas, AT&T Stadium (Arlington), 105,000.

Denver, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 76,125.

Detroit, Ford Field, 65,000.

Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lambeau Field, 81,441.

Houston, NRG Stadium, 71,500.

Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, 65,700.

Jacksonville, Florida, EverBank Field, 64,000.

Kansas City, Missouri, Arrowhead Stadium, 76,416.

Las Vegas, Raiders Stadium, 72,000.

Los Angeles, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 78,500.

Los Angeles, LA Stadium at Hollywood Park (Inglewood), TBD.

Los Angeles, Rose Bowl (Pasadena) 87,527.

Miami, Hard Rock Stadium, 65,767.

Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Stadium, 63,000.

Nashville, Nissan Stadium, 69,143.

New Orleans, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 72,000.

New York/New Jersey, MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford), 82,500.

Orlando, Florida, Camping World Stadium, 65,000.

Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Field, 69,328.

Phoenix, University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale), 73,000.

Pittsburgh, Heinz Field, 68,400.

Salt Lake City, Rice-Eccles Stadium, 45,807.

San Antonio, Alamodome, 72,000.

San Diego, Qualcomm Stadium, 71,500.

San Francisco/San Jose, Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara), 75,000.

Seattle, CenturyLink Field, 69,000.

Tampa, Florida, Raymond James Stadium, 73,309.

Washington, DC, FedEx Field (Landover), 82,000.

Canada:

Calgary, Alberta, McMahon Stadium, 35,650.

Edmonton, Alberta, Commonwealth Stadium, 56,335.

Montreal, Quebec, Stade Olympique , 61,004.

Montreal, Quebec, Stade Saputo, 20,801.

Ottawa, Ontario, TD Place Stadium, 24,341.

Regina, Saskatchewan, Mosaic Stadium, 30,048.

Toronto, Ontario, Rogers Centre, 53,506.

Toronto, Ontario, BMO Field, 28,026.

Vancouver, British Columbia, BC Place, 55,165.

Mexico:

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Estadio Chivas, 45,364.

Mexico City, Estadio Azteca, 87,000.

Monterrey, Nuevo Le?n, Estadio Rayados, 52,237.

Crushing loss to Impact stunts Union's playoff hopes

Crushing loss to Impact stunts Union's playoff hopes

CHESTER, Pa. -- Sitting two points ahead of the Montreal Impact entering Saturday’s match, the Union had a prime opportunity to propel themselves up the Eastern Conference standings and keep pace for the final postseason spot.

Three Impact goals later, that opportunity was squashed.

“We're very disappointed,” Union captain Alejandro Bedoya said. “Definitely a missed opportunity for our playoff hopes. We just have to keep pushing and try to get some results away, like we haven’t been able to get the whole season. We just have to keep working hard. This is the end of the season and we have to put our heads down to do everything we can and pick up points.”

Now tied with the New England Revolution with 29 points with 10 games remaining, the dejected Union have fallen six points behind the sixth and final playoff spot while drifting to 10th in the East. The Revs have a game in hand.

“We weren’t good enough in what was a big game,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “Now we have to chase, we no longer control our own destiny and we need help and we’re going to need to do things on the road that we haven’t done this year. Are we capable of that? Yes. But did we just make it more difficult on ourselves? Absolutely.”

Curtin wasn’t joking. Starting next weekend, the Union will be tasked with conquering a two-game road trip that starts against the San Jose Earthquakes and ends against Toronto FC. The two clubs have a combined home record of 16-1-7.

But that’s just the beginning. Over these final 10 games, the Union, who are a paltry 1-7-3 on the road this season, must also travel to face the Chicago Fire, Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls, which have a combined 2017 home record of 23-4-4.

“We need to win games on the road,” Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. “We’ve won just one game this season away. If we want to play in the playoffs you need to win games on the road.”

The Union's final stretch would have been a tough road prior to Saturday. But now that the club must find points at places like BMO Field, Avaya Stadium, Toyota Park and Red Bull Arena, that end-of-season gauntlet is even more grueling.

“We all knew the importance of the game,” Union center back Josh Yaro said. “We all knew what we had to do. I think we know what is at stake and from now on. Sometimes good enough is not good enough and I think this is one of those nights.”