Philadelphia Union

Shorthanded Union fall to Red Bulls for 3rd-straight loss

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Shorthanded Union fall to Red Bulls for 3rd-straight loss

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. -- Playing down a man and working through heat that required league mandated water breaks, the Union valiantly battled but were unable to overcome the obstacles as they fell to the New York Red Bulls, 2-0, Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium.
 
“We were playing short for 30-plus minutes, it was tough,” said Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, who finished with one save. “It was a hot day, but we will not let this affect us. We have to bounce back.”
 
While the contest was marred by referee decisions, the loss was still the Union’s third straight, dropping their record to a near Eastern Conference-low, 4-7-4. On the other side, the victory was the Red Bulls’ second in their last seven matches as they move to 7-7-2.
 
“We’ve been here before in the beginning of the season,” said Union captain Haris Medunjanin referencing the Union’s four-game losing streak in March and April. “We lost a lot of games. Like I said before when you play with 10 men, it doesn’t matter who you play, it’s going to be difficult.” 
 
The match changed drastically in the 53rd minute. It was scoreless when Union midfielder Derrick Jones, playing for injured Alejandro Bedoya, received a straight red on what was interpreted as a studs-up midfield challenge on Felipe that sent the Red Bulls player screaming and grabbing at his ankle. 
 
“I just think it was a little bit rushed,” Curtin said. “I don’t think it warranted a red card. I think maybe a yellow. But again, he made a quick choice and we have to live with it.”
 
Although Felipe wasn’t injured and on replay, the tackle looked more clumsy than aggressive from Jones, the rookie put the Union at a disadvantage. From there, it was the Bradley Wright-Phillips show.
 
“Felipe is a guy we talked about all week in terms of a guy that can get under your skin and frustrate you,” Curtin said. “Don’t fall into any of the fighting or any of that. I think he may have baited the ref a little bit, made it look a little worse than it was. He’s drawn five red cards this season on opponents. Not a surprise there.”
 
Wright-Phillips broke through in the 87th minute when a Kemar Lawrence cross from left to right found the scorer on the inside of his defender and able to deflect the helper past Andre Blake. Wright-Phillips scored again in stoppage time, this time from Sal Zizzo to cement the 2-0 victory.
 
“Today I was dreadful,” Wright-Phillips said. “I was dreadful. I hear I was close to coming out of the game. I did think I would get a chance. I wanted to stay in for that because I didn’t do much else in the game.”
 
But the Union did have their chances early. While neither team was particularly sharp in the opening 45 minutes of the scorching Sunday contest, the Union were the more dangerous side. Their best chance came in the 22nd minute when Chris Pontius outplayed Damien Perrinelle on a bounce into the Red Bulls' box. The veteran attacker flicked a quick shot targeted for the far side that Luis Robles gloved away miraculously. 
 
Pontius nearly capitalized again off a Ray Gaddis play into the box but headed it wide to end the half.
 
“Chris had two really good looks,” Curtin said. “Robles makes the save and then the header before the half. Obviously, it would have been better to get one of those. We didn’t.” 

Rookie Adam Najem hopes to prove he's the playmaker the Union need

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Rookie Adam Najem hopes to prove he's the playmaker the Union need

CHESTER, Pa. -- Jim Curtin has made it clear he won’t use falling out of playoff contention as a reason to throw the team’s youngest, most untested players into the fire.

But the Union head coach also made clear Adam Najem doesn’t necessarily fall into that category, saying this week the rookie midfielder is “right in the discussion” to see more time regardless of where the team might be in the standings.

For Najem, though, just getting onto the field during Philly’s last 10 games of the 2017 season — starting with Saturday’s road tilt vs. the San Jose Earthquakes — is only a short-term goal. Long term, the 22-year-old New Jersey native hopes to emerge as the kind of attacking midfielder the Union can build their team around — in a role that’s usually been occupied by international imports.

“I want to kind of get rid of the stigma that Americans can’t be playmakers,” Najem said after Thursday’s practice. "And if they give me the opportunity to continue improving at the No. 10, I’ll try to show what I can do.”

The Union have struggled to find a consistently good option at that No. 10 spot — an important position that sits behind the striker (CJ Sapong) and in front of the two other central midfielders (Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya). Roland Alberg, a native of the Netherlands, and the Brazilian Ilsinho have both shown occasional flashes of brilliance but not nearly enough consistency, leading to speculation that both could be on their way out when the season ends.

At that point, the Union will likely chase a high-priced player, possibly from South America or Europe, to fill that void, as MLS teams are prone to do. But Najem believes he can be the guy, and that more starts as the season winds down can perhaps prove it.

“For me, I want to cement myself as the No. 10 wherever I am,” he said. “Right now, I feel if I continue improving, that can be here. I want to reward Philly for giving me the opportunity to be here. And I want to be that player they look upon to win games. If I get the opportunity, I have to continue working and show I can be the No. 10 they’re looking for.”

Although most of his game action has been with affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC, where he’s made 14 starts, Najem has seen more MLS minutes of late, playing three straight games last month, including his first career start in Columbus on July 22.

And while he felt like he showed for the ball and maintained possession well in that game, he knows he didn’t do nearly enough to help jumpstart a stagnant offense in a 1-0 loss.

“That’s something I want to improve on,” he said. “It kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.”

Najem knows there are other things he can improve upon, and he’s been trying his best to pick up little lessons from other midfielders on the team. 

Medunjanin’s quality on the ball? Bedoya’s vision and awareness? Alberg’s striking ability? Ilsinho’s dribbling moves? Najem has been paying close attention to all of it.

“The type of player I am, I like to take the best out of everyone around me,” he said. “Everyone brings their own style to the game and you try to pick up anything you can and implement your own style of play into that as well.”

Najem has seemed to do that well in training, where he often looks sharp and in control of short-field scrimmages. But as his rookie season winds down, it could be time for him to take the next step — if he’s given the chance.

“In my position, it’s obviously an important one on the field,” he said. “Being a young guy, you have to learn how to deal with that and deal with the pressures.

“If the coaches see I’m working hard enough or improving enough, I’ll be on the field. And if not, I’ll just continue working.”

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.