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Mondragon first to exit, Le Toux to follow?

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Breton Bonnette

Sebastien Le Toux ©ASN/Terry McLaughlin

Seb Le Toux ©ASN

Anyone else dizzy yet?

Yesterday, the Union released 2011 captain and MLS All-Star Faryd Mondragon in order to allow him the opportunity to close out his career with his hometown club (Deportivo Cali) in Colombia. That change in and of itself should have been enough news for the day, right?  Plus, when it’s all said and done, many feel Zac MacMath as a capable young star that should do well with the starting role. Though let’s be honest, if we hadn’t seen him in that 7 game stint last season we’d be singing a much different tune right now. Regardless, the news didn’t stop there (though nothing as been fully confirmed yet).

With Mondragon’s departure, Union fans had enough to digest before expecting to hear of either a loan or permanent transfer of goalscorer Sebastien Le Toux to Bolton of the English Premier League over the next few days. Instead, unconfirmed word came out that Le Toux actually left the trial early and as the Union front office was content to sell him, they started looking within Major League Soccer for a trade.

The suitors? The Vancouver Whitecaps according to Soccer by Ives. The price? Probably quite a bit of cash. Regardless, none of that helps the fact that the two most visible faces of the franchise could be gone within the span of two days. Le Toux is headed into the final year of his contract and at 28, he’s getting up there with age (but with his engine, who really cares?!) so in some ways, this all makes a little sense. The only problem is, he’s accounted for over half of the Union’s offensive production. The talent is surely there with guys like Danny Mwanga, McInerney, new signing Josue Martinez, and draft pick Chandler Hoffman but the shoes of a two-time MVP candidate are pretty damn hard to fill. And even if they do, this one could sting for a while.

According to Vancouver Sportsnet reporter Irfaan Gaffar (via Twitter, @IrfaanGaffar), the deal could be announced as early as today. And for those expecting a big move coming to make you feel better after this loss, don’t hold your breath. 

Without Mondragon and Le Toux, one thing is for sure, 2012 is going to be an interesting year…

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Seba set for big chance in the Premier League, training with Bolton

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Breton Bonnette

It looks like Sebastien Le Toux may be on his way to join young New York defender Tim Ream and current American international Stuart Holden in a Bolton uniform. Ives Galarcep dropped the news an hour or so ago that the Frenchman may be on his way to Bolton, a team desperately in need of injections to both sides of the pitch and Le Toux certainly could help Owen Coyle’s squad.

In his two years, Le Toux has cemented his status as franchise favorite and legend racking up 25 goals and 20 assists in just two seasons. His work ethic and hustle is borderline irreplaceable. The positive?  Considering Le Toux was, for all intents and purposes, an expansion draft steal – from a business standpoint, this could make a lot of sense depending on how much the Wanderers are offering.

Seba left for England yesterday evening and joined in Bolton’s training today. Though his loss would be a signifcant blow to the Union, could a Mwanga and Josue Martinez tandem up front work out? Will Le Toux make the most out of a chance in the EPL? What would the right sum be for Le Toux’s departure?

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Fun with the Mock Drafts: 2012 Aggregate MLS Mock SuperDraft

Posted on 12 January 2012 by Breton Bonnette

The 2012 MLS SuperDraft is upon us and as we did last year (and the year before that), we have taken the Mock Drafts floating around the internet and aggregated them all in order to see who winds up with who. Please remember that this does not take into account team needs and obviously means nothing once a big trade for a first-round draft pick comes into play.

As for the Philadelphia Union, none of the pundits could agree on who they would take in the #13 spot. Calum Mallace, Chris Estridge, Dom Dwyer, Austin Berry, Tyler Polak and Tommy Meyer were all taken. As you can see, the only real agreement comes on the fact that the Union need defensive cover (four out of six picks were defenders).

The Mock Drafts we included were: Ives Galarcep’s, WVHooligan’s, all three MLS analysts, and lastly Steve Davis’.

1. Montreal Impact – Darren Mattocks (Akron, FWD)

Only MLS analyst Simon Borg put Mattocks out of pole position (#3) but everyone else can’t see the Impact passing on a dangerous and pacy striker.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps – Andrew Wenger (Duke, DF/MF/FWD)

Mr. Versatility was unanimous all across the board as it’s clear what Vancouver’s needs are. Expect to see Wenger making the trip out West.  

3. New England Revolution – Chandler Hoffman (UCLA, FWD)

Hoffman was as high as first taken (Borg) but Travis Clark and Ives Galarcep took him down a notch seeing him drafted at #9 and #10 respectively.

4. Toronto FC – Kelyn Rowe (UCLA, MF)

The only outlier here was Jason Saghini. He had Colorado taking Rowe at #14. Most everyone else sees the UCLA playmaker taken by Toronto or New England.

5. Chivas USA – Luis Silva (UC-Santa Barbara, MF)

According to many, Silva had one of the best Combines and rated him as going in the top six picks. Jason Saghini wasn’t impressed, however, as Silva fell to #19 and the Los Angeles Galaxy. Pretty sure the Galaxy wouldn’t mind that.

6. San Jose Earthquakes – Andrew Jean-Baptiste (UCONN, DF)

Even though this aggregated Mock Draft puts Jean-Baptiste as an Earthquake, it was clear with all the analysts that it’s Toronto FC that will be drafting him. Problem is, they couldn’t agree on whether the Reds would take him first at #4 or second at #12. All that indecision left him roughly in the middle, winding up with San Jose.

7. DC United – Casey Townsend (Maryland, FWD)

Not bad. A local kid to his local team. Half the analysts had him here, seeing him as a potential starter in year one.

8. Portland Timbers – Sam Garza (UC-Santa Barbara, MF)

Taken as high as #6 and as low as #14, Garza was all over the map but undoubtedly a first rounder. Not sure the Timbers need him as much as they may need someone in defense (UNC centreback Hedges is a favorite).

9. Chicago Fire – Matt Hedges (UNC, DF)

Only Simon Borg puts Hedges as a second round pick but most everyone else sees the UNC big man as a Portland Timber. If he’s available at #9, however, would the Fire really let him pass?

10. Columbus Crew – Nick DeLeon (Louisville, MF)

DeLeon didn’t have the best of combines and more than one Mock Draft took that into account. The rest, however, kept him locked in top 10. Where he goes will give us good insight into how much weight the Combine actually has.

11. FC Dallas – Austin Berry (Louisville, DF)

Hyndman is stressing defense and Berry is the favorite of most of the Mock Drafts. Only Steve Davis sees him slipping to #17 where Real Salt Lake would happily snap him up.

12. Toronto FC – Callum Mallace (Marquette, MF)

Seen as high as #4 (Jason Saghini again), most Mock Drafts see the Scottish midfielder as a late first rounder but nobody is in agreement as to where he may actually end up. Mallace is a toss-up.

13. Philadelphia Union – Ethan Finlay (Creighton, MF/FWD)

Another standout at the Combine, nobody has Finlay firmly on the Union’s radar especially with Philadelphia in need of defensive cover or depth up front.  Finlay did convince everyone, however, that he is a first rounder (though Ives still needs more convincing as he fell to #23).

14. Colorado Rapids – Tyler Polak (Creighton, DF)

Polak is Generation Adidas so there’s little doubt he’ll wind up taken in the first round but nobody knows where he fits. The Union? Seattle? Chicago?

15. Seattle Sounders FC – Enzo Martinez (UNC, MF)

In the majority of the Mock Drafts, Martinez is the last GA signee to go. Seen as a playmaking project, he could do well in Seattle learning from Rosales and Zakuani. Too bad none of the analysts actually have him going there. Only one agreement on this one – Steve Davis and Jason Saghini agree he’ll end up at #10 with the Crew.

16. Sporting Kansas City – Tony Cascio (UCONN, MF)

Divided on whether or not he goes first round or second round. Two say Chicago at #9 (they need a winger), two say Colorado at #14 (injuries galore on the wing there). Two say he’s 2nd round material.

17. Real Salt Lake – Dom Dwyer (South Florida, FWD)

Another revelation of the Combine, Dwyer has speed and could complement Espindola and Saborio well in the Salt Lake. He’s almost unanimous as a late first round pick – much higher than he was rated a month or two ago. The biggest rumor comes from Ives Galarcep as he threw out there that the Union may be shopping forward Danny Mwanga

18. Houston Dynamo – Hunter Jumper (Virginia, DF)

Replacing Hunter Freeman with another Hunter? Not a bad idea – although most of the Mock Drafts see Jumper as a mid-second round pick.

19. Los Angeles Galaxy – Tommy Meyer (Indiana, DF)

If it weren’t for Jason Saghini having the Union take Meyer at #35, the Hoosier would have been taken earlier in the first round. Regardless, the Galaxy wouldn’t mind a big body (6’2″) to help with the long wait for Omar Gonzalez’s return from injury.

Follow along on Twitter at @bwbonnette as today’s draft gets underway. According to those in Kansas City, it should be an active day with trade rumors swirling around as teams continue to jockey for position.

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The Philadelphia Union’s 2012 road to the Playoffs unveiled

Posted on 05 January 2012 by Breton Bonnette

Bring on 2012! See the Union’s schedule below or head here.

A couple notes:

The Union will feature on national television 14 times, ending the season on NBC proper at PPL Park as they host the New York Red Bulls.

Some former players will come on back to Philly. Justin Mapp and Montreal will visit July 14th. Shea Salinas and San Jose, April 28th.

The Union will get a double glimpse of Houston’s new home – BBVA Compass Stadium – on June 30th.

It’s a little odd that we get the upper hand in rivalries – New York, DC United, and New England will visit PPL Park twice and only away once. That could be why we have a challenging away line-up vs. most Western Conference squads: Los Angeles, Portland, FC Dallas, Seattle. Surprisingly, the scheduling committee decided to not allow the defending champion Galaxy into the Northeast Corridor this year – no games at all at New England, New York, Philadelphia, or DC. Don’t really get that though that should mean that Los Angeles will have a brutal time in the Northeast come 2013.

The last week of the season should be interesting to say the least. Three games in a week – two away vs. Houston and Kansas City respectively and then back home to take on New York. Hmm.

Big gap from May 26th to June 16th. Insert international friendly here?

This will be the longest season yet for the Union. Starting March 12th and hopefully ending December 1st (MLS Cup). That’s 265 days of Union! More if you count preseason. It’s startling and awesome all rolled into one.

Which dates are you circling? Planning any road trips?

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Freddy Adu is the next Zolo to train in Europe

Posted on 28 December 2011 by Breton Bonnette

20111228-095127.jpg

Following Zac MacMath (Everton FC), Zach Pfeffer (1899 Hoffenheim), Amobi Okugo (SC Freiburg), Freddy Adu heads to Spain today to start a two week stint with a former club of Kasey Keller’s – Rayo Vallecano based in the capital of Madrid. Newly promoted to La Liga and sitting near the relegation zone, Rayo has been a long time admirer of Adu so this amounts to something in between a training stint and an audition for Adu.

Greg Seltzer reported it early at NoShortCorners.com and then Ives Galarcep picked it up and made it official near the end of the day yesterday. Freddy leaves today and barring considerable interest, he will be back before preseason starts in January. The most that will come out of this, though some fans have expressed interest in him being sold, is a spot on the manager’s transfer shortlist (like the interest expressed after Okugo’s training stint in Germany).

For more Union and MLS news, follow us on Twitter (@centerholdsit) and Facebook by friending ASN Philly.

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Carlos Valdes’ stay now permanent, the other Carlos gone

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Breton Bonnette

One here to stay. One gone for good.

The Philadelphia Union haven’t added anybody – although that should come in the next several days – but they made it a point to outright secure the full contract rights of the best loan acquisition made in their short history. Carlos Valdes is now permanently a Zolo. Between Valdes, Faryd Mondragon, former captain Danny Califf, and the emergence of Sheanon Williams, the Union have formed one of the best defensive set-ups in the league after a disappointing expansion year campaign. The long-term capture of Valdes from Independiente Santa Fe ensures some stability for the rest of the season but hopefully it welcomes in several seasons of defensive superiority in Philadelphia.

In other news, Carlos Ruiz has completed his transfer out to Veracruz of the Mexican Liga de Ascenso (Second Division). This obviously hurts the offense but we’ve discussed this all too much. Good riddance and, hopefully, we can find an able-bodied striker to help shore up the attack. Word is a “young, international striker” could be on the way. Also buried in the news was the word that a Union approach of Italian national team and Juventus veteran fullback Fabio Grosso was met with failure.  We’re confident we’ll hear word on new additions over the next several days but regardless, the waiting can be painful.

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Mondragon named to active All-Star Game roster but Union defenders left off

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, along with Houston’s Tally Hall, will mind the net for the MLS All-Stars against Manchester United next Wednesday, July 27. He could wind up starting (the starting XI will be announced a couple hours before the game) seeing as he has the most international experience. Very few can argue with that selection.

Mondragon will be the lone Union representative on the active roster for the MLS All-Stars after putting up an impressive first half of the season. One selection, however, doesn’t mean that Union fans and players alike won’t feel snubbed from the lack of recognition and appreciation from the rest of  the league and Major League Soccer fans. Defensive stalwarts this season – Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, and Carlos Valdes have the biggest case. There is hope (at least to get some monetary compensation out of an All-Star nod) that more Zolos could be selected as the league has yet to announce the final six inactive picks voted on by the players themselves.

There is always silver lining for those snubbed. No picks,  means no playing time, which means rest for one of the league’s best defenses and a better focus heading into the long second half of the season. Regardless, a snub is snub.

Full Roster:

Goalkeeper: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Faryd Mondragón (Philadelphia Union)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Bobby Convey (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy), Jámison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls).

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Omar Bravo (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Inactive All-Stars (Note that another six inactive All-Stars will be chosen via player voting): Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Rafa Márquez (New York Red Bulls), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

[polldaddy poll=5244490]

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So long Jordan Harvey, a true original Zolo

Posted on 07 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Defender Jordan Harvey will join former Zolo Shea Salinas out in Vancouver after Piotr Nowak made a move for allocation money, prompting chatter about who his sights are set on once the transfer window opens on July 15th.

There will be an outcry from fans on this one as Harvey has been one of the most dependable and present players in the Union’s revamped backline this season. He was also an original, joining via the Expansion Draft held back in on November 25, 2009. It certainly signals, though, that Nowak either has his eye on a high-profile left back or that he trusts Keon Daniel and the Farfan twins to man the position while the Union add a creative playmaker to continue. The question is, however, why mess with a defense that is still among the league’s best? And between Harvey and right-back Sheanon Williams, both making roughly $100,000 combined, how much will it really free up?  

All told, this is going to be tough pill for Union fans to swallow as Harvey – though not flashy or full of flair at the left back position – was a player fans came to love on and off the pitch. Give us your thoughts? Angry Nowak is breaking up that back four? Excited for what he’s got up his sleeve next?

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Two new additions for the Union, Esky is one

Posted on 15 June 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Only days after signing La Liga veteran Veljko Paunovic for depth in the strike force, the Union brought former #1 SuperDraft pick, Alecko Eskandarian, and 2004 MLS Cup winner under Piotr Nowak into the fold. Eskandarian just finished up his degree at the University of Virginia and spent the fall of 2010 as an assistant coach at his alma mater. The former MLS star will report to John Hackworth as youth technical director, where he will oversee the development of the Union’s academy. We had seen Alecko around PPL Park quite a bit recently and were hoping that this would be the outcome.

At only 27, Eskandarian was forced into retirement (“indefinite leave”) last year (much like Taylor Twellman) after repeated concussions – suffered over the course of his young career – left him battling symptoms daily and at further risk for permanent damage if he continued to play. Making the best of the adversity, he went back to school at the University of Virginia and finished up his degree and took in as much as he could serving as assistant coach to one of the best collegiate coaches in all of NCAA soccer, George Gelnovatch. At only 28, he joins former DC United teammate and current Union team coordinator Josh Gros (also forced to retire to due to concussions) in Philadelphia.

Paunovic, a veteran through and through – most notably with Atletico Madrid, will end a two and a half year retirement in order to suit up for the Union. Having been on trial for more than a month now, the 33-year old joined on Monday and will be available to travel to Vancouver for this Saturday’s match vs. the Whitecaps.

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Union Former Player Update: Jacobson has a big week for FC Dallas

Posted on 31 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

Major League Soccer

Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas) – midweek, Jacobson grabbed his second assist of the season, supplying Brek Shea with the gamewinner over the Seattle Sounders; Jacobson then registered his first goal with Dallas, the first of a wild 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo; after a shot from Fabian Castillo clanked off the crossbar, Jacobson had the presence of mind to head the rebound back on net, opening the scoring

Chris Seitz (FC Dallas) – Seitz dressed but did not play in the Hoops’ 1-0 win over Seattle or their weekend 2-2 tie with Houston, started and played all 90 minutes for the Reserves in their 3-2 victory over Houston’s reserves on Sunday

Shavar Thomas (Sporting Kansas City) – did not dress in Kansas City’s 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids, also didn’t play in the Kansas City reserve squad’s 1-1 tie with Colorado on Sunday; Thomas has been called up for Jamaica’s 2011 Gold Cup campaign (June 5 to June 25th)

Brian Perk (Los Angeles) – did not dress for Los Angeles’ 1-0 win over the New England Revolution or their midweek shutout of the Houston Dynamo

Shea Salinas (Vancouver) – there is turmoil in Vancouver as head coach Teitur Thordarson has been replaced even before the season’s half-way point; Salinas started and played 67 minutes in a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls in Vancouver

Fred (DC United) – Fred was a late game substitute for United as they held off Portland to become the first away team to win at JELD-WEN Field

Alejandro Moreno (Chivas USA) – started and played 79 minutes in a dramatic 3-3 back and forth against Columbus; reported afterwards for international duty with Venezuela and could miss up to 10 Major League Soccer games over the span of the next six weeks; the club is in negotiations to keep him around for as many games as possible

NASL

Eduardo Coudet (Fort Lauderdale) – Chacho was the most dangerous player on the field for the Strikers but even with multiple opportunities, Fort Lauderdale had to settle for a 0-0 draw with the Montreal Impact

Cristian Arrieta (Fort Lauderdale) – started in defense for Fort Lauderdale as they tied the Montreal Impact 0-0

Toni Stahl (Fort Lauderdale) – started in midfield for the Strikers as they fought to 0-0 with MLS-bound Montreal

Brad Knighton (Carolina) – Knighton registered another shutout as the Railhawks beat the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 at home; it is their record 5th consecutive win as they move to 7-1-1 on the year; Knighton has only let up 8 goals in 9 games so far this season

Nick Zimmerman (Carolina) – started and played all 90 minutes as Carolina left it until late to take the three points from Atlanta; Zimmerman is turning out to be a great complement to both Pablo Campos and Etienne Barbara up front, the Railhawks are now unbeaten in their last 8 games

USL PRO

JT Noone (Harrisburg) – Noone started and worked 78 minutes in a 2-1 loss to the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium; the City Islanders are still searching for decent results since Noone’s signing in early May; they’ll get their chance tonight when they face Pittsburgh at 7:00PM at home

Abroad

Dave Myrie (Limon FC) – Myrie’s contract with his hometown team is up and it is rumored that he is looking for a new club; Limon FC, however, has come out and said that they hope to re-sign the fullback, hopefully before he gets his chance in the Copa America; Myrie did not make the cut for the Gold Cup roster (their ‘A’ team)

Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis FC) – still no word on Orozco Fiscal; nothing to be found anywhere (if you have something, let us know!)

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