Blogs > Union Tally

A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Saturday, February 6, 2016

So it begins: Five things to watch in the preseason opener vs. Jacksonville (w/ livestream)

The first game of preseason may mean little in the grand scheme of a lengthy soccer season. But the Philadelphia Union’s inauspicious exhibition start last year ushered in an equally underwhelming campaign.

There’s no causality between the 3-1 loss to Jacksonville Armada 364 days ago and the sluggish start to the MLS season or the disappointing exclusion from the postseason for a fifth time in six seasons. But that doesn’t completely strip Saturday’s return voyage to Jacksonville of meaning. (Livestream is available on the Union's website, and embedded below.)

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


Last year’s meeting was more pertinent for the hosts, playing the first competitive match in franchise history and jumping out to an early lead before 13,000 spectators. It also featured an Andrew Wenger goal, a rare sight that wouldn’t manifest itself in a meaningful game for another five months. Seven of the starters in last year’s game are no longer with the Union (though one never was, to be fair).

So what’s in store this time around? Here are five things to watch for:

Formation. Jim Curtin and his staff have played it coy on committing to a formation. We’re left to speculate that it’ll be a 4-3-3, which seems to fit the personnel, but what will that look like in practice? How will (presumably) Tranquillo Barnetta and Vincent Nogueira space themselves in central midfield? What balances will be struck by wingers like Sebastien Le Toux and Chris Pontius cutting inside? Will the professed desire for fullbacks to get higher up the pitch result in concrete changes? Where does Roland Alberg fit?

Changes in concepts. Earnie Stewart wants the Union to change the way they play in some fundamental ways. Even accounting for lack of sharpness, fitness and familiarity with each other, glimmers of that should shine through. We can get certain indications about certain precepts – ideas like short passing, playing out of the back, schemes for pressuring the ball – are sinking in.

The defensive hierarchy. The draft process likely leaves Joshua Yaro a little more fit than Anderson Conceicao, so no grand declarations if he gets the nod to start the game at center back. But seeing both of those guys play alongside Richie Marquez could give indications as to Curtin’s thinking on pairings.

Trialists? The Union have been uncharacteristically mum about who’s in camp. Last year, their openness on that matter still resulted in the brief dawn and eclipse of the Pape Gassama era. If the Union repeat last season’s tack of utilizing three waves of outfield players in 30-minute shifts, we’ll be exposed to plenty of the candidates.

A little patience. The Union are playing six preseason matches, the other five against MLS opposition. The hefty workload differs from previous years’ sketches, which certainly stems from Stewart’s influence. Last year’s Armada loss was followed by winning the Suncoast Invitational, which led to the disastrous start to the season. Those are the perils of ascribing too much meaning to any result before the games that matter start.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Doing the math: How close is the Union to a full roster?

A move like Thursday’s capture of Dutch midfielder Roland Alberg has been long anticipated, and one could argue that it’s the biggest non-draft acquisition of the Philadelphia Union’s offseason. (Or at least that’s the hope provided by Alberg’s potential contributions.)

The Union stand on the eve of their first preseason game with a roster occupying both ends of the spectrum. On the one side, it stands at 21 players, theoretically nowhere near the MLS-permitted maximum of 28 players. On the other, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart has made it no secret that the objective “(is) not to fill every spot,” but rather to build a stable and sturdy lineup according to the Union’s perceptions, not external expectations.

The guiding mythos of that search seems to be Stewart’s declaration of being two-deep at every position. By that lens, how far are the Union from a completed squad? In basic math, they’re at least one player shy, plus the unavoidable need for a third goalkeeper.

But otherwise, the offseason rebuild may not be far from completion. Consider these two formations, in the assumption of a 4-3-3 (left to right):

Blake
Fabinho-Marquez-Yaro-Gaddis
Edu
Nogueira-Barnetta
Alberg-Sapong-Pontius
McCarthy
Washington-Conceicao-????-Rosenberry
Carroll
Creavalle-Fernandes
Ayuk-Herbers-Le Toux
Extra: Restrepo
 
Listed above are 22 players, all but one of whom (Taylor Washington) has a deal for the 2016 season. There’s only one bona fide question mark among the first two teams, that being a fourth center back on the depth charter. They drafted Mitch Lurie in the third round of the draft, and he’s one candidate for a cheap, American fix. That player, Lurie or not, would presumably by player No. 23 on the roster.

The second XI indicates a weakness in the lack of a reserve No. 8. Theoretically, Tranquillo Barnetta could play there with Alberg or Leo Fernandes as a No. 10. The defensive responsibilities of that position are probably a little beyond Fernandes. That’s an area to look at for player No. 24.

Another forward option could be player No. 25, as I can’t imagine the idea of entering the season with Fabian Herbers as the only reserve center forward being the ideal situation. And a third goalie, obviously beyond those first two XIs, would seem to be the priority for slot No. 26.

Limiting the roster there would allow the Union the flexibility it desires to bring up players from Bethlehem Steel if they prove worthy. It also provides room for summer dealings if Stewart’s observations of his assets in game action fall short of predictions and he opts for replacements.

For this window, then, the Union’s dealings could be near an end.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

What they said: Highlights from Union media day

At his first Union media day, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart
had plenty to say. (Times File)
As far as I can recall, Thursday marked the first Philadelphia Union media day (at least in the three-plus seasons I’ve been covering the team), which gave reporters an opportunity to sit down with players and get some info ahead of the season.

Among the headlines were Maurice Edu’s position and national team prospects, plus a lot of the usual status talk from Jim Curtin and Earnie Stewart. All that and more will produce hours of sound, video and reading for the coming days (keep an eye out for some rookie profiles and more next week).

But the couple of hours’ worth of conversations yielded a few gem quotes, so let’s throw a few of the best out there.

Let’s start with Sporting Director Earnie Stewart, who had a couple of provocative responses. The first, about off days which I thought was worthy of tweeting, may be a little splashy in the message that can be distilled from it, but it’s a thoughtful response that warrants some real consideration and discussion. This came from a question of roadblocks that Stewart has encountered in MLS that maybe surprised him. It also, for what it’s worth, echoes many of the criticisms of college soccer and its efficacy as a player development tool:
There’s rules that you have to abide by that I’m not used to, when it comes to days off in a week that are mandatory from a players’ union perspective or mandatory vacation days that there are. I’m not used to that. It’s a short period of time. I feel in the United States, we’re working very hard to create players that are world class players. And on the other hand, we have a lot of days off, and the combination of those two, I don’t get. So those are things that I have to get used to, and hopefully towards the future, we can tweak those because I think for every sport, no matter if it’s soccer or if you look at swimmers or what they do every single day getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning and then practicing in the afternoon. If they want to be Olympians and they want to get a gold medal, they have to work hard. And vacation will come someday. But not when you’re in the prime of your life. So those are things that you have to get used to, but they are what they are.
Stewart also had an interesting response (at least to me) to Kevin Kinkead’s question about the difference between American soccer media and its European counterpart:
There’s not too much. They ask questions, you guys ask questions, it’s all about soccer. I’d say if there’s a difference, it’s the questions asked. I do have to say that in the last two years, and you see that a lot in Europe, it’s usually about the negative things in what’s happening and hardly every reflect on the positive things. And now in my experience with your guys has been that you get both sides of it. When it’s bad, it’s bad, it’s simple as that. But when it’s good, it’s also good. Maybe there’s a small difference there, but nothing major.
Read more »

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Monday, January 25, 2016

In the Bubble: Highlights from Day 1 of Union training camp

There wasn't a whole lot going on at the first day
of Union training camp at the Bubble at Penn Monday.
As first days go for the Philadelphia Union, Monday’s practice at Dunning-Cohen Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania was stunningly uneventful. To the media throng (ahem) in attendance, there was little of the drama of past years. No established star was told they didn’t have a place on the team, no one walked out, and there wasn’t much in the way of mystery trialists.

Instead, the Union’s lively session consisted mostly of new, unfamiliar faces. With many veteran mainstays cleaned out by the offseason roster cull, there were frankly a bunch of guys no one recognized and whose identities may not be very important unless you’re a devoted follower of USL. Here are a few observations:

- Two important takeaways: Much of the field was populated by current or prospective Bethlehem Steel players. That includes all six signed players signed – Boluwatife Akinyode, Michael Daly (pretty sure on this one, but not 100 percent), Gabe Gissie, Ryan Richter, Derrick Jones and goalkeeper Samir Badr. Many of the other players in attendance are likely vying for USL deals more so than realistically threatening for MLS positions. (Former Harrisburg and Rochester defender Ken Tribbett is an example.) There were also several Academy players training – Andrew Verdi in goal, I believe Auston Trusty was there before he departs for the U.S. U-19 camp later this week. Remember, when the Union are in Florida, there are dozens of players doing the camp-to-camp hop, so trialists are more abundant.

- The second interesting observation: Everyone, save for Maurice Edu, who is recovering from sports hernia surgery, was a full go. The Union rotated three teams of nine players in the 40 minutes we watched. Two played full-field games, while the other ran. Veterans like Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Sebastien Le Toux and Chris Pontius all hit the ground running. The days of Conor Casey sitting on a training table or working the bike for an hour are gone, literally and symbolically. Here’s Jim Curtin on the matter:

“We wanted to set the tone that there’s no pro days or off days for the older guys. We didn’t ease them into it. They were up to the task and were pushed hard. We’re going to be a team that is going to be at the top fitness-wise. We want to be a team that outruns the competition.”

Read more »

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Pondering the legacy of Zach Pfeffer

The Union bid farewell to Homegrown player Zach Pfeffer
after five seasons Friday in a deal with Colorado. (Times File)
An era ended Friday for the Philadelphia Union.

It wasn’t directly related to coaches or management or anything like that.

What ended Friday was the age of affixing outsized significance to the on-field actions of Zach Pfeffer on his narrow shoulders.

A bunch of other switches flipped with the trade of the 21-year-old midfielder to Colorado as the player to be named in the deal that landed the Union the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s SuperDraft and defender Joshua Yaro.

Pfeffer’s departure marks a clear end of what we can call the Nowak/Hackworth era of Homegrown signings, Pfeffer joining fellow honorees Jimmy McLaughlin and Cristhian Hernandez in the hallowed ranks of former Union members in a campaign that has been an unabashed failure. Pfeffer’s trade kicks out the crutch that often buckled under the weight of the Nick Sakiewicz regime that trumpeted commitment to Homegrown players out of one side of its mouth and whose only recourse was to point to Pfeffer in a desperate act of HG tokenism. (“See, we’re committed to Homegrowns. Look how Zach Pfeffer almost played last week.”)
Read more »

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Union make moves, grab Yaro, Rosenberry, Herbers at SuperDraft

BALTIMORE >> MLS Commissioner Don Garber wasn’t even done with his opening address before the Philadelphia Union made a splash.

The Union acquired the No. 2 overall pick from Colorado for general allocation money and a player to be named, then brought in a haul of young players with picks in the top six, starting with two Georgetown players.

At No. 2, they selected the player most expected to go No. 1, Georgetown defender Joshua Yaro. The Ghanaian is a member of Generation Adidas. There’s some question as to where the 5-11, 163-pounder will play in the pros after three years at Georgetown as a center back, but he’s a good fit on the right as well.

With their natural selection, third overall, the Union surprised some by taking former academy product Keegan Rosenberry. The Union have a Homegrown claim denied on the right back, but took the senior anyway at No. 3.

Wake Forest’s Jack Harrison went first overall.

With the sixth pick, the Union selected German-born midfielder Fabian Herbers of Creighton. The 6-0, 170-pound scored 15 goals and dished 17 assists for the Blue Jays as a junior. He's a Generation Adidas signing. The Union had acquired the sixth pick from Houston in the Andrew Wenger-Cristian Maidana trade in December.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Union sign Brazilian deender Conceicao

The Philadelphia Union’s first international acquisition of January was sealed Wednesday.

The club acquired 26-year-old Brazilian defender Anderson Conceicao on loan from Brazilian third-division club Tombense FC for the 2016 season.

Conceicao is a left-footer who can play left back and center back with good size at 6-foot-2. The native of Caravelas has spent most of his career in Brazil, primarily in the second division, Campeonato Brasileiro Serie B. He also spent a season on loan with Spanish club Mallorca, appearing 16 times in La Liga and 19 times in all competitions in a season where Los Bermellones were relegated.

Last season, Conceicao helped America Mineiro achieve promotion to Serie A, playing 30 matches for the club as it finished fourth in Serie B. Looks like he also played for 2014 champions Joinville.

“Anderson’s natural athletic ability and winning pedigree was really something we zeroed in on during our offseason assessment,” Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said in a team statement. “He’s the type of defender who really addresses some of our technical needs and we strongly believe we’re getting someone who is committed to helping build the next chapter of our club.”

Conceicao is only the fourth defender under contract for the Union in 2015, joining Maurice Edu, Ray Gaddis and Richie Marquez. He’s the 16th player on the Union roster overall, joining Tuesday’s acquisition, winger Walter Restrepo.
Below are a few videos of his highlights. First from Mallorca:



The others are older. He spent 2012 at Figueirense:



And then 2011-12 at Criciuma:



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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Union release 2016 schedule

MLS finally revealed its much delayed schedule Thursday, and the prospects for national exposure are fairly glum for the Union. They have just three national TV dates, two in UniMas Friday night affairs with Orlando City April 8 and D.C. United May 20. They are slated to be on FS1 July 17 vs. New York Red Bulls. They aren’t listed for any ESPN dates. By contrasted, the Union were scheduled for eight national TV dates last year.

Other dates of interest:

- Check the backlog in May that features six games in 22 days. There’s also three straight road trips to Portland, Toronto and Red Bulls in September and October, plus an October bye week that hampers the Union’s hopes of playing catchup late in the season. They also play Red Bulls twice in the last three games.

- This year’s western road trips include Seattle, Union East (Houston), MLS Cup holders Portland, Colorado and FC Dallas in the opener.

- Sporting KC returns to Talen Energy Park for the first time since the U.S. Open Cup final Aug. 27.

Full list is below.Here's the link to the schedule on MLS' site.

March 6: at FC Dallas, 3
March 12: at Columbus, TBD
March 20: New England, 2
April 2: at Chicago, 5
April 8: Orlando City, 7 (UniMas)
April 16: at Seattle, 10
April 23: NYCFC, TBD
April 30: San Jose, TBD
May 11: L.A. Galaxy, TBD
May 14: at Montreal, TBD
May 20: D.C. United, 7 (UniMas)
May 25: at Orlando City, 7:30
May 28: at Colorado, 9
June 1: Columbus, TBD
June 18: at NYCFC, TBD
June 22: Chicago, TBD
June 25: Vancouver, TBD
July 2: at Houston, TBD
July 9: D.C. United, TBD
July 17: Red Bulls, 7 (FS1)
July 23: at Montreal, TBD
July 31: Real Salt Lake, TBD
Aug. 6: at D.C. United, 7
Aug. 13: at New England, 7:30
Aug. 20: Toronto, TBD
Aug. 24: at Columbus, 7:30
Aug. 27: Sporting KC, TBD
Sept. 3: at Chicago, 8:30
Sept. 10: Montreal, TBD
Sept. 17: at Portland, 6
Sept. 24: at Toronto, TBD
Oct. 1: at Red Bulls, 7
Oct. 16: Orlando City, 5
Oct. 23: Red Bulls, 4

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The 'killer' problem revealed by Nowak and the Union

Court documents revealed this week show the depth of dysfunction
behind the scenes during Peter Nowak's tenure with the Union.
(Times File)
For those residing in the peculiar Venn diagram overlap of “people who follow the Philadelphia Union” and “people with a high tolerance for digging through legalese,” this last day has been a whirlwind. Jonathan Tannenwald at Philly.com Tuesday night obtained many of the relevant documents relating to the long-standing lawsuit between Peter Nowak and related entities for wrongful termination from the Philadelphia Union, and more documents were made public Wednesday. You can find a tidy listing of the highlights divulged by Tannenwald’s tweets here at the Brotherly Game, and it's worth picking through his timeline for gems.

All the documents are available at Philly Soccer Page, and I’d expect plenty more reaction there in the coming days. If nothing else, Steve Holroyd’s guide behind the curtain of arbitration proceedings such as these is extremely helpful.

In the over 700 pages of disclosures, there is plenty of new information, lurid details and downright concerning glances at the inner workings of the early Union franchise. Among the very important documentation is Nowak’s contract, liked at PSP as Exhibit A. (All of these links will be pdfs, so browsers beware). The most pertinent are the two parts of Exhibit C, which is the Union’s post-hearing brief. Tab 1 is more detailed; Tab 2 is more condensed. Nowak’s post-hearing brief is available in Exhibit D.

Exhibit G is arbitrator Margaret Brogan’s interim decision, followed by her final award in Exhibit L, which finds decisively in the Union’s favor and orders Nowak to pay nearly a half-million dollars in legal fees.

There are many points of granular interest. But I want to pinpoint something else that is inherent in the text and that still has real ramifications for the Union. To be sure, Nowak’s influence has waned. The number of players exposed to his brand of management number in the single digits, and the hiring of a real sporting director in Earnie Stewart is further hope for the maturation of the Union as an organization in the club’s second half-decade. Beyond the headline-catching salacious details – and yes, it’s taken me this long to type the word “spanking” – the ramifications of the disclosures echo much farther down the line, which imbues the past with greater significance.

First, the files The crux of the determination for Nowak’s dismissal and the subsequent reason why Brogan found that not to have constituted wrongful termination lies in the opening months of 2012. Nowak was fired June 13, 2012, and the timeline of events leading up to that are a bender of disconcerting behavior.

Here’s the rough timeline, as alleged in Exhibit C , Tab 2, from the Union’s perspective, many of the details of which Nowak was only made aware of after his firing:
Read more »

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A case for Curtin: One reason why 2015 was unduly harsh

In Tuesday’s paper, I argued that seeming dissonance within the Philadelphia Union’s new front-office situation could be avoided proactively this offseason.

But there’s another reason why Jim Curtin should at least get a shot at one year as the coach under Earnie Stewart: His first full season was a disaster well out of his control. That’s not (entirely) a Rais M’Bolhi joke; it’s merely a reflection of the changes inflicted upon the manager.

Here’s a list of the formations assembled by Curtin for the Union’s 39 competitive matches this season (34 in MLS and five Open Cup ties):

Union formations

For those not willing to pore over the details (hint: if you stare at the word “Lahoud” long enough, it starts to become divorced of its meaning), here are the highlights.

- In 39 matches, Curtin diagramed 38 unique starting XIs. That means only twice this season did the same group of 11 players start multiple games. There is some noise contained therein – flopping Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis midseason, for instance, or the shuffling of Tranquillo Barnetta and Cristian Maidana between the wing and centrally – but it still speaks to monstrous and persistent doses of upheaval.

- You may think this has something to do with the carousel of goalies the Union used, and it does to a degree. But looking at just the outfield players, Curtin still cobbled together 36 unique assemblages of field players.

- Let’s make it even simpler: How many permutations of the six attacking players have the Union deployed? That answer is still alarmingly large: 30. (And that’s accounting merely for the players selected, regardless of shifting positions from wing to wing, etc.)

The reasons behind this are easy to comprehend. An impact player in Barnetta arrived midseason. Another fixture, Williams, departed. There’s the injury crisis, which was covered previously and culminated with 112 man-games lost by 21 players (full list below). Then there’s discipline: Despite the Union being atop the disciplinary points table and up for the Fair Play Miss Congeniality award, they lost 14 games to suspension in MLS, including CJ Sapong’s three-game absence for entrance into the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. The Union picked up five red cards in MLS, tied for fifth-most, and two in the Open Cup; three of those ejections had additional games tacked on by MLS Disciplinary Committee review.

It may sound trite to wonder how many coaches would have made the playoffs given this set of circumstances. But at the very least, Curtin’s ability to keep this group together and within a few inches of a trophy should warrant another shot on the bench.

2015 man games lost Blake 11 (knee, twice); McCarthy 1 (concussion); Sylvestre 10 (hand five, knee five); Williams 2 (hamstring); Gaddis 1 (ankle); Vitoria 11 (groin); Fabinho 2 (heel); Marquez 1 (ankle); Edu 9 (groin); Nogueira 5 (ankle three, quad two); Le Toux 3 (knee); Wenger 7 (concussion five, knee two); Maidana 3 (knee); Sapong 3 (concussion/facial fracture); Aristeguieta 8 (quad two, ankle six); Lahoud 13 (hip); Pfeffer 2 (groin); Casey 9 (ab three, quad six); Hoppenot 4 (hamstring); McLaughlin 6 (concussion three, appendix three); Ayuk 1 (ankle). Total: 112 by 21 players.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Forging Steel: What a Brendan Burke-led Bethlehem could look like

Bethlehem Steel FC coach Brendan Burke, center,
flanked by Union head coach Jim Curtin and minority owner Richie Graham
at an introductory press conference Thursday, has some big ideas how to grow
the Union's new USL squad.
The two most important pieces of the Philadelphia Union’s new USL team – the name and the coach – fell into place this week. Now the task laid at the feet of Union coach Jim Curtin, his Bethlehem Steel counterpart Brendan Burke and (eventually) sporting director Earnie Stewart becomes stocking a roster to compete in USL and boost the depth of talent available to the Union.

Burke seemed eager to go about that task, and offered several major hints about what that will look like Thursday at his inaugural press conference. Here are three non-contiguous quotes:
“I think it’s important to have a veteran core. There will be some guys in the 25-28 age range on this team. They need to be leaders by example. They need to be guys who’ve won in this league. … Winning is a part of the development. And in order to do that, you need a proven commodity. There are going to be players coming down from the first team so we know we’re going to get excellent help and support and be able to support those players with the minutes they need. …

“There’s going to be a lot of players over the next few months that I’ve coached in the past that are going to be hopefully reaching out and coming home as well, and I think the relationship with our first-team players was an important part of the process for me in deciding whether or not this was going to be the perfect opportunity, and that’s what I think this is. ...

“I think you’ll see some of our guys in the coming weeks and months possibly sign with Bethlehem right out of the Academy.”
That’s a lot to break down, so here goes:

First, the question of how many players a USL team requires. You’ve got 28 on the MLS roster, only 18 of whom can play every week. Conservatively, that leaves four to six to use in USL weekly.
Read more »

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Meet the new boss: Odds and ends from Jay Sugarman on Earnie Stewart

News broke Monday morning that the Philadelphia Union landed Earnie Stewart as its technical director. First and foremost, it's a move that was widely hailed within American soccer circles, including many pundits who've found precious little in the past to be excited about in Philadelphia. This one is particularly pertinent:

Jay Sugarman held a conference call Monday, and lots of information was divulged in the 30 minutes he addressed the media. Some highlights:

- Sugarman was effusive in his praise of Stewart's work ethic and vision, in a lot of the areas that the Union have emphasized. Sugarman stopped short of deeming Stewart the perfect candidate, but when you consider the criteria listed by Sugarman last November and again Oct. 2 in the wake of Nick Sakiewicz's firing, Stewart fits the bill pretty comprehensively.
"I think I feel pretty strongly we needed a real firm direction, just in terms of our playing philosophy and how we’re going to go about building a competitive edge in MLS. What I saw at AZ is they really had a strong track record of finding players that fit their team system, and we’re counting on him to do the same here. I think we have obviously room to elevate the quality of our scouting and our recruiting and our player development across the board, and on each of those, what he’s been able to do, what he’s been doing, is a really good fit with how we want to approach the world. He’s a guy that’s very focused on development. He has a real sense of that. We're looking for players who not only think the system can make better but can also make the players around him better and a philosophical way of playing very quickly. As we went through a number of individual cases, it was very clear to me that he had a strong sense of how to find real players to fit his system, and that’s guided a lot of his thinking, and that’s kind of what we’ve been looking for. ...
"One of our key criteria, we wanted someone who really wanted to be here. Earnie is I think as far back as 2012 has said that one of his goals in life was to come back and have an impact in the U.S. Soccer stage, to really come back and do something special for the country that he played for and clearly has deep feelings or and wanted to help us succeed but also help U.S. soccer continue to grow. So that was really important to me. I wanted someone who took that commitment seriously, who was willing to make a long-term commitment to the Union but also see their place in helping to grow the entire sport in the U.S. I look back at his playing record, you look back at how he went about developing himself as a young player and that kind of intense work ethic, he told a lot of stories about going out after practices on his own with Brian Carroll in D.C, and going out after practices and working on their own to make themselves better players. That’s the kind of mentality we think not only do we need at the Union and want at the Union but is part of the maturity process that the entire U.S. Soccer program is going through. Earnie is a great figurehead for that, and we’re delighted that he can come to the Union to make that impact."
- Sugarman didn't say how Stewart's name came up as a candidate. He said that Jim Curtin and Richie Graham were among the many parties involved in the search. Stewart's name didn't come up through MLS headquarters, though Sugarman did say the team contacted MLS when vetting Stewart.
Read more »

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