Houston Dynamo v Philadelphia Union - 1st Leg

MLS on NBC Sports Network: Philadelphia Union hosts Colorado


Philadelphia will stand sentinel over that wonderful home record of two seasons at PPL Park in suburban Chester, taking on Colorado this afternoon on NBC Sports Network. (4 p.m., ET).

Here are five quick stories to follow as Arlo White and Kyle Martino provide the sounds from Major League Soccer’s most picturesque stadium setting.

  • Rapids striker Conor Casey remains unavailable, still recovering from last year’s Achilles tear. That means Omar Cummings must work double duty, although the Jamaican international never quite seems the same without Casey’s brute force to balance his speed. On the other hand, Jaime Castrillon had a sharp debut as the offensive focal point of coach Oscar Pareja’s 4-3-3. Keep an eye on him.
  • Union boss Peter Nowak has never been afraid to roll out a young squad. The Union roster’s average age is a shade over 23 years old. That’s also about the average age of his D.C. United roster back in the 2004 MLS Championship season. (That assembly was slightly skewed by Freddy Adu, who was 15 at the time.) Adu is 22 now, practically among the old men on Nowak’s budding squad.
  • Speaking of young: Union first-year starting goalkeeper Zac MacMath is just 20. He was fine in last week’s rainy loss to Portland, that one notorious moment as the exception.  So, we’ll see how he responds after a week to think about it. Left back Porfirio Lopez definitely has something to prove after being turned inside-out Monday by Portland’s Kalif Alhassan. (More on that and other Brotherly matters are here.)
  • I talked to Adu during the preseason. We talked about Nowak’s tough love and about their close relationship – they’ve been together a lot of years now two stints. He also told me he loves the classic No. 10 role, pulling the offensive strings while operating behind a striker. But that position doesn’t really exist in Nowak’s system, so Adu operates from closer to the wings. He says he’s OK with it, and I believe him. Still, not everyone believes that’s Adu’s ideal deployment.
  • The Union’s two-year record at home really is something, having lost just four times in 32 outings – truly excellent for a club just now in its third year of existence. But the Union are coming off a toughie. And Colorado is on the short list of teams having experienced success at PPL, with a draw in 2010 and a win in Chester last year. The Rapids chances improve if captain Pablo Mastroeni can play (it looks good right now) after last week’s concerning head injury. Either way, Rapids midfield rock (and usual Mastroeni partner) Jeff Larentowicz will be on the job.

Puksas Award finalists: Somehow absent is USWNT’s Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, USWNT
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FIFA announced on Monday its three-man list of finalists for the 2015 Puskas Award, handed out each year to the player who scored the “most beautiful” goal of the past calendar year.

[ MORE: 2015 Ballon d’Or finalists ]

The three men up for this year’s honor are Alessandro Florenzi (WATCH HERE), Lionel Messi (WATCH HERE) and Wendell Lira (WATCH HERE) — all scorers of fantastically beautiful goals this year.

That means Carli Lloyd, who made the original list of nominees before being whittled down to just three, is shockingly tragically scandalously criminally not a finalist for this year’s award. Reminder: This is the goal we’re talking about.

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

So, here’s the case for Lloyd:

  • She scored from midfield
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick in the 16th minute

How in the world is Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal to complete a 16-minute hat trick and win a World Cup final not a top-three goal of the year? You got some (more) explaining to do, FIFA.

Beckham group abandons latest plans for Miami MLS stadium

David Beckham
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All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.

Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:

“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”

“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Eastern Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”

MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.

“Goal” writer pitching a Jamie Vardy movie: But who would play Kaspar Schmeichel?

Jamie Vardy, Leicester City FC
AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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There are certainly already some comparisons between new Premier League record holder Jamie Vardy and fictional Santiago Munez from the “Goal!” movies.

But that isn’t going to stop “Goal” screenwriter Adrian Butchart from heading to Tinseltown and pitching the Vardy story as a basis for a new film, according to The Sun.

[ PL PLAYBACK: Vardy Party, and Costa out at Chelsea? ]

And he’s got a who’s who of young actors in mind for the role of Vardy.

From The Sun:

Butchart believes Hollywood A-listers Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and Zac Efron all have potential to fill Vardy’s boots in a film version of his life.

Unfortunately, they don’t ask Butchart who should play Claudio Ranieri, or Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Fortunately, we’re here with our cast (The first one is easy):

Aaron Paul as Vardy.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Van Nistelrooy.

James Franco as Riyad Mahrez.

Tommy Lee Jones as Ranieri.

Ryan Gosling as Kaspar Schmeichel.

Liam Neeson as Nigel Pearson.

And Danny Drinkwater as himself.

Report says Impact will add 96-times capped Ivorian defender

Monaco's Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov (L) challenges Montpellier's Ivorian defender Siaka Tiene (R) during the French L1 football match between Montpellier and Monaco at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier on September 24, 2014.   AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT        (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Eastern Conference’s second-stingiest team is looking to enhance its already-strong back line.

Joining MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman could be Siaka Tiene, a longtime international teammate of Didier Drogba on the Ivory Coast squad.

[ MORE: Timbers hold off Dallas | Crew advances past RBNY ]

The 96-times capped Tiene will be 34 when next season starts, but will have fresh legs having not played since last season ended for Montpellier.

MLSSoccer.com does the translation work for us:

A report from RDS.ca states that the Impact have signed 33-year-old left back Siaka Tiéné, an Ivory Coast international who boasts World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.

Aside from Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo is the only Impact back currently under contract.

Tiene played relatively well last season, but was limited to just 17 appearances in Ligue 1.