Union

Union's Derrick Jones named to U.S. U-20 World Cup roster

Union's Derrick Jones named to U.S. U-20 World Cup roster

One of the Union’s brightest young stars will get to test himself on a big international stage.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Derrick Jones has been named to the United States roster for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, which will run from May 20 to June 11.

The news comes less than a week after Jones was granted clearance to play for the U.S. He was born in Ghana but moved to Philadelphia when he was 14 and has natural citizenship in the United States.

Union defender Auston Trusty, who played for the U.S. in the CONCACAF U-20 Championships earlier this year — which the Americans won to book their place in the World Cup — will not be joining Jones for the trip to South Korea as he missed the cut.

“As always there were some extremely tough decisions to make,” U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos said in a statement. “This is a talented age group.”

In past years, the Union have had several members of their team do well in the youth ranks, but Jones will be the first active player to participate in the U-20 World Cup. Zach Pfeffer was one of the last cuts two years ago and Amobi Okugo and Zac MacMath likely would have been there in 2011 had the U.S. qualified for the U-20 World Cup, which is held every two years.

Jones has certainly shown to be worthy of the selection. The first homegrown signing to go from the Union youth academy to the first team, the 20-year-old started the first five games of the season before settling into a reserve role when captain Alejandro Bedoya was moved deeper in the midfield. He’s been a key second-half sub in each of the last two games, helping spark a three-goal surge that led to the Union’s first win of the season last weekend.

Jones will miss several Union games as the U.S. U-20 team departs for its initial training camp in Japan on Wednesday with some players joining the group on May 17. It's not yet clear if he'll available for Saturday's Union game vs. D.C. United.

The Americans open group play against Ecuador on May 22, followed by matches with Senegal on May 25 and Saudi Arabia on May 28. All games will be broadcast live on FS1.

Sapong named MLS Player of the Week
The first hat trick of CJ Sapong’s career led to his first MLS Player of the Week award as the Union striker received the well-deserved honor Tuesday.

In Saturday’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, Sapong scored in the 74th and 81st minutes before completing the third hat trick in Union history with an 85th-minute penalty kick. The 11-minute hat trick was tied for the eighth-fastest hat trick in league history.

This marks the eighth time in franchise history that a Union player has been named MLS Player of the Week. Ilsinho was the last to win it after the Brazilian scored twice against D.C. United last July.

The Union return to action against D.C. on Saturday at RFK Stadium (7 p.m., TCN).

Union midfielder Brian Carroll to retire after 15 MLS seasons

usa-brian-carroll-union.jpg
USA Today Images

Union midfielder Brian Carroll to retire after 15 MLS seasons

CHESTER, Pa. — Brian Carroll didn’t play a single minute in his first year in Major League Soccer.

That was in 2003.

Fourteen years later, he’s set to retire as one of the longest-tenured and accomplished players in league history.

Carroll, a mainstay of MLS and the Philadelphia Union, announced his well-deserved retirement Thursday ahead of the Union’s 2017 finale vs. Orlando City SC on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium (4 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+)

If he plays in Sunday’s game, it will be his first minutes of the season as age and injuries have started to creep up to the 36-year-old defensive midfielder who’s been battling for a time in a crowded position.

But as recently as last season, Carroll was still a key player for the Union, who he spent seven of his 15 MLS seasons with, wearing the captain’s armband at times and being a consummate pro in an ever-changing locker room.

In all for the Union, Carroll has played 13,818 minutes, the most in franchise history, and 165 games, second only to Sebastien Le Toux.

Throughout his MLS career, the savvy midfielder known for his tremendous work rate played a total of 370 games (tied for fourth in league history) and 30,776 minutes (sixth all-time), winning championships with his two previous teams — D.C. United in 2004 and the Columbus Crew in 2008. He also won the Supporters’ Shield four straight years, with D.C. in 2006 and 2007 and with Columbus in 2008 and 2009.

His teams made the playoffs in his first nine years in the league, a streak that culminated with the Union’s first-ever postseason appearance in 2011 — his first season in Philly.

Carroll, a former star player at Wake Forest, also had success at the international level, earning eight caps with the U.S. national team and also playing for a couple of U.S. youth teams.

The father of three now plans to move to Indianapolis with his family and embark on a new career in financial planning.

Inside Doop: Lack of star power continues to doom Union

usa-jim-curtin-union.jpg
USA Today Images

Inside Doop: Lack of star power continues to doom Union

At long last, the Union’s season is coming to an end. Even better, they no longer have to play any games on the road this year.

In their final away match of a disappointing 2017 campaign, the Union let a lead slip away in a 3-2 loss to the Fire, finishing the year with a dismal 1-10-6 road record.

What went wrong? And what can we expect from next week’s regular-season finale at Talen Energy Stadium? Here’s a look in the final Inside Doop of 2017:

Three thoughts about Sunday’s game
1. The Union were once again reminded what star power can do for a team. On Sunday, the Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic put on a show with three goals — his 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the season — to all but wrap up a Golden Boot crown and put on his back a Fire team that was without fellow star Bastian Schweinsteiger. In Philly’s last road game, Atlanta also overcame the loss of star Miguel Almiron to ride Josef Martinez to a big win. That’s what happens when you spend a lot of money: you have a stable of difference-makers and their presence trickles down to the rest of the club. The Union, simply, don’t have anything close to that — one of the big reasons why they can’t play well for 90 minutes on the road and why they’ll be missing the playoffs for the sixth time in the franchise’s eight-year history.

2. The closest thing the Union do have to a true star, apart from goalie Andre Blake, is the midfield combo of Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin. And both overcame their recent heartbreak of missing out on the World Cup (Bedoya with the U.S., Medunjnanin with Bosnia and Herzegovina) to put in strong shifts. Medunjanin’s pass to set up Bedoya’s second goal of the season was a thing of beauty — and marked his 11th assist of the season. Say what you want about the Union, but those two are consummate pros and locker room leaders who will do everything in their power to get this thing turned around in 2018.

3. Sadly for the Union, one of their best stories of the season — Jack Elliott — had a night to forget. The rookie center back, who went from fourth-round draft pick to Rookie of the Year contender, lost track of a long ball on the Fire’s first goal and then committed a penalty to set up Nikolic’s second goal. Elliott will still be an important piece heading into 2018, but it’s important to remember that he’s no sure thing, especially after seeing what happened to Keegan Rosenberry and Josh Yaro in their second seasons. Meanwhile, Richie Marquez continued his late-season revival with one of his better games of the year. Raise your hand if you have any kind of handle on the team’s center back situation right now.

Three questions for the week ahead
1. Home finales are usually special no matter how a season turns out but it’s hard to figure what kind of crowd and reception there will be when the Union take on Orlando next Sunday (4 p.m., 6ABC). This has been a trying season for Union fans who watched their team fail to build on any kind of momentum from last year’s playoff berth while lowly teams like Chicago or expansion teams like Atlanta (for the reasons listed above them) skyrocketed past them. At the same time, the Union have been mostly fun to watch at home, where they’ve set a franchise record with nine wins. The chance to go for a 10th victory and have C.J. Sapong break the single-season scoring record could be a couple reasons that people will flock to the stadium — that, and the realization that there will be no more soccer there until March.

2. Another big reason to come to Talen Energy Stadium is to see Kaka, the Brazilian legend who will play his last game in MLS. Who will play their last game for the Union? It’s hard to say for sure but Roland Alberg, Ilsinho, Chris Pontius and Brian Carroll are decent bets as an offseason potentially filled with turnover looms.

3. How will head coach Jim Curtin construct the lineup? He doesn’t like to switch things too much, but fans may be clamoring for young guys like Derrick Jones and Adam Najem while Curtin may want to give something of a send-off to Carroll or Charlie Davies, well-known veterans who have hardly played this year. And what about Maurice Edu? He hasn’t played in more than two years — but will a player who led the Union to back-to-back U.S. Open Cup finals in 2014 and 2015 get to say goodbye to fans in some way?

Stat of the week
Even after Bedoya’s goal Sunday, the Union’s four highest-paid players — Bedoya, Edu, Ilsinho and Jay Simpson — have combined for only seven goals this season.

Quote of the week
"It was definitely nostalgic to come back and play at Toyota Park. When I was younger in the U-16s and the U-18s, I played a lot here when I was with the academy. It was good to come back on the professional side and be able to play on the same field I play it on when I was younger." — Union rookie Marcus Epps

Player of the week
Bedoya scored a very nice goal, made a couple of perfectly timed tackles and generally looked sharp in his first game back from the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying failure. Maybe he should’ve played in Trinidad, huh?