TOUGH TIMES lie ahead for the three boneheads who thought it cool to bring road flares into Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Celtic FC.
According to a source close to the situation, the three, all said to hail from New York, were arrested. Two of them were arraigned on charges of reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. For them, bail was set at $50,000. The third man, dubbed by Union president Tom Veit as "the drunken idiot," spent some time in the clink. Veit said the man was allowed to sober up and was given a notice to appear in court at a later date.
Calls placed to the Chester Police Department late yesterday to confirm were unsuccessful, but court records online showed that the pair facing the most serious charges were Kevin John Diamond, 34, of Queens, N.Y., and James Andrew Shields, 30, of Bronx, N.Y. The "drunken idiot" was not listed.
Late in the second half, with their team trailing, three Celtic supporters sitting in the endline section set off flares that lit up the southeast stands, much to the dismay of fans who now had their view of the game obstructed by plumes of smoke.
Veit said security asked the men to extinguish the hazardous items. Instead, the men decided to dance around, swinging the flares above their heads. Two of the men then got into a scuffle with police, and stadium officials added resisting arrest charges.
In Europe and South America, it's customary for flares to be set off during soccer matches. In fact, it's arguable that the bright light and the smoke actually add to the ambience. However, flares are banned in all MLS stadiums - much to the dismay of Chicago Fire and Los Angeles Galaxy supporters who had a penchant for lighting a flare or two in the past.
Veit was not too pleased about the situation.
"We work very closely with our fans to try and make [PPL Park] a fun environment," Veit said. "The guys in supporters section use some [smoke effects], too, but we know what they are using. We want everyone to come here and have fun, but when you get some drunken idiots that bring in flares, which have the potential to burn and maim people, we have zero tolerance for that, and we agree with the actions of the Chester Police Department wholeheartedly."
I'll admit, the flares added a moment of fandom rarely seen in this part of the world, and it was cool to witness. But in this country, where fandom is trumped by fans' safety, most people can wholeheartedly agree with the actions of Chester police.
Coudet a keeper
Youth and experience put forth one hell of a showing under the lights Wednesday night.
Well, mostly youth, but an experienced newcomer, Argentine midfielder Eduardo Coudet, played a huge role in providing the Union with the win. Coudet, given free reign of the midfield, was effective and efficient in working the ball up the pitch and into the defensive third when pressured.
In his 45 minutes of work, he rarely made a mistake and his ball on a string pass to Sebastien Le Toux in the 23rd minute stamped his arrival as the latest addition to the roster.
"We are close to signing him; he is a guy we have had with us for a while now and we are looking for someone to come in here and be a leader," Union manager Peter Nowak said. "He fits that mold."
Coudet, 35, was a teammate of Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal at San Luis FC in the Mexican First Division. He also has been on the rosters of the legendary clubs Celta Vigo (Spain) and River Plate during his 17-year career. And while many supporters have urged the team to sign a goal scorer by the time the transfer window ends on Aug. 14, Coudet brings that and so much more. (Plus, there is still time and I have a feeling Nowak has something up his sleeve in the coming days).
"He's always been a leader, on the field, in the locker room, and that's what we need right now," said Orozco Fiscal. "He's a playmaker and can provide us with the assists we need. We still have a long way to go this season and bringing him on will definitely help us."
Sources said Coudet could be signed in time for tomorrow's match against Toronto.
Speaking of Toronto . . .
It's a rematch that could erase the memory of a 2-1 loss at BMO Field in a game in which the Union went awry. A Danny Califf clothesline on Julian DeGuzman in the 34th minute left the Union minus one after Califf was sent off. Roger Torres battled back with a goal in the 46th, but midway through the second half, Seitz took out O'Brian White's legs in the box. Long story short: MLS All-Star Dwayne DeRosario converted the penalty kick, Toronto eked the win, the Union players left scratching their collective heads, and now the stage is set for tomorrow afternoon in the house that T.N. Ward built.
Odds and endlines
Manchester United arrives tomorrow and will train at the NovaCare complex, leading up to Wednesday's game against the Union at Lincoln Financial Field. The 7:30 p.m. game will air on ESPN2. Sir Alex Ferguson, Man U's manager, is scheduled to address the media on Monday at a 3:30 p.m. news conference . . . Former Temple standout JT Noone played the entire second half against Celtic as a trialist and looked solid in a midfield role. Despite roaming the flanks, he did a lot of man-marking, which made it difficult to see what he can do on the attack. Noone plays for the Harrisburg City Islanders, one of two developmental squads under the Union.
Shots on goal
Toronto FC (6-4-4) at Union (3-8-2)
When: Tomorrow, 3:30
Where: PPL Park, Chester
On the web: Streaming webcast on MLSSoccer.com
For kicks: Coming off a 1-0 win over Celtic FC Wednesday night, the Union is poised to avenge an April 15 loss to Toronto FC. The Union is 3-1-1 at home in all competitions and is looking to upset MLS All-Star forward Dwayne DeRosario and company . . . DeRosario is third in the league in scoring (eight goals) and sits in a three-way tie for game-winning goals with three . . . Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei has a 1.07 goals-against average and six shutouts . . . Sources say the Union is in the final stages of officially introducing Argentine midfielder Eduardo Coudet, a trialist who emerged as the playmaking hero in the team's win over Celtic.
Out for the Union: Shea Salinas, MF (left ankle contusion); Alejandro Moreno, FW (right knee contusion); questionable: Kyle Nakazawa, MF (right knee sprain); Roger Torres, MF (right ankle injury)
Out for Toronto: Emmanuel Gomez, DF (right knee osteochondral injury); questionable: MF Joseph Nane, MF (right shoulder separation)
HE SAID IT
"He's just got so much confidence right now, and confidence is what strikers need to be successful."
- Union mid Shea Salinas on rookie forward Danny Mwanga
Before 2007, which was the last non-MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup?
A. Harrisburg City Islanders
B. Portland Timbers
C. Montreal Impact
D. Rochester Rhinos
By Jamie Clary, author of the "First American Soccer Trivia Book," available at: www.soccerprofessor.com
Send search engine-free answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
First to respond with the correct answer will win a free copy of Clary's book. Congrats to Ethan Gomberg, of Bountiful, Utah, who last week correctly answered the Los Angeles Galaxy as the only team to make the playoffs in each of MLS' first 10 seasons.