Wednesday Afternoon Union Freekicks: Hump Day

LECCE, ITALY - JANUARY 08: Alessandro Del Piero of Juventus during the Serie A match between US Lecce and Juventus FC at Stadio Via del Mare on January 8, 2012 in Lecce, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Union, MLS, and U.S. National team related news and notes...

Union players set sights on winning record for Hackworth [Dave Zeitlin, MLSsoccer.com] - "[As] upset as the players were with themselves following this past Saturday's scoreless draw with New England, they seemed to feel even worse for manager John Hackworth."

Comcast subscribers will not see Friday's U.S. national team World Cup qualifier live [Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com] - Big credit to JT, who's been more on top of this story than anyone else in the U.S. soccer sphere. It seems as though Comcast's deal to carry beINSport came just too close to Friday's match for the technical arrangements to be in place in time. Disappointing.

Del Piero kicks-off new era for A-League [Rob Brooks, ESPNFC] - "To point out the obvious, the capture of Del Piero by A-League club Sydney FC is significant. So significant, in fact, that it can be compared to David Beckham moving to Los Angeles to become the face of the MLS."

Inside Doop: Playoffs hopes dead for Union [Dave Zeitlin, CSNPhilly.com] - "Months from now, when looking back on the 2012 MLS season, you can circle this past week as the one when all remaining playoff hopes essentially died for the Union."

USMNT plays basketball & learns how to tear phonebooks [Robert Andrew Powell, MLSsoccer.com] - "In a hotel conference room here, motivational minister Donnie Moore displayed feats of strength - tearing a phone book in half, ripping apart a license plate, crushing a full Pepsi can in his hands - to convince the Yanks they are in control their lives and playing careers, starting Friday with their World Cup qualifier against Jamaica in Kingston."

U.S. Rises, Mexico Falls In Latest FIFA Rankings [Ryan Rosenblatt, Stars and Stripes FC] - "The latest FIFA rankings are out and they have taken notice of the United States' victory over Mexico at Estadio Azteca. El Tri are still ahead of the U.S., but they dropped three spots from 18th to 21st, while the Americans moved up three spots to 33rd."

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