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November Newsletter

Philadelphia Union Academy Star Joins IPZ

WARREN, NJ (November 12, 2020) — Quinn Sullivan, a versatile midfielder and top prospect within the Philadelphia Union (MLS) and USA Soccer, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

The 16-year-old Philadelphia native has been a mainstay within the Philadelphia Union Academy, representing the club at every age group. Most recently, Quinn played as an amateur for the professional side Philadelphia Union II, which in 2020, competed in the United Soccer League Championship (USLC), the second division of United States professional soccer.

Quinn will officially embark on his professional soccer career, starting January 1, 2021, when he joins the First Team of the Philadelphia Union. The Philadelphia Union have a history of developing young talent and were recipients of the 2020 MLS Supporters’ Shield, an achievement given to the club with the best regular season record in MLS.

“I didn’t choose IPZ. IPZ, and in particular Jeff Curtin, chose me,” said Sullivan. “Jeff has watched me play for a number of years and when the early bloomers were attracting the attention of agents and managers, Jeff saw something in me, and would come watch my games whenever he had the chance. My family and I appreciated that. It is obvious that the boutique nature of IPZ allows them to really focus on representing their clients holistically, and the proof is in the results- in a matter of months Jeff was able to secure me both a trial at Borussia Dortmund, a top German club, and a Homegrown Major League Soccer (MLS) contract with my hometown Philadelphia Union. I look forward to a long partnership with IPZ.”

“Quinn is an exceptional young talent,” said Curtin, Managing Director of IPZ. “At just sixteen years old, Quinn is ready to take the next step in his soccer career as a professional. Quinn has the talent, mindset and approach to be a great pro and we are delighted to have him officially join the IPZ family.”

See the Union’s Official Release here.

Luca Bernardi Wins the 2020 Campionato Italiano Velocità SuperSport600

Luca Bernardi, the San Marino rider of the Gomma Racing team, added two more podiums (seven out of eight races) in the historical circuit of Vallelunga in Rome, to clinch the Campionato Italiano Velocità SuperSport600 Championship.

After a tough year, Bernardi clinched the title with 152 points in only his second year participating at this event.

Along with this title, Bernardi has won the 2017 CIV Championship SuperSport 300 and the 2017 Yamaha R3 Cup.

Andrei Arlovski Adds to His Record

UFC Heavyweight and IPZ client, Andrei Arlovski, defeated Tanner Boser in the co-main event inside the Apex Las Vegas this past weekend.

Arlovski won via unanimous decision after surprising Boser with a spinning backfist in the final seconds of the second round.

“I looked at Boser and saw myself 21 years ago…He’s young, powerful, strong and hungry. I wish him good luck,” said Arlovski in an interview with ESPN after the fight.

This win marks his 19th win in the UFC’s heavyweight division, which is the most of all time. Even with this, Arlovski, now back in the top 15 rankings, has stated that his best is yet to come.

 

COVID-19 vs. 9/11

I sent an email to a client (and friend) this morning, congratulating him on his company’s decision to provide insurance coverage to furloughed workers during the crisis we face today.  I sent that email right after I had an email exchange with a basketball colleague in Italy. He has been in lockdown for several weeks in a much more difficult environment.

Both asked me about our current situation, compared with being at the NYSE on 9/11.

I understand the comparison, and I understand the market reaction.

But the events are so different.  The events of 9/11 were quickly realized to be the work of a very visible enemy – one we had the opportunity well before 9/11 to take down and didn’t, both because of our President’s unwillingness, and our inattention to details that could have uncovered the terrorists’ plot.  Our surveillance and caution around security issues has changed dramatically post 9/11.

This current killer is invisible.  But, like 9/11, it will forever change some of our habits and aspects of social interaction…and – my guess – where some of our biopharma companies invest in the future.  I can envision investors (and governments…and insurers) funding research and discovery that can identify where the “next” COVID-19 might come from, and vaccines that can prevent transmission.

Col. Jack Jacobs is a very dear friend.  Sitting here in quiet Tewksbury is a blessing compared to what he went through in Vietnam.  And none of us are trying to charge up the cliffs on the beaches in Normandy.

Yes, this is difficult…but there are many worse things we’ve been confronted with.

I’d rather be faced with having the virus than standing in a window on the 98th floor of the World Trade Center, knowing my choice was to burn or jump.

And financially, we will survive.  One of the first (and one of the smartest) guys I ever worked for on Wall Street was Paul Tudor Jones.  He was on an extended interview on CNBC this morning.  It was excellent.  He captured it perfectly.  Here’s a link: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/26/tudor-jones-says-this-is-the-greatest-fiscal-monetary-bazooka-ever.html

To everyone out there, be safe!

(and – for the record – to me at least, 9/11 was much worse.)

The Set Pieces Sits Down with Jack Elliott

From London Amateur to MLS Professional: Interview with Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliott

By Greg Lea

The path between European football and Major League Soccer has become a well-trodden one in recent years, with Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Kaka among those who have crossed the Atlantic in the latter stages of their career.

It isn’t just high-profile stars in their 30s who have made the move stateside, though. Philadelphia Union centre-back Jack Elliott was born in London but has only ever played professional football in the US, having been scouted while representing an amateur team in his hometown. It’s safe to say the switch from Sunday League to MLS, via the West Virginia University team, has been a surreal one for the 22-year-old.

“It was a crazy experience playing against them,” Elliott tells The Set Pieces, referring to opponents such as David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, all of whom the centre-back locked horns with in his debut campaign of 2017.

“Luckily I started off easy playing my first start at home against David Villa! But it was amazing. He’s one of the toughest strikers I’ve played against. His movement and speed are still world class, making him a difficult opponent to play against.”

Trying to keep a World Cup winner quiet is a very different challenge to marking a hungover centre-forward on a mud-caked pitch in south London, but Elliott owes plenty to his experiences in the English capital’s amateur divisions.

“I played for Fulham academy for a year when I was 12, but I got released and then mainly just played Sunday league and school football. As I got older I moved into men’s football, where I was spotted by a coach [Dan Stratford] from West Virginia University – he was playing in the same game. He asked me if I wanted to go and play over there, and I had no second thoughts about it.”

It was an incredibly exciting proposition for a football-mad teenager who had long dreamt of a professional career, but the prospect of suddenly moving more than 3500 miles from home must have been daunting too. Thankfully for Elliott, he arrived in West Virginia to find a terrific setup both on and off the pitch.

“You train as a professional almost every day, working around a regular university life, and it’s surprisingly professional: the facilities are top-class, the pitches are good and you’re well looked after with gear and equipment,” the defender says of his experience in the US college system, which allows promising young athletes to combine sport and education. Does he think such an arrangement could work in Europe?

“I’m not sure it’s better in terms of producing top quality players, but it helps to catch the ones who may have slipped through the cracks of the top academies,” says Elliott, who received an academic scholarship to study Management Information Systems in the US.

“Going through the college system allows you to get a degree, which was one of the reasons I had no questions about it, but the quality of football, facilities and fans are something I might not have experienced had I stayed at home.”

The 6ft 5in stopper played 68 games for the West Virginia Mountaineers between 2013 and 2016, before being selected by Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of the 2017 SuperDraft, an annual event in which MLS clubs snap up players who have either graduated from college or been signed by the league.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” Elliott recalls. “Philadelphia was a place I’d been many times before and really enjoyed, plus it wasn’t too far from West Virginia.”

The young defender, described by Union sporting director Earnie Stewart as a “good passer who reads the game well”, was an unused substitute for early-season meetings with Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto and Orlando City, before making his MLS bow from the bench in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United. Elliott performed well despite the disappointing result, and he soon became a regular part of manager Jim Curtin’s starting XI.

“It all happened very quickly. The second game of the season I was in the 18 [matchday squad] for the first team, and then I played 45 minutes at D.C.,” he told the club’s YouTube channel.

“It allowed the coaches to see I could handle the pressure of the league. And then the next week I was starting. It all came very quickly and I’m very thankful for it.

“When I got subbed in, I had 15 minutes to think about it. It’s not a lot of time; I was just warming up. It was good that I didn’t have time to think about it. I just went out there and played the way I play.”

It can be particularly tough for young centre-backs to establish themselves in the first team, with many managers unwilling to risk inexperienced players in such a key position. Yet by the end of the 2017 season, Elliott had made 30 appearances in MLS and racked up more minutes than all but two of his Union team-mates.

The quality of his performances caught the eye even more than the quantity. The Londoner played with a maturity which belied his tender years, as the Union finished eighth in the Eastern Conference. Elliott’s displays were so consistently impressive that he was nominated for the MLS Rookie of the Year Award, which was ultimately won by Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel.

“I didn’t expect to play as much [as I did], no,” he admits. “But from my first few weeks there I could see it was a place where I could belong.

“It was a good feeling,” he adds when talk turns to his third-place finish in the newcomer vote. “I’d never have expected to be there at the start of the year, so it was nice to get that sort of recognition at the end of it.”

Compatriot Aaron Jones departed the Talen Energy Stadium in November, but Elliott isn’t the only Brit in the Union squad for the 2018 campaign, which has begun with a 2-0 victory over New England Revolution and a goalless draw with Columbus Crew. Former Arsenal and Hull forward Jay Simpson is also in his second year in MLS, having moved to Philadelphia from Leyton Orient a few weeks before Elliott signed on the dotted line.

“Football in the US is still growing so obviously it isn’t as big as it is in the UK,” Elliott says of the differences between the two countries. “As kids they don’t play it every day in school and they don’t see it as much on TV. I feel kids here don’t get to play enough unstructured football, which in some ways can help to develop a player in different ways than structured coaching does.”

It’s an interesting point and one which the powers that be at the US Soccer Federation would be wise to consider as the national team attempts to bounce back from its failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup. Elliott cannot afford to dwell on such big-picture issues for too long, though, with his focus now firmly on his second season with the Union.

“Individually I’d like to build on what I did last year and improve as a player,” he says of his hopes for the campaign ahead. “And as a team our ambition is to get to the play-offs and make a run there.”

If Elliott can replicate last season’s performances this time around, Philadelphia Union will fancy their chances of achieving that goal.

View on The Set Pieces.

Paul Christensen Signed By Atlanta United 2

IPZ Athlete Inks First Professional Deal

WARREN, NJ, February 19, 2018 – Paul Christensen, a 2018 MLS SuperDraft selection of Atlanta United FC, has signed a professional contract with its USL affiliate Atlanta United 2.

Very excited to officially sign with @atlutd2 looking forward to a great season! #AO1 #UniteAndConquer,” said Christensen in a tweet.

“Paul is a solid young goalkeeper who impressed us with his technique, willingness to learn and enthusiasm for the club,” said ATL UTD 2 Head Coach Scott Donnelly.

“We are excited for Paul to begin his professional career within the Atlanta United franchise,” said Jeff Curtin, managing director of IPZ. “Atlanta has quickly established itself as one of the top clubs in U.S. soccer, and with Atlanta United 2, Paul will be in an environment that is fantastic for young professional players.”

View ATL UTD 2’s release about Christensen’s signing here.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

Paul Christensen Selected by Atlanta United FC

WARREN, NJ, January 23, 2018 – Paul Christensen was chosen by Atlanta United FC with the 70th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Sunday, January 21.

“I am very excited to be drafted by Atlanta United FC,” said Christensen. “They are a very successful and professional organization. It’s an amazing place to start my career as a professional soccer player. I cannot wait to join the team for preseason.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

Matt Danilack Drafted by the Philadelphia Union

WARREN, NJ, January 22, 2018 – Matt Danilack was selected by the Philadelphia Union with the 77th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Sunday, January 21.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to begin my career in Philadelphia,” said Danilack. “This is one of the happiest moments of my life and a dream come true. I want to thank Jeff and IPZ for all the support thus far. I also want to thank my family, coaches, friends and everyone who has been helping me on my journey since I was a young player. I can’t wait to see where this next year takes us! There’s no better place to start my career than in Philly.”

View the Union’s release here.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

PAUL CHRISTENSEN CHOOSES IPZ

2018 MLS Combine Invitee Signs with IPZ

WARREN, NJ, January 18, 2018 – Paul Christensen, two-time West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Standing at six-foot-one, the Woodinville, WA, native played for the Seattle Sounders Academy for four years, was the 2011 adidas U-15 Golden Glove Winner, played with the U.S. U-15 Youth National Team, was part of the U-17 National Team Residency from 2011 to 2013. He earned 22 international caps at the U-17 level and played for the Washington ODP and the Region IV ODP.

In 2014, Christensen began his collegiate soccer career at the University of Portland. As a freshman, he started all 19 games and played every minute of the season.

As a sophomore, he received a West Coast Conference All-Academic Honorable Mention (also received this honor in 2016 and 2017) and led the WCC in saves (85 – ranks No.1 in school’s all-time single-season record books) and saves per game (5.00).

Christensen recorded a league-high seven shutouts, was second in goals against (0.91) and saves per game (3.37), with a save percentage of .780 (third best in the WCC) in his junior year. He was named WCC Goalkeeper of the Year and All-WCC Second Team.

In his senior campaign, Christensen repeated as WCC Goalkeeper of the Year, was selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region Second Team and the All-WCC First Team. Christensen shut out his opponents on six occasions. The four-year starter ended his career as a Pilot as the No.5 all-time leader in program history in shutouts (20) and saves (283).

In mid-December 2017, Christensen was one of 60 college seniors to receive an invitation to the 2018 MLS Player Combine. The combine took place from January 11 to January 17. The Pilot is ranked as a top five goalkeeper in this year’s draft, according to numerous mock drafts.

“I am very excited to work with Jeff and the rest of the IPZ family,” said Christensen. “From the beginning of the process, Jeff has been great and professional. He has a great understanding for the game both on and off the field. I know that Jeff and the IPZ family will be able to help me reach my professional goals. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

“We are excited to welcome Paul to the IPZ family,” said IPZ Managing Director Jeff Curtin. “Over the past four years, Paul has established himself as one of the top collegiate goalkeepers in the country. Paul’s professional approach, physical ability, and youth international experience are all qualities we look for in a client and we are thrilled to be working with him.”

Watch Christensen’s highlights from the University of Portland here.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

About Zito Partners: Zito Partners builds, energizes and defends brands. A boutique firm representing a select group of clients from a range of industries, Zito Partners believes in a “ready, aim, fire” approach – understand the client…develop the appropriate strategy against the key target constituencies…and execute against the plan. And through its strategic alliance with Ketchum, Ketchum Zito Financial, Zito Partners is assisting additional clients with their financial communications needs. For more information, visit www.zitopartners.com.

SoccerAmerica Names Jack Elliott 6th Best MLS Centerback

No team gets very far without a solid, reliable set of centerbacks, and in many cases the abilities of the individuals are not as important as how well they work together.

An increased popularity of three-man back lines changes the responsibilities and roles of those in that last line of defense in front of the goalkeeper, yet the basic attributes are unchanged. Centerbacks must be reliable tacklers, solid markers, and tough in the air at both ends of the field. Positioning and anticipation can make up for a relative lack of pace on balls played over the top or into an open channel.

Some players will toggle between the central slots in a four-man back line, yet most prefer one side or the other. The players listed here are primarily right-sided and have been most successful on that side of the defense. If a player appeared mainly as the middle man of a three-defender system, he is listed here.

SA Top 10: Centerbacks (Right)
1. Ike Opara (Sporting KC)
2. Kendall Waston (Vancouver)
3. Drew Moor (Toronto FC)
4. Adolfo Machado (Houston)
5. Johan Kappelhof (Chicago)
6. Jack Elliott (Philadelphia)
7. Roman Torres (Seattle)
8. Victor Cabrera (Montreal)
9. Victor Bernardez (San Jose)
10. Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United)

View more online: https://www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/76183/mls-positional-rankings-centerbacks-right-opar.html

Union’s Jack Elliott an MLS Rookie of the Year Finalist

Union centerback Jack Elliott earned some well-deserved recognition on Tuesday for his strong debut season, as he was named a finalist for Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year award.

Elliott surprisingly became a stalwart of the team’s defense this year. He was drafted in the fourth round out of West Virginia, which is rare territory to find potential pros. Elliott was one of just two picks in this year’s fourth round who saw any playing time in MLS. None of last year’s fourth-round picks have broken through yet, and only four fourth-round picks from 2015 have done so.

The 22-year-old Englishman was quickly thrown into the fire, making his Union debut on April 1. He ended up playing in 30 of the Union’s 34 league games, making 29 starts, and played every minute in all but three of the starts. He also started and played every minute of the team’s two U.S. Open Cup games. His disciplinary record was sterling: just four yellow cards and one red card.

View more online: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/soccer/philadelphia-union-jack-elliott-mls-rookie-award-julian-gressel-atlanta-20171031.html

Jack Elliott worthy of Rookie of Year consideration, Curtin says

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Philadelphia Union have never had a Rookie of the Year winner, though Jim Curtin thinks that could change very soon.

Philly’s coach declared as such after his side’s 3-0 loss at the New England Revolution last Saturday, one where first-year center back Jack Elliott was a bright spot on an otherwise dreary night.

“For me, I think he’s been the Rookie of the Year,” Curtin said of Elliott. “He’s played at that level and I thought he was excellent again tonight.”

When asked about his coach’s remarks, the 6-foot-5 Elliott responded true to character: Humble, soft spoken and driven.

“It’s nice to hear that kind of praise from the coach,” Elliott said. “It doesn’t really change anything; I’ve still got to perform every week. Nothing is decided. To be of that caliber you have to perform all the way through the season. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Still, it’s hard not to reflect upon how the 21-year-old is of a different mold and backstory than Cyle Larin and Jordan Morris, MLS’s last two Rookie of the Year winners. The former is a star for Orlando City SC, while the latter just scored the game-winning goal in the Gold Cup final for the US national team.

Elliott, meanwhile, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft after playing at West Virginia University. He was, at best, a long shot for even making the roster, but now he’s started 17 consecutive games in the heart of the Union’s defense.

It’s a trajectory that few expected, and Elliott himself was quick to shy away from praise when asked about the key to his success.

“Just going through the same routine every week,” Elliott said. “Eating healthy, sleeping, all that kind of stuff that helps you perform. Then obviously going out every day and competing against our boys in training and at the weekend against other teams.”

Read the full story here: https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2017/07/30/jack-elliott-worthy-rookie-year-consideration-curtin-says