Philadelphia Union

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Philadelphia Union
Philadelphia Union 2010.svg
Full name Philadelphia Union
Nickname(s) Zolos, The U
Founded 2008
Stadium PPL Park
Chester, Pennsylvania
Ground Capacity 18,500
Owner Keystone Sports & Entertainment, LLC
Manager Jim Curtin
League Major League Soccer
2013 Eastern Conference: 7th
Overall: 14th
Playoffs: DNQ
Website Club home page
Current season

The Philadelphia Union is an American professional soccer team based in the Philadelphia satellite city of Chester, Pennsylvania, which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS).

The Union became MLS's sixteenth team upon their expansion into the league in 2010. The team plays their home matches at PPL Park, a soccer-specific stadium located on the banks of the Delaware River, and is managed by Jim Curtin.


Drive for expansion[edit]

Despite being one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country and a top-five media market, the Philadelphia area was not represented when Major League Soccer kicked off in 1996. The first effort to bring soccer to the Delaware Valley commenced in 2001, when a group of investors attempted to bring an MLS franchise to Trenton, New Jersey. The centerpiece of their efforts was a $31 million soccer-specific stadium to be built across the street from the Sun National Bank Center and with access to the under-construction NJ Transit River Line. [1] The proposed Trenton MLS team was to have been named "Union FC." However, MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls) held the right to block a franchise in Trenton, as it would infringe on their 75-mile competition-free zone.

Five years later, plans were in place to construct a 20,000-capacity stadium on the campus of Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. The stadium would serve as the home field for both an MLS expansion club and Rowan's football team.[2] Ultimately, $100 million in state bonds to fund the stadium and various other improvements on the Rowan campus were dropped by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. Shortly after the Rowan proposal fell through, Keystone Sports & Entertainment (the group that would eventually own the Union) looked at a site underneath the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, Pennsylvania to develop a soccer-specific stadium.

In 2007, the Sons of Ben supporter group formed and began advocating for Major League Soccer to award Philadelphia an expansion team. They are credited with convincing the league that the area already had an established fan base for soccer.[3]

Major League Soccer added Philadelphia as its sixteenth team on February 28, 2008.[4] The finalization of the club was the result of a $47 million package approved by Delaware County politicians and Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, that included the cost of PPL Park and a major urban renewal project.[5]

The Union came to an agreement in December 2009 with the Reading Rage youth soccer organization for it to become the team's official minor league affiliate in the USL Premier Development League. The Rage team was re-branded as Reading United A.C., with a new logo and colors for the 2010 PDL season.[6] In the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, the Union selected forward Danny Mwanga from Oregon State University as the number one pick, as well as sixth and seventh picks Amobi Okugo from UCLA and Jack McInerney from the U.S. U-17 National Team in the first round.[7] In March 2010, the Union signed an affiliation agreement with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division (which has since become USL Pro).[8] And in January 2012, the Union formed their first international partnership with Deportivo Saprissa S.A.D. of the Costa Rican First Division.[9]

Inaugural season[edit]

The Union's first game was played on March 25, 2010, in which they lost 2–0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field, the first game of the 2010 Major League Soccer season.[10] Sébastien Le Toux became the first player to score a goal for Philadelphia in their home opener on April 10, 2010, a 3–2 win over D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field.[11] The team again played Seattle Sounders FC for the first match at PPL Park on June 27, 2010. Sébastien Le Toux scored the Union's initial goal at the venue from a penalty kick, which was instrumental to their 3–1 victory. All 12,000 season ticket packages for 2010 were sold prior to this opener.[12]

Colors and badge[edit]

On May 11, 2009, the Philadelphia Union's name, crest, and colors were officially announced during a ceremony held at Philadelphia City Hall. "Union" alludes to the union of the Thirteen Colonies, of which Philadelphia was the first capital.[13] The name was chosen following a fan poll held between January 19, 2009 and February 6, 2009; the other three options were AC Philadelphia, SC Philadelphia, and Philadelphia City.[14][15] Before the official brand was released, the Sons of Ben nicknamed the team as the "Zolos." At a "Meet-the-Owners" event held two days before the expansion press conference in Chester, they wore nametags with handwritten numbers intended to read "2010." The number was mistakenly interpreted as "ZOLO" by ownership group member, Nick Sakiewicz. This led to the Philadelphia Union being referred to as the "Zolos" in a series of inside jokes by the group.[16]

The Union's colors are navy blue and gold, representing the primary colors of the Continental Army's uniforms during the American Revolutionary War. The team's crest is circular, symbolizing unity. Its thirteen gold stars represent the original Thirteen Colonies, while the shield's contour derives from the Philadelphia coat of arms. The rattlesnake pays homage to the "Join, or Die" political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin that was featured in the 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette, and is also reminiscent of the Gadsden flag, another Revolutionary icon. The light blue in the middle of the crest is a tribute to the Sons of Ben, and is further derived from the civic flag of Philadelphia.[17] The team's secondary logo is a simplified version of the aforementioned design comprising the blue shield with the rattlesnake, augmented with a gold border and a ribbon bearing the team's official motto: "jungite aut perite", a Latin translation of the phrase "join or die", which was also used in the 1754 Benjamin Franklin political cartoon mentioned above.[18]

The home jersey is midnight blue, with a gold strip down the center with light blue piping in the color of the Philadelphia flag.[19] The away kit is signal blue with a white center strip and gold piping.[20]

In February 2013, the team unveiled a third uniform that harks back to Bethlehem Steel F.C., one of the most successful early American soccer clubs.[21][22][23] The kit is primarily black with white trim and features a sublimated Union emblem and a Bethlehem Steel FC jock tag.[24][25]


The Union play most of their games at PPL Park, an 18,500-seat soccer-specific stadium located at the southwesterly corner of the Commodore Barry Bridge (U.S. Route 322). The structure was designed by Rossetti Architects and the ICON Venue Group, with the actual construction contracted to the Ardmore, Pennsylvania-based T.N. Ward Company. PPL Park's design allows clear views of the Delaware River for approximately sixty percent of its spectators, and is the centerpiece of Chester's urban renewal process. The Union trains at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pennsylvania, a community located 17 miles north of Chester.[26]

In addition to PPL Park, the Union also plays select games at Lincoln Financial Field, the home stadium of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and the NCAA's Temple University Owls football team. Prior to the completion of PPL Park, the Union played their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on April 10, 2010 against D.C. United as well as their May 15 match against FC Dallas. Originally just scheduled to play only the home opener at Lincoln Financial Field, the second game was played there due to construction delays at PPL Park. Lincoln Financial Field remains the team's secondary home, for matches with anticipated high attendances, such as a friendly against Manchester United, during their 2010 tour of North America.[27] For the home opener, the team limited ticket sales to the lower bowl and club sections, totaling about 37,500 seats.[28] On June 27, the Union officially opened their home with a 3–2 win over Seattle Sounders FC.[29] Lincoln Financial Field also hosts international friendlies involving teams other than the Union; the most recent being Real Madrid against the Scottish Premier League's Celtic FC in August 2012. Celtic FC met with the Union in their first international friendly in July 2010.

YSC Academy[edit]

The Philadelphia Union opened its own private school called YSC Academy on September 3, 2013. It is located in Wayne, Pennsylvania and is designed for student-athletes the club aims to groom for professional soccer. The initial 33 pupils already had experience playing for one of the Union's academy and Juniors teams.[30]

Club culture[edit]


Grassroots support was instrumental to the founding of the Philadelphia Union and the construction of PPL Park. This backing came in the form of a supporters group known as the Sons of Ben, which was founded in January 2007. The Sons of Ben petitioned Major League Soccer to expand to the Philadelphia market until the official expansion announcement was made in January 2008. Named for Founding Father and Philadelphia icon, Benjamin Franklin, the group was included in the expansion press conference, singing their anthem, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover", and closing the event by presenting scarves to the ownership group.[31] They were also present on May 11, 2009 for the naming ceremony at City Hall.[32]

While the Sons of Ben are the predominant and official supporters group, smaller supporters groups also exist. These include the Tammany Saints (sections 101 and 133), the IllegitimateS (section 133), the Corner Creeps (section 134), the Bridge Crew (sections 120–121),[33] La Union Latina (section 114),[34] and the Bearfight Brigade.


The Philadelphia Union's primary rivals are D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls.[35] These rivalries exist primarily because of geographical proximity and the traditional animosities between the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City in other professional sports leagues. The Union also have a bit of a rivalry with Seattle Sounders FC despite the 2,377 miles (3,825 km)[36] between Philadelphia and Seattle. The cross-country feud started when the Philadelphia Union played its inaugural MLS game in Seattle. It continued when PPL Park's first-ever home game pitted the club against Seattle. The rivalry culminated as they were regularly compared to the 2009 expansion Sounders FC during their inaugural 2010 season as evidenced by defender Danny Califf, "Last year there was all this measuring of us against Seattle in their inaugural year, so maybe it created a bit more of a rivalry. They’re a good team coming in here, and after the start they had they’d really like to take it to us."[37]


On January 11, 2011, the Philadelphia Union announced a four-year agreement with Bimbo Bakeries USA to be its official jersey sponsor. The company's U.S. headquarters is located in the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham, Pennsylvania, thus providing local and global exposure to the team. It was also announced that Bimbo will be the official bread and baked goods partner of both the Union and Major League Soccer, as well as an overall league sponsor.[38] The sponsorship deal is valued at about $12 million.[39] Bimbo and the Union agreed in 2014 to renew their sponsorship arrangement for five years at an annual value of $2.3 million.[40]


The Union's matches are locally televised by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and The Comcast Network. WPVI-TV, Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, also airs a limited number of matches, primarily Saturday afternoon kickoffs that do not conflict with ABC network programming. WPVI's matches also aired on WQMY in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre and Williamsport areas for the first two seasons. The Union no longer are seen on broadcast television in this market. Only games on Comcast SportsNet, ESPN, and NBCSN can still be seen there. JP Dellacamera calls the play-by-play with former Union player Alejandro Moreno calling the color commentary. Former U.S. women's national team player Heather Mitts serves as the sideline and pre-game reporter. Select matches are also nationally broadcast on ESPN2, NBC and the NBC Sports Network, and in Spanish on Telefutura.

Beginning with the 2012 MLS season, seventeen select home and road matches will be broadcast on SportsRadio 610 WIP. The Union will also collaborate with WIP on a weekly hour-long soccer show.[41]

Players and staff[edit]

For details on former players, see All-time Philadelphia Union roster.

Current roster[edit]

As of March 8, 2014.[42]

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Blake, AndreAndre Blake (GA)     Jamaica
2 Defender Valdés, CarlosCarlos Valdés      Colombia
4 Defender Berry, AustinAustin Berry      United States
5 Midfielder Nogueira, VincentVincent Nogueira      France
6 Forward Casey, ConorConor Casey      United States
7 Midfielder Carroll, BrianBrian Carroll      United States
8 Midfielder Fred, Fred      Brazil
9 Forward Wenger, AndrewAndrew Wenger      United States
10 Midfielder Maidana, CristianCristian Maidana (DP)     Argentina
11 Forward Le Toux, SébastienSébastien Le Toux      France
12 Forward Wheeler, AaronAaron Wheeler      United States
13 Midfielder Lahoud, MichaelMichael Lahoud      Sierra Leone
14 Defender Okugo, AmobiAmobi Okugo      United States
15 Defender White, EthanEthan White      United States
16 Defender Marquez, RichieRichie Marquez      United States
17 Forward Brown, BrianBrian Brown (on loan from Harbour View)     Jamaica
18 Goalkeeper MacMath, ZacZac MacMath      United States
19 Midfielder Bone, CorbenCorben Bone      United States
20 Midfielder McLaughlin, JimmyJimmy McLaughlin (HGP)     United States
21 Midfielder Edu, MauriceMaurice Edu (DP, on loan from Stoke City)     United States
22 Midfielder Fernandes, LeoLeo Fernandes      Brazil
23 Forward Hernández, CristhianCristhian Hernández (HGP)     Mexico
25 Defender Williams, SheanonSheanon Williams      United States
27 Midfielder Pfeffer, ZachZach Pfeffer (HGP)     United States
28 Defender Gaddis, RayRay Gaddis      United States
29 Forward Hoppenot, AntoineAntoine Hoppenot      United States
30 Midfielder Ribeiro, PedroPedro Ribeiro      Brazil
33 Defender Fabinho, Fabinho      Brazil
44 Midfielder Cruz, DannyDanny Cruz      United States
92 Goalkeeper M'Bolhi, RaïsRaïs M'Bolhi      Algeria

Current staff[edit]

Position Staff Nation
Manager Jim Curtin United States United States
Technical Director & Assistant Coach Chris Albright United States United States
Assistant Coach Mike Sorber United States United States
Sporting Director René Meulensteen Netherlands Netherlands
Director of International Player Development Ricardo Ansaldi Argentina Argentina
Head Athletic Trainer Paul Rushing United States United States
Academy Director Tommy Wilson Scotland Scotland

Head coaches[edit]


The team is owned by Keystone Sports & Entertainment, a group of investors led by Jay Sugarman, chief executive of iStar Financial. The other investors include Christopher Buccini, Robert Buccini, and David Pollin – co-founders of the Buccini/Pollin Group; William Doran, a Philadelphia lawyer employed by the SEI Investments Company; James Nevels; the founder of the Swarthmore Group and a long-term veteran of the securities and investment industry; Paula Mandle, the chief executive officer of the Swarthmore Group; and Nick Sakiewicz, a Major League Soccer veteran formerly employed with the New York Red Bulls and the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny.[43][44][45]



Year League Standings MLS
Cup Playoffs
Open Cup
Champions League
Manager Top Scorer Average Attendance
GP Pts W L T Conf. Overall Nat. Name Nat. Name Goals Regular
2010 2010 30 31 8 15 7 7th 14th Did not qualify Did not qualify Did not qualify Poland Peter Nowak France Sébastien Le Toux 14 19,254 DNQ
2011 2011 34 48 11 8 15 3rd 8th Conference Semifinals Did not qualify Did not qualify Poland Peter Nowak France Sébastien Le Toux 11 18,259 18,539
2012 2012 34 36 10 18 6 8th 15th Did not qualify Semifinals Did not qualify Poland

United States

Peter Nowak (Fired)

John Hackworth

United States Jack McInerney 8 18,049 DNQ
2013 2013 34 46 12 12 10 7th 14th Did not qualify 4th Round Did not qualify United States John Hackworth United States Jack McInerney 12 17,867 DNQ
2014 2014 34 42 10 12 12 6th 12th Did not qualify Final Runner-up United States

United States

John Hackworth (Fired)

Jim Curtin (Interim)

France Sébastien Le Toux 12 17,631 DNQ

Team records[edit]

MLS regular season only, through October 27, 2013

  • All-Time regular season record: 41–53–38 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time regular season home record: 27–17–22 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time regular season PPL Park record: 26–17–21 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time regular season away record: 14–36–16 (Through October 27, 2013)

PPL Park records[edit]

  • All-Time record: 26–17–21 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time average attendance: 17,967 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time highest attendance: 19,178 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time lowest attendance: 15,149 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time sellouts: 27 (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time goals leader: France Sébastien Le Toux (18) (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time assists leader: France Sébastien Le Toux (19) (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time wins leader: United States Zac MacMath (17) (Through October 27, 2013)
  • All-Time shutouts leader: United States Zac MacMath (16) (Through October 27, 2013)

International results[edit]

Year Competition Club Nation Result
2010 Preseason Club Universidad de Guadalajara  Mexico W 0–1
2010 Preseason Chivas de Guadalajara  Mexico D 2–2
2010 Friendly Celtic  Scotland W 1–0
2010 Friendly Manchester United  England L 0–1
2010 Friendly Chivas de Guadalajara  Mexico W 1–0
2011 Preseason Olympiakos Chersonissos F.C.  Greece W 0–5
2011 Preseason Ergotelis F.C.  Greece D 1–1
2011 Friendly Everton  England W 1–0
2011 World Football Challenge Real Madrid  Spain L 1–2
2012 Preseason Pérez Zeledón  Costa Rica L 1–0
2012 Preseason Costa Rica U-20  Costa Rica W 0–3
2012 Preseason Belén Siglo XXI  Costa Rica L 2–0
2012 Friendly Schalke 04  Germany W 2–1
2012 Friendly Aston Villa  England L 0–1
2013 Friendly UNAM Pumas  Mexico W 1–0
2013 Friendly Stoke City F.C.  England L 0–2
2014 Friendly Crystal Palace F.C.  England L 0–1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sophia Hollander (September 9, 2001). "Is the Field Getting Too Crowded?". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ Lucas K. Murray (June 27, 2010). "Mising the goal: Philadelphia Union's new soccer stadium could have been in Gloucester County.". The Gloucester County Times. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ Andy Jasner (March 1, 2008). "Sons of Ben rejoice in Philly expansion". Retrieved May 12, 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ "MLS awards Philadelphia 2010 expansion team". February 28, 2008. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Major hurdle cleared for Philly expansion". Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  6. ^ "New era for Reading PDL team". December 21, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ "2010 SuperDraft – Draft Tracker". Major League Soccer. Retrieved January 14, 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Philadelphia Union To Play Harrisburg City Islanders July 27". Daily Times. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Union form strategic partnership Deportivo Saprissa". January 27, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Union go down in their debut". The Philadelphia Inquirer. March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Le Toux helps Union hold off D.C. in Philly debut". Major League Soccer. April 10, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010. [dead link]
  12. ^ Gabriel, Kerith (May 20, 2010). "Union season-ticket packages are sold out". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Press release". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009. [dead link]
  14. ^ "PHILLY Soccer 2010 Name The Team". January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Philly-area soccer team holds vote for team name". USA Today. Associated Press. January 15, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2009. 
  16. ^ "The Sons Also Rise". Philadelphia Weekly. March 14, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Philadelphia Union supporters club". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Philadelphia Union brand narrative". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Union unveils jersey rich with symbolism". December 2011. Retrieved December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Union unveil new 2012 primary and secondary kits". Philadelphia Union. November 22, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Jersey Week: Union pay homage to Bethlehem Steel with retro 3rd shirt" at MLS official website, 26 February 2013
  22. ^ "Philadelphia Union honors Bethlehem Steel soccer club on new jerseys",, 28 February 2013
  23. ^ "The Philadelphia Union: Following the Ghosts of Bethlehem's Soccer Tradition" by Stephen Barrow, 7 July 2012
  24. ^ "Philadelphia Union unveil new third jersey, inspired by Bethlehem Steel",, 26 February 2013
  25. ^ "Philadelphia Union Adidas Third Jersey 2013" at TodosobreCamisetas website
  26. ^ Zeitlin, Dave (January 29, 2011). "Union taking a different approach to fitness in preseason". Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  27. ^ Union to host Manchester United at the Linc[dead link]
  28. ^ Gammage, Jeff (September 23, 2009). "Linc to host first Phila. Union soccer game". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  29. ^ [1][dead link]
  30. ^ "Philadelphia Union's YSC Academy opens its doors: "It's a landmark day" for the club's future". September 23, 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Sons of Ben rejoice in Philly expansion". February 29, 2008. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  32. ^ [2][dead link]
  33. ^ "Philly Soccer Page – The Other Supporters Groups". February 7, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  34. ^ "La Union Latina Helping Bridge the Gap". February 7, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  35. ^ Goff, Steven (April 10, 2010). "D.C. United fosters a rivalry with expansion Philadelphia Union". The Washington Post. p. D2. 
  36. ^ [cite web |title=Distance Philadelphia – Seattle||]
  37. ^ [cite web |title=Union vs. Sounders a budding cross-country feud|newspaper=MLS Soccer|]
  38. ^ Baking company signs on as official bread and baked goods sponsor of the Union and MLS, Philadelphia Union, January 11, 2011, retrieved January 11, 2011 
  39. ^ Gammage, Jeff (January 11, 2011), Union soccer team wins sponsorship from Bimbo bakery, The Philadelphia Inquirer, retrieved January 11, 2011 
  40. ^ "AJC Soccer Insider: Atlanta’s MLS team could shatter records", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 25, 2014.
  41. ^ "Union ink radio deal with SportsRadio 610 WIP". Philadelphia Union Communications. October 20, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Players". Philadelphia Union. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  43. ^ "City of Brotherly Love embraces MLS". Retrieved March 1, 2008. 
  44. ^ [3][dead link]
  45. ^ "The Swarthmore Group". The Swarthmore Group. Retrieved December 3, 2011. 

External links[edit]