|Full name||Philadelphia Union|
|Nickname(s)||Zolos, The U|
|Owner||Keystone Sports & Entertainment, LLC|
|Head Coach||Jim Curtin|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2014||Eastern Conference: 6th
|Website||Club home page|
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 team plays their home matches at PPL Park, a soccer-specific stadium located on the banks of the Delaware River, and is coached by Jim Curtin.
- 1 History
- 2 Colors and badge
- 3 Stadium
- 4 YSC Academy
- 5 Club culture
- 6 Broadcasting
- 7 Players and staff
- 8 Honors
- 9 Records
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Drive for expansion
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. 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. 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.
Major League Soccer added Philadelphia as its sixteenth team on February 28, 2008. 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.
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. 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. 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). And in January 2012, the Union formed their first international partnership with Deportivo Saprissa S.A.D. of the Costa Rican First Division.
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. 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. 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.
Piotr Nowak era (2010–2012)
The Union picked up three players in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Most notably, Zac MacMath, who was the fifth overall draft pick. On January 11, 2011 the Union acquired shirt sponsor Bimbo Bakeries USA. The team made a complete turnaround in the 2011 season, finishing in third place in the Eastern Conference and making playoffs, ending their season scoring 44 goals and allowing 36. The Union had a stellar run and did not lose in their first six games but was eventually defeated by Portland on May 6, 2011. After qualifying for the playoffs after a tie at home against Toronto FC, the Union were defeated 1-0 by Houston Dynamo in the second leg of the MLS Eastern Conference quarterfinal on November 3, 2011 ending their playoff run.
John Hackworth era (2012–2014)
John Hackworth took over the Union as interim coach on June 13, 2012 and was given the permanent title on August 30, 2012. Hackworth's tenure saw the reinstatement of several younger players, most notably Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo into more regular roles for the team. The Union finished their season with a 10-18-6 record, scoring 37 goals and allowing 45. The highlight of the year was on June 23, 2012 when the Union defeated Sporting Kansas City in MLS regular season play, 4-0. Sporting Kansas City was the best team in the Eastern Conference at the time. A month later it was Sporting Kansas City that ended the Union's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup hopes after a 2-0 win in quarterfinal play at PPL Park. Antoine Hoppenot, selected in the third round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft was quickly recognized as the most productive weapon off the bench. Hoppenot netted four goals within 817 minutes of play. PPL Park was the site of the 2012 MLS All-Star Game in which the MLS All-Stars defeated English Premier League giants Chelsea FC, 3–2.
The 2013 offseason was one in which the technical staff, under John Hackworth tried to undo many of the mistakes that were made under former Manager Nowak. Defender Jeff Parke, a native of the Philadelphia area was brought in to solidify a leaky backline, and fan fanvorite Sébastien Le Toux returned in a deal that sent young forward Josue Martinez to the New York Red Bulls. Gabriel Gomez and Porfirio Lopez, both brought in to the team under Nowak were waived immediately following the 2012 season, but salaries and guaranteed compensation for these players still remained a financial handcuff. In a shocking move, the Union traded wunderkind Freddy Adu to Esporte Clube Bahia for former Manchester United midfielder Kléberson in May. Despite this adversity and ongoing challenges with the roster, in 2013, the Union spent the season near the top of the Eastern Conference standings for much of the season. Ultimately they failed to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year. It was a season in which the club compiled its best ever win record (12) when it finish in seventh place 12-12-10 in MLS play.
Coming into the 2014 season, the Union were widely perceived to have "won" the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, which was held in Philadelphia. The Union traded allocation money in order to take the first overall pick, which was used on goalkeeper and Jamaican international Andre Blake. They then traded down multiple times in order to select Coastal Carolina midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. Other new, preseason acquisitions included United States international and Stoke City loanee Maurice Edu, French midfielder Vincent Nogueira, Argentinian midfielder Cristian Maidana, and former MLS Rookie of the Year defender Austin Berry. Despite these additions, the Union floundered out of the gate, winning just 2 of their first 14 games, with 5 draws and 7 losses. Fans and management quickly grew tired of this string of results, and on June 10, 2014 John Hackworth was relieved from his duties as Head Coach.
Jim Curtin era (2014–present)
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2015)|
Picking up the pieces after Hackworth's tenure was a tough ask of interim coach Jim Curtin but with just two losses until late September and a drive to the Union's first chance at a major trophy, he earned the removal of the interim tag following the season. Although failing to make the playoffs with a 10-12-12 (W-L-T) record, the Union reached the Finals of the 2014 edition of the US Open Cup for the first time in the club's history where they faced eventual MLS Cup runner's up Seattle Sounders FC. Going into extra time the game was tied 1–1 but the Union would lose out on their first trophy. They finished 6th in the Eastern Conference and 12th overall in the League. At the end of the 2014 MLS season, the Union were awarded the MLS Fair Play award for being the club with the fewest fouls in the 2014 season.
Colors and badge
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. 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. Before the official brand was released, the Sons of Ben nicknamed the team as the "Zolos." At an 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.
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. 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.
The home jersey is midnight blue, with a gold strip down the center with light blue piping in the color of the Philadelphia flag. The away kit is signal blue with a white center strip and gold piping.
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. The kit is primarily black with white trim and features a sublimated Union emblem and a Bethlehem Steel F.C. jock tag.
- PPL Park; Chester, Pennsylvania (2010–present)
- Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2010–present) [marquee-game venue]
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.
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. For the home opener, the team limited ticket sales to the lower bowl and club sections, totaling about 37,500 seats. On June 27, the Union officially opened their home with a 3–2 win over Seattle Sounders FC. 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.
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.
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. They were also present on May 11, 2009 for the naming ceremony at City Hall.
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), La Union Latina (section 114), and the Bearfight Brigade.
The Philadelphia Union's primary rivals are D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. 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) 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."
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. The sponsorship deal is valued at about $12 million. Bimbo and the Union agreed in 2014 to renew their sponsorship arrangement for five years at an annual value of $2.3 million.
On November 26, 2014, the Union announced that their official beer sponsor would be the Milton, DE based Dogfish Head Brewery. This sponsorship is said to include a "destination beer garden at PPL Park" as well as game-day prizes for fans.
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 Philadelphia Kixx goalkeeper Peter Pappas 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. As of the start of the 2015 season, all English-speaking nationally-televisied games will appear on Fox and ESPN and their affiliates, and Spanish broadcasts will appear on Univision and UniMas as NBC decided not to re-sign the league to a deal for the future.
Players and staff
- For details on former players, see All-time Philadelphia Union roster.
As of February 9, 2015.
Out on loan
|2||Defender||Valdés, CarlosCarlos Valdés (on loan to Nacional)||Colombia|
|4||Defender||Berry, AustinAustin Berry (on loan to FC Anyang)||United States|
|18||Goalkeeper||MacMath, ZacZac MacMath (on loan to Colorado Rapids)||United States|
|22||Midfielder||Fernandes, LeoLeo Fernandes (on loan to New York Cosmos)||Brazil|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2015)|
|Head Coach||Jim Curtin||United States|
|Technical Director & Assistant Coach||Chris Albright||United States|
|Assistant Coach||Mike Sorber||United States|
|Sporting Director (Advisor)||René Meulensteen||Netherlands|
|Director of International Player Development||Ricardo Ansaldi||Argentina|
|Head Athletic Trainer||Paul Rushing||United States|
|Academy Director||Tommy Wilson||Scotland|
- Piotr Nowak (May 28, 2009 – 13 June 12)
- John Hackworth (Interim) (June 13, 2012 – 30 Aug 12)
- John Hackworth (Aug 30, 2012 – June 10, 2014)
- Jim Curtin (Interim) (June 10, 2014 – 7 Nov 14)
- Jim Curtin (November 7, 2014–present)
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.
- Minor honors
- MLS Fair Play Award: 2014
|Manager||Top Scorer||Average Attendance|
|2010||2010||30||31||8||15||7||7th||14th||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Peter Nowak||Sébastien Le Toux||14||19,254||DNQ|
|2011||2011||34||48||11||8||15||3rd||8th||Conference Semifinals||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Peter Nowak||Sébastien Le Toux||11||18,259||18,539|
|2012||2012||34||36||10||18||6||8th||15th||Did not qualify||Semifinals||Did not qualify||Peter Nowak (Fired)||Jack McInerney||8||18,049||DNQ|
|2013||2013||34||46||12||12||10||7th||14th||Did not qualify||4th Round||Did not qualify||John Hackworth||Jack McInerney||12||17,867||DNQ|
|2014||2014||34||42||10||12||12||6th||12th||Did not qualify||Final||Did not qualify||John Hackworth (Fired)
Jim Curtin (Interim)
|Sébastien Le Toux||12||17,631||DNQ|
- Games Played: Sheanon Williams (120)
- Minutes Played: Sheanon Williams (10,629)
- Goals: Sébastien Le Toux (39)
- Assists: Sébastien Le Toux (38)
- Shots: Sébastien Le Toux (246)
- Shots on Goal: Sébastien Le Toux (110)
- Game-Winning Goals: Jack McInerney (8)
- Penalty Kick Goals: Sébastien Le Toux (8)
- Multi-Goal Games: Sébastien Le Toux (4)
- Hat Tricks: Sébastien Le Toux (1)
- Wins: Zac MacMath (33)
- Shutouts: Zac MacMath (28)
- Saves: Zac MacMath (283)
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
- 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: Sébastien Le Toux (18) (Through October 27, 2013)
- All-Time assists leader: Sébastien Le Toux (19) (Through October 27, 2013)
- All-Time wins leader: Zac MacMath (17) (Through October 27, 2013)
- All-Time shutouts leader: Zac MacMath (16) (Through October 27, 2013)
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
|2010||Preseason||Club Universidad de Guadalajara||Mexico||W 0–1|
|2010||Preseason||Chivas de Guadalajara||Mexico||D 2–2|
|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||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|
|2015||Preseason||Costa Rica U-23s||Costa Rica||W 3-0|
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