|Full name||Philadelphia Union|
|Nickname(s)||Zolos, The U|
|Owner||Keystone Sports & Entertainment, LLC|
|Interim Manager||Jim Curtin|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2013||Eastern Conference: 7th
|Website||Club home page|
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, on an interim basis, by Jim Curtin.
- 1 History
- 2 Colors and badge
- 3 Stadium
- 4 YSC Academy
- 5 Club culture
- 6 Broadcasting
- 7 Players and staff
- 8 Records
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 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.
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 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.
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 FC 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.
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.
Players and staff
As of March 8, 2014.
Notable former players
This list of former players includes those who made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.
|Manager||Jim Curtin||United States|
|Technical Director/Assistant Coach||Chris Albright||United States|
|Assistant Coach||Mike Sorber||United States|
|Director of International Player Development||Ricardo Ansaldi||Argentina|
|Head Athletic Trainer||Paul Rushing||United States|
|Academy Director||Tommy Wilson||Scotland|
- Piotr Nowak (28 May 2009–13 June 12)
- John Hackworth (Interim) (13 June 2012–30 Aug 12)
- John Hackworth (30 Aug 2012–10 June 2014)
- Jim Curtin (Interim) (10 June 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.
|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|
- 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|
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- [cite web |title=Distance Philadelphia – Seattle|newspaper=Distance24.org|http://www.distance24.org/Philadelphia/Seattle]
- [cite web |title=Union vs. Sounders a budding cross-country feud|newspaper=MLS Soccer|http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/union-vs-sounders-budding-cross-country-feud]
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