||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (October 2015)|
|Full name||Philadelphia Union|
|Founded||February 28, 2008|
|Head Coach||Jim Curtin|
|League||Major League Soccer|
|2015||Eastern Conference: 9th
|Website||Club home page|
The Philadelphia Union is an American professional soccer team based in the Philadelphia region which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) in the Eastern Conference of the league. The team plays their home matches at PPL Park, a soccer-specific stadium located in Chester, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Delaware River. Jim Curtin is the Union's head coach.
The Union finished as runners-up in the 2014 and 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournaments. In the 2014 edition, they lost to Seattle Sounders FC, 3–1 in overtime and to Sporting Kansas City on 6-7 penalties in after a 1–1 draw in the 2015.
- 1 History
- 2 Colors and badge
- 3 Stadium
- 4 Youth development
- 5 Club culture
- 6 Broadcasting
- 7 Players and staff
- 8 Honors
- 9 Records
- 10 International results
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 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. "Union FC" was the intended name for the Trenton MLS team if it came into fruition. 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 to develop a soccer-specific stadium.
In 2007, the Sons of Ben supporter group formed to raise interest toward a Major League Soccer team in Philadelphia. They are credited with demonstrating to MLS an established fan base in the market.
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.
In December 2009, the Union added the Reading Rage youth soccer organization as their official minor league affiliate in the USL Premier Development League. As a result, the Rage were rebranded 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 United Soccer League. And in January 2012, the Union formed their first international partnership with Deportivo Saprissa of the Costa Rican Primera División.
The Union's played their inaugural game on March 25, 2010, in which they lost 2–0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field. 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. 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. At the end of the inaugural season the Union finished 7th in the Eastern Conference and 14th overall in the league with a record of 8-15-7 (W-L-T).
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. On January 20, Philadelphia introduced two new players: Colombians Faryd Mondragón (GK) and Carlos Valdés (D). Mondragón had recently come from playing with 1. FC Köln in the German Bundesliga, and has at least 50 caps with the Colombian national team. Valdés came from Independiente Santa Fe in the Colombian First Division, where he served as captain before coming to Philadelphia. The Union also signed during the summer transfer window US International Freddy Adu. The team made a complete turnaround in the 2011 season, finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference and 8th overall in the league with a record of 11-8-15 (W-L-T) scoring 44 goals and allowing 36. This marked the 1st time the Philadelphia Union qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Union had a stellar start of the season that saw them win 4 and only lost 1 of their first six league games. In the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs the Unions lost the 1st leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-finals 2-1 at home on October 30, 2011 with the 1st playoff Union goal coming from Sebastien Le Toux. The Union then lost the 2nd leg 1-0 on November 3, 2011 against the future MLS Cup finalist Houston Dynamo.
John Hackworth era (2012–14)
John Hackworth became the Unions' interim coach on June 13, 2012 receiving the role permanently on August 30, 2012. The Union finished their third season in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and fifteenth in MLS overall, with a record of 10-18-6 (W-L-T), scoring 37 goals and allowing 45. Antoine Hoppenot, who was selected in the third round of the 2012 Supplemental Draft, 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 Chelsea F.C., 3–2. The Union also made it to the semifinals of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after defeating the Rochester Rhinos 3-0 in the third round and winning against D.C. United on the road 2-1, after extra time, in the fourth round. They subsequently defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders, their main affiliate at the time, 5-2 in the quarterfinals.
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 University midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. Other new, preseason acquisitions included 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 still languished in mediocrity, winning just two of their first 14 games, posting a record of 2-7-5 (W-L-T). On April 20, 2014, the Union traded forward Jack McInerney to the Montreal Impact for winger Andrew Wenger, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania native. Hackworth's coaching career with the Union ended on June 10, 2014.
Jim Curtin era (2014–present)
Although failing to make the playoffs, the Union reached the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals for the first time in the club's history. During the offseason, the club traded for forward C. J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City. They also traded long time defensive midfielder Amobi Okugo to Orlando City SC. Other new preseason acquisitions included F.C. Nantes loanee Fernando Aristeguieta, S.L. Benfica loanee Steven Vitória, and free agent Cameroonian 18-year-old midfielder Eric Ayuk. During the 2015 MLS SuperDraft the Union drafted forward Dzenan Catic from Bosnia-Herzegovina, midfielder Eric Bird, and defender Raymond Lee. During the expansion draft, Orlando City SC drafted Philadelphia midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. Despite all the offseason transactions, the Union only registered one win in their first ten league games with a record of 1-6-3 (W-L-T).
During the 2015 summer transfer window, the Union traded longtime defender Sheanon Williams to the Houston Dynamo for allocation money, which they used to sign Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta on July 29, 2015. The club achieved a successful run in the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, earning a second consecutive appearance to the Open Cup final. This match took place against Sporting Kansas City, at PPL Park on September 30, 2015.
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.
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. Coincidentally, the navy blue, gold, and light blue colors of the Union are also the predominant colors in the state flags of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. 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.
In February 2013, the team unveiled a third uniform that commemorated Bethlehem Steel F.C., one of the most successful early American soccer clubs. The kit was primarily black with white trim, featuring a sublimated Union emblem, and a Bethlehem Steel F.C. jock tag.
Home, away, and third kits.
- 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 training fields are right outside PPL Park; Chester, Pennsylvania. The training complex features 2 grass fields that were constructed in fall 2014. Prior to having dedicated training fields, the Union was practicing at a nearby municipal park called Chester Park or directly at PPL Park.
On August 19, 2015, the team announced that they would operate a reserve team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that will compete in the United Soccer League (USL) starting in 2016 with matches being played at Lehigh University's Goodman Stadium. As a part of the announcement, the Union agreed to dissolve their partnership with the Harrisburg City Islanders. On October 27, 2015, Bethlehem Steel FC's name, crest, and colors were officially announced during a ceremony held at the ArtsQuest at SteelStacks. "Steel FC" alludes to the historical Bethlehem Steel F.C. soccer club, which played from 1907 to 1930. The name was chosen following a fan poll held between September 8, 2015 and September 30, 2015;
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 noted 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."
- Figures correct as of October 20, 2015. Includes all competitive matches
M = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost;
|New York Red Bulls||18||6||2||10||33.33|
|New York City FC||3||1||1||1||33.33|
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 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.
During 2012 MLS season, seventeen select home and road matches were broadcast on SportsRadio 610 WIP. The Union also collaborated with WIP on a weekly hour-long soccer show. The Union host a weekly radio show, 90th Minute, broadcast on 610 AM WTEL each Tuesday.
Players and staff
- For details on former players, see All-time Philadelphia Union roster.
As of August 29, 2015.
Out on loan
|4||Defender||Berry, AustinAustin Berry (on loan to FC Anyang)||United States|
- As of August 2015 
|Head coach||Jim Curtin||United States|
|Technical director/Assistant coach||Chris Albright||United States|
|Assistant coach||Mike Sorber||United States|
|Assistant coach||B.J. Callaghan||United States|
|Goalkeeping coach||Paulo Grilo||Portugal|
|Head athletic trainer||Paul Rushing||United States|
|Strength and conditioning coach||Kevin Miller||United States|
|Sporting director||Earnie Stewart||United States|
|Academy director||Tommy Wilson||Scotland|
This list includes all those who have managed the club since 2010, when the club joined Major League Soccer for the first time, whether coaching on a full-time or interim basis. Games played include all League, Cup, Playoff, and the win percentage is calculated from the total of games.
- Figures correct as of October 5, 2015. Includes all competitive matches
M = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost;
|Piotr Nowak||Poland||May 28, 2009||June 13, 2012||78||22||32||24||28.21%||-|
|John Hackworth||United States||June 13, 2012||June 10, 2014||77||26||32||19||33.77%||Interim coach through August 30, 2012|
|Jim Curtin||United States||June 10, 2014||present||60||24||20||16||40.30%||Interim coach through November 7, 2014|
Keystone Sports & Entertainment (S&E) owns the Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC. Jay Sugarman, chief executive officer (CEO) of iStar Financial, leads this group including Christopher F. Buccini, Robert Buccini, and David B. Pollin – co-founders of the Buccini/Pollin Group; Joseph J. Greco, chairman of the RevSpring technology company and president of Premier Management Services; and David Seltzer, principal and co-founder of the Mercator finanical advisors. Nick Sakiewicz was the former CEO and investor in Keystone S&E until October 3, 2015, when Sugarman purchased his shares in the club and discontinued his involvement. His termination was primarily due to his strained relationship with the Union's fanbase, which blamed Sakiewicz for the team's mediocre record.
- Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
- Minor honors
- MLS Fair Play Award (2): 2014, 2015
|Top Scorer||Average Attendance|
|2010||30||31||8||15||7||7th||14th||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Sébastien Le Toux||14||19,254||DNQ|
|2011||34||48||11||8||15||3rd||8th||Conf. Semifinals||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Sébastien Le Toux||11||18,259||18,539|
|2012||34||36||10||18||6||8th||15th||Did not qualify||Semi-finals||Did not qualify||Jack McInerney||8||18,049||DNQ|
|2013||34||46||12||12||10||7th||14th||Did not qualify||4th round||Did not qualify||Jack McInerney||12||17,867||DNQ|
|2014||34||42||10||12||12||6th||12th||Did not qualify||Runner-up||Did not qualify||Sébastien Le Toux||12||17,631||DNQ|
|2015||34||37||10||17||7||9th||18th||Did not qualify||Runner-up||Did not qualify||C.J. Sapong||9||17,471||DNQ|
As of August 24, 2015. Includes all League, Cup, and Playoffs matches.
All-Time regular season records
As of August 29, 2015
- All-Time regular season record: 64–78–57
- All-Time regular season home record: 38–25–34
- All-Time regular season PPL Park record: 37–25–33
- All-Time regular season away record: 20–53–23
PPL Park records
As of August 29, 2015
- All-Time record: 37–25–33
- All-Time highest attendance: 19,178
- All-Time sellouts: 38
- All-Time goals leader: Sébastien Le Toux (29)
- All-Time shutouts leader: Zac MacMath (19)
|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||FC 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||England||L 0–2|
|2014||Friendly||Crystal Palace||England||L 0–1|
|2015||Preseason||Costa Rica U-23s||Costa Rica||W 3-0|
|2015||Friendly||A.F.C. Bournemouth||England||L 1-4|
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