kerith gabriel

26 November 11:41 am

Week No. 2 of the #UnionTop10 is in the books and it was youth over experience as a matchup between homegrown midfielder Zach Pfeffer and veteran forward Conor Casey found Pfeffer moving on to the "Final Five" with over 75 percent of the vote.

Both plays were awesome but you the fans have spoken and so it’ll be Pfeffer and his first ever goal in Major League Soccer that moves on along with Andrew Wenger's first ever Union goal , a winner in Week No. 1.

Now as we move onto Week No. 3, it's another Wenger special up against a great goal earlier this year from Danny Cruz in a commanding win against New England in Foxborough, Mass.

But first, we examine Wenger’s blast against San Jose, his first of two in a 4-2 win over the Earthquakes in August. What makes this one special is the amount power and sheer lack of an angle Wenger has when he blasts this one past San Jose’s Jon Busch.

What’s great on this play is (well, besides the ball into the box from Sebastien Le Toux) is how it looks as though Wenger’s first touch fails him. Playing the ball away from the onrushing defender it gave the illusion that Wenger killed his angle in front of net, but the turn of the hips and hitting the ball dead on made no mistake that it was headed top shelf.

Moving on…

It’s only right to pair that one with another great goal this season, this one from Danny Cruz against New England. Now with this one, yes the shot was insane in its own right, but watch the run from Cruz which starts at the edge of the Revs’ 18-yard-box.

After taking this one basically coast to coast, the speedy midfielder takes advantage of the ridiculous amount of space given by Revs defenders and launches a “Cruz missile” (see what we did there?) that gave Brad Knighton no chance of getting a hand on it. What’s great about this play is that Cruz smartly took advantage of the spacing between him and defender AJ Soares and use what has always been a trademark power shot to put the Union ahead, 2-0 in the eventual 3-1 win.

Okay, you’re up. Which one moves on? Will it be Wenger’s goal from virtually no angle or Cruz’ fast break and rocket shot? Polls are open now until next Tuesday, Dec. 2 so vote for your favorite and tell us why in the comments below.

Thanks for all who have voted so far. We’ll be back with our Week No. 4 pairings next Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

19 November 4:19 pm

So YOU our fans have spoken and in Week No. 1 of our annual #UnionTop10 you selected this goal by Andrew Wenger to be the first to move onto the Final Five. In case you can't recall, we paired it up last week against Sebastien Le Toux’ season opener gem against New England; but it was Wenger that proved better according to nearly 59 percent of the vote.

Oh and thanks to the nearly 500 of you that put the two side-by-side and voted.

However we are looking to surpass that number with this next pairing.

Week two features Conor Casey’s fantastic finish in a July 12 match against Colorado, his former club. On an attack that was kick started courtesy of a gorgeous run of play that featured 13 passes among nine different players, Casey cleaned off the drive with a powerful left footed shot. Credit defender Ray Gaddis with the perfect ball into Casey's near post run too.

The play was so sweet that the next day our graphics department diagrammed the whole event:

The next play was one that fans of this club waited for since the day he got signed.

One the last day of the 2014 MLS season, Zach Pfeffer, the Union’s first ever homegrown signing scored his first goal for the club. Who cares if it came in a loss, it was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts for a player who has worked diligently since joining the club as a fresh faced 15-year-old in 2011.

In this one Pfeffer came on as a second half substitute as a spark and rewarded head coach Jim Curtin in the 73rd minute, with a well-timed run and even better finish, handling a pass from teammate Amobi Okugo and making no mistake with his moment of glory.

Now you tell us, which moment moves on? Is it some run of play magic finished off by the head of surefooted striker Conor Casey? Or will it be Pfeffer’s day in the sun against Columbus with the sun setting on the 2014 season for the Union? You decide. Voting is open until Tuesday, Nov. 25 so vote now and tell us why you chose your choice in the comments below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

12 November 12:17 pm

On Tuesday we announced the launch of the annual #UnionTop10 series arrives Wednesday.

Here we are.

We kick off week one of the five-week "Best of"series with a pairing of two firsts this season. We pit scoring stalwart Sebastien Le Toux against fellow teammate Andrew Wenger. In Le Toux’ it was the goal he scored to kick off the 2014 Major League Soccer season at home with a 1-0 win over New England, finishing off a great run from midfielder Leo Fernandes and scored his first of 12 League goals this season.

What’s really significant about this goal is that Le Toux extended his mark of scoring in Union home openers to four.

In 2010, it was a trio at Lincoln Financial Field against D.C. United, followed up with a penalty kick goal in PPL Park’s opener against Seattle in June of that year. In 2013, Le Toux got the ball rolling in the black third kits against Sporting Kansas City and of course this beauty on March 15 this season…

We pair that with Andrew Wenger, the Lancaster, Pa. native who arrived just before the April 12 match against Real Salt Lake via a trade from Montreal for Jack McInerney. People wondered with Jack Mac coming off a 12-goal season the year before if Wenger could come in and follow suit. Not only did he follow suit, but scored this goal against Real Salt Lake that put the stamp on his arrival to Philadelphia with authority.

What’s significant about this goal is that just minutes before Wenger scored, McInerney in his debut for Montreal, scored to put the Impact up one. But before the grumblings could begin on the loss of Jack Mac and his production, Wenger left no doubt with this thing of beauty.

Now you decide.

Which moment moves on to the Final Five? Will it be Le Toux keeping the streak going or Wenger’s authoritative PPL Park debut? Cast your vote below. Voting is open until Tuesday, Nov. 18 so make sure you have your say on which moment moves on. We’ll host the next pairing right here on philadelphiaunion.com on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

 

21 October 4:20 pm

The final match of the regular season is this Sunday in Columbus, but on Tuesday, the Union convened for one of its final training sessions of the season at PPL Park as they gear up for this weekend’s match with the Crew (4 p.m., The Comcast Network).

Training was getting guys back on the ball after a two-day respite following Saturday’s 2-1 victory against  Sporting Kansas City. Some passing drills, possession drills and short sided matches were more to get legs back up to speed.

What’s exciting however is that already the talk around camp is gearing up and retooling for next season as the Union remains hungry for a spot in MLS’ postseason, something that will be missed this season as a result of too many points being left on the table.

To their credit, the players in the locker room underwent quite a few changes to its makeup and went on a memorable run, but it’s the idea that too little was done too late that remains a sour taste.

Zac MacMath perhaps said it best when looking back after Saturday’s win against Kansas City.

“It’s hugely disappointing because I thought we had a good group of players, a good mix of veterans and young guys. I thought we played really well at times throughout the season. Unfortunately, we came up short too many times. That’s why we’re not making the playoffs.”

However, interim manager Jim Curtin had this to say to the folks at Philly.com which brings with it great promise:

“The focus now; the only words I’ll use around the guys is the playoffs for next year,” he said. “We’re not even going to talk about championships or anything like that. It’s about making the playoffs in 2015. That is the goal.”

Moving on…

Few things you should check out if you haven’t already (including a shameless plug from yours truly). First up, is this detailed look at the life and career of Union midfielder Vincent Nogueira who takes us through his younger years and life into the professional ranks proving naysayers who laughed him off due to his stature right in the face.

Also, he was a pretty cute kid, too.

On CSNPhilly.com writer Dave Zeitlin’s “Inside Doop” looks at the youngsters on the Union roster in addition to three thoughts on Saturday’s match…on MLSSoccer.com forward Brian Brown and midfielder Cristian Maidana cracked the Castrol Index Top 20 with Brown coming in at No. 10 while Maidana finished No. 16. Not sure what the Castrol Index is? Here's how it works.

Catch defender Ethan White Wednesday as he takes over our Instagram account in our final “Wednesday’s with…” segment of the month. White, who doubles as an amateur photographer when he’s not on the field will post images and answer fan questions. Have a question for him? Ask with the hashtag #AskEthan. 

Shout out to Union players Zach Pfeffer, Andrew Wenger, Leo Fernandes and Zac MacMath who were honorary guests at SOCtoberfest, which benefitted the Montgomery United Soccer Club.

We heard those guys were treated like kings, so thank you MUSC for taking good care of them.

Lastly, on Monday night many of the guys got a chance for a sneak peek at the “Sons of Ben Movie” slated for release sometime soon. The movie, which chronicles the birth and inception of not only the club’s supporters group but the inception of the team was shown to a handful of folks Monday night in West Chester. 

That’s all for now, catch you Wednesday with a recap of manager Jim Curtin’s final pregame press conference of the season. Be sure to tune in LIVE tomorrow via philadelphiaunion.com/live

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

16 October 4:26 pm

It’s Thursday, which means one day closer to the weekend and one day closer to the home finale against Sporting Kansas City this Saturday (7 p.m., purchase tickets).

Our ticket and marketing department have devised this promotion which is pretty cool and commemorative for the final Union match of 2014 at PPL Park.

Click the graphic for more information.

If you’re coming to PPL Park this weekend, one of the cool things you’ll have to check out is the rapid amount of work that has been done to finish construction on the club’s practice fields, located across from the stadium (the old Lot B). At the time of this report late Thursday, fencing was nearly up all the way around the stadium and masons were out completing some pretty intricate brick work.

No much to report from the training ground today as the team trained at the stadium, with everyone participating in full training today. You hear coaches say all the time that they have “everyone available for selection” and this case it appears as if interim manager Jim Curtin will have a full lot to choose from for Saturday’s match.

Off the field, Union midfielder Michael Lahoud is still making the rounds with his incredible #KickEbolaintheButt campaign as it was picked up in this Huffington Post segment earlier today. Lahoud is still looking to spread awareness about the disease that continues to spread with a rapid rise not just in his native Sierra Leone anymore, but has found its way to even reach our shores.

It’s a good segment, definitely one you should check out.

Moving on…

It looks like midfielder-defender Amobi Okugo has found a better alternative than credit card roulette the next time he has dinner with his Union teammates. If you don’t know that is, it’s the ever popular cringe worthy game of having a server at a restaurant pick credit cards out of a hat and the last one picks up the meal – for the entire dinner party.

But in this new version Okugo posted via Twitter at least you know you have everyone’s undivided attention…before having to foot the entire bill, of course.

That’s all for today, we’ll be back tomorrow. Check out philadelphiaunion.com for the latest Union news and definitely Friday for our Match Preview ahead of the Sporting KC match, our in-depth video preview and the current MLS goal scoring machine Pedro Ribeiro would like to emulate in his sophomore season.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

06 October 4:51 pm

While the Union know that they ultimately control much of their playoff aspirations by securing three points in these final three matches, it had to be a little reassuring to see some help arrive courtesy of a few final score lines in MLS matches over the weekend.

Perhaps the biggest was a 2-1 victory for the New England Revolution over Columbus Saturday. The Crew is next up for the Union this Saturday at PPL Park (7 p.m., purchase tickets). While Columbus sits in the coveted fifth and final spot in the East on 43 points, the Crew will be without two of its standout players in Waylon Francis and designated player forward Federico Higuain.

Still the message is clear (via Major League Soccer):

Philadelphia Union will be eliminated from playoff contention IF

  • Philadelphia Union lose to Columbus Crew on Saturday AND
  • New York Red Bulls win vs. Toronto FC on Saturday

Keyword: AND.

Here in Philadelphia, the players resumed training today in preparation for Saturday’s game at Chester Park. Everyone participated in training in some form or fashion today as the mindset was to just get guys back on the ball.

Not much to report from training, but there is a lot to talk about...

First up, Union forward Antoine Hoppenot is the player guest for Tuesday’s “The 90th Minute” radio show. The hour long show (7:00-8:00 p.m.) will take place LIVE from Chickies and Pete’s in Audubon, Pa. before a scheduled return to Chickies’ South Philly location on Oct. 14.

We know you have a lot of questions for players and staff. Additionally, a glimpse into the life of one isn’t exactly a bad thing. Which is why all month we’ll have social media events that you can take a part of; get an insider’s look and insight into some key players who look to help this club finish this season on a high note…

We kick it off this Wednesday with Union midfielder-defender Maurice Edu, who will take over our Instagram account to give you a day in the life. Be sure to comment over the course of the day. If Edu messages you back, send us your email for a chance to win a Chipotle gift card.

Edu’s is the first in a series we’re calling “Wednesdays with…” in which one player will be available via Twitter or Instagram the whole day to answer your questions and give you some love.

Also, think you know everything there is to know about this team?

What about Amobi Okugo?

Well, beginning next Monday, you’ll have a chance to prove it when we kickoff the "Amobi Okugo Twitter Trivia." How does it work? Each day, Okugo will come up with a unique question for fans to answer. Answer the question and add the hashtag #StumpAmobi and you could be a lucky winner of a different daily prize ranging from field seats to the Union’s final home match of the regular season against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, Oct. 18 (7 p.m., purchase tickets ) to gift cards to restaurants and shops courtesy of our corporate partners and sponsors.

Two quick things to note:

This weekend (Friday, Oct. 10) will kick off the opening round of the Generation adidas Cup for the U17s of the Philadelphia Union Academy. Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer will visit the Academy on Wednesday, visit YSC Academy in addition to hanging around for training to speak to the kids from 4:00-6:30 p.m.  Always a class act, when asked to do this Pfeffer told philadelphiaunion.com via text:

“No problem at all! It’s fun for me too since I was the first homegrown, so this is awesome.”

Finally, Union interim manager Jim Curtin will hold his weekly press conference on Thursday this week at noon as the team is OFF this Wednesday. To watch Curtin’s presser LIVE, visit: philadelphiaunion.com/live

That’s all for now, catch you tomorrow.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

29 September 4:25 pm

It was a busy weekend that spilled into a relatively routine Monday here at Philadelphia Union HQ.

The players trained at PPL Park today, as they prepare for Thursday’s match against Chicago at PPL Park (8 p.m., purchase tickets).

A pleasant sight was Sebastien Le Toux in training gear and cleats as he joined his teammates for practice. Le Toux left the field at RFK Stadium in Saturday’s game against D.C. United in what early reports cited as a right ankle sprain. He later returned to the field with crutches, which appears to merely be a precaution as Le Toux was back out on the training pitch today. He will undergo an MRI and more information will be known once the results are in.

You can hear what Union interim manager Jim Curtin has to say about it during his weekly press conference which has been moved to Tuesday at noon given Thursday’s match. Watch LIVE by logging on to philadelphiaunion.com/live.

Moving on…

Congratulations are in order for the Philadelphia Union Special Olympics (Pa.) team which took part in the first ever “unified match” after playing D.C. United’s group from Special Olympics (D.C.). The Union team battled back from a goal down to win 3-2 over D.C. United.

Want more insight on the impetus of this match and annual plans to keep it going? Check out this piece that appeared on the Union website last week.  

Also, congrats to Union midfielder Michael Lahoud as his #KickEbolaintheButt campaign continues to get exposure. On Sunday, Lahoud along with Temple professor Thilo Kunkel teamed up to hold an event at the university, best attended by a few of Lahoud teammated and even better explained via subsequent articles written locally by CBSLocal.com  and the Philadelphia Inquirer and even a broader piece in Monday’s Washington Post

Stuff you should read…

We all do it, but there is no reason to hit the panic button on a season that is far from lost. And in this piece, yours truly explains why…one of my favorite pieces of the day is the weekly Public League soccer roundup the guys over at Philly Soccer Page have took to doing. This week, contributor Josh Trott breaks down each division and even looks at the Catholic League…finally, Dave Zeitlin explores the remaining Union schedule and more in a push for the playoffs.

Wanted to put in your head now about our next Union Day this Sunday at East Norriton Middle School in Norristown: 

And finally…

You know Ray Gaddis. Chances are you probably love Ray Gaddis.

Well with that said, the Union defender desperately needs your help. Take a look at what he wrote Sunday afternoon. If you can help and if you don’t already, please follow Gaddis on Twitter and give him some tips:

A true Southern (and Midwestern) gentleman, we can guarantee you he’d be “much obliged.”

Catch you all tomorrow.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

24 September 4:18 pm

Jim Curtin has had quite the past 24 hours. From his name being implicated as the official manager of the Union in numerous reports to his plans for getting back to winning ways against D.C. United this Saturday at RFK Stadium (3 p.m., NBC Sports), to the status of defender Ethan White, there was a lot to discuss in his weekly press conference. In this installment of the Daily Doop, we thought it best to provide a transcript of the 15 minute press conference. If you're a visual person and you'd rather watch the proceedings the presser in its full video form can be found below.

And now, Union interim manager Jim Curtin.

Enjoy. 

Opening Statement

JC: There was some news that was leaked. I just want to clear up everything. I am still the interim manager. I’d say more so than any other city, in Philadelphia, respect isn’t given, it’s earned. I get that part. I agree with that part. I’m still fighting to have the interim tag dropped. I don’t want it to be a distraction to our team. I had a good talk with them this morning and to be honest I was on the playground yesterday with my kids and all of a sudden the phone starts going. Alexi Lalas, Ives [Galarcep], [Taylor] Twellman, and other guys asking questions – congratulating in some regard. Same as you guys, probably you read the article. It’s not true. I’m still the interim coach and I’m working hard to have that removed. My players have done a great job in helping with that. Our main focus, as always, is working hard and getting a result against D.C.

On if the Union have an advantage with D.C. United playing in midweek Champions League match

JC: It is. It always depends on the team they play before you so you always have to look. I’m actually familiar with the Tauro team, I’ve played against them. They’re always a big, strong, very physical team. So that’s good for us. They’ll put up a fight for sure. It’s a game Ben [Olsen] knows how to manage his guys – they have a very deep team. At the end of the day, they have to play some of their guys. So it’s tough workload on a Wednesday. We’ll have fresh legs going into the weekend. We haven’t had many free weeks for a chance to prepare so it’s a positive in that regard. But, any time a team plays in the midweek before is an advantage for sure.  

On Ethan White’s status

JC: Ethan is progressing well. He was jogging around the field so it’s not the thing where he’s completely ruled out by any stretch. We’re cautiously optimistic that he’ll be a guy available for selection.

On Amobi possibly filling in for him at centerback

JC: We lean more toward Amobi in the midfield. A lot of articles have been written on the subject — we read stuff, anyone who says they don’t is a liar — they’re good discussions. I don’t just make these decisions on guys willy nilly, you know? You lose a lot of sleep, you think about every option, you think about the matchups, you think about all these things. I’m high on Amobi Okugo. He knows that, our locker room knows that. He’s been a big part of a lot of our wins. If you project out our record in just league games right now, we’d be on pace for 60 points in the season, which our fans are intelligent to know they’d sign up for that. And Amobi’s been a big part of that. He’ll be called upon again, now, and I would say he is a midfielder – in my mind. That’s where he likes to play best, I think that’s where he is best. The decision that went against him in the Open Cup final was just one that, we’re at home, we’re on our home field, it was a little more of an attacking lineup — it was a risk. I think we’d all agree it was a good game that we played, we brought a lot. I don’t think there’s too much second guessing that can be done on that one. I love hindsight too, you know, I’m a Monday morning quarterback every time the Eagles play, and what they could’ve done different. When you’re making those decisions, they’re tough ones. That one went against Amobi – no question about it. So did Houston. But, when his number’s called, I know he’ll be ready to go.

On how he keeps his team focused with all of the distractions

JC: They’ve been great all year. Whether it’s different people that have come through the locker room and they’ve met, they’ve kept their focus just on the field, and they’ve done a great job with it. They bring it every day in training. If you go to our training sessions now, there’s guys that are laying it all on the line every day that maybe took days off earlier in the year. It’s great to see. We see healthy, healthy competition at every position. I do think that they have grown up a lot recently, whether it’s closing out tight games, protecting our home field. I think we’ve lost one game in our last 11 in the league. We’re tough to play against. Are their going to be breaks? Penalty kicks go your way, penalty kicks don’t go your way — there’s different breaks during the season, but we’re tough to beat. That is a fact. And that’s because I have men.

On what he draws from the first meeting with D.C. United

JC: It was a long time ago. They’re a good team though, they’re in form. We were a different team, they were a different team. [Fabian] Espindola had his little injury after his hot streak, he’s now been suspended a game or two. We expect him to be back, when he’s on his game he’s one of the toughest to deal with in the league. Chris Rolfe, an old teammate of mine, is a handful but now that he’s out with the broken arm he makes them look a little different. [Luis] Silva’s in great form, he’s scoring goals for them from a deep spot, he’s a handful playing underneath the forwards. Again, dangerous team. Eddie Johnson, wild card, too, with the concussion. They’re a team that we respect a ton. It’s a rivalry game — Ben’s a friend of mine, but we both want to get a win, we both know we need three points. They’re looking to win the East, we’re looking to get above the red line, so it’s going to be a war, another Eastern Conference battle.

On how difficult it is to figure out what D.C. will look like

JC: It’s tough. They still have their core guys, it’s going to be Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud in the middle, you know what the center back pairing’s going to look like with [Steven] Birnbaum and [Bobby] Boswell, and I know what those guys are about, what they bring. Sean Franklin. So the core six-to-eight guys are there. Is Eddie Johnson a nice wild card to have getting back? Yes, he is. Espindola, we know what he’s about – he’s a proven goalscorer in our league, a guy that you have to deal with for 90 minutes. He’ll fight and scratch — he’s one of those guys who’s a Carlos Ruiz-type player: you love him when he’s on your team, you hate him when he’s not. He’s a handful and he’s in good form. Rolfe’s the big injury that they’ve had because Chris was having a great year for them. So, hopefully that’s something that we can use to our advantage, to have him missing.

On whether all the tough games make it easier moving forward

JC: Yeah. I would say they all feel like playoff games, they all have the intensity that it’s a do-or-die, a must win. The mentality of our group’s changed, too. After the Houston tie, the guys were disgusted with it. That was a face that I maybe didn’t see earlier on. And that’s something that they at least realize; there’s accountability within the group, to know that that wasn’t good enough. Sure, we created enough chances to score a goal and win, but we didn’t have the killer instinct that we needed to get it done. We’re a no BS type team. We are what our record says we are. That’s kind of what we’ve kind of believed in and that’s what we’re about. We know going down the stretch in these last games we have to protect homefield, obviously, but we’re going to have to go somewhere difficult and steal points. Obviously, the Columbus series looks big, too, but the focus is on DC on the road. It’s going to a brutal, tough game, but we’ll be ready to go.

On Ethan’s form and what it’s meant

JC: He’s been great, he’s been unbelievable. Everything a guy could ask for out of a center back, he does. To be honest, I don’t think he’s gotten the appreciation that he deserves in the press. I know that the coaches on the other teams in the league that talk to me are as high as can be on him. I’m as high as can be on him. And that’s why, in some ways, the Amobi [Okugo]-Maurice [Edu] discussion — like you could just displace Ethan White — was I think a little disrespectful to him, and a little bit unfair. Because what the kid has done in keeping his mouth shut for six months in not being in the lineup and bringing it everyday, and then putting out the fires that he puts out in the games — in the real games, in the big boy games — has been special. We’re going to miss him a lot. It’s a big injury. We want to obviously get him back before the weekend so we’re missing him in training right now. He’s a guy I can’t say enough about, I’m very high on him. I played the position, I wish I had the attributes that he has as a player. He’s got a little nasty in him – which I like.

On the difficulty of rotating players in the back

JC: They’re good players so they can handle it. If you look at our game against New York, they had the penalty kick which probably isn’t a penalty kick. And then they had the sidefoot from [Thierry] Henry that Zac [MacMath] would tell you he should’ve done better on. Then you fast-forward to Seattle, we handled them for the most part, inches away from winning that game. Then you go to the Houston game. We did not give up a shot on goal. So, the defense is doing a great job, no question about it, whoever I plug in there. I have great players back there, I have great goalkeepers, and they’ve done a phenomenal job. Our attack has been good as well, but the defense has been excellent. Hindsight is a great thing, it’s a good thing in sports. I’m happy with our group, I really am. It’s a fine line though in MLS [between] a week like last week looking perfect versus we’re all disappointed. There’s no more moral victories for us, though. That Seattle game, I feel like that should be the last I talk about it. This club should be done with moral victories. Now it’s time to win a trophy.

On Harrisburg City Islanders reaching the USL PRO championship final

JC: It’s excellent. We’ve had a lot of guys that have logged a lot of minutes there and helped out along the way. Some less than others, but even when they’ve been thrown down there periodically they’ve done well. It’s great game experience for our young guys, for Jimmy McLaughlin to get real games, playoff-type games, and Antoine [Hoppenot] to be doing well for them, and Richard Marquez to be playing great minutes at center back. It’s so valuable for those guys to be getting not only minutes, but playoff minutes in games of consequence where there’s a winner and a loser and the loser goes home. It’s so valuable. Bill Becher’s done a great job with that group. They were an underdog going into the playoffs — much like we might be. They’ve gotten to the final, they put themselves in a final, and I wish them all the best. Hopefully they can pull it off and win it against Preki, my old coach.

On Hoppenot’s time with Harrisburg

JC: He’s been good. The message for Antoine is keep up the work you’ve been doing. I tell our guys in the locker room, I told them as recently as yesterday, someone in this room that hasn’t contributed a ton during this year will score a big goal, will make a big play defensively that gets us into the playoffs. It always happens. It always, always happens. There’ going to be someone who’s not called upon now – just like there’s always a team that no one’s expecting to make the playoff to make it, and there’ll be one that everyone has counted in right now, they’ll drop out. It’s just the way this league goes.

Injury report updates:

JC: No, we’re healthy. Our medical staff does a great job — Paulie [Rushing]Steve [Hudyma], and Kevin Miller have done a great job keeping everybody healthy. We’re fresh. Excited for this push.

Who’s the Union’s biggest rival, DC or New York?

JC: We shouldn’t really like anybody in the Eastern Conference, to be honest. I still think we’re figuring that part out. We haven’t had enough playoff games to have that real bitter rivalry. I’d still put New York there just because of the Philly mindset with New York that goes back a long way – back to the time when we thought we were the second city, the little brother type thing. But, I think that time’s gone. I have tons of New York friends that have come, moved down to Philly now and live here that say it’s better. That’s a whole other discussion but, rivalry wise, I still think its New York just because of how close it is. DC’s, again, another good rival, but you have another New York team coming in. I don’t think we’ve had enough playoff history with anybody to really hate, to really, really have that true Sixers-Celtics, or whatever it might be. We don’t have ours yet. New York is the closest, I guess.

Transcription courtesy of Chris Winkler, Philadelphia Union communications department

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

23 September 4:59 pm

It’s a Tuesday that for us feels like a Monday.

For many of us here at philadelphiaunion.com Monday was an off day, much like it was for the players. Short of running all out for 90 minutes, just about every front office type right down to our extremely awesome interns endured long hours during the more than month long hype machine that was our build up to a very successful sales, marketing and digital campaign for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Our trophy was a respite following Saturday’s draw against Houston, but Tuesday everyone was back to action with renewed vigor, including the players who trained today at Chester Park in preparation for Saturday’s September finale against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (3 p.m., NBC Sports).  

On the field, not much to report, the players work on possession, passing and shooting drills before a return to PPL Park, but off the field many players had a lot going on.

For starters belated congratulations are in order to forward Aaron Wheeler who tied the knot over the weekend. From the looks of it, its appeared many of Wheeler’s teammates and friends who attended the nuptials had an awesome time:

If you’ve been a longtime supporter of this club then you know midfielder Michael Lahoud is quite the humanitarian. Lahoud has just kick started another pet project known as the #KickEbolaInTheButt campaign. Teaming up with Temple University professor Thilo Kunkel, Lahoud is doing his part to spread awareness about a disease that has decimated many parts of Africa including his home nation, Sierra Leone. 

Lahoud’s efforts were above the fold in the sports section of Tuesday’s Inquirer and reporters are following up to learn more about it. What it is exactly? Think ice bucket challenge...but with a twist:

For more information or to donate, visit kickebolainthebutt.com   

Moving on…

If you love Chipotle as much as you love the Union, then you are in for a treat.

Next Tuesday (Sept. 30), Union players Maurice Edu and Ethan White will serve you at the Center City Chipotle location on 15th and Walnut. Edu and White are scheduled to attend and serve from 2:00-3:30 p.m.

Major League Soccer officially announced the schedule for the 2014 MLS postseason in addition to the date and time of this year’s MLS Cup final which will be held Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. You can check that out in the link above. Just a friendly reminder that Union interim manager Jim Curtin will hold his press conference tomorrow at noon. Click here to watch the live stream beginning at noon.

Stuff you should read…

We took a look at what has already been a September to remember and took a look at the numbers. With a win Saturday, the Union would match its win total of three in the month of September. You’d have to go back to 2010 for the last time accomplished that feat (3-2-1). Currently the Union hold a 2-0-2 record in league play this month.

And finally…

The 700 Level penned this piece on Jim Curtin showing a young fan some love: 

Since like we aforementioned technically this feels like our Monday, it’s okay for us to have a belated #ManCrushMonday for the current boss, right? Catch you all tomorrow.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

19 September 4:47 pm

It’s Friday…finally.

We hope you are reading this as you settle in for your weekend respite. A lot of good stuff to get through both on and off the field, so let’s get right into it…

The team trained Friday at PPL Park for roughly an hour in preparation for Saturday’s tilt against the Houston Dynamo (7 p.m., purchase tickets), going through light reps and final tweaks before the final match of a three-game in eight day stretch, highlighted by Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup finale.

However prior to training, defender Ethan White received a “shout out” on the Fox 29 “Good Day Philadelphia” show from its adorable female anchor Alex Holley. White and Holley met Thursday evening during the "Feastival" celebration at Penns Landing.

Long story short, images of the two were shown on Good Day with apparently White vowing to wear Holley’s name on his chest during Saturday’s match. 

To which Holley later replied:

We’ll see if Mr. White is a man of his word on Saturday. Moving on…

At Thursday's FIFA 15 video game launch party in New York City, it was U.S. men’s national team captain Clint Dempsey who stole the show with dropped his new rap song “Hot Fire,” but Philly was still represented well by Union midfielder Maurice Edu. Edu was a hit at the party as well, hobnobbing with fans, taking pics and taking in what as a whole was a massive day for Major League Soccer as a new logo highlighted the innovative #MLSNext campaign.

Speaking of Edu, our video team here thought he was so good the first time around that we present Mic'd Up II with Mo: 

Just as good as the first one, if not better. Watch it here: 

Pair of congratulations is in order for two Union players; the first is for Union forward Aaron Wheeler who will tie the knot with longtime girlfriend, Ashli on Sunday. Also, Brian Carroll has hit the 300 mark for number of starts in MLS. Carroll ranks third on the list of active players only behind Los Angeles Galaxy great Landon Donovan (307) and Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman (318).

Stuff you should read this weekend…

On philadelphiaunion.com check out this sit down with CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz. Also, Andy Jasner has you covered with this Match Preview of Saturday’s Houston match. The guys over at Philly Soccer Page  have this fan testimonial on the experience that was Tuesday’s Open Cup final….and finally, www.MLSSoccer.com writer Dave Zeitlin gets this from Jim Curtin on just how good Vincent Nogueira was in that final.

All good stuff; enjoy your weekend and for many of you Saturday’s game.

We’ll be back on Monday.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com