MLS Regular Season

15 September 6:42 pm

There is a lot going on in a little bit of time to prepare for Tuesday’s massive U.S. Open Cup championship match against Seattle Sounders (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets). The hard part is done, but buttoning up all the loose ends to ensure the experience is one you won’t soon forget is the grind.

Want to know what it’s like the day before a final if you work for a professional sports team?

If I’m being honest, it’s extremely stressful.

But it’s so worth it.

Monday started off with an early AM visit from Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” show as the ever spunky Jennaphr Frederick was on hand at PPL Park to preview the match and get the dirt on some of our players and coaches. The Good Day crew was on site for close to three hours getting the dish so it made for a nice morning in the news.

Speaking of being in the news, the pregame press conference for Tuesday’s match was held today at the PPL Park interview as Union representatives Jim Curtin and top USOC goalscorer Sebastien Le Toux sat on the podium alongside Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid and forward Kenny Cooper to field questions from media. It was your atypical presser, but the crowd on hand got a rise from both Le Toux and Cooper owning up to the fact they could be twins.

Also, this quote from Curtin was pretty awesome:

“This is something our fans deserve. We have the best fans in the league and I think they deserve a trophy…it’s something that means a lot to me. Being from this city, to [win the U.S. Open Cup final] here would be special. Being from here, yeah I feel the weight of not wanting to let the city down; so we want to win, hands down.”

Watch all of Monday's press conference here. 

Or here:  

In the midst of all this Open Cup preparation, philadelphiaunion.com caught up with Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz for a Q&A that will run later this week. We asked Sakiewicz some pretty tough questions all of which he answered including this one about the current state of the “coaching search.”

“I may or may not resume the coaching search. The team is in good form. We’re winning games. I’ve been very much in communication with Jim and the other staff members. They all know what the mission is and what the clear objectives and goals are for the club. And that’s not going to change. If there are additions to the technical staff, they’ll only be made to add to the current situation, because the current group of guys running the club is doing a pretty good job.”

That from Sakiewicz and much more later this week.

Moving on…

If you haven’t yet, follow MLS on SnapChat; now normally we wouldn’t go out of our way to plug the League, but we’ll make an exception as they’ve allowed Maurice Edu to take over their account for the next 24 hours. This is Edu’s second time taking over MLS’ various social platforms and it’s always been good. Click the image below to log on or sign up.

Stuff worth reading…

MLSSoccer.com and CSNPhilly.com writer Dave Zeitlin has posted his second gem in less than a week, this one chronicling the wild ride it took for the Union to be on the brink of its first championship.  In the Delco Daily Times, writer Matt DeGeorge takes a closer look at what a Cup win would mean for Jim Curtin and on the homefront here at philadelphiaunion.com you can check out the Match Preview and the first in our Road to the Final series.

That’s all for today, have a great rest of your Monday.

And lets all look forward to hopefully seeing a whole lot of this tomorrow night:

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

11 September 4:56 pm

Thursday started off pretty hilarious.

Not on the field but off as Sebastien Le Toux and Amobi Okugo going in as Union representatives on WMMR’s (93.3-FM) “Preston and Steve Show” to discuss Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup final against the Seattle Sounders at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

The two did a great job describing what the Open Cup is and why Tuesday’s match is such a massive deal, but it was Le Toux’ thick French accent that stole the show as the show’s cast asked him to say everyday words in his accent.

Coincidentally one of them being the word: “Thursday.”

It was a great segment, one that you can listen to here. Later that morning, the show’s cast gave the Union some love on social media:

Union manager Jim Curtin had his weekly press conference this afternoon which you can watch LIVE here:  

In it, the Union interim manager discussed Saturday’s massive rivalry match against New York at PPL Park (3 p.m., purchase tickets), Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup clash and that fact that we are all forgetting that in three days after the USOC final another tough team in Houston heads to the Chester waterfront to take on the Union on Saturday, Sept. 20 (7 p.m., purchase tickets).

We liked this one sound bite from Curtin in particular:

“New York and Philadelphia across all sports is a bitter rivalry. We just don’t like each other too much. It’d be big to take both games from them on our field. It matters a great deal to me to protect this building and to give the fans what they deserve. We started to establish that now and want to keep it going…its tricky, but we’ll put two teams on the field that can get three points. Our depth will be challenged. Although you never look ahead, we have a full week with Houston [next Saturday] – everyone forgets that one, too. Every Eastern Conference game is huge right now.”

Couple quick tidbits…

Sheanon Williams will be at the Delaware County Library in Marple Newtown this Friday at 4 p.m. Williams will be reading pages the ever popular Bill Martin, Jr. classic “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”

Lastly, 6abc weather man and Union aficionado David Murphy’s latest blog is a preview of this Saturday’s game. Read this and realize why David Murphy is the man.

There is tons more we could tell you, but we rather save it for a big finale tomorrow.

So until then…

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

10 September 6:03 pm

The first team was off, so philadelphiaunion.com spent the day with the kids at YSC Academy.

With classes officially underway in addition to all three divisions preparing for the 2014-15 season, it was pretty good to see the YSC complex and state of the art school alive again with student athlete and (fingers crossed) future first team players.

Sad when a 14-year-old (this one being U-14 player Max Owens) can juggle better than you, isn't it?

In addition to our presence, the school had another special visitor today as New York based Bloomberg Sports sent a photojournalist to profile the school and the rise of soccer-specific academies in the United States. The reporter said that the story will be out towards the end of the month, so we’ll be on the lookout here and be sure to share once it’s up and running.

Also soon to be up and running are the rosters, schedules and the return of the monthly academy notebook. Check for all three on Monday next week.

Moving on…

Big news today as the club released that Union defender Ray Gaddis inked a multi-year contract extension that will keep “Gaddis Island” afloat through the 2016 season. In cementing this deal, interim manager Jim Curtin, called it a decision that makes him the “happiest [he’s been] during his short tenure as manager.”

"I get a smile on my face because this is one of the things I’m most happy about in my short tenure as the coach to get him rewarded for all his hard work,” said Curtin following Tuesday’s training session. “Off the field, this is a tribute to his parents. They’ve raised a kid who has as good of character as I’ve ever seen in a human being.”

Curtin also believes that if he stays on the path he’s on, Gaddis could receive a phone call from U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann very soon.

“He’ll be a guy that if he stays on this pathway, he’ll be a U.S. Men’s National type player. He’ll be a January camp guy and I think he can break into that – he’s that good. One-on-one with the ball, Ray Gaddis is the best defender in our league right now. I will go out and say that – and I believe it.”

Does Gaddis’ newfound fortune mean he’s picking up the tab at the next team meal? His fellow teammates certainly think so...

So the pot was apparently stirred after word broke of Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz’ European trip this week. Sakiewicz, overseas attending a soccer symposium in addition to a variety of meetings was also rumored to be conducting a coaching search as well.

Sakiewicz quickly debunked the rumor with this statement released to media this afternoon:

"The coaching search has been suspended for several weeks," said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz.  "No decisions have been made.  Our focus is on preparing the team to play the New York Red Bulls on Saturday and competing for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship against the Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night.  The search will resume at a later date."

Some stuff you should read:

The guys at Philly Soccer Page continue to kill it looking at vintage Open Cup championship teams, their latest a look at the then Philly based Ukranian Nationals team  that captured the Open Cup in 1960. Written by historian Roger Allaway, it gives awesome insight into just how dominant these guys were… MLSSoccer.com and CSNPhilly.com writer Dave Zeitlin penned this piece chronicling the rise of Union soccer spearheaded by the truest form of a Philadelphian, Jim Curtin.

Both are good fireside reads if you have the time tonight.

Until tomorrow…

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

10 September 3:40 pm

Special Olympics launched a partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) last fall and the cornerstone of its relationship with them includes a Unified Sports® soccer exchange program.  Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.  Through the soccer exchange, Unified soccer teams receive training from MLS players and coaches in preparation for exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts. Each game, scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, features Unified Teams from local Special Olympics chapters and takes place immediately following the professional game on the field.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, Special Olympics Pa. (Philadelphia Union team) will take on Special Olympics D.C. (D.C. United team) immediately following the Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United match at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Unified matches provide MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand, the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players. The partnership between Major League Soccer and Special Olympics North America promote awareness, respect, inclusion and acceptance of Special Olympics athletes amongst MLS players, clubs, supporters and partners, creating new participants, coaches, and fans needed to grow the sport of soccer within Special Olympics North America programs. 

The Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) Unified Team is comprised of athletes from Chester Upland School District and the School District of Philadelphia. 

Join Special Olympics for a fun filled day of soccer on Sept. 27 as the Philadelphia Union takes on D.C. United in two great matches.

What: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union / Special Olympics (Pa.) vs. Special Olympics (D.C.) Unified Match

When: Sept. 27th. Starting immediately upon conclusion of the MLS match between the Union and rival D.C. United.

Where: RFK Stadium (http://www.dcunited.com/matchday/stadium/directions-to-rfk-stadium

Tickets: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/html/go.htmI?l=EN&t=dcunited&o=189&g=2856, use promo code: SODCU14

09 September 4:59 pm

It’s a good Tuesday here at Philadelphia Union.

The club trained this morning at Chester Park in preparation for Saturday’s match against rival New York Red Bulls (3 p.m., purchase tickets). Training ran close to two hours today, given interim manager Jim Curtin gave the guys Wednesday off this week to break up what is shaping up to be a demanding next few days. The Union will embark on yet another three-game, eight-day odyssey highlighted by next Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup championship at PPL Park against the mighty Seattle Sounders (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

Speaking of the Open Cup, philadelphiaunion.com caught up with midfielder Sebastien Le Toux to pick his brain about the upcoming match in addition to what winning it all in Philly would mean to him personally. You can check that feature out here.

One quote from our conversation with Le Toux which we thought was pretty cool was:

“It feels good to be doing so well at this point in the season. I feel good physically. But it’s not just me. You can see on the field that some guys are finding their stride too, like Andrew [Wenger] and Conor [Casey]. We know we can count on each other for one of us to score every game. Right now it’s working well. If it’s not me, I just hope it’s a team win. Usually it’s one of the three of us scoring a goal. So it’s great for the team and we’re confident we can score goals now.”

Just seven days until that match, you know, in case you were wondering…

Moving on…

The trophy tour continued today as the Cup made a lunch time stop at the Independence Blue Cross building in Center City. Employees took candids with the Cup and even purchased their seats for next Tuesday’s match right there on the spot. According to a ticket representative on site, about 30 tickets were purchased during the two-hour trophy stop, an impressive number as the momentum of Tuesday night’s match continues to increase.

IBX is known for preaching "healthy choices," so staying on that same topic, Union strength coach Kevin Miller posted his latest blog which touches on the right foods to fuel your body the way top professional athletes do. As always, it’s a great read…

This is pretty cool…

We are putting the finishing touches on it, but are working with MLSSoccer.com to have midfielder-defender Maurice Edu take over their SnapChat account beginning Sunday night into Tuesday morning in advance of the Cup. Are you on SnapChat? If so, best to advise you to follow both Edu and the League – it’s always entertaining.

Speaking of entertainment, pop star Ed Sheeran gave us some love before his show at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night showing off the jersey we presented him with at a recent practice. We never knew it, but Sheeran is another huge fan of the U.

Hoping you can make it out soon to bang the drum in the River End, Ed. 

We’ll return Wednesday with a progress update on the Union’s practice fields, off-day news and notes and more trophy tour stops. Finally, be sure to check philadelphiaunion.com tomorrow morning as we announce first some breaking player news.

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

09 September 2:06 pm

Think of your body like a car. If you put cheap gas in your vehicle there is a good chance that your automobile will run slow and may even break down. I use this analogy with the athletes I work with because I think it gives them a clear image of what can happen when you put poor fuel into an engine. I look at our body like an engine. If we feed it the essential nutrients and minerals that we need, we give ourselves the best chance to run efficiently as well as reduce the chance of injury. Below are some tips that may help you when it comes to your nutrition.

Water is essential to recovery, performance and life. It’s essential if you want to reach peak performance so drink up! The quality of your water is important as well.  A brand that I like to drink is called Gerolsteiner (Mineral water).

When you go food shopping you should spend the majority of your money on products that are located on the perimeter of the store.

Stay away from the middle isles as much as possible. On the outside you will find products like vegetables, meats, fruit, dairy, eggs, etc. On the inside you will find processed foods that your body does not need.

Eat vegetables with every meal. An easy way to do this is to add vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, kale and broccoli to your meals. If you eat eggs in the morning mix in some peppers and make an omelet or put kale into a smoothie. Have a salad at lunch time and fill it with the vegetables of your choice. There are so many ways that you can mix in some vegetables to your daily routine.

Choose the highest quality foods that you can afford. I never tell anyone that they need to eat organic food. Eat what you can afford and always look for fresh food when shopping.

When frying certain foods cook mostly with coconut oil and grassfed butter. Avoid cooking at too high of a temperature if possible. High temperatures can cause foods to oxidize which could cause problems for your body.

Eggs are a great way to start the day. The yolk has the majority of the health benefits that our body needs. Don’t make the mistake of just eating egg whites. Eat the whole egg.

Consume foods that improve your digestion. My top three are the following:

  • Grassfed yogurt (avoid the high sugar and low/no fat varieties)
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

Fermented foods are very good for your digestion.

Avoid processed carbohydrates as much as possible.  Good carbohydrate choices would be green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, berries, pumpkin, plantains, white rice and fruit in moderation. The ability to control your blood sugar levels is very important when it comes to metabolic function.

Plan your meals and think ahead. Always have a snack with you in case you get hungry at work or before a training session. A good example would be a handful of macademia nuts or a homemade energy bar.

Use sea salt daily. If you have a medical issue please consult with a doctor on how much salt you can add to your meals. Sea salt has several minerals that are often depleted in regular table salt.

Learn how to make healthy smoothies.  These are great for breakfast or for a post workout meal.  Here is a simple yet effective smoothie for a post workout meal. Most store brand smoothies are filled with sugar and low quality protein powders.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 handful of green leafy spinach (washed)
  • ½ cup of frozen raspberries
  • A large handful of ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp. of melted coconut oil (mix this in when the blender is running)

Mix this up for 30 seconds and pour it into a glass. The key is a lot of ice and mix until smooth and creamy.

Eat red meat, chicken, pork and lamb in moderation along with fish (sardines, wild salmon).

Fats (both saturated and monosaturated) are critical to your overall health. My favorite ways to add fat to my diet are the following:

  • Grassfed butter
  • Eggs (cage free)
  • Raw milk (Note, you need to be very careful where you get your raw milk. Only get it from a trusted source.)
  • Macademia nuts as well as other nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Chia seeds

Avoid fat free foods since most of the time they are filled with sugar as well as other processed foods.

Eliminate or greatly reduce soda intake.

Learn to read food labels. Manufactures have several different names for sugar. Learn how to distinguish what is healthy and what may be a poor choice for your body (i.e. high fructose corn syrup should eliminated from your diet)

Take fish oil daily (Omega 3 fatty acids that have been shown to have benefits for your heart as well as benefits for your joints).

I would recommend that you seek out the advice from experts and get the highest quality fish oil you can find.

If you want to perform like high level athletes it all starts with your nutrition. The key to your success is to plan ahead and keep things simple. Learn the basics and your body will reap the benefits.

Good luck!

05 September 4:24 pm

Good week, GREAT Saturday.

Short week for all of you, but an extended work week awaited the Union in what will be the second of two matches against Toronto FC on Saturday.

Before taking off, the team assembled for a light training session at PPL Park that involved some intricate passing drills and a hard short-sided scrimmage.

Then it was off to the airport, where the team flight was delayed…momentarily.

But none of that phased a team that took it to Toronto and celebrated a 2-0 at the end of 90 minutes. This coming off the heels of a 1-0 win over TFC Wednesday, which now gives Union interim boss Jim Curtin his 10th win of the season in all competitions (10-2-4). 

Oh and something our resident stats man figured out: with a goal Saturday, the Union would have scored its 200th in MLS play. Thanks to this header from Conor Casey coupled with this textbook header from Andrew Wenger Philadelphia scored not only its 200th, but 201st in League play.

Pretty cool stat and all the more reason to watch. 

While the Union chased back-to-back wins against Toronto in Toronto, the Union front office avenged a loss in the annual River Cup charity match. The fourth edition of a match that pits members of the front office against members of the club’s raucous supporters group, the Sons of Ben was won Saturday by the Union FO in a PK shootout! Kudos to both teams, which helped raise funds for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which directly benefits many programs within the city of Chester. But a special shoutout to Union captain Mark Evans (who is the club's director of fan services, by day) for leading the Union squad in a huge win on what was a sultry September afternoon. 

The festivities were in conjunction with the Delaware River Craft BrewFest presented by Radio (104.5 FM), which was also a great success. Thanks to all that came out for the Brewfest and stayed to watch a great event at PPL Park.

Moving on...

The U.S. Open Cup trophy arrived in Philadelphia last Friday and has embarked on a tour around the Greater Philadelphia region for fans to sneak a peek and get informed about the upcoming final on Sept. 16 between the Union and Seattle Sounders FC. It’s latest stop was the home of cheesesteak czars Pat’s Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia. The trophy has been to a variety of places, like Comcast SportsNet, the Art Museum steps, it also visited the coaching staff at Temple University, is scheduled to hit Friday’s college matchup between Drexel and Penn and earlier this week made a stop at La Salle University. The Explorers’ McCarthy Stadium was the site of the 1961 U.S. Open Cup final won by the Ukranian Nationals, one of their four Cup championships in the 1960s. It also made an appearance on the set of Saturday's Union-Toronto FC telecast alongside play-by-play announce JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas.

Posted Friday, was two pieces of fresh content from our video department, the first featuring Union defender Ethan White "mic’d up" during the club’s win over San Jose:

In addition, yours truly recently did a sit down with soccer historian Dan Morrison to discuss the rich history of the Bethlehem Steel, who captured five U.S. Open Cup titles from 1913-1930.

Found out something interesting from Morrison too: the original Steel jerseys of the past were not black and white, but actually red and blue.

Now given the era, there are no images to support Morrison’s claim, but he did have vintage game day brochures and old magazines that accurately describe the colors of the Steel jersey. Not being biased, but definitely check this video out. I learned way more than I ever thought I would about a team considered at that time the “New York Yankees of professional soccer.”

That video will surface later this week on the Philadelphia Union You Tube page. If you haven't yet, subscribe. There's some great content on there.

Lastly, here’s Saturday's Match Recap, an informative Q&A our resident writer Andy Jasner did with interim manager Jim Curtin and since we want to keep the upcoming U.S. Open Cup fresh in your mind (ahem, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park, purchase tickets),  the guys over at Philly Soccer Page penned this fantastic historic write-up of the dominance the Philadelphia German Americans displayed during its Open Cup winning campaign (1936). PSP editor in chief Ed Farnsworth has the story that’s definitely worth a read.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

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

22 August 3:50 pm

The club was back in training on Friday as preparations for Sunday’s match against San Jose continued – this time with an anticipated face returning to the fray.

New Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi participated in the full hour long session Friday morning at PPL Park, joining Zac MacMath and rookie Andre Blake in a session of instruction with goalkeeper coach BJ Callaghan before integrating with the rest of the club for a series of drills.

When asked how it felt to be back, Mbolhi smiled and told philadelphiaunion.com:

“It’s good to be back, nice to be with my teammates and get going with my new club.”

While yet unknown, given the week he's had it seems unlikely Mbolhi will feature Sunday. On Wednesday, Union manager Jim Curtin told reporters that it was important the two-time FIFA World Cup veteran felt 100 percent both mentally and physically before heading back out on the pitch. Curtin also mentioned before that happened that he would have a “good sit down” with Mbolhi to see where he’s at.

Both Mbolhi and Blake remained to train with Callaghan for close to an hour post practice, so right off the bat it was impressive to see the Algerian eagerly putting in the work.

The team will have a short walk through Saturday to prepare for Sunday. Friday was more of getting the players back out on the pitch after a much needed day of rest Thursday. Also out on the pitch with the players this morning was the inspirational story of eight-year-old super fan Harry Kane Jr. who got a chance not only watch but participate in training exercises this morning.

Harry’s father, Harry Kane Sr. praised the generosity, in awe that Harry was able to hang and get so involved with the "big boys" for a day.

What was also special is that Harry got a chance meet and chat with his favorite player, forward Conor Casey.

“This is something he won’t forget for the rest of his life,” said Kane Sr. “I know my son and this is a memory that will stick with him. Everyone was so great with him and it really speaks to the volume of just how great of an organization this is.”

Mr. Kane, on behalf of all of us here at the Philadelphia Union, it was our pleasure…

Moving on…

If you missed it, defender Ray Gaddis had a one-hour “ask me anything” session Friday afternoon on Reddit. Ray was asked a variety of questions, all of which he graciously answered. To check out the full transcript of Gaddis’ AMA, click this link.  

And if you wondered whether or not Gaddis had fun with it, just look at that smile...

Odds and endlines…

Season ticket holders, you have until Sunday to order your tickets to the Sept. 16 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final if you would like to sit in your seats. If you have additional questions, contact our Fan Services department at 877-21-UNION, press (1) for tickets followed by (3) for Fan Services. You can do the same if you have any questions pertaining to the revised parking setup for Lots B and C, with the ongoing construction of what will be a multi-field practice facility for the club...Be sure to check out the Match Preview and Match Preview video ahead of Sunday’s match with San Jose...Still have yet to reserve your seat to see FIFA World Cup (2014) veteran Chris Wondolowski get after FIFA World Cup (2010) veteran Maurice Edu? One click right here will solve that problem.  

And finally…

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has been going on for a while now to the tune of over $41 million dollars in charitable donations raised to the cause. Last week, the Union front office did it and on Friday, Union technical director Chris Albright was next up to get dunked on...with the help of players Andrew Wenger and Carlos Valdes, who were eager to have the chance to dump mostly crushed ice on the former MLS and U.S. national team stalwart.

A birdie tells us that Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz is up next...Check Monday's Daily #DOOP for that one including reactions and much more from Sunday’s match.

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

21 August 11:31 am

“I don’t have a gym membership...”

“My gym doesn’t have kettlebells...”

“I can’t do a pull-up, I am so weak...”

“I do 200 crunches a night but I don’t have any abs...” (FYI, stop wasting your time with crunches)

“I don’t want to lock into a six month membership so I am not going to lift weights...”

Over the years, I have heard so many excuses from people when it comes to training. I understand exactly how hard it can be to find both the TIME and the MONEY to train. I have good news for those of you who want to maybe learn some new exercises without having to join a gym.

My solution to those of you who are on a budget and who are unable to afford a gym membership is to train outside at a park.

Here are five (5) reasons I love to train outside.

1. It’s free.

2. Most people don’t get enough sun so training outside is a great way to increase your Vitamin D levels.  Believe it or not, most people are deficient in Vitamin D.

3. It’s fun. It makes you feel like a kid again.

4. Fresh air. How many times have you gone into a gym and the first thing you smell is something nasty coming off of the person on the elliptical? It looks like they have been on it for 2 hours cranking away with sweat pouring down their face. Don’t get me wrong I love to train hard and work up a sweat but if you have ever belonged to a gym you know exactly what I am talking about.

5. I sleep better at night. If I get fresh air and sunlight early in the day it helps with my sleep cycle.

Now, I still love to train at a gym 1-2 days a week but I think training outside is a great way to mix up your routine. The good news is what I am about to show you involves a small investment on your part. I have included five videos for you to watch. In each video I show a short clip of four exercises that you can include in your routine. The good news is that all you need is the following:

Kettlebells

I would recommend that you go to a fitness equipment store or go online and purchase a kettlebell. Your best bet is to find a local store so you can save on shipping. However, the equipment from Perform Better (performbetter.com) is high quality. I would recommend that you start with two kettlebells. One light one (15-20 lbs.)  and one heavier one (40-60 lbs.). Over time if you can afford it add higher weights to your “at home gym”.

Resistance bands

Here is a link to buy bands. Bands should be a part of everyone’s training program.  I have been using these bands for years. Link: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/

Abdominal wheel

I made my own for $15-$20 from Home Depot material. You can purchase a good one on line or at a local sporting goods store. Cost is approximately $15-$20.

Click the video below to watch a demonstration as well as some cues for doing each exercise. As always, start slow and if you have any pain than you need to stop. For the Turkish Get Up I would recommend that you start with body weight and keep the reps low. Finally, when it comes to kettlebells it’s worth it for you to work with a person who is certified in how to use kettlebells properly.

Here is a sample circuit that you can implement into your workouts.

Warm up (Always warm up properly before training)

A1) Kettlebell deadlift: four (4) sets of six (6) reps

A2) Band pull-ups: four (4) sets of AMGRAP (as many good reps as possible)

A3) Ab wheel rollout: 4 sets of 8 reps

Note: In the video I go very close to the ground. Beginners only need to go half way down. If you have ANY back pain or hip pain in this movement stop right away.

A4) Turkish get up: 4 sets of 3 reps per side.

Cool down

I hope you enjoyed the videos and make it a priority to get outside and do some training.

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health

21 August 10:12 am

For the second day in a row, major Union news was made public.

On Tuesday, it was the confirmation that a minor car accident in France had less of an impact of goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi returning to the States and rejoining his Philadelphia Union teammates more over the current State Department glitch that is affecting the thousands that are trying to obtain passports and work visas.

However, Union manager Jim Curtin shed light that Mbolhi’s flight was schedule to arrive Wednesday and that he is slated to return to training on Friday. The club is off Thursday, but will train Friday and Saturday before Sunday night’s match against San Jose at PPL Park (8 p.m., purchase tickets).

“As soon as we get him, we’ll be happy,” Curtin said during his weekly press conference Wednesday. “He has passport in hand, he’s is on flight and officially ready to go. He’ll do something on his own (Thursday) we have something set up for him to work with our goalkeeping coach B.J. Callaghan, but with the quick turnaround he’s a guy that said he needs to be 100 percent before he debuts and debuts are special…he wants to be 100 percent sharp and I totally get that.”

But the big news of Wednesday was the announcement of a multi-year contract renewal with baking giant Bimbo Bakeries USA. News of the deal was first reported by Philadelphia Business Journal writer John George Wednesday morning with the Union confirming the report later in that day on philadelphiaunion.com.

“Bimbo Bakeries USA has had a tremendous four year relationship with the Philadelphia Union,” said Vince Melchiorre, senior vice president of marketing at Bimbo Bakeries USA.  “Everyone at the Union – from Nick Sakiewicz, to the front office, to the coaches and players--support our efforts and value our partnership.  That high level of support and trust made it an easy decision for us to continue our jersey sponsorship with the Union. During the coming years, the Union will work with us to strengthen the connection for consumers between Bimbo and several of our great brands.” 

The beauty of this revamped deal with Bimbo is that the proceeds of this longer term deal directly benefits the Union as best explained via this interview from Philly.com soccer writer Jonathan Tannenwald that featured both comments from Union and Bimbo officials.

Back to the team side…

If he is feeling any effects of a hamstring injury you wouldn’t know it as Union midfielder Cristian Maidana had a really strong training session Wednesday morning. The crafty playmaker even ended practice on the final drill. In a short-sided, short field drill, Maidana took a pass, used a great move to elude his defender and hit a ball as he was falling down that curled around the goalkeeper and into the far post.

It was world class…in practice.

“He looked great today,” said Curtin. “He looked like the Chaco Maidana we all know. We need to get him back if this team wants to make the playoffs, not just the playoffs but to go far in the playoffs. He is a guy that is a big piece, whether it is centrally or wide left. He sees the game differently and guys like that are few and far between in our league and in the world right now.”

Odds and endlines…

Join Union defender Ray Gaddis for a one hour chat this Friday at noon as he does an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. For our fans on Reddit, you can click here to chat with Gaddis or follow along on http://www.reddit.com/r/mls

If you haven’t seen it yet, our video team sat down for this feature with Union midfielder Danny Cruz, who coaches a youth club in his spare time.

Again, the team is off Thursday, so all is quiet, but be sure to visit philadelphiaunion.com Friday as we get you ready for Sunday’s showdown with San Jose with match previews, scouting reports and of course another edition of the Daily #DOOP.

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