Philadelphia Union

29 September 5:25 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

26 September 12:58 pm

“The opportunity of a lifetime.”

That’s how Philadelphia School District special education teacher Nastassja Falterbauer described Saturday’s Special Olympics Unified Soccer match at RFK Stadium for students at Martin Luther King High School.

Thanks to a partnership between Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and the Special Olympics organization, a 5v5 soccer match between Special Olympics Pennsylvania and Special Olympics District of Columbia will take place immediately following the Union-United match. The two teams will be honored at halftime and then are scheduled to kickoff around 6:15 p.m.

In total, 11 players will make the early-morning road trip to Washington, D.C. The 5v5 match consists of two 15-minute halves. Falterbauer said she hopes the two teams can play again next year at PPL Park, allowing the D.C. players to also have the opportunity to play at another stadium outside of their home city.

“It’s a really great experience for the players,” said Falterbauer, who also serves as team coach. “Opportunities like this don’t present themselves often. It’s great to be able to go to another city and play against other players.”

Falterbauer and her players received the opportunity by winning the Philadelphia Regional district championship. The team was honored at PPL Park at halftime when the Union hosted the Houston Dynamo, Saturday, Sept. 20. But for many of them, all aged 17 or 18, taking in the action was their first MLS experience.

“The kids were elated,” she said. “They had never experienced anything like that – to be able watch them play, be down on the field… they were just in awe of everything.

But now, for a chance to share the same pitch as Union players?

“That excitement of [watching the Union play] is great,” she continued. “But to be able to play at the same stadium is even more incredible. It’s all they talk about.”

This is the first year of the Unified Soccer program within Special Olympics. So it’s a new experience for everyone, not just Falterbauer and the players.  And that experience has been just as important for the Philadelphia Union.

“The relationship that has been developed these past six months between MLS Works, Special Olympics DC, Special Olympics PA, DC United and Philadelphia Union has truly been a lesson in camaraderie and single mindedness of purpose,” Rick Jacobs, executive director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, said.

“That purpose has been to provide an opportunity for young people to share in a common goal while using the game of soccer as a conduit to reinforce all that is good about sport,” Jacobs continued.  “We are proud to participate in this inaugural unified match. We are excited because the authentic experience coupled with the inclusive nature of the participants, speaks to who we strive to be each and every day at Philadelphia Union.”

Added Falterbauer:

“The Union and MLS have gone above and beyond what we expected them to do. From supplying uniforms and equipment, they’ve really given these players an unbelievable experience. We hope we can make the partnership grow from year to year.”

For more information about Special Olympics Pennsylvania, visit: http://www.specialolympicspa.org/

- Article written by Chris Winkler, Philadelphia Union Communications 

24 September 5:18 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 9:33 am

The Philadelphia Union Foundation will hold its annual “Cocktails & Cleats” gala on Wednesday, March 11 at Vie in Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Union Foundation is dedicated to the young people of Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region.  Character development, enhanced academic performance and nutritional education remain the focal point of the Foundation’s programming initiatives.  Using soccer as a conduit for change, the Foundation reinforces character values of integrity, effort, accountability and pride.

Please check back soon for more information on this event. 

 

  

19 September 5:47 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

19 September 3:12 pm

When it comes to the River Cup, everyone is a winner.

The Philadelphia Union front office came through in penalty kicks over the Sons of the Ben to capture the recently-held fourth annual River Cup. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Philadelphia Union foundation, which supports programming in Chester and the Greater Philadelphia Region.

According to Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, proceeds from the River Cup were in excess of $30,000.

“Each year, it has evolved with different things working within the partnership and stadium and global side,” Jacobs said. “We’re very excited about it and what it’s about. It was an idea and we’ve taken it as an opportunity to raise money for a very worthy cause. … It’s a process and our feeling is we’ll go back and look at everything involved in the presentation to drive interest and see where we can increase money raised and interest raised for the foundation.”

When the River Cup was complete, guests were invited to stay and participate in the inaugural “Delaware River Craft Brewfest” held on Toyota Plaza.

The Delaware River Craft Brewfest included live music and entertainment, gourmet food options and a variety of vendors, including over 100 breweries. The event featured a sampling of the best crafts, imports and ciders from the United States and around the world. Samples of limited-release beers such as Goose Island Bourbon County and Scratch Series from Troegs were also available.  Breweries on site include Victory, Troegs, Anchor, Rogue, Full Sail, Evolution, Starr Hill, Long Trail, Goose Island, Old Dominion, Lancaster and Magic Hat.

"In addition to the on the field rivalry the Sons of Ben have with the front office we also rival on which one can be the most charitable," said Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson. "This gives us another chance to help out the Philadelphia Foundation...Chester is really like our second home a lot of the members of our organization spend a lot of time in Chester. We think it's important to 'pay where you play' a lot of what we do in and around Chester we try to use local businesses, when we want to give back to a community we feel as though it's important to first give back to the city of Chester and as we continue to grow [as a supporters group] we hope that with that we are big in helping our community grow and the proceeds raised from this game go a long way into doing that."

Every dollar raised from the River Cup will go to good use. It’s an event which has grown so much in four years.

“We’ll look at what we’ve done in the four years,” Jacobs said. “We know who we are and what we ultimately what the event to be. It’s a process which we’ll get together and talk about more and see what it might take us in the future.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

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