Philadelphia Union

20 May 4:53 pm

Press Conference Recap:

This week, Conor Casey took to the podium as the star of the player press conference. Here are some of the best parts of his presser:

On playing a full 90 minutes on Sunday:

It was great, you know, first and foremost just to get the win. And to play it was definitely a grueling 90. A little bit sore but definitely excited to play, excited to win, and looking forward to this weekend.

I mean practices has been good, they’ve been sharp a couple months now. So I think the fitness, if you can get that good base fitness in practice then in the game, its kind of a different animal. Getting those minutes on the field will definitely help to push the fitness.

On playing the New York Red Bulls and their high pressure style this weekend:

It doesn’t effect my playing style as a forward that much. I think that we understand that they’re playing quite a bit different then they did last year, in terms of their pressing. It will be something that we’ll certainly have to deal with, especially since we’re playing there, but you know I think my job individually remains the same in terms of just trying to work hard, hold the ball up, and score.
 
After Casey spoke, head coach Jim Curtin held his weekly presser. Here are some highlights:

On playing the Red Bulls on Sunday:

It doesn’t get any easier for us having to go to New York, a rival game. New York will certainly be a tough task, a team that’s in very good form, a tam that high presses all over the field. I think the team that has the best midfield in the league going right now between Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan, and Felipe. A team that, if I’m being honest, gave us a lot of issues in the preseason even though the scoreline in that game was very much in our favor They created a ton and were very good against us. A team we respect, a team we know is going to be good, a coach I know in Jesse Marsch. Anytime you go on the road in this league its difficult to get wins but that’s going to have to be our task.

On preparing for the Red Bulls:

Yesterday was more of a regeneration day. We pushed the group that didn’t get a lot of time. Today we focused on dealing with, because their three midfielders are so comfortable on the ball and versatile, they have a way of really getting forward and creating a numbers advantage in the midfield. Lloyd Sam is another underrated player that is having a great year, that can come inside, can beat you one on one outside. They a tendency to outnumber you in midfield. That’s something that we worked on today, dealing with the extra number, its not so much man to man, its more about guys looking around, cutting off passing lanes, and doing their job, sometimes dealing with two guys and doing that in a smart way. With their high press they put their defenders on islands and they ask them to make tough one on one plays and they’ve a very good job. Their backline has done a  great job of making those individual efforts because they do press so high and put a lot into making you turn the ball

20 May 3:27 pm

Injury Report:

Player

Status

Injury

Andre Blake

Out

Right knee menisectomy recovery

Steven Vitoria

Out

Left hamstring strain

Michael Lahoud

Out

Right quad strain

Antoine Hoppenot

Questionable

Left hamstring strain

Ray Gaddis

Questionable

Left ankle sprain

 

Practice Update:

The Union used a lot of their time today to do various versions of 6-on-6 drills, with every team working on getting the ball into attacking positions. The feel of practice was noticeably lose today with the team still feeling the after effects of their win on Sunday. This time last week the players were walking off the field dejected and hanging their heads. Today, the players were laughing and joking around with each other, even if it was at the expense of Jimmy McLaughlin’s future children.

Eventually the team moved over to a more scrimmage like 7-on-7 drill with goalkeepers Brian Sylvestre and John McCarthy both fully participating. The squad broke into three separate teams, each playing five games that lasted two minuts each. In the end, the gray team of Sylvestre, McLaughlin, Maurice Edu, Sebastien Le TouxSheanon Willims, Vincent Nogueira, and Eric Ayuk won.

At the end of practice, Mo and Fabinho competed against Ethan White and Richie Marquez in a passing game where they tried to complete as many eighteen yard passes as possible in 20 seconds. Surprise surprise, the midfield duo beat the pair of centerbacks six out of seven times.

30 April 10:46 am

PLAYER(S) OF THE MONTH:

  • Names: Ellis & Elias Geathers
  • Age: 8 years old
  • Favorite Food: Pizza (Ellis), Sushi (Elias)
  • Favorite Healthy Food: Apples (both)
  • Favorite Game at Soccer: Passing games (Ellis), Handball (Elias)
  • Hometown: Chester
  • Role Models: Philadelphia Eagles (Ellis), Lebron James (Elias)
  • Favorite Hobby: Playing minecraft together (both)
09 April 3:11 pm

Here are three kettlebell exercises that you can add to your workout routine. As always make sure that you use good form and if you have any pain stop right away.

23 March 10:42 am
On Friday, March 13, Philadelphia Union staff surprised the 6th grade students of George Sharswood School in South Philadelphia and took over their gym class with soccer activities. 
 
The staff surprised the students outside with three soccer stations and an inflatable soccer field with various games at each including 5 vs. 5 matches and competitive variations titled “Steal the Bacon” and “Knock Out." 
 
“It was awesome being able to surprise the kids. They were all excited that we were there and it was something different for them," said Ticket Sales intern Shane Nelson. “They were all running around, smiling, and having fun. You could tell this was the highlight of their week.” 
 
The activities lasted for approximately an hour and a half followed by group pictures. Before sending the students back to class, the Union staff donated soccer balls and mini soccer goals to the school in hopes to grow their soccer program and activity in the community. 
 
 

@philaunion takes over gym class at the Sharswood School!

A photo posted by Philadelphia Union (@philaunion) on

 
“I think these activities can get children excited about the game, becoming Philadelphia Union fans themselves,” said Union intern Budimir Markovic.
 
The Union looks forward to visiting other local schools and organizations in the future to promote healthy activity and involvement. 
 
09 March 2:35 pm

Ray Gaddis and Andrew Wenger were featured in the MLS's top ten plays of Saturday night. View here: 

 

03 March 11:50 am
Jeff Benjamin
 
Jeff Benjamin serves as Partner and Chief Operating Officer for the Vetri Family of Restaurants. In addition to being an integral component of the company’s day-to-day work, Jeff also serves as co-founder of the Vetri Foundation for Children, a non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to help kids experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living. 
 
Jeff was bitten by the hospitality industry bug in his junior year of high school when he worked weekends as a busboy at a kosher catering hall in New Hyde Park, NY. The energy and pace of the working in the dining room, coupled with meeting and serving all kinds of interesting guests truly lit a fire. In 1987, he enrolled in UMass-Amherst, majoring in Hospitality Business. Throughout college, Jeff held various front-of-the-house positions, experiences that solidified his chosen career path.
 
Following his college graduation, Jeff landed in New York City with foodservice industry giant, Aramark. He spent the better part of the next decade managing high-level corporate employee and executive dining operations. During his time in the Big Apple, Jeff met and became friends with Chef Marc Vetri, who was also working in the city at the time. When Marc decided to return to his native Philadelphia to open his own restaurant, he tapped Jeff to be his general manager.  
 
In 1998, Marc and Jeff opened Vetri, a small, intimate, fine dining restaurant in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. Vetri was an instant hit, with Marc’s bold, contemporary Italian cuisine and Jeff’s thoughtful service style and finely curated beverage program earning universal acclaim. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, it received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating, and Jeff was made a partner. This dynamic duo has been rolling along ever since.  
 
With Marc and Jeff at the helm, the Vetri Family has grown to a total of seven critically lauded restaurants—Vetri, Osteria (Philadelphia and Moorestown, NJ), Amis, Alla Spina, Pizzeria Vetri and the most recent, Lo Spiedo, which opened in fall of 2014. Throughout the years, Jeff’s thorough attention to detail demands all operations standards are met and remain intact. His vigilant eye ensures the signature Vetri Family philosophy and experience is always upheld for guests and employees alike.
 
In Spring 2015, Jeff will launch his first book, Front of House (Burgess Lea Press, 2015), which pulls back the curtain to show all that goes into an evening out, from staff training and systems to the proper way to deal with boorish overimbibers. 
 
Outside of the restaurants, Jeff is a committed philanthropist. In 2009, he and Marc created the Vetri Foundation for Children. The foundation’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program in which children experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living. The program currently services 10 schools, and has served nearly 265,000 healthy meals. Additionally, the partners are the driving force behind the “Great Chefs Event,” which brings together scores of the country’s greatest chefs to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Jeff also serves as a member of the board of directors for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Community Partnership School. 
 
Jeff lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, with his wife, Melissa, and their two daughters. When he’s not working, he can be found rooting for his children’s sports team, and his beloved Union, Phillies and 76ers. 

Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri is the chef/founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants. In addition to his storied career in the kitchen, Marc is also the driving force behind the Vetri Foundation for Children, a non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to help kids experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living.

A Philadelphia native, Marc initially pursued a career in music as a guitarist before realizing his true passion came from cooking. Spending his formative professional kitchen life in Bergamo, Italy, working alongside some of the region's most noted chefs, Marc has become known the world over for bringing a bold, contemporary sensibility to classic Italian cooking. In 1998, he and business partner, Jeff Benjamin, opened the eponymous, fine-dining restaurant, Vetri, to universal acclaim. Vetri’s outstanding pastas, innovative flavor combinations and artful presentations captured imaginations and propelled Marc to the culinary forefront. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, he was named one of Food & Wine's “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating. In 2005, he was given the James Beard Award for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic."

Following years of continued success at Vetri, Marc launched Osteria in 2007. Larger and more casual than Vetri, Osteria’s menu of traditional Italian thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas and wood-grilled meats and fish quickly won over the dining public. The restaurant was nominated for “Best New Restaurant” in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. In 2010, it helped earn Vetri Family chef/partner, Jeff Michaud, the James Beard Award for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic."

The Vetri Family’s third restaurant, Amis, opened its doors in 2010. Inspired by Rome’s neighborhood trattorias, this smaller but energetic restaurant specializes in small plates such as handcrafted pastas and house-cured meats. In November 2010, Bon Appetit named Amis one of the top “10 Places for Pasta” in the country. The opening of Amis also brought Chef Brad Spence in as a Vetri Family partner, and subsequently, he has been a two-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" award. 

Alla Spina, an Italian gastropub opened in 2012. It’s been recognized by publications such as GQ and Zagat as being one of the top craft beer havens in the U.S., making it a must-visit destination for beer connoisseurs of all levels. The following year saw the debut of two more Vetri Family restaurants: Pizzeria Vetri, the group’s most casual eatery to date, and a second location of Osteria in Moorestown, NJ, the group’s first restaurant outside of Philadelphia. Similarly to their predecessors, these restaurants have quickly become fixtures in their respective neighborhoods, earning high marks across the board from diners and critics alike. Pizzeria Vetri was named to GQ’s 2014 list of “Top 25 Best New Restaurants” in the country.

In October of 2014, a seventh restaurant joined the Vetri Family ranks. Lo Spiedo serves a casual Italian-inspired menu with a focus on spit-roasted meats. It is located in Philadelphia’s up-and-coming The Navy Yard district. This year also includes the expansion of the flagship Vetri. The restaurant now encompasses two floors, making it available for private events and accommodating larger parties. The new Vetri space includes a test kitchen, allowing Marc and his fellow culinary partners a place to develop and explore new dishes and menus.

Marc is the author of Il Viaggio di Vetri (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 1, 2008) a collection of more than 125 of Vetri’s most-requested dishes. His second cookbook, Rustic Italian Food (Ten Speed Press, Nov. 1, 2011), brought artisan cooking into home kitchens and was named one of the top cookbooks of 2011 by such outlets as Bon Appetit, St. Petersburg Times and The Huffington Post. His third cookbook, Mastering Pasta (Ten Speed Press, 2015), will be released in March of 2015. In addition to his cookbooks, Marc’s writing can be found on The Huffington Post where he is a regular blogger.  

Outside of his restaurants, Marc is deeply passionate about giving back to the community, in particular his hometown of Philadelphia. In 2009, he and Jeff Benjamin created the Vetri Foundation for Children. The foundation’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program in which children experience the connection between healthy eating and healthy living. The program currently services 11 schools and two camps, and has served more than 300,000 healthy meals. Additionally, Marc and Jeff are the founders of the “Great Chefs Event,” which brings together scores of the country’s greatest chefs to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and The Vetri Foundation. Marc also gives his time to his alma mater, Drexel University, where he’s been a regular guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member.

Marc lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Megan, and their three children. He enjoys spending weekends cooking with his family, training in Brazilian jiu jitsu and playing his beloved guitars.