For this week’s post I want to talk briefly about nutrition and more specifically “healthy snacks."
A question that I am often asked by people looking to improve their body composition as well as their energy levels is “what type of healthy snacks can I eat if I want to look and feel better." Before we get started I want to stress that I am not a nutritionist. The nutritional tips that I provide are based off of my own experience as well as books that I have read. If you want to talk to an expert in the field I would recommend that you head over to precisionnutrition.com and speak with John Berardi and his staff.
Most people love to snack. Whether it’s reaching for a bag of chips at a game or heading to the vending machine while at work. The key when it comes to choosing “healthy snacks” is to try and eat unprocessed food whenever possible. One thing that you have to remember is that most food companies include ingredients into their snacks that don’t fill you up but rather keep you coming back for more. Instead of truly satisfying your hunger they may cause a quick spike in your blood sugar that may provide short term relief but after about an hour you are reaching for your third bag of chips.
When it comes to choosing “healthier” snacks I think it is important to take the following things into consideration.
- Eat snacks that have a balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If you eat snacks that only have carbohydrates you will be in search for more food in about an hour when your blood sugar drops again.
- Plan ahead. By this I mean look at your day and if you are going to be on the run all day in between meetings and your car have snacks that can be eaten quickly and that provide quality nutrition. A great choice here is a homemade trail mix.
- Stay away from the vending machine. These foods are filled with sugar and additives that your body simply does not need. If you want something sweet than make some homemade chocolate covered cashews, almonds or macadamia nuts.
- Avoid fat free products. We have been told by so many people in the media that we should eat low fat or fat free products. Next time you reach for a fat free granola bar take a close look at the ingredients and I guarantee the product is filled with sugar, food additives as well as a host of ingredients that are not good for you. Remember this, fat is not the problem eating a whole bag of chips or sitting at your desk for 8 hours without moving is the problem. Add some good fat (i.e. olive oil, coconut oil, raw butter, nuts) to your daily nutrition plan.
- Eat foods that will eventually go bad. The candy bar in the vending machine although it tastes good could probably stay in there for over a year. Instead eat foods that after a period of time will spoil. This is a sign that you are eating real food and not something that was made in a lab.
Here are five snack options for you to add to your nutrition. The snacks made below are simple to make provide a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
1. Homemade trail mix: Instead of spending money on a bag of premade trail mix try this simple combination instead. Mix all of the combinations below in a zip lock bag and carry it with you to work (or leave it in your car if you drive a lot).
- ¼ cup of raisins
- ¼ cup of macadamia nuts
- ¼ cup of raw almonds
- ¼ cup of tart cherries
2. Greek yogurt (Try and eat vanilla if possible. The “fruit” flavors have added sugar that you may want to avoid if you are concerned about weight gain or are a diabetic)
Add 1-2 servings of vanilla yogurt with fresh strawberries or blueberries. If you want to add a crunch to the mix add in some organic granola.
3. Power smoothie
- ¼ cup of orange juice (optional)
- ¼ cup of water (Use more if you skip the orange juice)
- 1 banana
- 1 tsp. of melted coconut oil
- 5-6 strawberries
- 1 handful of frozen mango
- 1 scoop of a high quality whey protein (I prefer Whey Natural USA which is grass fed)
- 1 handful of kale (optional)
- Handful of goji berries (soak these for 15 minutes in water before placing them in the blender)
- 1 tsp. of spirulina (Optional. Spirulina will turn the smoothie green. It is a rich plant protein that offers a host of health benefits (i.e. B-vitamins, iron,magnesium,etc.). This may not be for everyone but if you are looking to add vitamins to a snack mix in a small amount to your smoothie and give it a shot.
- Blend for 45-60 seconds to make sure everything is chopped up.
4. Dark chocolate covered raw cashews w/ sea salt and cacao.
- In a pot mix in ½ cup of dark chocolate as well as a small handful of organic cacao.
- Melt the chocolate very slowly and add in the raw cashews (1/2 cup).
- Cover the cashews with chocolate and place them on a plate and put them in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the chocolate to harden.
- Sprinkle sea salt on the chocolate and place it in the fridge.
Note, when doctors tell you that chocolate is good for you they are not talking about candy bars they are talking about cacao. It is considered a super food and is very high in antioxidants.
5. Frozen banana with milk (I prefer raw milk but if you do not like the taste use regular milk)
- Peel a banana and place it in a freezer bag for 4-5 hours or until it is frozen.
- Take 1 cup of milk and pour it in the blender.
- Next add the banana and some cinnamon or dark chocolate (optional) to the mix.
- Blend on high until it is thick and creamy (FYI, don’t add to much milk you want it to be think like a milk shake).
- If you are someone who needs to eat a bowl of ice cream each night try this a few nights a week instead of the ice cream.
Here is a Bonus snack for you. Homemade avocado dip
- 2 ripe avocados
- ½ lemon squeezed
- ¼ cup of a red onion chopped
- ½ ripe tomato chopped
- Handful of cilantro leaves chopped
- Sea salt to taste
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and place this in the fridge for 30 minutes. Add the sea salt to taste. Chop everything up (Make sure the avocado is ripe) and eat with some chips or fresh veggies or add this to a chicken sandwich.
When it comes to snacking it’s really important that you enjoy what you eat. By no means am I telling you to stop eating some of your favorite snacks. I think pretzels and ice cream and candy bars are delicious. However, if you put a little effort into preparing some “healthier” alternatives you can still enjoy the taste of the food and reduce the amount of processed foods that you consume. Remember, food should be something that we enjoy and eat because we are hungry if you are an emotional eater you need to find ways to reduce the temptation to snack all day long on empty calories.
As always if you have questions or comments please send them my way and I will do my best to answer them.
Thank you and have a great day!
Have a question for Union strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave it in the comments below.
This week I am going to talk briefly about one of my favorite exercises for both upper body strength and power development. The exercise I am talking about is the pull-up. When I ask most people to do a pull-up their immediate response goes something like this “I can’t do pull-ups. I have not done any pull-ups since eighth grade gym class”. Most people give up before they ever try doing a single repetition.
The truth is pull-ups are hard to do, however, when done properly they are one of the best exercises for both power and upper body strength.
Here are 5 reasons why I love to do pull-ups:
- They can help improve your posture: Why is this? Because most people sit all day at a desk or sit for long periods of time driving. Pull-ups with good form will force you to put yourself in a better position which in turn can improve your posture. When we sit all day we “turn off” certain muscles. Pull-ups will force you to work on some of your stabilizer muscles in your back and shoulder which in turn can improve your posture when working properly.
- You can do them anywhere: As you will see in the attached video you do not have to belong to a gym in order to do pull-ups. If you live near a park head over to the jungle gym and get started.
- They can help to build big strong shoulders: Instead of doing side dumbbell raises pick up some resistance bands and build some strong shoulders.
- They can help you get faster: Most people don’t believe me when I tell them this however next time you watch elite runners run a 100 meter dash take a look at their upper body and tell me if you think they do pull-ups? You won’t see any skinny sprinters running sub 10 seconds. The reason they can help improve your speed is because your “lat” muscles connect into your glute muscles which as we know are your “speed” muscles. A strong back equals fast sprinters.
- They help build strong arms: Let’s face it, who wants to have skinny arms? Pull ups are a great way to increase both the size and the strength of your arms. With beach season upon us I am sure most people are looking to gain some muscle in their arms. With proper nutrition added into the mix you will see an increase in the size of your arms.
Before you tell me that you are unable to do any pull-ups I want you to watch the video link below. Everyone can start to do pull-ups today. All you need to do is follow the proper progressions in the video if you want to benefit from one of the best exercises for your body.
Check out this video link: Band pull-ups
Purchase bands here: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/
Have a question for Union strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave them in the comments below.
Last week I was asked by someone “what is my favorite core exercise”. This is a question that I am asked probably 3-4 times per week by various people. Over the past few years the topic of “core” training has been thrown around by doctors, coaches, therapists and weekend warriors. If you were to ask ten fitness professionals what their definition of core training was I guarantee that you would get ten different answers. The fact that people are talking about topics like this is actually good in my opinion. More people need to educate themselves on what they can do to improve their overall health and fitness. The problem with a question like this is that some trainers will offer up exercises, that in my opinion, could potentially do more harm than good.
Before I share with you some video clips that I have put together I want to offer up five of my LEAST favorite core exercises. What we all need to remember is that there is no perfect program. However, there are some exercises that could dramatically increase your chance of injury.
Here are five common core exercises that I believe you should avoid:
1. Regular crunches: I will do a full blog post in the near future as to why I dislike this exercise. I would not waste your time doing one regular crunch where you simply pull on your neck let alone multiple repetitions that a lot of people do at the end of their workout. This exercise could lead to back pain as well as neck pain due to the repetitive flexion that you go through while doing this movement.
2. Partner leg throw downs: This is a popular exercise with a lot of boot camp instructors. I think the last time I did this was JV football (5th-6th grade) because we lost a game. The only thing this will get you is a sore back.
3. Seated crunch machine: This machine is a waste of space. Think about it for a second, I am going to sit down, lock my hips down and flex my spine over and over. This may be the worse piece of equipment in most commercial gyms. Please stop doing this.
4. Russian twists with a medicine ball: I’ll admit a mistake when I make one. I used to do this exercise a couple of times a week. The problem with this exercise is that most people get all of their movement from their back (Fyi, you do not want to do this, you want to get movement from your thoracic spine and hips. Fyi, your thoracic spine is the middle to upper portion of your back) and they end up twisting back and forth. This could set you up for an injury down the road. If done properly there may be a place for a rotation exercise similar to this however, the traditional Russian twist is not on my list of safe core exercises anymore.
5. Stability ball crunches: I actually like using the stability ball for some exercises but not for a crunch. A friend of mine e-mailed a video the other day of a guy who did six minutes straight of crunches on a stability ball. Now, I don’t mind reverse crunches (I’ll share a video in the future) however, lying on this ball while pulling your neck over and over looks painful to me and not the least bit athletic. This has neck injury written all over it.
Below is an introductory video where I talk briefly about core training followed by three separate videos that cover a few of my favorite core exercises.
- Introduction: Blog Intro
- Anterior core: Anterior core
- Lateral core: Lateral core
- Rotation core: Rotation
Please keep in mind that these are only a few exercises that you can choose from. As I stated above there is no perfect program. As a coach I try and learn something new every day. As an athlete, coach or someone simply looking to stay fit you owe it to yourself to educate yourself on various training topics so you can achieve optimal health and performance.
As always, if you have questions please feel free to contact me.
Have a question for Union strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Yesterday I sat in the Toronto airport for over ten hours due to several flight delays. As I sat there I thought about what I wanted to write about this week and how I could tie my long delay and fitness together. What I came up with was five reasons why people continue to delay starting their fitness program. As I have stated in the past, fitness is different for everyone however, I want to provide solutions for people who continue to delay the start of their training program.
Reason No. 1: I don’t have time to get to the gym
This is one of the main complaints I hear from people. I understand and respect that you have a busy schedule but who says that you have to go to the gym. Here is workout that you can do at home with nothing more than your body weight:
A1) Body weight squats: Body weight squat
A2) Push up-ups: Push up (regular)
Start a timer and do 10 reps of squats followed by 10 push-ups. Rest 30 seconds and repeat this for 5-10 rounds. Every workout does not need to be long. At times I recommend short and intense training sessions over long low intensity sessions.
Reason No. 2: I don’t want to lift weights.
If you have never lifted weights before I can understand how you may be hesitant, however, aside from proper nutrition, lifting weights is one of the best ways to change your overall body composition. Instead of weights start by using resistance bands. Bands are a great way to increase your strength as well as improve your overall stability. Here's a good link to buy bands: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/
Reason No. 3: I’m hurt so I can’t exercise
If you're injured you must see a doctor however, unless you are in a full body cast I don’t see any reason why you cannot train. Here is an example that I will use. Let’s pretend that you have an injured right bicep. Assuming that you still have two legs and your left arm is okay I can think of plenty of exercises for you to do with. In fact, research has shown that if you train the uninjured arm with an exercise (i.e. single arm bench press) that your injured arm will benefit as well. Don’t use the excuse that you are injured. There is always something that you can improve upon (i.e. breathing patterns, rolling patterns, mobility, etc.)
Reason No. 4: I’m too old to start a program.
To be honest when I hear this statement from people I just roll my eyes. Are you really ready to just give up? Who says you are too old? Your doctor? Your spouse? Please, give me a break. I have seen people in their 80’s do the Ironman Triathlon so don’t give me the excuse that you are too old. Here is an exercise (Plank) that you can start doing today in order to see some strength gains.
Video: Plank w/ pvc
Reason No. 5: I don’t want to hurt myself
For many people this is a big concern. They are afraid that if they start a training program they will end up hurting themselves. I can see how this would be a concern for many people. The truth is there is always a risk when it comes to training and with the way most people have become sedentary the risk is high. However, if you follow the proper progressions and work with a qualified coach your chances of hurting yourself go down dramatically. For people just starting a training program I would recommend the following steps.
- Get medical clearance from your doctor. Hire a qualified coach that can provide either an assessment or a screen. I personally recommend that you work with a coach who is familiar with the Functional Movement Screen before you pick up a weight. I would also seek out the expertise of someone who is familiar with the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI). The purpose of a screen is simply to “red flag” any movements that MAY be potentially dangerous.
- Buy a heart rate monitor.
- Track your heart rate variability (HRV) with Bioforce HRV. This piece of equipment alone can dramatically reduce your chance of injury. To find out more about this product go to www.8weeksout.com.
After 10+ hours I knew I would eventually get home but the wait was tough to handle. Don’t delay in starting your road to optimal health. Trust me, you will eventually reach your goals, however, you must take the first step forward.
Have a question for Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave it in the comments below.
We finished the month of April with two away games.
The first was in Washington, D.C. and we won 3-2 against D.C. United. I didn't play this game - I was on the bench but I didn't come in. I was happy about the win but a little bit disappointed to not play in the game. The week after, we played New England and we lost 2-0. I was on the bench again for the start of this game, but played the last 30 minutes. However I was not able to help my team win this game.
We came back home at the beginning of May and played against Seattle. Seattle was my first team in America. I spent three years there (two in USL, one in MLS). It's always nice to play your old team and see familiar faces, especially when you had good memories with this club. Unfortunately I was on the bench again and came in the game for the last five minutes. We tied 2-2 with two goals in one minute by Danny Cruz. After this game, we knew that we had a big week coming with three games.
So after losing points at home against Seattle, we needed a win in Chicago. The score was 0-0 when I came in with 30 min left. I played as a right midfielder, and at the 75th minute, Antoine Hoppenot won a free kick in the midfield, very close to where I was. At this moment, I looked up and saw Jack making eye contact with me and I knew he wanted the ball played behind the center defender. I decided to play the free kick quickly because their defense was sleeping and Jack made a good run behind them.
With a little bit of luck, I played the perfect ball and it went in Jack's steps and he did the rest. We won this game 1-0 and it felt good for me to play a part in creating the winning goal. I was hoping that this good performance would get me back in the starting lineup, which it did. Although the loss against LA Galaxy was disappointing, it has added even more fuel to the fire to win the upcoming games. Hopefully by the time you read this blog, we'll have ended this month on a high note.
That's it for this month, I will talk to you again soon.
Merci beaucoup !!
Sebastien Le Toux
This weekend is the unofficial start of summer. Families have packed their bags and have headed out of town in an effort to get away for some R&R. Some people like to get away and take a complete break from their training program. If that’s you, then enjoy the down time. For me, when I travel I like to stay active and train a few days because I find enjoyment in getting in a workout while on vacation. One thing to remember is that this is a great time to reduce your training volume and implement some new workouts. Here are five ways that you can stay fit while on vacation at the beach and still enjoy plenty of time with your family.
Tip No. 1: Train early in the morning
For me one of the best times to get in a workout at the shore is first thing in the morning. I don’t mean you need to wake up at 5 a.m. but rather head out around 7 a.m. for a quick 30-45 minute workout on the beach. Don’t worry you won’t be alone. You will see plenty of other people running on the beach and riding bikes on the boardwalk. The goal here is to enjoy the sunrise and let the stress from work melt away. When you head back to your house at 7:45 a.m. you’re ready to start the day knowing you got in a good training session.
Tip No. 2: Go for a long walk on the beach
It’s okay if you slow down on vacation. Actually I recommend that you take a step back from some of your normal routines. If you take a spin class 3-4 times per week this week, put your spandex away and go for a long walk right by the waters edge. As you walk, focus on your breathing and enjoy the feeling of the sand between your toes. The benefits of walking in my opinion are underrated. For most people who sit at a desk all week long walking may be the best medicine you can take for your back pain.
Tip No. 3: Get in some band training
A fantastic piece of training equipment for you to use while at the beach is a resistance band. When most people thing of band training they think of doing mindless rotator cuff exercises. When done properly resistance band training is a tremendous way to implement strength training as well as cardio training at the same time.
Here is a sample workout: Red Band circuit
If you want to purchase resistance bands here's a good link where you can buy them.
Tip No. 4: Do some sprints on the beach
Remember when you were young and you would get to the beach and just play in the sand. You would run around with absolutely no worries. You would run back and forth from the water to your towel with buckets of water to fill the hole that your mom or dad just finished digging. For some reason as we get older we stop sprinting. I know what some of you are about to say “I can’t sprint anymore, I am too old”. I am not saying that you need to sprint 200 yards. Instead keep your workout short and up the intensity. Try doing this workout on the beach instead of running for two hours on the pavement.
- 10 minute warm-up (Breathing drills, dynamic stretching, striders)
- 10 x 30 yard sprints with a walk back to the start (If you want to make it really hard run in the deep sand).
- Finish with 50 push-ups.
I guarantee that you will finish this workout feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. Remember you’re on vacation. Keep the workout short and intense.
Tip No. 5 Rent a kayak
A fantastic workout is kayaking. I am the furthest thing from an expert when it comes to this type of training however, the few times that I have used one of these I was able to get in a good workout in less than 30 minutes. This is a great way to get some upper body training as well as some core work. Just remember to wear a life jacket.
Well, there you have it. Five ways to train at the beach this summer. I’ll be sure to send some video clips when I head to the beach this summer so you can get an idea of how to implement some of these ideas into your program.
Enjoy the beach
Have a question for strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave it in comments below.
When I work with someone for the first time whether it is an athlete or someone looking to change their body composition one of the first things that I ask them for is a food log. The reason I do this is because I want to see what they are eating on a daily basis. We all know that athletes have different nutritional requirements than someone who sits at a desk all day long. When I ask people for a three-day log it normally looks something like this:
Breakfast: Bagel with coffee or a bowl of cereal.
Lunch: Soup and salad or a sandwich from the cafeteria with a bag of chips and a fountain soda or an energy drink
Snack: Diet coke and a pack of crackers from the vending machine or an energy bar.
Dinner: Chicken, rice and some green beans or eating out at a restaurant.
Snack: Bowl of ice cream.
If you quickly glance at the items listed above I would say this is a typical day for many of us. If you are an athlete and this is what you are eating on a daily basis I can guarantee you that you are missing out on some performance gains on the field or court due to your lack of nutrients.
I understand that we are all pressed for time and nutrition gets put on the backburner. However, I truly believe that if you are skipping meals and not making food a priority, your performance will suffer and your changes of getting injured will increase.
One of the most common things I hear from athletes is “I don’t have time to cook”. In my opinion, if you make your nutrition a priority you will be surprised at the quality of food you can make with very little preparation.
Here are five ways you can improve the quality of the foods that you eat:
- Go shopping on Sunday and Wednesday.
- Make a list of what you need to buy at the store.
- Buy fresh local food whenever possible.
- Buy the best food that you can afford.
- Purchase a good cookbook that has simple recipes.
I understand that for some people the kitchen can be intimidating. Here are five (5) meals that you can make in less than 30 minutes.
Meal No. 1
Breakfast: Eggs with spinach, onions, hot sauce, avocado, red peppers, mushrooms
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Meal No. 2
Lunch: Grilled chicken with red peppers, red onion, garlic, pico de galo, spinach on ciabatta bread with chips and pico de gallo.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5- 10 minutes
Meal No. 3
Snack: Homemade energy bars –
Dark chocolate, sea salt, raisins, protein powder (vanilla), organic dates, almonds and peanut butter
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
(Note, you need to put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to get the chocolate to harden)
Meal No. 4
Dinner: Broiled Salmon with roasted peppers and zucchini and a side salad (onion, tomatoes, walnuts)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes for fish and peppers
Meal No. 5:
Snack before bed: Protein Shake – Vanilla Whey plus strawberries, banana, kale, coconut oil and ice
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Blend: 30 seconds
Have a question for strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller? Leave a reply in the comment portion below.
When it comes to training one of the hardest things for people to decide on is what exercises should they include in their program. For example, if you do a search on the internet for exercises for fat loss you will come across thousands of videos. Some of these coaches may guarantee that if you do their program you will see results over night, while others may stress the importance of starting with the basics and progressing to more advanced exercises. This week I have put together ten exercises that depending on your fitness level you can start today.
I have broken down the exercises into two categories for you to choose from.
Group one is for beginners. It’s very common for people to be confused as to where to start when it comes to strength training. The five beginner exercises that I have included will ensure that you are working on a solid foundation for you to build upon. The key to performing these exercises is to start slow and always focus on proper form. As a coach I always stress the importance of mastering the basics so if you are new to training start with the beginner series.
The second set of exercises (group 2) is geared more towards intermediate lifters. These five exercises are perfect if you have built a solid foundation and have already mastered the five beginner exercises. These exercises can help improve your overall power, endurance, speed, strength and mobility. As I stated above, it’s critical that you use perfect form when performing these exercises and if you experience any pain you should stop immediately.
Before I share these videos in order for you to view each one you must click on the link and you will be taken to a separate webpage. It’s there where you can view each clip. Underneath each exercise I have included a coaching cue that will help you when you perform the exercise. These are the same cues that I give to the athletes that I work with.
Let’s get started!
Five Beginner Exercises
Coaching cue: Maintain a flat back, chin tucked and keep your elbows in.
2. Front plank
Coaching cue: Maintain a flat back, squeeze your glutes and the weight is on your forearms not your elbows.
Coaching cue: Place the PVC so it is in contact with your head, upper back and lower back as you “hinge” at your hips. Do not round your back.
Note: This looks like a simple exercise but most people are unable to do this exercise correctly. If you are able to learn this movement properly this will open up so many opportunities in terms of strength training.
Coaching cue: Drive your knees out, sit your hips back, chest up and chin tucked. Also, brace your abdominals as you lower down and exhale at the top while you squeeze your glutes at the top.
Coaching cue: Drive your heels through the ground as you rise up and squeeze your glutes.
Note: If you have a job where you sit most of the day this should be an exercise that you do daily. This exercise will build a strong foundation for future exercises.
Five Intermediate Exercises
Coaching cue: Lead with your hips and keep your back flat.
Coaching cue: Keep your chin tucked and drive with your legs as you stand up.
Coaching cue: Keep your feet pointed straight ahead and your back flat.
Coaching cue: Push your knees out, brace your abdominals and keep your chest up.
Coaching cue: Hinge at your hips, keep your chin tucked and drive with your hips.
Note: If you are new to kettle bells than start slow wit this one. Instead of 10 reps start with five. This is a lot harder than it looks. Do not let your back round during this movement.
When it comes to training, there are hundreds of exercises to choose from. There are several great coaches who are getting fantastic results with their athletes and clients. The ten exercises should be used as a guideline to help you get started. Remember achieving optimal health is a way of life. Listen to your body and be smart with your training.
Have a question for strength coach Kevin Miller? Leave question in the comments portion below.
Hello and welcome to my new blog, "Le Toux's Corner"!
In this blog I will review our recent games and performances as a team. I will analyze one of my highlights from the last game and explain to you what happened during the play. We will also look ahead at upcoming games and I will share my thoughts on our next opponents. We started the month of April with an away game in Columbus. Columbus is one of the Eastern Conference teams that has started off very well this season, so this was not an easy task for us to complete. We played pretty well, tying the game with a final score of 1-1. We took the lead at halftime with a goal from Jack Mac, and Columbus scored in the second half with a goal by Orduro. We defended very efficiently and didn't leave a lot of space for Higuain, the Columbus playmaker, who didn't seem to run their offense as well.
We were disappointed not to come home with a win from Columbus because we created a lot of great scoring opportunities in the second half of the game, but we did manage to secure another point on the road. With that said, we move on in our season and take note that we have to capitalize on the opportunities we create, especially away from home. Our last game was against Toronto FC at PPL Park. We wanted to push the rhythm in this game offensively and make Toronto defend a lot in their own half of the field. Unfortunately, we came out playing sloppy soccer, and with Toronto fouling a lot, it prevented us from establishing a rhythm in the game the way we set out to do. We started the second half better, and created a few chances to score, but their keeper made great saves and we missed the frame. Toronto forward Robert Earshaw scored a very good opportunistic goal against the run of play, and we were losing 1-0.
The goal urged us to play like we should have been playing the entire game. We began to put more pressure on Toronto. A red card was given to one of their defenders, and with big help from our fans, we tied the game in extra time with a well-taken goal by Jack Mac. Another tie, which puts our record at 2-2-2 this season and undefeated for April. In this game against Toronto, I had one big opportunity to score in the second half when the game was still tied at 0-0. The action started with a ball on the left side with Conor Casey. I was in the middle of the field and I decided to make a run into the near post, but Conor crossed the ball to the far post for Michael Farfan. Michael chested the ball and passed back to Jack, who with his first touch crossed it back in front of the goal. I was close to the 6 yards box. The ball flew in the air and Jeff Parke tried to reach it with his head, but the ball went above and past him and landed where I was. With a defender in front of me and the goalkeeper still to beat, I decided to volley the ball with my right foot on the first touch.
I felt a pretty good contact with the ball and my shot was powerful, but it went over the crossbar and landed in the Sons of Ben section. I was very disappointed. I thought it was going in the net and, as I hit it, I was already picturing myself celebrating with the fans. There is no better feeling than to score at PPL Park. The atmosphere is so electric. I hope it will happen in the next game. We have two games left on our schedule for the month of April. Those two games are away - next week against DC and the week after against New England Revolution. They are two very important games because we are tied at fifth place in the Eastern Conference with New York with eight points each. And DC and New England are both behind us in the standings, so we need to get points out of those two games. I think we need to get a minimum of four points after those two games to stay well-positioned in the standings. But DC is one of our biggest rivals, and right now they are last in the conference and desperately need to win. So it's going to be a tough game, a battle at RFK, and we have to be well-prepared for it. I am sure lots of Union fans are going to make the trip and support us, and we definitely need them there.
For our last game in April, we are playing New England for the second time this year. I am sure they will be seeking revenge after we beat them at home 1-0 earlier this year. It is also an opportunity for them to get closer to us in the standings. But we have always done well when we play at Gillette Stadium, so we will prepare well and head there with confidence. Hopefully we’ll continue with the success we have enjoyed up there. That's it for now. I will talk to you again next month and hope to have lots of exciting news to share with you. Thanks for reading.
Sebastien Le Toux
Philadelphia Union Forward #11
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Total jackpot of $17,230 raised in first-ever 50/50 Raffle at PPL Park
Chester, Pa. (May 7, 2013) – Philadelphia Union successfully launched the first-ever 50/50 Raffle at PPL Park during Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, earning a total jackpot of $17,230. The earnings were split evenly between the Philadelphia Union Foundation and randomly-selected winner Aleksey Gorshenin of Lansdale, Pa., who was attending his first Union game at PPL Park
“We are thrilled with the success of our opening raffle and look forward to its continued growth on game days,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “Philadelphia Union are deeply committed to providing fans with a world-class experience at PPL Park and are proud that 50/50 raffles help achieve that goal while benefitting the Philadelphia Union Foundation.”
Used by teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, the 50/50 Raffle is a fundraising contest that allows the money used to purchase raffle tickets to be evenly split between a randomly-selected winner and the participating organization. Fans at PPL Park can now purchase raffle tickets from kiosks located at three stadium gates as well as Toyota Plaza or through several handheld devices carried by Union employees. The jackpot winner and the Philadelphia Union Foundation will split the earnings. Tickets are sold for three for $5, 10 for $10 or 40 for $20.
The Philadelphia Union Foundation is a registered 501c3 in the vision of the Philadelphia Union. According to its mission statement, the Philadelphia Union Foundation “provides opportunities for children through the power of relationships to offer transformational change in the areas of education, community, health and recreation.”
Since its inception in 2012, the Philadelphia Union Foundation has teamed up with local and national organizations in various measures to benefit the City of Chester, including a playground construction, 8v8 small-sized field, local trash pickups, soccer clinics and other charity events. Additionally, the Foundation has raised over $50,000 in the past two years from the River Cup, an annual charity match at PPL Park between members of the Union’s supporter group, Sons of Ben, and the Union front office. Additionally, the PUF held their inaugural “Cocktails and Cleats” gala in March of this year, netting over $50,000 in funds raised to benefit its four Building Blocks: Life Skills Programming, Safe Fields, Good Health Through Proper Nutrition, and Playing Soccer while Having Fun.