Jim Curtin and his staff doubled-up on Day Two in Clearwater, giving his team arguably the most rigorous session of the preseason in the morning before finishing with a light hour-long practice in the late afternoon.
The morning started with another long workout from strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. Miller’s role is as vital as ever during the early part of the preseason and it’s showing with the time dedicated to fitness. Along with YSC’s director of sports science, Garrison Draper, the Union are monitoring each players’ movement during practice by placing a chip within a practice jersey. We’ll sit down with Kevin and Garrison to break this down in the future.
On the field, though, Miller was on his ‘A’ game today, psyching out a few players while barking out directional instructions while pointing in another direction. He’ll have to apologize to some our non-English speakers.
Half-field 8v8s ended the morning session and the offensive flow is certainly starting to come together. On one of the gray teams, Andrew Wenger and C.J. Sapong, in particular, looked to be gelling. Sapong, who was acquired in December, likes what he sees so far but admits it’s a work in progress.
“I think the offense has been really good – the ideas are there,” Sapong said. “People are still trying to get their legs underneath them and it’s going to take us a while to get used to each other. That will come with time, though. Right now, everybody is still trying to find their flow and to make sure that we’re peaking come March 7.”
The night session wrapped up with a few passing drills and was light in nature. Again, more cardio work with Miller in between drills. Of note, Fred was on the money for most of the drill and even curled in a nice goal from the edge of the 18.
That's it for it Day Two. Another strong, healthy day -- nothing new on the injury report. And if you haven't seen them, Ray Gaddis is looking good in his new boots.
— ray gaddis (@raygaddis) February 3, 2015
Elsewhere, Conor Casey talked to Union beat writer Jeff McMenamin and said the playoffs are the only thing on his mind. He also added:
"We haven’t made them since I’ve been here. As a forward you always think about the points that you missed and not the ones you put in so I want to score as many goals as I possibly can. Thinking about the past two seasons, a goal here or there would’ve clinched a playoff spot for us and I’m hoping to erase those memories this year. With this group of guys, we expect to be there.”
Over at MLSsoccer.com, Eric Bird talked to Union beat writer Dave Zeitlin. His main goal, right now, is to make the team. He also talked about his preference of playing centrally in the midfield and being that key playmaker to link the defense to the offense:
“It’s a role I think I really thrive in. I like to be the guy that people look to and lean on. Being a part of [the national championship] and playing the role I did was a really cool experience.”
And Cristian Maidana took some time to talk to the Union video team and shared his thoughts on the upcoming season.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not that this team doesn't love Philly, but Monday's jaunt to Tampa was just what the doctor ordered. The Union left a cold, sleet-soaked PPL Park in the early hours of Monday morning and landed in 70-and-sunny Tampa, Fla. by early afternoon.
But don't mistake this for a vacation. By the time the team unloaded their bags and ate lunch, it was time to hit the pitch for their first training session during the second phase of preseason. After all, the Union's first preseason game -- against Armada FC -- is in just five days.
It started with an extended workout with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. As head coach Jim Curtin alluded to, it was important to knock the jetlag out of everyone's legs. The team then broke into some small-sided games before basically going full-pitch in 10v10s. As Curtin has done for most of camp, players were split into three rotating teams with the outsiders working further with Miller. The defense is still controlling the run of play, but Curtin was encouraged with what he saw today, calling it a "good first day" as he addressed the team after practice. C.J. Sapong and Danny Cruz narrowly missed goals in the eight-minute sessions.
In particular, Richie Marquez looked pretty good anchoring a back-four for two separate squads. With 26 available players, Marquez doubled up and played all three scrimmages.
Rais Mbolhi is not in camp yet, but will be returning Sunday after his Algerian side was eliminated from the 2015 African Cup of Nations yesterday. The Fennecs lost 3-1 to Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals.
Academy-wise, Derrick Jones and Yosef Samuel are in camp and are training with the team in Clearwater. Sebastien Elney and Sean Wilson will join the group after their national team commitment comes to an end. Speaking of, both Elney and Wilson started today for them USMNT U18s, which drew 1-1 with Club Tijuana.
— U.S. Soccer YNT (@ussoccer_ynt) February 2, 2015
For the injuries, Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud continue to sit out scrimmages, but are participating in all other team activities. Carroll is still rounding back into shape after a common winter cold forced him to miss most of the time at YSC. You can be sure the warmer climate is a welcome sight. Lahoud, meanwhile, is dealing with a minor right hand injury that shouldn't keep him out for much longer.
Finally, it was Carroll who claimed the best Super Bowl prediction; he had the Patriots winning 27-23. Elsewhere, Austin Berry joked about how good he felt about his 3-0 final after a scoreless first quarter, but the real winner Sunday was Boston-native Sheanon Williams.
Best Super Bowl ever
— Sheanon Williams (@sheanonwilliams) February 2, 2015
The team is back training tomorrow at 10 a.m. It looks like the first 11v11 scrimmage will be held on Wednesday. Got a question for us? Leave it in the comment section.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at email@example.com
Week One of preseason is in the books as the Union wrapped up its first phase of training with the annual open practice on Friday at YSC Sports. After having the bitterly cold weekend off, the team departs for sunny Tampa, Fla. Monday morning so long as the snow holds off.
But what a week it was. Initial thoughts: this team is fit. Credit the dedication of some players who basically adopted YSC as a second home during the offseason. But the same can be said for those who left Philly during the offseason. As Jim Curtin noted in a recent interview with Delaware County Daily Times writer Matthew De George, a shorter offseason helps:
“It used to be when I played you’d be off for almost four months and, I’ll say, you’d have a lot more fun. It’s become much more of a year-round, full-time thing, and I can tell by the way (the players) came in that they’re really dialed in.”
Like everyone else, it was our first look at quite a few players, including second round pick Dzenan Catic. The NAIA Player of the Year has certainly looked the part so far, showing off his prowess in front of the net. Catic has caught the eye of just about everyone including Union beat writers Kevin Kinkead and De George.
Dzenan Catic https://t.co/y6xc71WyJT
— Kevin Kinkead (@KevinKCBS3) January 28, 2015
These are 7-on-7 half-field drills, but Dzenan Catic has scored 5 or 6 times in the 40 minutes I've been watching. He just knows where to be
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) January 30, 2015
Midweek, Catic joined Greg Orlandini and Eli Pearlman-Storch on the KYW Philly Soccer Show. If you haven’t heard it, you can listen here.
Moving on, Wednesday night included a Meet the Team event at Fado’s in Center City. All team members attended the renowned soccer bar, giving the top 150 Union Rewards Program winners a chance to meet their favorite players.
— Union Fan Services (@UnionFanService) January 29, 2015
Thursday was Media Day, allowing all Union players and coaches to meet with local broadcast rights’ holders. It’s also a big day for the Union video department, which shoots pretty much everything that fans see on the big screen during the year. Maurice Edu and Antoine Hoppenot got in on the fun.
The fun ramped up Friday with the annual open practice. A large crowd filled into YSC to catch the Union’s final session up north, and just about every fan in attendance got a hand shake from Curtin. Jim made the rounds after practice, but also gave a few young fans the memory of a lifetime beforehand. Yes, Union twitter, Jim Curtin is the man.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) January 30, 2015
Oh, and Ray Gaddis is too.
— ray gaddis (@raygaddis) January 30, 2015
And, yes today is the Super Bowl. The guys do have the day off and you better believe there’s some rooting interest out there. Diehard San Francisco 49ers fan Richie Marquez is, let’s just say, not rooting for the Seahawks. Boston native Sheanon Williams might just have a rooting interest, too. We made the rounds and got quite a few to go on record with their Super Bowl prediction. Final tally: a tie, 9-9.
|Maurice Edu||Seahawks||By at least 10|
There are a couple of other big games Sunday to note. Another chapter of the Old Firm rivalry was written Sunday morning, with Celtic beating Rangers 2-0. Maurice Edu, the former Rangers player, was on set with Fox Sports 1 to analyze the game. As usual, Mo killed it. Also coming up at 2:30 Eastern, Rais Mbolhi and Algeria take on Ivory Coast in the 2015 African Cup of Nations quarterfinals. The winner will play the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
Lastly, there’s just so much this week, but be sure to check out first week reactions from Edu, Catic, C.J. Sapong and Sebastien Le Toux. Also, a look at the first week of preseason Through Ben’s Bifocals.
Contact Philadelphia Union press officer Chris Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A little snow wasn’t going to get in the way for the Union on Tuesday, as the team hit the training facility at YSC for the fifth day in a row. While much of the northeast was under intense snow fall, only a few flurries hit the Philly area, allowing the Union to further prepare for the 2015 season.
But the sentiment amongst the players was simple: Monday can’t get here soon enough. The team is just six days away from flying down to Clearwater, Fla. for Spring Training, but who’s counting?
Snow days? pic.twitter.com/1dU8dYiFym
— Ethan White (@EthanWhite15) January 27, 2015
But until then, there’s plenty of work to be done. That continued Tuesday, the second day of an increased workload for Jim Curtin’s squad, which was again tested physically for the bulk of the 90-minute practice. It included 9v9 matches and a rotating group set aside for fitness with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller. Still, the players look as fit as can be despite being so early in the preseason, as highlighted by Union beat writer Matt De George.
Far away from the snow in Malabo, the capital city of Equatorial Guinea, Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi led Algeria to a 2-0 win over Senegal in Group C of the 2015 African Cup of Nations. The win gave Algeria six points in group stage, which advanced the Fennecs into the quarterfinals. They'll play the winner of a gridlocked Group D on Sunday, Feb. 1, which will be determined tomorrow.
As Curtin admitted after practice, it was a surprise to actually get into the facility Tuesday given the prior weather forecasts. The team took full advantage of it.
Also taking advantage of the practice was fourth round SuperDraft pick Raymond Lee, who showed some aerial prowess during this drill:
Absent from practice Tuesday were academy members Sebastian Elney and Sean Wilson. Currently playing for the U18s, they were called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team by head coach Javier Perez and will miss the rest of the week. The team will play in the 2015 Copa Chivas Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico from Jan. 30 to Feb. 7 if they can reach the final.
Also, in case you missed it yesterday, Sheanon Williams took some time after practice to talk with Union beat writer Dave Zeitlin. He wants to win, no questions asked.
With no further weather advisories this week, the team will go on as scheduled tomorrow and Thursday at YSC. Fans interested in dropping in on the action can attend Friday for the annual open practice, held from 12-2 p.m.
Contact Philadelphia Union writer Chris Winkler at email@example.com
There were a lot of new faces (and new hairstyles, but we’ll get into that) when the Union kicked off preseason Monday morning at YSC Sports in Wayne.
Actually, preseason started late last week with players reporting for physicals and strength training sessions, but ball work featuring short sided drills, mini 7v7 matches and more was on display.
This year’s preseason roster features 35 players, but three weren’t at today’s practice as goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, midfielder Brian Carroll and defender Carlos Valdes were absent from today’s proceedings.
Mbolhi is the obvious one as he’s been with the Algerian national team for weeks helping that nation chase an Africa Cup of Nations title. Speaking of which, Mbolhi and the Fennecs (Foxes) sit on three points with one more group match against Senegal this Tuesday.
For Carroll, it was personal reasons but the elephant in the room was the whereabouts of Valdes given the swirling rumors of a desire to leave the club. Valdes did appear later in the day at training but in street clothes to meet with team officials, one of which was technical director Chris Albright.
Following those discussions, Albright did confirm that there is an “negotiation ongoing” for the FIFA World Cup veteran. MLSSoccer.com writer Dave Zeitlin explains the situation perfectly which you can check out here.
The other 32 players in attendance today looked sharp in ball work and what we think fans coming out to Friday’s open practice (12-2 p.m.) will see is that every player is extremely fit. No one came into camp sluggish which certainly will make things interesting as the thinning of the herd happens before Monday’s flight to warmer temperatures in Clearwater, Fla.
Union midfielder Danny Cruz said as much today in an interview with media members:
“Everyone has bought in [to what head coach Jim Curtin] wants from us,” Cruz said. “So everyone even the guys on trial came in really fit and ready. It’s going to be a big preseason for us, and things are hopefully going to go in the right direction; we know what we need to do and it’s obviously playoffs or bust for us this season.”
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) January 26, 2015
If you haven’t seen the complete list of players in camp, you can check that out here.
So earlier we mentioned hairstyles as we figured you may not recognize some of the players right now. So the rundown of new-do’s is as follows:
- Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is working the low fade
- Forward Antoine Hoppenot looks as though he’s taking tips from D.C. midfielder Chris Rolfe
But our personal favorite was captured by Delco Daily Times reporter Matt DeGeorge:
Austin Berry sporting the "high school basketball" look pic.twitter.com/FIaYZf8eae
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) January 26, 2015
Last but not least…
Given the impending “Snowmageddon” set to befall the Greater Philadelphia Region, Tuesday’s training session could be canceled at YSC Sports…however the snow did bring about this pretty sweet offer for fans (click the graphic to learn more):
And if there is a cancellation of training for Tuesday, Union defender Ray Gaddis has the right idea of what to do given the long months or rigorous training ahead before the March 7 opener against Colorado at PPL Park (4 p.m. ticket link?)
This weather out here today is so disrespectful. But it's okay I am going to be inside all day with bae. Which is Netflix.
— ray gaddis (@raygaddis) January 26, 2015
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating "True Colors"
Philadelphia Union Foundation Presents the 3rd Annual Cocktails & Cleats presented by Cozen O’Connor
Date: April 22, 2015
Location: Vie, Philadelphia
Time: 6:00 P.M., 600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Attire: Festive Cocktail Attire (Sport the Blue & Gold Colors)
Meet Philadelphia Union Players + Technical Staff | Complimentary Cocktail Hour | Top Shelf Bar | Plated Dinner | Silent & Live Auction | Valet Parking
The Foundation programming is empowering the youth of Chester & Greater Philadelphia Area. Join us on our mission to bridge the gap and make connections for the kids we love.
TO PURCHASE TICKETS OR SPONSORSHIP CLICK HERE
For more information about Cocktails & Cleats contact email@example.com or call event producer, Kathy Swanson, 973-796-4332
We look forward to seeing you on April 22, 2015!
The Philadelphia Union Foundation will be heavily involved with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention this year. The convention will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA.
Below is a look at some of the upcoming events on the Foundation calendar. To learn more or to get involved, contact the Philadelphia Union Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit our website, philadelphiaunion.com/foundation.
Wednesday, January 14
The Philadelphia Union Foundation will team up with MLS WORKS and potential MLS Draftees at Philabundance in South Philly. Volunteers from each organization will pack and sort food for various homeless shelters and food banks in the area. MLS WORKS and the Philadelphia Union Foundation will present a combination donation to Philabundance.
Saturday, January 17
Six coaches from the region are being awarded full scholarships to this year’s NSCAA convention through a collaboration between NSCAA Foundation and the Philadelphia Union Foundation. These coaches will be recognized at the Philadelphia Union Foundation's presentation held by Rick Jacobs, Executive Director of the Foundation, at 2:15 p.m. in Convention Center Room 201 A. The presentation will be followed by a meet and greet with light refreshments.
More on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America: https://www.nscaa.com/convention
So here we are.
After five weeks and well over 1k in total votes, we have our five finalists in the Philadelphia Union #UnionTop10. Thanks to everyone who voted for the five plays that will now be ranked in order to determine the best play – as voted by you – of the season.
Without further ado, here are the plays in order. Check them out and vote for your favorite. Voting ends this Friday, Dec. 19 where we’ll announce the winner via social media.
So will it be…
Week 1: Andrew Wenger’s first Union goal.
It was the finish from Wenger that we love, but don’t forget the pass from Vincent Nogueira to set the whole thing up.
Week 2 : Zach Pfeffer’s first goal for the Union.
It was a goal five years in the making that came on the final day of the Union season. Perfectly timed run, met a perfectly timed past for the first League goal ever for the Union’s first ever homegrown player.
Week 3: Andrew Wenger’s goal against San Jose
The touch to create space and the rocket past Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch shook up San Jose and made for a wild night and commanding 4-2 result for the Union at PPL Park.
Week 4: Zac MacMath PK saves in U.S. Open Cup semifinals
Arguably MacMath’s most memorable performance in a Union uniform making a pair of monster saves in a penalty kick shootout against FC Dallas to secure the Union’s first trip to a major final.
Week 5: Zac MacMath PK stops on Chicago’s Mike Magee
In back-to-back weeks, you picked a MacMath save and after watching the footage, we can see why. He got his hands on a pair of shots from the former MLS MVP to preserve a precious point on the road.
Which one reigns supreme in 2014? Tell us by casting your vote below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com
This year, the Philadelphia Union Foundation partnered with Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame for the annual Coats for Chester Coat Drive. A grand total of 2,115 coats were donated to four separate locations in the Chester area: The Bernadine Center, City Team Ministries, Mount Pleasant Church, and St. Katharine Drexel.
On Friday, December 12th, the coats were distributed with the help of the Father Judge Men’s soccer team. At each stop, the crew was welcomed with much gratitude. At one of the final stops, the volunteers were greeted by Darla McCready, from City Team Ministries, whom spoke to the gratitude felt by those that use the coats. It was an extremely successful event that will help to keep members of the community warm this upcoming winter season.
With its roots deep in the community, the Philadelphia Union Foundation strives to serve as a helping hand to in not only the city of Chester, but in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Below is a look at some of the recent and upcoming events on the Foundation calendar. To learn more or to get involved, contact the Philadelphia Union Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit our website, philadelphiaunion.com/foundation.
Holiday Toy Drive and Boys & Girls Club Holiday Party
When: Nov. 1-Dec. 15
Union and Foundation collected toys for area Chester children. Thanks to donations, the Union surpassed its goal of 300 toys.
All toys will be distributed to the Boys & Girls Club of Chester for their Holiday Party: http://boysgirlsclubchester.com/index.php
Last year, this toy drive supplied all of “Santa’s Gifts” for the party.
SoB Help Kick Hunger
On Saturday, Dec. 13 the Union's vocal supporters group the Sons of Ben held its annual Help Kick Hunger event at Brauhaus Schmitz (8th and South Sts., Philadelphia). This is the groups' big fundraising event that they do every year as they look to donate as much food and money to Chester's Bernadine Center ahead of the holiday season. For more information of the Sons of Ben and how you can get involved, visit the Sons of Ben website.
— Sons of Ben (@SonsofBen) December 14, 2014
With the Soccer 101 initiative, the Philadelphia Union Foundation infiltrates Chester Charter School for the Arts’ physical education classes for two days.
Crew of coaches teach drills, skills and life-skills all through the game of soccer, working with kids ages 5-14.
City Team Ministries Food Sorting/Packing
Lead by food service corporation Ovations, the Union front office will once again take part in City Team ministries food drive by assisting with sorting and packing donated food items.
Location: City Team Ministries, 634 Sproul St, Chester, Pa. 19013
Toyota Food Drive
On Dec. 12 from 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., members from the Union Corporate Partnerships department and Technical team connected with the other Philly sports teams down at the Philabundance warehouse to help with a morning of loading and sorting donated foods. The food was then driven from the collection spot, by Toyota vehicles, to the warehouse. Along with a host of Union front office types, Union midfielders Danny Cruz and Sebastien Le Toux donated their time for this endeavor.
SEPA Hall of Fame Coat Drive
South Eastern PA Soccer Hall of Fame has collected coats since mid-October with a goal of delivering 2,000 coats by the end of its campaign. The collection started at the pre-game festivities of two October Union home games. The coats were distributed on Dec. 12 to several locations in Chester including: Bernadine Center and St. Katherine’s of Drexel Church.
Philabundance Community Service around MLS SuperDraft
This year’s community project in association with the MLS Draft will take place at the Philabundance warehouse in South Philly. Community Relations Conference attendees along with MLS draftees will make their way to the location on Jan. 14 at 12 p.m. to assist in the massive food sorting and packing assembly line that Philabundance runs. MLS W.O.R.K.S. and Philadelphia Union Foundation will make a donation to Philabundance for the efforts in eliminating hunger in Philadelphia.