Blog

17 June 12:51 pm

Today was a great day for practice, with the sun staying out for long periods of time while the breeze came in off of the water.

Practice today was a relatively easy day, especially for yesterday's starters, most of whom play 120 minutes. The starters did some warm ups before ending early with some stretching and conditioning. 

Those who didn't start or are coming off of injuries proceeded to play small sided games with varying tasks. One of the people who returned to practice today was Conor Casey, his first game action since re-injuring his hamstring playing the New York Red Bulls.

Practice consisted mostly of various versions of 4v4. The first version was a normal 4v4 where Conor played offensively for both teams as an extra man. 

Those teams broke down like this:

 

Brian Carroll, Jimmy McLaughlin, Ethan White, and Raymond Lee in gray

Sheanon Williams, Fred, Eric Bird, and Antoine Hoppenot in orange 

 

The game then expanded to a half field where goalies were involved. This was a 3v2 set up where Antoine played offense on one end and Casey played offense on the other end. Everyone else were in teams of two and they rotated between moving forward against another team of two or defending against one.

Practice ended with a normal 4v4 with the exception of Conor and Antoine not allowed on to the defensive half of the field for their respective teams. Both Brian Sylvestre and Andre Blake looked good in goal.

After practice, Lee, McLaughlin, and Bird got some extra work in on receiving crosses. Antoine and Sheanon did extra conditioning work while Andre and Brian did some extra goal kicks.

 

15 June 4:31 pm

The Union held their weekly press conferece today, pushed ahead from the usual Wednesday spot due to the US Open Cup game agaisnt the Rochester Rhinos tomorrow. This week, John McCarthy was the player giving his thoughts on the upcoming week. Here are some of his highlights:

 

John, this is like old-home week – you go up against Reading and now Rochester, how are you feeling?
 
Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It will be nice to see the group of guys and my old coach – they mean a lot to me, the players, so it will be good to get back on the field with them, but that’s not going to be against them so it will be nice.
 
Is there any extra incentive -not that you need it- going up agaisnt your old team?
 
No, no – it’s just something that you look forward to and want to take advantage of it – and it doesn’t matter what team it will be, now it’s the Open Cup and it’s a nice tournament that would be something nice to win and this is the first step for it.
 
What can you tell us about Rochester – for fans and people that haven’t seen them play and don’t know any of their players.
 
Yeah, they got a good group of guys. This year, they’re undefeated I think in USL so they had a really good run so far in the regular season, and the Open Cup I think they already have a couple of wins under their belt against a few teams. So they have a good group of guys, a good core, and I think about 11-12 guys returning last year so it’s really good for them.
 
What’s the mindset for a USL team playing against an MLS team? Do they almost feel like they have nothing to lose?
 
Yeah, pretty much. I mean it’s kinda like you have nothing to lose and they might look at it as an opportunity for them to get a couple extra looks throughout the season – so they go out there and give it their all, come out with their best lineup, and we’re going to take it to them.
 
 
After McCarthy spoke, head coach Jim Curtin jumped up on the stand to give his weekly musings on the upcoming games. Here is some of what he said:
 

Jim how do you approach the lineup for a game like this?

Yeah, it’s a good team coming-in in Rochester. I’ve watched a bunch of tape on them; they don’t concede a lot of goals – they’ve only given up four and scored 16, they’re 8-0-4 so they haven’t been beat this year. We’re going to have to be on our game – can’t take them lightly. They’re a well-coached, organized team and they have a couple weapons. Fortunately, the Dos Santos kid – the striker – is suspended from the Harrisburg game. I don’t think they’ll press us in our building, but maybe they do, it’ll be something we’re ready for but I expect them to sit back a little bit, give us possession, and make us really have to break them down. Which will be a difficult task because they have some big bodies in there. They have guys that are MLS in one or two years and they’re guys with a chip on their shoulder – lot of familiar names if you go through their roster, a bunch of guys that are playing with edge right now and winning. It’ll be a tough task in terms of how we look at our squad – we’re going to have to field a team that is up to the task and without going into too many details into my lineup, it’s going to be a group that will go out and compete and a group that sets us up knowing that we do have a busy stretch. So there could be some younger guys that see minutes. 

Those early games in the US open cup last year – especially against Harrisburg – definitely weren’t a walk in the park. A lot of the guys who are on this team this year know that – are they taking that into account?

For sure, yeah. I’ve been warning them as much as possible all week. The early round games are in a lot of ways the toughest – because if you run into a Cosmos, or Rochester, this is a chance for them to knock off one of the higher league in terms of standings – they want to impress and say they belong in MLS as a team, as an individual. So that parts challenging – getting the guys motivated. The key is playing at a tempo and a speed that they’re not maybe used to – when MLS games get ramped up, it is faster, it is a stronger league, but there is any given day a team that can come in here and give you a tough time. Last year you saw it with Harrisburg and the Cosmos – those were our two toughest games – because they are still good teams, they both can play, the guys get paid to play, so they are professionals, as well. It’s challenging to get our guys to be ready for it, you see it so often though, these games become tricky, and MLS teams are going to lose in this round. That’s a fact. Someone is going to go down, it happens every year, and you have to do your best to prevent it. The advantage is we have a home game, we don’t have to travel which is good, and we have a big nice field we can play on. So we have to take care of business, it’s up to us to execute and go on the field and put together a good performance on a Tuesday night.

Does it help at all, having a guy like John (McCarthy) who understands the other side and the mentality that Rochester is going to bring into this?

Yeah, for sure.  He helps in the scouting, he helps in all the little things. So again, he’s a guy who has been on both sides – he can speak to how good of a team this Rochester group is – they weren’t as strong last year, but this year they have come in and really separated themselves from a lot of the other teams in the league and are doing really well. Again, we’re not going to have a let down or be caught off guard or underestimate them in any way. John has played both sides, obviously he wants to get a win now for Philadelphia.

 
 
12 June 1:19 pm

Practice today took place in conditions similar to what you would find in the Sahara desert. It was hot and dry, unusual considering the practice fields are 500 feet from the water and they usually get a breeze blowing inland.

Missing from practice today were Eric Ayuk, Jimmy McLaughlin, Eric Bird and Raymond Lee. All four went to go play with the Harrisburg City Islanders as they take on St. Louis FC in St. Louis.

Practice consisted mostly of a seven-on-seven drill where the two teams playing focused on possession and smart passing. For this version of seven-on-seven, the teams had to shoot into small goals placed around the field. Both Curtin and assistant coach Mike Sorber could be heard correcting individual players and any mistakes that were made.

The team then switched over to full-size goals for the last 15 minutes of practice, with John McCarthy, Andre Blake and Brain Sylvestre rotating in and out. Chaco looked particularly good today, playing great balls into the middle with both feet and finishing with a lot of technique.

Yosef Samuel joined the team for practice today. Samuel is a member of the Union’s U-18 Academy team.

12 June 11:37 am

The Philadelphia Union announces it’s first Women’s Soccer 101 clinic. The clinic will be held on Sunday, August 2nd from 10am-1pm at PPL Park. The clinic includes a condition session, skills and drills, meet and greet with some of the Union players, a photo in the Union locker room and a Women’s Soccer 101 gift! Buy tickets for $50 online today! ‪‬

 

Check out our video of Union players and staff participating in the Special Olympics 2015 Unified Relay Across America. Participants, including Union defender, Maurice Edu and Union head coach, Jim Curtin ran select routes from center city to PPL Park bearing the flame of hope!

 

 

@jmacdaddy77 surprises Cameron at the hospital. #TeamCameron

A photo posted by Philadelphia Union (@philaunion) on

John McCarthy spent his day off visiting his new friend Cameron. He even got a new haircut. Watch the video to see Cameron show off her great barber skills! #TeamCameron

 

Fans and players gathered at Don Thomas Stadium for soccer, photos, autographs and more at Union Day before The Union vs. Reading United fun friendly match.

 

 
 

@touxi84 at the @sonsofben movie premiere!

A photo posted by Philadelphia Union (@philaunion) on

Seats were packed at the Sons of Ben Movie premiere! Sébastien Le Toux, Maurice Edu, Zack Pfeffer, Andrew Wenger, Antoine Hoppenot, Jimmy McLaughlin, John McCarthy and Mike Lahoud all showed up to enjoy the amazing film!

 

Get pumped for the Philadelphia Union vs. the Rochester Rhinos in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with this awesome Stand For The Cup video. The match will take place on June 16th at 7:30pm at PPL Park.

 

10 June 1:04 pm

Today’s practice was HOT with temperatures on the field reaching above 95 degrees. Players were allowed to get a late start today after the friendly against Reading United yesterday, stating practice at 11 as opposed to 10.

Because it was so hot out, players were allowed to take it easy, especially in the early stages of practice when they do their strength and conditioning drills. Water breaks were frequent but not so frequent that they disrupted the flow of practice.

Michael Lahoud was back in practice today, fully participating for the first time since his injury against Toronto FC in early May. He looked very good for someone who hasn’t practiced in a month, and even stayed late to work on his passing and cutting.

The players did a lot of one touch possession passing, playing a 9-on-2 game where the nine outside players one touched passes to each other while trying to avoid the two who were running around in the middle trying to intercept the ball.

While they did that, the goalkeepers (all three of them) worked on their reflexes and their positioning on reflex saves. Andre Blake looked better today than he did all last week now that he has had a full week of practice under his belt.

Another familiar face was back in practice today as well, if only for a week. Danny Cruz was with the team today in practice, working to stay fit while his current team, FK Bodo/Glimt of Tippeligaen, is on international break. He is in town to visit his fiancé.

Practice ended with the team doing three separate line drills that had them work on their footwork, passing, and their first touch on the ball. All three lines were then directed towards goal where the three Union keepers tried to stop their shots.

10 June 9:32 am

Week 14 wasn't quite what Union fans envisioned, especially after a 3-0 triumph over Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday, but some Union players received some well-deserved accolades for last week's performances.

Start with forward C.J. Sapong, who scored a pair of goals this week against Columbus and New York City that earned him a nod on MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week. He now has four goals on the year and is third in MLS in goals scored per minute played.

The recent run of form has defender Sheanon Williams making some headlines. Another strong week for the resurgent right back placed him on Goal.com's Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre posted his remarkable third clean sheet of his young career on Wednesday against Crew SC. He kept keep the game scoreless with a wonderful save on Aaron Schoenfeld in the first half. That earned him a nomination for the Save of the Week.

And some power rankings. The Union are No. 17 at Bleacher Report, No. 18 at ESPNFC and at MLSGB and finally, No. 20 at MLSsoccer.com.

09 June 5:11 pm

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, Saturday’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC was certainly a disappointing result. But some of the advanced stats do point to Saturday being one of the Union’s top performances this season, at least offensively.

The Union had season-highs in shots on target (7) and passing accuracy in the final third (75.4 percent). They also approached season-highs in passing accuracy at 79.5 percent (second), crosses with 32 (second), chances created with 11 (third) and attempted shots with 12 (fourth).

So, let’s see where they stack up against the rest of MLS in some categories.

Team Possession Passing Accuracy Total Shots Chances Created
New York Red Bulls 54.9 (1st) 75.5 (15th) 14.2 (3rd) 10.1 (8th)
Seattle Sounders FC 54.3 (2nd) 80.2 (3rd) 10.2 (18th) 7.6 (18th)
Orlando City SC   53.7 (3rd) 82.6 (1st) 11.9 (12th) 8.4 (13th)
New York City FC 53.4 (4th) 77.2 (7th) 12.9 (9th) 10.1 (9th)
LA Galaxy 52.8 (5th) 76.3 (11th) 10.6 (17th) 7.9 (16th)
D.C. United 52.0 (6th) 76.8 (8th) 10.9 (15th) 7.6 (19th)
Portland Timbers 51.6 (7th) 79.9 (4th) 13.4 (6th) 10.3 (6th)
Columbus Crew SC 51.3 (8th) 81.7 (2nd) 14.4 (2nd) 11.5 (2nd)
Real Salt Lake   50.9 (9th) 75.8 (14th) 9.9 (20th) 6.7 (20th)
Chicago Fire   50.2 (10th) 78.3 (6th) 15.5 (1st) 12.1 (1st)
Sporting Kansas City 49.9 (11th) 75.8 (13th) 13.1 (7th) 10.9 (3rd)
Houston Dynamo   48.5 (12th) 76.1 (12th) 12.3 (10th) 8.7 (10th)
Colorado Rapids   48.3 (13th) 74.4 (17th) 13.8 (5th) 10.6 (5th)
New England Revolution 48.3 (14th) 74.6 (16th) 11.0 (14th) 8.4 (12th)
Montreal Impact   48.2 (15th) 79.0 (5th) 12.1 (11th) 8.1 (14th)
FC Dallas 46.9 (16th) 74.1 (19th) 10.1 (19th) 7.9 (17th)
San Jose Earthquakes 46.5 (17th) 74.2 (18th) 11.6 (13th) 8.5 (11th)
Philadelphia Union 45.8 (18th) 73.8 (20th) 10.8 (16th) 8.0 (15th)
Toronto FC 45.5 (19th) 76.7 (9th) 13.0 (8th) 10.1 (7th)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 45.4 (20th) 76.4 (10th) 14.1 (4th) 10.9 (4th)

As we documented earlier in the year in this blog, possession isn't detrimental strictly on it's own. Teams like Toronto and Vancouver have created plenty of scoring chances regardless of the amount of possession they have per game. But, this possibly stems from increased accuracy in passing. Furthermore, look at the Fire, who lead the league in total shots and chances created, while only have league-average possession.

Regardless, the Union have continued to put together better numbers in all of these categories when they've been able to feature a healthy Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira.

Finally, one last number to push along is the resurgence of forward C.J. Sapong. Since returning from a month-long absence, Sapong has bagged three goals in four games and is now third in MLS in goals per minute played.

Player Minutes per goal Goals
Chad Barrett (SEA) 102 3
Kei Kamara (CLB) 116.2 10
C.J. Sapong (PHI) 117.3 4
Will Bruin (HOU) 124.7 7
Jozy Altidore (TOR) 131.8 5
Krisztian Nemeth (SKC) 135.3 6
Cyle Larin (ORL) 137.6 5
Clint Dempsey (SEA) 138 7
Chris Wondolowski (SJ) 147.3 8
Obafemi Martins (SEA) 150 6

 

09 June 10:04 am

The Philadelphia Union were off on Monday and goalkeeper John McCarthy spent his time at duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Del.

The 22-year-old Philadelphia native surprised one patient, Cameron McCarthy (no relation), to drop off a few gifts and even brought some hair clippers. The Union goalkeeper then let his new friend shave off all of his hair.

 

Cameron shaves John McCarthy's head at the hospital! #TeamCameron

Posted by Philadelphia Union on Monday, June 8, 2015

 

To help support Cameron and her fight, you can visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/teamcameron111 and can donate at http://www.gofundme.com/w5d79c. And if you missed it, here's MyFoxPhilly's story. #TeamCameron

 

 

Had a great day today with my new friend #fightlikeagirl #TEAMCAMERON

A photo posted by John McCarthy (@jmacdaddy77) on

08 June 2:15 pm

As many of you probably know, tonight the United States Women's National Team plays its first game of the 2015 Women's World Cup agaisnt Australia. The game will take place in WInnipeg, Canada at 7:30 p.m and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. In the interest of supporting the USWNT and the Women's World Cup, we asked a couple of the players to give their predictions on what the score will be tonight.

Here is what they said:

 

Sheanon Williams: 2-0, USA wins

C.J. Sapong: 3-1, USA wins

Vince Nogueira: 2-0, USA wins

Michael Lahoud: 4-1, USA wins

Sebastien Le Toux: 2-0, USA wins

Ray Gaddis: 4-0, USA wins

John McCarthy: 3-0, USA wins

Brian Sylvestre: 3-0, USA wins

Zach Pfeffer: 2-0, USA wins

Richie Marquez: 2-0, USA wins

Ethan White: 3-1, USA wins

 

It isn't surprising that the Union all picked the USWNT to win as they are viewed as one of the favorites to win the tournament. The team finished in second in the last Women's World Cup in Germanny in 2011, losing in penalty kicks to Japan. The team then went on to win the gold in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.