Blog

04 December 1:38 pm
 

We’re now three weeks into the #UnionTop10 after Andrew Wenger won for the second time by beating Danny Cruz his no-angle blast with 76 percent of the vote to move into the Final Five.

Wenger now owns two spots in the Final Five, after edging Sebastien Le Toux in Week No. 1 with his first ever goal for the Union. Another first goal won Week No. 2 as Zach Pfeffer joined the party with his first career MLS goal that knocked off veteran Conor Casey.

Moving on to Week No. 4, we have a pair of moments from the team’s breathtaking run during the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. It’s the heroics of Zac MacMath in the semifinals against FC Dallas versus the atmosphere at PPL Park for the final against Seattle Sounders FC.

First up is MacMath. Of course if it wasn’t for his effort in the semifinals, the Union wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play in the championship one month later. MacMath made five saves as the Union forced penalties after 120 hard-fought minutes. But it was his performance there that stole the show. First it was against Blas Perez to give the Union the advantage. Next it was against Victor Ulloa to clinch it.

MacMath's penalty stopping abilities have been well-documented this year, highlighted by stopping each of the first three attempts he saw in MLS this season. By season's end, only Nick Rimando had stopped more penalties. So what makes this so special is the fact MacMath was already in his opponents' head as soon as the game was to be decided by penalties. After getting beat to each side on the first two attempts, MacMath was all over Perez's attempt with a diving stop to his right. His team didn't let him down, scoring on each of their four attempts at it was up Ulloa to score to keep the game going.

And it led to this...

The first finals appearance in team history. With a trophy on the line, the pre-game buzz surrounding the stadium was palpable. Then the players came out of the tunnel for what was arguably the best pre-game atmosphere in PPL Park history. And it never quit, as the Union pushed on deep into extra time. We managed to find video with no voice over so you can really hear the emotion that bellowed from every seat that night. The video is roughly 10 minutes in length, but we don't think you need to watch that much (unless of course you really want to) to get the feeling of just how loud PPL Park was and another reason what soccer is here to stay in the Greater Philadelphia region.

So now it's on you the fans. What did you like more? Was not one, but two penalty saves enough for you?

Or can you believe the scene at PPL Park for the club's first ever appearance in a championship? Vote now and tell us why in the comment section below.

And thanks for all of the votes and keep them coming. We're just two more weeks away from the Final Five.

Contact Union writer Chris Winkler at cwinkler@philadelphiaunion.com

 

26 November 12:41 pm

Week No. 2 of the #UnionTop10 is in the books and it was youth over experience as a matchup between homegrown midfielder Zach Pfeffer and veteran forward Conor Casey found Pfeffer moving on to the "Final Five" with over 75 percent of the vote.

Both plays were awesome but you the fans have spoken and so it’ll be Pfeffer and his first ever goal in Major League Soccer that moves on along with Andrew Wenger's first ever Union goal , a winner in Week No. 1.

Now as we move onto Week No. 3, it's another Wenger special up against a great goal earlier this year from Danny Cruz in a commanding win against New England in Foxborough, Mass.

But first, we examine Wenger’s blast against San Jose, his first of two in a 4-2 win over the Earthquakes in August. What makes this one special is the amount power and sheer lack of an angle Wenger has when he blasts this one past San Jose’s Jon Busch.

What’s great on this play is (well, besides the ball into the box from Sebastien Le Toux) is how it looks as though Wenger’s first touch fails him. Playing the ball away from the onrushing defender it gave the illusion that Wenger killed his angle in front of net, but the turn of the hips and hitting the ball dead on made no mistake that it was headed top shelf.

Moving on…

It’s only right to pair that one with another great goal this season, this one from Danny Cruz against New England. Now with this one, yes the shot was insane in its own right, but watch the run from Cruz which starts at the edge of the Revs’ 18-yard-box.

After taking this one basically coast to coast, the speedy midfielder takes advantage of the ridiculous amount of space given by Revs defenders and launches a “Cruz missile” (see what we did there?) that gave Brad Knighton no chance of getting a hand on it. What’s great about this play is that Cruz smartly took advantage of the spacing between him and defender AJ Soares and use what has always been a trademark power shot to put the Union ahead, 2-0 in the eventual 3-1 win.

Okay, you’re up. Which one moves on? Will it be Wenger’s goal from virtually no angle or Cruz’ fast break and rocket shot? Polls are open now until next Tuesday, Dec. 2 so vote for your favorite and tell us why in the comments below.

Thanks for all who have voted so far. We’ll be back with our Week No. 4 pairings next Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

25 November 5:21 pm

Philadelphia Union played an integral role connecting Cozen O’Connor and Orlando City SC with the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida in a community service outreach effort Saturday, Nov. 22.

Cozen O’Connor attorneys traveled to Central Florida for a retreat and spent their time teaming up to refurbish rooms in a homeless shelter and create Thanksgiving centerpieces with residents. Cozen O’Connor also donated $5,000 to the shelter.

"This collaboration in support of Cozen O'Connor and their community service project in Orlando during their all-attorney retreat is just another example of how Philadelphia Union used the power of relationships to connect Cozen O'Connor, Orlando City SC and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida,” said Rick Jacobs, Philadelphia Union Vice President of Community Affairs. “We were pleased to support this effort."

For more on Philadelphia Union Foundation, visit: philadelphiaunion.com/foundation

19 November 5:19 pm

So YOU our fans have spoken and in Week No. 1 of our annual #UnionTop10 you selected this goal by Andrew Wenger to be the first to move onto the Final Five. In case you can't recall, we paired it up last week against Sebastien Le Toux’ season opener gem against New England; but it was Wenger that proved better according to nearly 59 percent of the vote.

Oh and thanks to the nearly 500 of you that put the two side-by-side and voted.

However we are looking to surpass that number with this next pairing.

Week two features Conor Casey’s fantastic finish in a July 12 match against Colorado, his former club. On an attack that was kick started courtesy of a gorgeous run of play that featured 13 passes among nine different players, Casey cleaned off the drive with a powerful left footed shot. Credit defender Ray Gaddis with the perfect ball into Casey's near post run too.

The play was so sweet that the next day our graphics department diagrammed the whole event:

The next play was one that fans of this club waited for since the day he got signed.

One the last day of the 2014 MLS season, Zach Pfeffer, the Union’s first ever homegrown signing scored his first goal for the club. Who cares if it came in a loss, it was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts for a player who has worked diligently since joining the club as a fresh faced 15-year-old in 2011.

In this one Pfeffer came on as a second half substitute as a spark and rewarded head coach Jim Curtin in the 73rd minute, with a well-timed run and even better finish, handling a pass from teammate Amobi Okugo and making no mistake with his moment of glory.

Now you tell us, which moment moves on? Is it some run of play magic finished off by the head of surefooted striker Conor Casey? Or will it be Pfeffer’s day in the sun against Columbus with the sun setting on the 2014 season for the Union? You decide. Voting is open until Tuesday, Nov. 25 so vote now and tell us why you chose your choice in the comments below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

12 November 1:17 pm

On Tuesday we announced the launch of the annual #UnionTop10 series arrives Wednesday.

Here we are.

We kick off week one of the five-week "Best of"series with a pairing of two firsts this season. We pit scoring stalwart Sebastien Le Toux against fellow teammate Andrew Wenger. In Le Toux’ it was the goal he scored to kick off the 2014 Major League Soccer season at home with a 1-0 win over New England, finishing off a great run from midfielder Leo Fernandes and scored his first of 12 League goals this season.

What’s really significant about this goal is that Le Toux extended his mark of scoring in Union home openers to four.

In 2010, it was a trio at Lincoln Financial Field against D.C. United, followed up with a penalty kick goal in PPL Park’s opener against Seattle in June of that year. In 2013, Le Toux got the ball rolling in the black third kits against Sporting Kansas City and of course this beauty on March 15 this season…

We pair that with Andrew Wenger, the Lancaster, Pa. native who arrived just before the April 12 match against Real Salt Lake via a trade from Montreal for Jack McInerney. People wondered with Jack Mac coming off a 12-goal season the year before if Wenger could come in and follow suit. Not only did he follow suit, but scored this goal against Real Salt Lake that put the stamp on his arrival to Philadelphia with authority.

What’s significant about this goal is that just minutes before Wenger scored, McInerney in his debut for Montreal, scored to put the Impact up one. But before the grumblings could begin on the loss of Jack Mac and his production, Wenger left no doubt with this thing of beauty.

Now you decide.

Which moment moves on to the Final Five? Will it be Le Toux keeping the streak going or Wenger’s authoritative PPL Park debut? Cast your vote below. Voting is open until Tuesday, Nov. 18 so make sure you have your say on which moment moves on. We’ll host the next pairing right here on philadelphiaunion.com on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

 

10 November 12:47 pm
The Philadelphia Union invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to obtain some Union gear during this year's Holiday Auction.
 
Items include:  
  • (1) Full team signed Open Cup Pennant
  • (2) Full Team signed Union Game Pennant
  • Sheannon Williams, signed, Open Cup
  • Michael Lahoud, signed, Open Cup
  • Ethan White signed, Open Cup
  • Amobi Okugo signed, Open Cup Jersey

Visit our store to view more items!

    

 

 

31 October 2:42 pm

The Philadelphia Union is excited to give back to children in our surrounding community for the holiday season with a Toy Drive! We will greatly appreciate your help with this initiative to benefit economically disadvantaged children between 0 and 17 years of age. We request that all donated toys are new, unwrapped, and preferably around the $10 or above price range.

This years goal is to collect 500 toys. All toys will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Chester. 

Dropoff locations:

  • Front Office: 2501 Seaport Dr., Chester, PA, 19013
  • Angelo's Soccer Corner: 288 W Swedesford Rd., Berwyn, PA
  • Angelo's Soccer Store: 2074 E County Line Rd., Huntingdon Valley, PA

Please refrain from purchasing toys that contain:

  • Military themes
  • Weapons/Law Enforcement related items
  • Candy
  • Chemicals (i.e. experimental labs, acid, crystal projects, etc)

Can’t make it to the toy store, but still wish to donate?
We will buy it for you!

Amount

Suggested items for each age group division: 

0-2 years 2-5 years 5-9 years 10-17 years

Cloth or Plastic Books

Soft Squeeze Balls

Hanging Toys

Stacking Rings

Rubber or Soft Blocks

Soft Dolls

Push and Pull Toys

Short story/action books

Building blocks

Crayons, nontoxic finger paints, clay

Transportation toys

Simple puzzles with large pieces

Dress-up clothes

Tea party utensils

Hand puppets

Balls

Bicycles with helmets

Crafts

Electric trains

Paper dolls

Jump ropes

Sports equipment

Card games

Computer games

Table and board games

Sports equipment

Hobby collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 October 5:20 pm

The final match of the regular season is this Sunday in Columbus, but on Tuesday, the Union convened for one of its final training sessions of the season at PPL Park as they gear up for this weekend’s match with the Crew (4 p.m., The Comcast Network).

Training was getting guys back on the ball after a two-day respite following Saturday’s 2-1 victory against  Sporting Kansas City. Some passing drills, possession drills and short sided matches were more to get legs back up to speed.

What’s exciting however is that already the talk around camp is gearing up and retooling for next season as the Union remains hungry for a spot in MLS’ postseason, something that will be missed this season as a result of too many points being left on the table.

To their credit, the players in the locker room underwent quite a few changes to its makeup and went on a memorable run, but it’s the idea that too little was done too late that remains a sour taste.

Zac MacMath perhaps said it best when looking back after Saturday’s win against Kansas City.

“It’s hugely disappointing because I thought we had a good group of players, a good mix of veterans and young guys. I thought we played really well at times throughout the season. Unfortunately, we came up short too many times. That’s why we’re not making the playoffs.”

However, interim manager Jim Curtin had this to say to the folks at Philly.com which brings with it great promise:

“The focus now; the only words I’ll use around the guys is the playoffs for next year,” he said. “We’re not even going to talk about championships or anything like that. It’s about making the playoffs in 2015. That is the goal.”

Moving on…

Few things you should check out if you haven’t already (including a shameless plug from yours truly). First up, is this detailed look at the life and career of Union midfielder Vincent Nogueira who takes us through his younger years and life into the professional ranks proving naysayers who laughed him off due to his stature right in the face.

Also, he was a pretty cute kid, too.

On CSNPhilly.com writer Dave Zeitlin’s “Inside Doop” looks at the youngsters on the Union roster in addition to three thoughts on Saturday’s match…on MLSSoccer.com forward Brian Brown and midfielder Cristian Maidana cracked the Castrol Index Top 20 with Brown coming in at No. 10 while Maidana finished No. 16. Not sure what the Castrol Index is? Here's how it works.

Catch defender Ethan White Wednesday as he takes over our Instagram account in our final “Wednesday’s with…” segment of the month. White, who doubles as an amateur photographer when he’s not on the field will post images and answer fan questions. Have a question for him? Ask with the hashtag #AskEthan. 

Shout out to Union players Zach Pfeffer, Andrew Wenger, Leo Fernandes and Zac MacMath who were honorary guests at SOCtoberfest, which benefitted the Montgomery United Soccer Club.

We heard those guys were treated like kings, so thank you MUSC for taking good care of them.

Lastly, on Monday night many of the guys got a chance for a sneak peek at the “Sons of Ben Movie” slated for release sometime soon. The movie, which chronicles the birth and inception of not only the club’s supporters group but the inception of the team was shown to a handful of folks Monday night in West Chester. 

That’s all for now, catch you Wednesday with a recap of manager Jim Curtin’s final pregame press conference of the season. Be sure to tune in LIVE tomorrow via philadelphiaunion.com/live

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

21 October 4:02 pm

Thanks to fans like you, many members of the Chester community will be warm this winter as the fifth annual Coats for Chester drive was yet again a success at PPL Park.

Fueled by the SEPA Hall of Fame and assisted by the Philadelphia Union Foundation and the Sons of Ben, over 520 coats collected over a two week campaign beginning with the Union’s Oct. 11 match against Columbus and ending – at least on Toyota Plaza and the SoBs tailgate area – before Saturday’s win over Sporting Kansas City.

And while the drive may have ended here, there is still plenty of time to donate your gently worn coats to the cause, by going onto SEPAsoccerhall.com and finding a location near you.

Bob Kozlowski, president of the SEPA Soccer Hall of Fame said that this year’s drop was the most collected over the years at PPL Park calling the support a “great vehicle” for getting the word out.

“A big thank you to everyone at the Union for helping kick off our Coats for Chester coat drive with two successful collection nights at the Oct. 11th and Oct. 18th games,” Kozlowski expressed via email.  “Between the Sons of Ben collecting at their tailgates and the SEPA Hall of Fame collecting on the Toyota Plaza, we were able to acquire 520 coats. This is a great start as it way more than we have gotten at these games in past years…we also talked to many fans who walked by, explaining they could drop off coats at the many locations listed on our website (www.SEPAsoccerhall.com)   until November 30. The response was encouraging and I think that we are going to do well.”

Winter can be harsh, but the support from fans willing to take time out and donate a coat to someone who may need it, goes a long way in showing the dedication, gratitude and warmth all of us have towards the greater Chester community. 

Have questions on how you can get involved? Send an email to info@sepasoccerhall.com.

16 October 5:26 pm

It’s Thursday, which means one day closer to the weekend and one day closer to the home finale against Sporting Kansas City this Saturday (7 p.m., purchase tickets).

Our ticket and marketing department have devised this promotion which is pretty cool and commemorative for the final Union match of 2014 at PPL Park.

Click the graphic for more information.

If you’re coming to PPL Park this weekend, one of the cool things you’ll have to check out is the rapid amount of work that has been done to finish construction on the club’s practice fields, located across from the stadium (the old Lot B). At the time of this report late Thursday, fencing was nearly up all the way around the stadium and masons were out completing some pretty intricate brick work.

No much to report from the training ground today as the team trained at the stadium, with everyone participating in full training today. You hear coaches say all the time that they have “everyone available for selection” and this case it appears as if interim manager Jim Curtin will have a full lot to choose from for Saturday’s match.

Off the field, Union midfielder Michael Lahoud is still making the rounds with his incredible #KickEbolaintheButt campaign as it was picked up in this Huffington Post segment earlier today. Lahoud is still looking to spread awareness about the disease that continues to spread with a rapid rise not just in his native Sierra Leone anymore, but has found its way to even reach our shores.

It’s a good segment, definitely one you should check out.

Moving on…

It looks like midfielder-defender Amobi Okugo has found a better alternative than credit card roulette the next time he has dinner with his Union teammates. If you don’t know that is, it’s the ever popular cringe worthy game of having a server at a restaurant pick credit cards out of a hat and the last one picks up the meal – for the entire dinner party.

But in this new version Okugo posted via Twitter at least you know you have everyone’s undivided attention…before having to foot the entire bill, of course.

That’s all for today, we’ll be back tomorrow. Check out philadelphiaunion.com for the latest Union news and definitely Friday for our Match Preview ahead of the Sporting KC match, our in-depth video preview and the current MLS goal scoring machine Pedro Ribeiro would like to emulate in his sophomore season.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com