Blog

05 September 4:24 pm

Good week, GREAT Saturday.

Short week for all of you, but an extended work week awaited the Union in what will be the second of two matches against Toronto FC on Saturday.

Before taking off, the team assembled for a light training session at PPL Park that involved some intricate passing drills and a hard short-sided scrimmage.

Then it was off to the airport, where the team flight was delayed…momentarily.

But none of that phased a team that took it to Toronto and celebrated a 2-0 at the end of 90 minutes. This coming off the heels of a 1-0 win over TFC Wednesday, which now gives Union interim boss Jim Curtin his 10th win of the season in all competitions (10-2-4). 

Oh and something our resident stats man figured out: with a goal Saturday, the Union would have scored its 200th in MLS play. Thanks to this header from Conor Casey coupled with this textbook header from Andrew Wenger Philadelphia scored not only its 200th, but 201st in League play.

Pretty cool stat and all the more reason to watch. 

While the Union chased back-to-back wins against Toronto in Toronto, the Union front office avenged a loss in the annual River Cup charity match. The fourth edition of a match that pits members of the front office against members of the club’s raucous supporters group, the Sons of Ben was won Saturday by the Union FO in a PK shootout! Kudos to both teams, which helped raise funds for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which directly benefits many programs within the city of Chester. But a special shoutout to Union captain Mark Evans (who is the club's director of fan services, by day) for leading the Union squad in a huge win on what was a sultry September afternoon. 

The festivities were in conjunction with the Delaware River Craft BrewFest presented by Radio (104.5 FM), which was also a great success. Thanks to all that came out for the Brewfest and stayed to watch a great event at PPL Park.

Moving on...

The U.S. Open Cup trophy arrived in Philadelphia last Friday and has embarked on a tour around the Greater Philadelphia region for fans to sneak a peek and get informed about the upcoming final on Sept. 16 between the Union and Seattle Sounders FC. It’s latest stop was the home of cheesesteak czars Pat’s Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia. The trophy has been to a variety of places, like Comcast SportsNet, the Art Museum steps, it also visited the coaching staff at Temple University, is scheduled to hit Friday’s college matchup between Drexel and Penn and earlier this week made a stop at La Salle University. The Explorers’ McCarthy Stadium was the site of the 1961 U.S. Open Cup final won by the Ukranian Nationals, one of their four Cup championships in the 1960s. It also made an appearance on the set of Saturday's Union-Toronto FC telecast alongside play-by-play announce JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas.

Posted Friday, was two pieces of fresh content from our video department, the first featuring Union defender Ethan White "mic’d up" during the club’s win over San Jose:

In addition, yours truly recently did a sit down with soccer historian Dan Morrison to discuss the rich history of the Bethlehem Steel, who captured five U.S. Open Cup titles from 1913-1930.

Found out something interesting from Morrison too: the original Steel jerseys of the past were not black and white, but actually red and blue.

Now given the era, there are no images to support Morrison’s claim, but he did have vintage game day brochures and old magazines that accurately describe the colors of the Steel jersey. Not being biased, but definitely check this video out. I learned way more than I ever thought I would about a team considered at that time the “New York Yankees of professional soccer.”

That video will surface later this week on the Philadelphia Union You Tube page. If you haven't yet, subscribe. There's some great content on there.

Lastly, here’s Saturday's Match Recap, an informative Q&A our resident writer Andy Jasner did with interim manager Jim Curtin and since we want to keep the upcoming U.S. Open Cup fresh in your mind (ahem, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park, purchase tickets),  the guys over at Philly Soccer Page penned this fantastic historic write-up of the dominance the Philadelphia German Americans displayed during its Open Cup winning campaign (1936). PSP editor in chief Ed Farnsworth has the story that’s definitely worth a read.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

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

28 August 8:53 pm

The Daily Doop came to you from the press box at Skyline Sports Complex, the site of a Thursday night showdown between the Union and developmental affiliate the Harrisburg City Islanders.

It’s was a beautiful night for soccer.

Though, I’ll say it now: this reporter much prefers the pregame music at PPL Park.

Although, if you’re a tween, you would have been in heaven...unfortunately, this guy hasn’t been a part of that demographic for quite some time.

Moving on...

The lineups featured quite a few regular starters but most importantly midfielder Cristian Maidana in a return to the starting XI:

When asked how it felt to have Chaco on the field for the first time since the U.S. Open Cup semifinal win over FC Dallas, Union interim manager Jim Curtin said:

"Getting Cristian back was was a good opportunity to get him 70 minutes and I thought he was good. You could see the quality he has to make the final pass. He was a little rusty, but the biggest thing with him was getting him minutes and 70 minutes of an end to end was great as we try to get him back to full speed."

The match was hard fought as these annual exhibitions usually are. Harrisburg players using this as a chance to get noticed by the big brother squad and Union players making sure they aren’t on the latter end of the score line against their little bros.

In Thursday night's installment, it was the Union pulling off a 3-2 win as goals from surefooted striker Sebastien Le Toux in the 13th minute, Leo Fernandes in the 44th and a 75th minute capper from Fred secured the win in what was a great night for soccer, er football. 

All of these guys will have to be back at PPL Park bright and early Friday morning as the annual team photo will be taken at midfield. 

KICK TV did this awesome piece on the growth of youth academies throughout the nation. The piece largely featured the exploits of the Philadelphia Union academy which was awarded best academy on the East Coast in year-end awards from U.S. Soccer’s Developmental Academy.

In the 101st year of the U.S. Open Cup, the Union is going for the 11th title won by a Pennsylvania based club. Our graphics team mocked this up Thursday to show the breakdown. 

Pretty cool graphic right? If you are looking to learn more, check out our Open Cup 101 article which provides breakdown of Open Cup history, the rich tradition of Philadelphia teams that have played in it and ties to the Union that have experience the thrill of winning it all.

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

26 August 5:01 pm

Day two of a much needed respite from soccer action was underway as all was quiet today on the field. However, the club was still in the news, leading off with MLSSoccer.com boosting the Union up to No. 7 in its latest Power Rankings. Philadelphia is up four spots from No. 11 last week.

The high praise was attributed to the continued stellar play of midfielder Sebastien Le Toux and the balance of attacking power coupled with the emergence of Andrew Wenger – who scored a pair of goals, his first a Goal of the Week candidate – in Sunday’s 4-2 win over San Jose.

Certainly nice to see as noted by MLSSoccer.com Union writer Dave Zeitlin:

Moving on…

With the upcoming Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final just weeks away, the brainstorming was in full effect Tuesday across all departments on how to make sure we blow the top off your socks both leading up to and on the Sept. 16 game night against the Seattle Sounders (7 p.m., purchase tickets). Some great ideas swirled around the main conference room today, many of which you’ll see in the coming weeks ahead. 

What we can tell you is that “We Want the Cup” t-shirts dropped today which you can purchase online from our team store. Enjoy free shipping for these bad boys if you spend $50 or more online. These come in both mens and womens cut and even features a long sleeve. To get yours log onto: http://www.philadelphiaunionstore.com/

Because it was so popular last time, we are looking to have another takeover of our Twitter account by the guys at our team store: @PhilaUnionShop to discuss all the new fall gear that will be available both online and in the team store on game day. There are already some pretty awesome images on their site to check out, so definitely follow the team store on Twitter.

In other news…

If you missed it, here’s an ICYMI on an article featured on philadelphiaunion.com Monday that takes a look at five members of the Union’s current locker room (both players and staff) that have captured Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles.  

On Wednesday, we’ll feature Union interim manager Jim Curtin one of the five on what it was like personally for him to capture the crown.

Construction is in full swing on the Union practice fields that are scheduled to be completed by late fall. By the looks of this Instagram video, grading has commenced and piping has been delivered for install.

Finally, if you didn’t know today was “National Dog Day.” Union defender Austin Berry celebrated his version of man’s best friend by treating him to a cool treat on a hot day.

What’s not to love about dogs? Especially dogs that love soccer as much as we do. Kudos to digital marketing coordinator Jackie Cammarata, who submitted this clip from Facebook today for the Daily #DOOP…

 

 

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

 

25 August 6:04 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

The pair exchanged cryptic tweets featuring sunshine and airplanes, with Edu's ending with "305" the area code for Miami-Dade County.

ESPN analyst and SportsCenter anchor Max Bretos followed up shortly after Edu's tweet with: 

Usually this group also includes defender Ethan White, but no word on what his plans are.

Given the time off, the Union’s weekly radio show “The 90th Minute” will take a hiatus this week but will return Sept. 2. The show presented by Farmers Insurance will feature members of the Sons of Ben and the Union Foundation to discuss the upcoming River Cup match between the Union front office and the club’s supporters group.

That show will be held at Chickies and Pete’s in South Philadelphia beginning from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

And finally…

The fallout of having Sixers center Joel Embiid serve as honorary captain in Sunday’s match has been tremendous. The volume of retweets and favorites from this picture on Twitter is insane:

And it looks like the effect rubbed off on Embiid, who according to this Union fan  was spotted Monday afternoon in the same Union jersey we presented him Sunday night.

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

25 August 5:59 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

✈️✈️

25 August 5:57 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

25 August 5:55 pm

It’s Monday after a great Sunday night victory.

With the bye week, the players get a few days off to rest and recharge as a Wednesday-Saturday home and home is next against Toronto FC beginning Sept. 3 at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).

In office, staff is working overtime to get ready for the month of September as six matches mark the schedule including a pair of back-to-back weeks that feature games in close succession. Four of those are home, highlighted by the Sept. 16 match against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup final. Speaking of the Open Cup, did you know there are five players on the Union payroll that have hoisted the trophy before? And of those five, four guys played each other at one point in time en route to either victory or defeat.

Amazing what you’ll find once you start digging.

You can find that story here.

Union forward Andrew Wenger is up for Major League Soccer’s Goal of the Week for his first of two goals on the night. It was Wenger’s first brace of his MLS career, but we are kind of partial to his second goal, one that we took the time to show U.S. Open Cup foe Seattle Sounders FC earlier Monday morning:

It was a great night for the former No. 1 draft pick and following his performance, Union interim manager Jim Curtin had the following to say:

When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power that you don’t see often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed. He’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence. And I think a night like tonight gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique out wide for him. But he’s starting to grasp his abilities and it’s leading to his goals…he checks every box. He’s big, he’s strong. He’s fast. He can smack the ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something.”

We certainly hope so…

Moving on…

Looks like at least two of the three amigos are doing their few days of rest right as it appears midfielders Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu will be spending their time in under the Miami sun.

Earlier Monday morning, Okugo sent out this tweet:

22 August 3:50 pm

The club was back in training on Friday as preparations for Sunday’s match against San Jose continued – this time with an anticipated face returning to the fray.

New Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi participated in the full hour long session Friday morning at PPL Park, joining Zac MacMath and rookie Andre Blake in a session of instruction with goalkeeper coach BJ Callaghan before integrating with the rest of the club for a series of drills.

When asked how it felt to be back, Mbolhi smiled and told philadelphiaunion.com:

“It’s good to be back, nice to be with my teammates and get going with my new club.”

While yet unknown, given the week he's had it seems unlikely Mbolhi will feature Sunday. On Wednesday, Union manager Jim Curtin told reporters that it was important the two-time FIFA World Cup veteran felt 100 percent both mentally and physically before heading back out on the pitch. Curtin also mentioned before that happened that he would have a “good sit down” with Mbolhi to see where he’s at.

Both Mbolhi and Blake remained to train with Callaghan for close to an hour post practice, so right off the bat it was impressive to see the Algerian eagerly putting in the work.

The team will have a short walk through Saturday to prepare for Sunday. Friday was more of getting the players back out on the pitch after a much needed day of rest Thursday. Also out on the pitch with the players this morning was the inspirational story of eight-year-old super fan Harry Kane Jr. who got a chance not only watch but participate in training exercises this morning.

Harry’s father, Harry Kane Sr. praised the generosity, in awe that Harry was able to hang and get so involved with the "big boys" for a day.

What was also special is that Harry got a chance meet and chat with his favorite player, forward Conor Casey.

“This is something he won’t forget for the rest of his life,” said Kane Sr. “I know my son and this is a memory that will stick with him. Everyone was so great with him and it really speaks to the volume of just how great of an organization this is.”

Mr. Kane, on behalf of all of us here at the Philadelphia Union, it was our pleasure…

Moving on…

If you missed it, defender Ray Gaddis had a one-hour “ask me anything” session Friday afternoon on Reddit. Ray was asked a variety of questions, all of which he graciously answered. To check out the full transcript of Gaddis’ AMA, click this link.  

And if you wondered whether or not Gaddis had fun with it, just look at that smile...

Odds and endlines…

Season ticket holders, you have until Sunday to order your tickets to the Sept. 16 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final if you would like to sit in your seats. If you have additional questions, contact our Fan Services department at 877-21-UNION, press (1) for tickets followed by (3) for Fan Services. You can do the same if you have any questions pertaining to the revised parking setup for Lots B and C, with the ongoing construction of what will be a multi-field practice facility for the club...Be sure to check out the Match Preview and Match Preview video ahead of Sunday’s match with San Jose...Still have yet to reserve your seat to see FIFA World Cup (2014) veteran Chris Wondolowski get after FIFA World Cup (2010) veteran Maurice Edu? One click right here will solve that problem.  

And finally…

The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has been going on for a while now to the tune of over $41 million dollars in charitable donations raised to the cause. Last week, the Union front office did it and on Friday, Union technical director Chris Albright was next up to get dunked on...with the help of players Andrew Wenger and Carlos Valdes, who were eager to have the chance to dump mostly crushed ice on the former MLS and U.S. national team stalwart.

A birdie tells us that Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz is up next...Check Monday's Daily #DOOP for that one including reactions and much more from Sunday’s match.

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

21 August 11:31 am

“I don’t have a gym membership...”

“My gym doesn’t have kettlebells...”

“I can’t do a pull-up, I am so weak...”

“I do 200 crunches a night but I don’t have any abs...” (FYI, stop wasting your time with crunches)

“I don’t want to lock into a six month membership so I am not going to lift weights...”

Over the years, I have heard so many excuses from people when it comes to training. I understand exactly how hard it can be to find both the TIME and the MONEY to train. I have good news for those of you who want to maybe learn some new exercises without having to join a gym.

My solution to those of you who are on a budget and who are unable to afford a gym membership is to train outside at a park.

Here are five (5) reasons I love to train outside.

1. It’s free.

2. Most people don’t get enough sun so training outside is a great way to increase your Vitamin D levels.  Believe it or not, most people are deficient in Vitamin D.

3. It’s fun. It makes you feel like a kid again.

4. Fresh air. How many times have you gone into a gym and the first thing you smell is something nasty coming off of the person on the elliptical? It looks like they have been on it for 2 hours cranking away with sweat pouring down their face. Don’t get me wrong I love to train hard and work up a sweat but if you have ever belonged to a gym you know exactly what I am talking about.

5. I sleep better at night. If I get fresh air and sunlight early in the day it helps with my sleep cycle.

Now, I still love to train at a gym 1-2 days a week but I think training outside is a great way to mix up your routine. The good news is what I am about to show you involves a small investment on your part. I have included five videos for you to watch. In each video I show a short clip of four exercises that you can include in your routine. The good news is that all you need is the following:

Kettlebells

I would recommend that you go to a fitness equipment store or go online and purchase a kettlebell. Your best bet is to find a local store so you can save on shipping. However, the equipment from Perform Better (performbetter.com) is high quality. I would recommend that you start with two kettlebells. One light one (15-20 lbs.)  and one heavier one (40-60 lbs.). Over time if you can afford it add higher weights to your “at home gym”.

Resistance bands

Here is a link to buy bands. Bands should be a part of everyone’s training program.  I have been using these bands for years. Link: https://rbt.infusionsoft.com/go/bd/kevinm/

Abdominal wheel

I made my own for $15-$20 from Home Depot material. You can purchase a good one on line or at a local sporting goods store. Cost is approximately $15-$20.

Click the video below to watch a demonstration as well as some cues for doing each exercise. As always, start slow and if you have any pain than you need to stop. For the Turkish Get Up I would recommend that you start with body weight and keep the reps low. Finally, when it comes to kettlebells it’s worth it for you to work with a person who is certified in how to use kettlebells properly.

Here is a sample circuit that you can implement into your workouts.

Warm up (Always warm up properly before training)

A1) Kettlebell deadlift: four (4) sets of six (6) reps

A2) Band pull-ups: four (4) sets of AMGRAP (as many good reps as possible)

A3) Ab wheel rollout: 4 sets of 8 reps

Note: In the video I go very close to the ground. Beginners only need to go half way down. If you have ANY back pain or hip pain in this movement stop right away.

A4) Turkish get up: 4 sets of 3 reps per side.

Cool down

I hope you enjoyed the videos and make it a priority to get outside and do some training.

Follow Union fitness coach Kevin Miller on Twitter: @kmillertraining and on Instagram: kevinmillertraining. Also, Miller is a featured panelist on Philly.com's Sports Doc blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc). For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health