Union set to open doors to Valencia

Assistant coach Hackworth thrilled to welcome Spanish giants

What do the Boston Red Sox, U2 and Valencia C.F. all have in common? They’ll be in Philadelphia this summer.

The 2007 World Series champions will be in town for a nice weekend series with the Phillies in June. That’ll be followed by Bono and his chart-topping band rocking Lincoln Financial Field in July. The latest addition to the list is storied Spanish soccer club, who will be making a trip to PPL Park to take on the Philadelphia Union on an unannounced date.

Currently vying for a spot in next season’s Champions League, Valencia have always been one of the most successful clubs in all of Spain.

The team known as Los Che have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies and a UEFA Cup. And Union assistant coach John Hackworth couldn't be happier to welcome them to Philly.

“We’re very excited about that,” said Hackworth in a conference call. “I know one of the things that [team CEO] Nick Sakiewicz is trying to do is make sure that in building our club, it’s almost the same way as looking at our development. We need to develop our club, we need to give our fans as many opportunities to see the highest level soccer possible and our fans are very hungry for that.”

Boasting three impressive Spanish national-team Davids -- Villa, Silva and Albelda -- among others, Valenica certainly have world-class talent for which Hackworth hungers. In bringing their act to Philadelphia, the Spanish club will not only promote their brand of football to the United States, but will give the Union a tough test midway through their inaugural season.

“Having the opportunity to play a game like this is pretty amazing," Hackworth said. "It’s also a little tough because you’re doing it in the middle of your season, but we’re very excited to have one of the best teams in Spain here. They’re in a qualification spot for the Champions League next year. They have some great players, some players I’ve coached against at the national-team level.”

For Hackworth, it doesn't matter where the team comes from as long as Philly fans and media get exposed to the caliber of play.

“The idea was to try and get the best possible opponent for us to play so that our club grow and our fan base could be exposed to these kind of games,” said Hackworth. “Whether those teams come from Germany or England or Holland or Italy or Spain, it’s irrelevant.”