MLS Cup champion and two-time MLS All-Star Alecko Eskandarian joined the Union as Youth Technical Director on June 15. After a month on the job, Eskandarian checks in with an update before the Union academy takes on Everton's U-18 squad, currently the top youth team in England, on July 20 at PPL Park.
The Philadelphia Union Academy is extremely excited about the opportunity to play against a prominent EPL squad like Everton. Our entire staff has been working hard to bring together the best group of players available for this match and things have been great thus far. The training sessions are getting sharper each day and the players have been fantastic in terms of their commitment, attitude, and work ethic. Everyone is excited about the match, as it’s not every day that you get to play against a top team from England in your home stadium.
The players were rewarded for their hard work with a quick visit to PPL Park last Friday to check out the stadium and take head shots that will be put up on the scoreboard for the match. It was a great experience for them, and it will be an even better experience when they take the field in front of all the Philadelphia Union supporters on July 20th. We are all anxious to see where we measure up against one of Europe's best, and I'm sure our players will be ready and motivated to represent the Union Academy.
Head coach Jim Curtin and his staff have been doing a tremendous job preparing our players for the match and the training sessions have been sharp. In the first week of training our emphasis was mostly on technical work and playing in small spaces, before finishing up each session with a big game to goals. Most of our drills are set up to put our players in pressure situations that will force them to think, as well as seeing which players are versatile and can play in more than one position.
All in all, it has been a very positive week and I can't say enough about the effort from both the players and staff. We are looking forward to progressing as we prepare for this match vs. Everton, as well as the Generation Adidas Cup in Dallas in the last week of July.