It’s a date that holds a great amount of significance in the short history that is the Union.
On this date in 2009 the club announced its arrival into the Philadelphia sports landscape along with its name, insignia and team colors. In a ceremony held in front of City Hall, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter along with Union brass ushered in the latest installment of major professional soccer in Philadelphia – a 29-year wait for soccer faithful, many who were too young to remember Fury teams of the late 1970s (1978-80) and the Atoms team that famously lifted the NASL title in 1974.
The team’s name was actually chose through a three-week online fan vote and many of those fans (along with members of the Polish-American string band) descended en masse upon City Hall to celebrate the City of Brotherly Love becoming Major League Soccer’s 16th franchise.
MLS commissioner Don Garber kicked off the ceremonies to a rousing applause which quickly turned to boos after he quipped:
“You might like me now, but you may not like me as much when we suspend one of your players.”
On a positive Garber later added:
“When this league was founded, one of the things we always talked about was that we knew we needed to put a team in this region…everyone worked hard to give you [fans] an iconic name and an iconic logo that represents all the great traditions for the sport and all the great traditions for this city.
Two years later on the same night, it was a Union player making headlines as former forward Danny Mwanga became the star of the show in a 1-1 draw with a David Beckham-less Los Angeles Galaxy. Mwanga scored the equalizer in the 87th minute, nullifying a first half goal from Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan.
It was Mwanga smartly taking advantage of a miscue in the back from Galaxy defender Sean Franklin, whose weak pass back to goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was gobbled up but the speed of Mwanga who used a deft move to elude Ricketts, square his hips and slot a far post goal home sending PPL Park into frenzy.
It was Mwanga’s first goal of the season and one that sparked his five goals that year.
The Union travel to Chicago Friday for a Saturday afternoon showdown with the Fire (1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network).
Oh and in case you needed reminding – that’ll be on Saturday, May 11.
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org