If there were a luckiest day on the calendar then one could strongly argue that for Philadelphia Union it is June 23rd. A quick dive into the archives shows that June 23rd has not one or two moments that are highlight worthy but five.
For starters, June 23rd is Union Head Coach Jim Curtin's birthday. Like the club he leads, Curtin worked his way up the pathway going from the Union Academy where he led the U-17s to the Generation adidas Cup title in 2012 to coaching on the sidelines for the MLS squad. Since taking the reins in 2014 as the interim coach and fully as manager a year later, Curtin has guided the Boys in Blue to new heights with the standards only getting higher as success follows.
Another off the pitch moment comes from Sebastian Le Toux, who was enshrined as the first member of the Ring of Honor on June 23, 2018. After a touching tribute from former teammates, Le Toux spoke to the crowd talking about countless memories wearing the Union badge before seeing his name forever hanging inside Subaru Park.
After Le Toux's passionate speech, the squad responded with three goals in the second half to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps by a 4-0 scoreline. That was the last match so far in Union history played on June 23rd but it continued not one but three traditions: Score a lot, someone gets a brace and the goalkeeper get a clean sheet.
The match played on June 23rd was back in 2012 as the squad battled Sporting Kansas City in Chester, PA. With only two wins under their belts so far in the campaign, the Union came out of the gates fast needing only 59 seconds to take the lead on a goal from Jack McInerney. Just before halftime, McInerney fought for a rebound to make it 2-0 at the break for just the seventh brace in club history at the time. Lionard Pajoy and Andrew Hoppenot added goals late in the contest to spark a streak that saw the Union win five of the next seven contests.
One year later, the Union faced off against rivals New York Red Bulls on ESPN and with it the prestige around June 23 grew. After Conor Casey's early goal was ruled offsides, he answered back moments later to make it 1-0 for the Union in the seventh minute of play. Like McInerney in 2012, Casey too got a brace with a smooth and calm finish in the 64th minute. The final dagger came late from once again Andrew Hoppenot who made it 3-0 in the 88th minute to improve the Union to 7-5-4 and tied for second place in the Eastern Conference.
After a five year gap, the Boys in Blue continued their winning ways in late June against the Whitecaps on Le Toux's special day. Midfielder Borek Dockal played the lead man on the day, putting the Union ahead in the 24th minute with a curling left-footed strike. Inspired by Le Toux's words and lively crowd, Dockal made it 2-0 for the third straight brace on the date. After Cory Burke was pulled down in the box, Ilsinho converted from the penalty spot in the 74th minute and Fafa Picault made it 4-0 with his own PK finish.