Union Players Excited for PPL Park Opener

Technically, Major League Soccer players have a two week break for the opening round of the World Cup.

But it’s not like the players are going on vacation. Not when they’ve only played a small portion of their 2010 schedule.

Despite a 2-7-1 record in the Union’s inaugural season, there’s reason for optimism with 13 of the club’s 20 remaining league matches at home, highlighted by the debut of PPL Park when Seattle Sounders FC visit on June 27.

Oh, what a day that’s going to be.

Before the landmark day arrives, there is the matter of dealing with the World Cup break. It’s critical that Philadelphia spends the break preparing for the rest of the season, rather than getting rusty from the lack of game action.

So how are the Union players handling the situation?

The stories from those who were polled are pretty alike.

“I’m staying in shape with training and keeping my workout regimen going,” said Captain Danny Califf. “You can’t lose sight of the long-term goals. It’s important to stay fit like we have all season. We have worked too hard up to this point to let it go now. I will also spend time with my family and watch the World Cup. I have international experience, so of course I’m excited for the World Cup.”

Sebastien Le Toux echoed similar thoughts.

“I am enjoying this new stadium and meeting with the fans,” Le Toux said during the recent PPL Park Founding Member Open House and World Cup Viewing Party. “I will train and stay in the best shape possible. We have a lot of games left with a lot of matches at home. We have to be in shape no matter where we play. It will be nice to be home. I will also be watching World Cup matches. I love all soccer, so it’s fun to watch and see how teams around the world are doing.”

Union forward Alejandro Moreno said that the World Cup hiatus came at a perfect time.

“We have some guys nicked up with nagging injuries,” Moreno said. “I think it will be a chance to get healthy and re-energized for the rest of the season. I think the players are all excited to start playing many of these matches at home. I think this club is very focused on what’s at stake. While we’ll all be watching the World Cup, myself included, we won’t lose sight of the task of preparing for the remainder of the season. This is a special season for this franchise and we want to make the most of it.”

The common theme is this: there is no real break. Whether it’s one day off or two weeks away, too many important MLS matches loom for the Union in 2010.

“We’re excited to see how this club improves, and I think we all know how much talent is on this club,” Califf said. “The PPL Park opener is a start, and we’ll go from there. I know how excited I am.”

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