The Union have been so pleased with their 16-day camp in Crete that there’s talk of expanding the relationship with Greek host Ergotelis F.C.
Philadelphia CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz and the club's hosts were treated to a nine-course traditional Greek feast on Thursday at the Galaxy Hotel, where the Union are based in Heraklion.
“We've been overwhelmed by the quality of this camp,” said Sakiewicz. “All of our hosts have been incredibly hospitable, including city officials, Ergotelis FC, the Sports and Stadium Authority, and our incredible sponsor Colonial Marble & Granite. The trip has been everything we could have hoped for to prepare the team for a long MLS season.”
Sakiewicz took the opportunity to thank their hosts during the dessert course, presenting autographed Union jerseys. The City of Heraklion also announced a gift of their own: absorbing the costs of Philadelphia utilizing Ergotelis’ training fields and stadium.
The relationship between Ergotelis and the Union began eight months ago, initiated by the Greek Super League side’s Head of PR Abroad Yianni Tsourakakis, who also serves as Colonial Marble's VP of Operations. On June 27, Ergotelis officials attended the first match at PPL Park as guests of the MLS side. Discussions continued for the next eight months, culminating in Philadelphia’s preseason trip overseas.
“[The Union coming to Heraklion] is a great honor for us as a club,” said Apostolos Papoutsakis, Ergotelis F.C. President/Owner. “It's a very good situation for both teams … I believe that this cooperation will expand.”
Philadelphia arrived in Heraklion on February 24, and have been training at Ergotelis’ facilities since then. The two clubs squared off in a friendly last Monday, a match that ended in a 1-1 draw after Carlos Ruiz notched his first goal for the Union.
While no formal partnership exists, the two clubs are exploring ways to continue working together in the future.
“I visited Heraklion in November and the experience I had from my first visit was very good,” said Diego Gutierrez, Union Head of Scouting and Player Development. “We decided to bring the team here for a stage of preseason preparation and have spoken with a number of people from Ergotelis during our stay. We’ve visited the Academy to see how it works.
“We'll see over time how we can work together on a number of levels.”