Lee Marshall: The coach behind the Philadelphia Union’s second successive River Cup victory on Sunday has praised those in attendance at PPL Park after the club smashed its target to beat last year’s fundraising total.
The inaugural River Cup game in summer 2011 raised more than $19,000 for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which in-turn provides a wide range of opportunities for children across the local community.
But following Sunday’s showpiece event which saw the club’s front office, technical staff and VIP guests defeat the club’s official supporters group, Sons of Ben, 2-0 to retain the trophy, the Philadelphia Union Foundation now stands set to raise in excess of $30,000.
Cup-winning coach and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, Rick Jacobs, said: “When keeping it in perspective, bringing in 600 spectators to PPL Park in a bid to shed a light on the Foundation and raise awareness is very rewarding.
“But our aim is not only raise awareness levels, it’s also to raise funds and while the tally isn’t final yet, I’m delighted that we’re well over our target and set to be north of $30,000.
“I have to thank the Sons of Ben and loyal friends and family that came down to PPL Park on Sunday.
“I’m also immensely grateful to the people here who donated their time so generously to support the event – the front office staff, technical staff, the people of Global Spectrum and Ovations, the Wives and Friends group who held a very successful bake sale and raffle, and, of course, the players who made an effort to come down and show their support. Everyone combined to make it a great success.”
While raising both funds and awareness, the game also showcases the special relationship between the Union and its loyal legion of supporters, with both teams contributing to an entertaining game which eventually went the way of the Union Front Office.
CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz was joined in that team by Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Reuben Amaro Jr, Union team manager John Hackworth and coaching staff including Rob Vartughian, Brendan Burke and former MLS All-Star Jim Curtin in the Union side, with a squad of almost 30 players matched by the Sons of Ben roster.
Front office member Nico Abelenda, who opened the scoring in last year’s 2-1 victory, did so again after stealing a yard inside the box to neatly prod home in the first half, before assistant coach Burke – who later left the field through injury – turned well to rifle home from a second half corner to seal victory.
Union goalkeeper Mike Quarino also played a notable role in the win, saving a second half penalty before pulling off a string of fine saves.
“The Sons of Ben were a talented and committed group so I’m proud of the effort and spirit that we showed,” added Jacobs, who has overseen the development of around 40 fledgling professionals across 30 years of coaching experience.
“The early roots of when this game was first created by founding members of the club and Sons of Ben shows just how different our relationship is compared to other teams in MLS. The River Cup underlines its power.
“We want to continue to build on what we’ve achieved and are looking forward to next year as the event continues to grow.”
To make a donation to the Philadelphia Union and make a difference to children across the community, please visit www.philadelphiaunion.com/foundation.