The Union will battle Swansea City AFC Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium in a midseason international friendly. Although the match is not a regular MLS game, it provides players with the opportunity to play against an English Premier League team and experience a different style of soccer.
Union players Jack Elliott, Jay Simpson and Aaron Jones have grown up watching EPL teams in their native country, and look forward to having a taste of home come to Philadelphia.
"Growing up, that's the league that we watched at home," said Jones. "For a team like Swansea to come over is a great opportunity for a united team to test themselves against such a good opponent."
Swansea City AFC finished 15th in the English Premier League last season, securing the team's seventh season in the EPL. Swansea became the first team from Wales to compete in the EPL since the league's creation in 1992.
For Simpson, an Arsenal product who played for six clubs in England, there's significant differences between playing for an EPL team and the MLS.
"The climate is a lot different," Simpson said. "Back home we don't play in the summer, we get a break. The temperatures are really high here and it's very hot."
Although the climate is much different in the US, Simpson believes it won't stop Swansea from giving their all, especially for their performance at the end of last season.
"They went on a great run towards the end of the season last year," Simpson said. "They've got some really good players. It'll be a preseason game for them, but a challenge for us."
During their most recent campaign, the Swans were led by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabinski, who started all 37 EPL games for Swansea in net. The defense was stapled by Alfie Mawson, Kyle Naughton and Federico Fernandez, all of whom played 27 games or more matches for the Swans on the backline. Up front, Fernando Llorente paced the Swansea with 15 goals in 33 matches.
Elliot is another player who grew up watching the Welsh EPL team. He believes the experience is going to be incredible, especially having top players come to Philadelphia and play on American soil.
"It's going to be a good experience and I'm looking forward to it," Elliot said. "It'll be good to compare myself to see how I matchup against guys of top class."