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Archive for the ‘Union’ Category

Union fall to Manchester United 1-0; still a good week overall

Posted by Zolo the Trollo On July - 22 - 2010

The Philadelphia Union are the youngest team in MLS this year.  Going into an international friendly, everyone knew the reserves would be getting some time, so that meant the U would be even younger for the matchup against Man U.

Coming off of their first win over Celtic last week, their first win against a European club, and a big MLS win against Toronto on Saturday,  the Union were looking forward to the challenge.

Since Man U has such a huge and dedicated (read: bandwagon) fan base, the game was played at Lincoln Financial Field to hold the 44,000+ that attended.  Many expected the Red Devils to wipe the pitch with the Union, but the “hosts” were more than up to it.

For 2/3 of the match, the Union controlled the game. Both teams had a few chances to score,  but the Union & United defenders kept the match scoreless until the 75th minute, when a bad turnover by the Union led to an easy goal for Man U. That would be the only goal of the match and it ended with the final score 1-0 in favor of Manchester United.

Even with the loss, the Union has to be happy with the way that they played the past week. Getting the win over Celtic was huge, especially coming in front of their real home fans at PPL Park. Doesn’t count in the standings, but it counts in the perception of the Union. Stealing a win over Toronto with a late PK goal by Le Toux was great, after losing their last MLS match late against San Jose. Losing by 1 to Man U, especially with so many youngsters playing for the good guys, is another big step. They controlled the game for the most part and easily could have emerged with a tie, or even a win.

Now, with the friendlies over for a bit, the Union will get back to focusing on MLS. They currently sit at 7th in the Eastern Conference with 14 points, ahead of only DC United. With 9 home games left in the second half, the Union could climb up the ladder pretty easily. This team clearly plays better in front of their home fans, and this backloaded schedule could help a lot. Having 10 days off after a couple of busy weeks will also help.

Being an expansion team in any sport is tough, but the Union are making big strides so far and will only get better as they gain experience.

Yay or Nay?: The Sons of Ben’s “You suck, asshole!” chant.

Posted by Zolo the Trollo On July - 20 - 2010

In the short time that the Philadelphia Union has been around, the Sons of Ben have made their presence known. Hell, they were making their presence known all over MLS even before Philly had a team.

With six home games under their belt, the SOBs are starting to become more and more organized in their chants and songs.  (Little disclaimer: I am a member of the group and do sit in the supporter’s section, but I’m a rookie.) The group is getting louder and louder and gets recognition on TV at least a few times a game. It’s a great thing to see the group growing.

However, one chant in particular has seemed to rile a few feathers. I’ll let the video show you.

(Video from greggyd717)

I think it’s all harmless fun and you’ll hear much worse language at any other sporting event in Philly. The fact that this chant has a couple thousand people yelling “asshole” at the same time is what’s likely bothering some people.

This had led to an active discussion over at the Sons of Ben section on the Big Soccer forums. While the foul language is one issue, it seems that the lack of originality is a big factor as well. As the SOBs get more experience, I’m sure there will be more original chants, but for the time being, simple chants like this will get more involved.

When it comes down to it, I think it’s all just simple fun and people in the other parts of the stadium seem to get a little chuckle at the fact that 2,000+ are calling the GK an asshole.

By Philly standards, it’s pretty tame, in my opinion, what do you think?

(Photo: Flickr users nils9three & dangorman16)

Union open PPL Park with a Sound(ers) defeat of Seattle

Posted by Kieran Kelly On June - 27 - 2010

MwangaGoalSeattle.jpgAfter playing 2 home games at Lincoln Financial Field and their other 9 games on the road, the Philadelphia Union finally got a chance to make their real home debut at PPL Park today.

In front of a sold out crowd of 18,755, the Union opened up their new home against last year’s expansion club, the Seattle Sounders. In the season opener for both clubs, the Sounders shut out the Union, 2-0.

The Union’s youth would play a big part in this game, as they looked a lot more energetic than Seattle in the second half on this 90+ degree day in Chester.

After falling down 1-0 on a Seattle goal right before the end of a Union dominated first half, the U came out in the 2nd half looking to even the match. With Alejandro Moreno being dragged down in the box, the Union were awarded a penalty kick. Sebastian Le Toux, clearly the man of the match, knocked home the PK and the match was all squared up.

Seattle was awarded a PK not more than 5 minutes later, it looked like the Union would fall behind again. Much maligned GK Chris Seitz came up huge and made the save on the penalty and kept the match tied up.

The Union pushed the ball up the field repeatedly in the second half and were clearly the more offensive team. With repeated chances in their offensive end, it seemed as it was inevitable that the Union would take the lead.

In the 79th minute, on one of his numerous advances down the field, Le Toux sent a cross that Fred “Too good for a last name” banged home for the eventual game winning goal. Fred was brought in to be an offensive force, and it’s good for him to finally get on the scoresheet in 2010.

The Union weren’t done with the scoring, however. Rookie phenom Danny Mwanga, on yet another cross from Le Toux, sent a shot that Seattle GK Kasey Keller stopped originally, but Mwanga knocked home the rebound for his 4th goal of the season. Incredibly, it was his first goal that wasn’t scored in stoppage time.

WIth the 3-1 win over Seattle to go with the 3-2 win over D.C. United and the 1-1 tie with F.C. Dallas, the Union managed to stay undefeated at home in their inaugural season.

With their record now at 3-7-1, the Union face Chivas USA in their next match. While the U has the youngest roster in MLS, as the season progresses, they keep getting better. Today’s match was clearly the type of match that manager Peter Nowak is looking for. After 11 matches under their belt, the experience is building and the team is starting to come together.

On a related note, the Sons of Ben sounded fantastic on the national TV broadcast. I’ve got seats in The River End, but I was unable to attend tonight’s match. I’m glad to see that the SOBs made their presence known to the rest of the league. Can’t wait to join the party next time.

All in all, it was a great opener for the Union and PPL Park. Soccer has made a ton of noise in Philadelphia (& Chester) over the past few months, and I only see it getting louder as the season goes on.

Union stays unbeaten at home with a stoppage time goal

Posted by Kieran Kelly On May - 16 - 2010

FredFCDallas.jpgAfter winning their home opener against DC United, the Union went back on the road and, quite simply, didn’t play very good soccer. Red cards all over the place forced the U to play a man down in a few of those matches. They just looked like the young expansion team that they are.

Yesterday, the U finally came back home for their second game against FC Dallas in their “Where’s Waldo?” kits. While Dallas was tied for 5th in the Western Conference, this was a match the Union could definitely walk away from with 3 points.

With leading scorer Sebastien Le Toux back after missing a few games, the Union went on the offensive attack. They went down 1-0 in the 13th minute, but after that, Dallas changed their style and played to protect the lead, not increase it. That enabled the Union to get 21 shots off, but Dallas GK Kevin Hartman kept the U off the board with a few incredible saves.

Fast forward to stoppage time at the end of the 2nd half. First overall pick Danny Mwanga, inserted into the game in the 81st minute, finds himself all alone in the box with the ball after a corner and sends it past Harman for the tying goal. The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards, but I didn’t hear it, as the Sons of Ben were going crazy.

The Union played aggressively the entire match, but just weren’t able to get anything past Hartman. This was a match the Union should have gotten 3 points out of and were lucky to get draw at the end. They outplayed Dallas all over the field, but couldn’t finish their chances. The corner kicks, all 10 of them, just didn’t create an opportunity to finish. Definitely an area that needs improvement.

The U get a week off and then play in Houston on May 29th. With each game, the real home opener in Chester draws closer.

(Photo Credit: Ron Cortes, Philly.com)

Union to face Celtic on July 14th at PPL Park

Posted by Kieran Kelly On May - 11 - 2010

In a release sent out this morning, the Philadelphia Union announced that they will be playing a friendly against Scottish Premier League club Celtic F.C. on July 14th in Chester.

This match will take the place of the previously announced match against Spanish club Valencia C.F., which backed out of the agreement that had been in place. There had been talk of both clubs paying the Union, but Celtic is the only one scheduled as of right now.

This game will be “Game A” for those of you with season tickets. Game B has yet to be announced. Individual tickets to this match will be announced later this month.

Getting a game against Celtic is huge for the Union. They are a club with a huge following, not just in their home country, but around the world. This will bring a lot of exposure to the Union and will make the tickets to this match very hard to get. If the Union can attract big name clubs like this to play in friendlies every season, it will only help the team to get better and expand the Union’s following.

While these games obviously don’t count in the MLS standings, they are still a great experience for everyone involved. Hopefully the U can be competitive, keep all 11 on the field for the full 90 minutes, and put on a good show.

Union set to take on RBNY for the first time

Posted by Kieran Kelly On April - 24 - 2010

MorenoUnion.jpgComing off the rough loss to Toronto FC last week, the Union head up I-95 to take on Red Bull New York for the first time at brand new Red Bull Arena.

This should become one of the top rivalries in MLS, along with the Union and D.C. United. Funny that almost everyone agrees that the Union will instantly become part of the top rivalries in American soccer. Guess the league has been waiting on Philly just as long as Philly has been waiting on MLS to arrive.

In an interesting scheduling quirk, these two clubs will play twice in a span of 5 days. Today’s game is a regular MLS match, but the two teams also play on Tuesday the 27th in a preliminary for the U.S. Open Cup. Hell of a way to get a rivalry off the ground with two matches in 5 days.

Without Danny Califf for this game due to his clothesline of a Toronto player and subsequent red card, the U will have to step up. Calif shaved off his mohawk after that game, but hopefully that doesn’t turn down his aggressiveness. He sets the tempo for the Union’s physical play and he’ll be missed.

While GK Chris Seitz has gotten off to a rough start, letting in a few soft goals, he has the backing of Piotr Nowak as this team’s goalie. Seitz is young and will have some rough stretches, but so will the team as a whole. He’s got talent and will improve over the course of the season. RBNY is a tough team and will challenge him, but it will be up to the defense to help him out. That will be particularly difficult with Califf’s absence.

While the win over D.C. United was nice, it’s going to be hard for the Union to keep up with RBNY in this one. NY is off to a great start and will be taking on a Union team that is shorthanded. Nowak will have to make a choice on who will replace Califf, and it better not be Shavar Thomas. He came on late in the match against Toronto and looked terrible. He was way to slow and couldn’t preserve the tie.

The offense has looked like they’re starting to get comfortable up front after playing a few games. Sebastien Le Toux and Alejandro Moreno are playing very well and will be looked at to sore goals for this team all season.

With the Sons of Ben traveling up to Red Bull Arena, the Union will have a solid section of supporters for this match. It will be tough for this young Union team to keep up with RBNY. When you break it down though, these two teams have something very similar in common. Neither has won an MLS Cup.

Nowak will have his team prepared for this. He loves rivalries and will play this one up, just as he did the D.C. match. It will be a hard fought and physical game, but look for RBNY to take a close match.

Union look to steal 3 points on foreign soil

Posted by Kieran Kelly On April - 15 - 2010

The Philadelphia Union head north of the border for their first meeting with Toronto FC tonight. It’s going to be a season of firsts for the U, and coming off their first win, they  look to start their first winning streak.

After their sloppy win over Eastern Conference cellar dweller D.C. United, the Union has a very good shot at grabbing another 3 points in this match. Toronto has given up 6 goals in it’s two games so far this season and only scored once. With Sebastien Le Toux coming off the first ever (see a theme emerging here?) goal and hat-trick in Union history, he’ll be looking to continue that streak against Toronto. He’ll clearly be the focus of Toronto’s defensive strategy, but that should open up opportunities for Alejandro Moreno.  There should be more opportunities for Roger Torres and Fred to notch their first goals of the season as well. Toronto isn’t very solid on defense, so if the U keeps pushing, they should be able to score a few goals.

The defense didn’t have much of a challenge last week against United, but still gave up two goals. Even though Chris Seitz’ dropping of the ball should have been ruled interference, he should have never let that happen. The defense was under pressure from United at times, but held their own for the most part.

The home crowd in Toronto will make it difficult for the Union, but if they can grab an early goal and play their physical style, they might just be able to take the crowd out of the game. In their first road game against Seattle, a very young Union team folded under the pressure and was never really in the game. With two games under their belt now and an entirely different look, the U should be able to bring some points back from Canada with them.

Union brings soccer back to Philly in a big way

Posted by Kieran Kelly On April - 11 - 2010

IMG_0299.jpgHeading down to Lincoln Financial Field yesterday, I knew there would be a great crowd for the Philadlelphia Union home opener, but I had no idea it would be what it was.

Knowing a few of the Sons of Ben, I should have.

McFadens at CBP was packed with Signal Blue and cheers and chants going throughout the bar. While not a typical Philly tailgate, it was still a great atmosphere. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like at PPL Park when it finally opens.

With Joe Biden in attendance, everyone assumed security was going to be a nightmare, and it was. Even though I was in line to get into the game 45 mins prior to first kick, I still missed the first 18 mins of game play, along with the first goal in Union history. I wasn’t alone though, as about half of the crowd was outside of the stadium when the first goal was scored.

Even though the game may have gotten off to a rough start, the atmosphere inside the Linc was incredible, especially in the SoB section. I’ve never been a part of anything like what I experienced last night, but I can’t wait to do it again. It was a workout, but with the Sons of Ben leading the chants, the entire stadium started to join in as the game went on. The ultimate compliment came when the players climbed into the section at the conclusion of the match.

As expected, in a Philly vs. D.C. game, it was rough and physical throughout the game, with yellow cards flying all over the place. D.C. United even threw in a red card for good measure. This game set the stage for what is sure to be a top rivalry in MLS, and the Union getting the first win in the series is huge.

The play on the field wasn’t that great, with the U being the youngest team in the league and D.C. entering the game having not scored a goal in their first two games. Thankfully, Sebastien Le Toux was prepared, as he scored not only the first goal in Union history, but the second and third as well, to nab the hat trick. He saved his best for last however, a goal on a free kick in the 80th minute that gave the Union the win.

With one more game at the Linc and another chance to pack in 35,000+, the Union have plenty of time to improve before their 2nd home opener at PPL Park. While the Eagle’s home is a fantastic stadium when 70,000 people are jammed in, it just feels a bit cavernous when it’s only half full. The Union management did a great job of packing in the fans (and throwing the D.C. United fans all the way up in the corner), it still felt a bit too large. With PPL Park having a capacity 18,500, it will have a more intimate feel for the team and will most likely be even louder than the Linc was last night, which is hard to believe.

I never thought soccer could be this big in Philadelphia, but after this first game, I’ve got high hopes that the Union will find a permanent place in the local sports scene.

The Union home opener is a big f*cking deal

Posted by Kieran Kelly On April - 9 - 2010

Having the Philadelphia Union make their home debut in front of 30,000+ at Lincoln Financial Field was apparently a big enough event that Vice President Joe Biden will participate in the ceremonial First Kick.  After seeing President Obama throw a pitch last week in DC, I hope Biden has been practicing.

Even without the VP attending the game, this is a huge event for Philadelphia, not just for soccer fans, but everyone in the region. Having the ability to attract another major professional team to this area will only benefit everyone. Even though the team will be based in Chester, it’s kind of a good thing that the home opener will be in Philly. Being able to debut the franchise in a world class facility such as the Linc is incredible. I’m not knocking PPL Park here, I’m sure that will be great as well, but the Linc has already hosted several big soccer matchups in the past and this just adds to it.

The Sons of Ben will finally be able to cheer on the Union on home soil, and I’ll be right there with them. It is going to be a sight to see when the entire north end of the Linc is filled with Signal Blue and cheering on the U in unison.  After last week’s Phillies invasion of DC, the United supporters will be looking for revenge, but 500 in a sea of 30,000 won’t be anything to worry about.

This game has been in the works for a long time and it’s hard to believe that it’s finally here. It’s also great knowing that we’ll get to do it all over again in June for the opening of PPL Park.

If you’re going to the game tomorrow, make sure to watch this video so you know how to Doop.

Union sputter in their inaugural MLS showdown

Posted by Dany Sloan On March - 27 - 2010

The lead up to the first official match featuring Philadelphia’s MLS entry was a well-planned event, but despite the best of intentions, the Union’s debut didn’t live up to expectations.

The local side played well, but it all unraveled after the forty minute mark when Toni Stahl was sent off after being handed a red card. The second year Seattle Sounders sent off the Union 2-0 off of inspired performances from Brad Evans and Fredy Montero. The latter’s well-placed header could likely be the goal of the season – you need see this one to believe it.

Although the match didn’t start off well for the Union – Danny Califf got a yellow card in the first minute – the unit was able to hold its own against a much better and practiced Seattle side.

Despite giving up a goal to Brad Evans in the 12th minute, the team defended well and passed even better. While translating the expert passing into a defined attack remained a problem throughout the duration of the match, Michael Orozco got off an excellent strike that just missed finding the back of the net.

As the match wore, the deficiencies of the Union very much rose to the surface. The team fouled too much, coming up with six yellow cards and one red card at the end of regulation. A knee jerk supporter could claim that the ref had it in for the Union, and while some of the calls were questionable, Philly just played too rough.

The Union were also unable to translate their passing into effective strikes. Going into game two against DC United, the team is going to need to plan their attacks better and not just shoot when they’re in the vicinity of the net.

It wasn’t all bad for Philadelphia. Midfielder Roger Torres, on loan from Colombian side América de Cali, knew exactly what he was doing on the pitch. The 18-year old who is currently with Philly so he can see regular playing time, was absolute class and is an early bright spot in this very young season.

Former Seattle striker Sebastien Le Toux also looked excellent on the pitch. He had our only excellent shot at goal, but he was well offside.

While game one in the history of the Philadelphia Union wasn’t what the city had anticipated, supporters need to keep in mind that this is not only a new team, but also the youngest one in MLS. It’s likely going to be a very long season, but many of these early mistakes are easily correctable.

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