Union Get Improbable “Biggest Win in Their History”

Philadelphia Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta (left) and goalkeeper John McCarthy (right) celebrate Aristeguieta's game winning goal to end the penalty kicks against NY Red Bulls during a quarterfinal match of the US Open Cup at Red Bull Arena.

Philadelphia Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta (left) and goalkeeper John McCarthy (right) celebrate Aristeguieta’s game winning goal to end the penalty kicks against NY Red Bulls during a quarterfinal match of the US Open Cup at Red Bull Arena.

Fernando Aristeguieta buried it into the back of the net and ran toward the sideline. He embraced goalkeeper John McCarthy side-by-side, as the two waited for their teammates to join them.

The Union had just pulled off one of the more improbable victories in the team’s short history. And now Philadelphia was headed to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup once again.

In a knockout cup competition yesterday, the Union defeated the New York Red Bulls, 4-3, in a shootout, after the teams ended regulation and extra time tied at 1. Read more »

Union Just Benched $400K Goalkeeper

Apr 5, 2015; Kansas City, KS, USA; Confetti falls as Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi (92) reacts after allowing the game winning goal to Sporting KC forward Krisztian Nemeth (not pictured) during the second half at Sporting Park. Sporting KC defeats Philadelphia Union 3-2

Apr 5, 2015; Kansas City, KS, USA; Confetti falls as Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi (92) reacts after allowing the game winning goal to Sporting KC forward Krisztian Nemeth (not pictured) during the second half at Sporting Park. Sporting KC defeats Philadelphia Union 3-2

Last summer, the Philadelphia Union made a big deal for a goalkeeper: The team spent $400,000 in transfer fees to sign Raïs M’Bolhi, a goalie who made a big splash at the 2014 World Cup. Thanks to M’Bolhi’s efforts, eventual champions Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria.

The Union signed M’Bolhi to a three-year deal. Now, having played just nine games for the Union, M’Bolhi has been benched. Coach Jim Curtin wouldn’t say if M’Bolhi would ever return to the club, but it didn’t sound like it from his comments at the press conference today. John McCarthy will be the Union’s new starter in net.  Read more »

Next Time the Eagles Want a New Stadium, They May Have to Pay for It Themselves

Taxpayers and local governments have been subsidizing pro-sports stadiums since the Reagan years, and as the decades pass, the subsidies have only gotten bigger. During the 1990s, construction of new sports stadiums cost the public an average of $142 million per facility. By 2010, that number had increased 70 percent to $241 million. The luxe new Yankee Stadium was built with $322 million in public subsidies. Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park were not exceptional ($256 and $229 million in public costs, respectively), both funded by a 50-50 public and private split.

Economists and social scientists are scornful of these enormous subsidies. Plentiful research has shown that stadiums rarely produce the anticipated return on investment for the surrounding area, in terms of jobs and ancillary profits (in restaurants, hospitality, etc.). As Pacific Standard wrote in 2013: Read more »

Philly’s 10 Best Pro Athletes on Twitter

References to the Almighty God. Mentions of Jesus Christ. Bible verse citations. Heads up about heading into practice. Vague references to “grinding” and/or “putting in work.” Thanking Uber for the ride. The Twitter lives of many Philadelphia professional athletes can be pretty banal.

But that doesn’t mean all of them are social media dullards. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 Philly jocks who make it a point to bring their best game on Twitter — follow-worthy, all of them.

Read more »

Union Likely to Miss Playoffs After Goalie’s Embarrassing Gaffe

In a fitting climax to their season, the Philadelphia Union gave up a late goal against the Chicago Fire last night — pretty much ensuring the team will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in its five years of existence.

The Union were unlikely to make the playoffs anyway. With just four games left coming into last night’s game against the Fire, the Union sat three points out of a playoff position. It was generally agreed upon that the Union needed to win last night’s game against the ninth-place Chicago Fire in order to have any chance at going to the playoffs.

And it looked like they would! In the 88th minute, Amobi Okugo pounced on a ball in the box and fired it into the net to give the Union a 1-0 lead. The playoff hope was alive! Until a horrific error from the Union’s new goalkeeper cost the team the game.

Read more »

Philadelphia Union Fall in U.S. Open Cup Final

eattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey (2) shoots and scores in during overtime in the U.S. Open Cup final against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.

eattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey (2) shoots and scores in during overtime in the U.S. Open Cup final against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.

CHESTER, Pa. — If you didn’t think the Union were a Philadelphia sports team before, now you have empirical proof.

The Union missed two great chances to win the U.S. Open Cup final late in regulation before Clint Dempsey scored for the Seattle Sounders in the first 15 minutes of extra time. The Union eventually lost, 3-1, after leading 1-0 at halftime in front of a spirited PPL Park crowd of 15,256.

The loss also cost the Union $190,000, as the winner took home $250,000 — and the loser just $60,000.

Read more »

Philadelphia Union Reach U.S. Open Cup Final

The above tweet is not a typo. The Philadelphia Union are in the championship! “Already?” you might be asking. “It’s only August! Doesn’t the soccer season run into the fall?” Yes, it does. And the Union still sit in fifth place MLS’ Eastern Conference. But the team is also in the championship!

For the uninitiated, let’s explain: After the the game ended 1-1 in regulation and extra time, the Union defeated FC Dallas, 4-3, in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. C’mon! Even if you’re not that interested in soccer, as a Philadelphian you should always get excited for wins over teams from Dallas.

So, yeah, the U.S. Open Cup. Soccer is weird: Domestic soccer leagues run concurrently with a completely separate cup competition, which in the U.S. is a straight knockout competition. Yes, if you’re a soccer fan you get to look at brackets all year! It’s fun. Winning the U.S. Open Cup wouldn’t be as prestigious as qualifying for the playoffs and winning the MLS Cup, but it counts as an all-important “domestic trophy” nonetheless. (Yes, another cool thing about soccer is there are several chances to win championships in a season.)

Read more »

Meet Jake Panasevich, Yoga Trainer for the Philadelphia Union

Jake teaching a class for the Union // Photo via Facebook

Jake teaching a class for the Union // Photo via Facebook

You might’ve seen Jake Panasevich around before. He teaches at Maha Yoga on 16th and Sansom, writes about yoga for U.S. News, and was recently featured in Men’s Health. For the past six months, he’s also been the yoga trainer for the Philadelphia Union, Philly’s Major League Soccer team. If you’re sitting there thinking, ”That’s cool, but what the heck is a yoga trainer?” trust me, you’re not alone.

I chatted with Jake last week to learn a little more about what exactly a yoga trainer for a pro sports team does, how a regular practice has been received by the players, and why yoga is so darn important for cross-training.  Read more »

Philly Sole: A Look at Soccer Star Maurice Edu’s 400-Pair Sneaker Collection

Edu-marquee

Maurice Edu’s collection goes from sporty to splashy. | Photo by Victoria Stern.

Philadelphia basketball sneaker sales have risen 17 percent in the last year, and I have an inkling as to why. In a sneaker-obsessed city, Maurice Edu, midfielder for the Philadelphia Union, might be the biggest sneakerhead in town. His Center City apartment is filled with them—cobalt blue studded Louboutins, leopard-print Guiseppe Zanottis—and this is only a mere fraction of his collection. I talked with Edu about his love of sneakers at his Center City apartment, and got a look at some of his favorite, most splashy pairs.

Click here to for an inside look at his collection.

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