The Philadelphia Union are in their seventh season, and have yet to win a playoff game. The team has actually only qualified for the playoffs once in its history. This year, though, the Union have been at or near the top of the Eastern Conference standings for most of the season, and currently sit in fourth.
Yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia Union announced it had signed Ilsinho to a two-year contract using “Targeted Allocation Money” (I am not making this term up). The Union splashed the signing on their website and Twitter, dubbing him a “Brazilian international” as a way to hype him up even though he’s only played in one game for the national team, in 2007. (The Union played its first game in 2010.)
That’s quibbling, though. Ilsinho, a 30-year-old midfielder, used to play for Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk. He appeared in 19 games for Shakhtar in the UEFA Champions League, the league with the highest level of soccer in the world. He even scored a goal in the UEFA Champions League against heavyweights FC Barcelona. There was much reason to be excited about the signing. Read more »
From the frying pan into the fire?
The Philadelphia Union on Wednesday named Tim McDermott as their chief business officer. He comes from the 76ers, where he was chief marketing and innovation officer, and has previous experience working for the Eagles and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.
“Tim’s experience in the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL coupled with his knowledge of the Philadelphia market will enable him to serve as a tremendous business leader for the Union,” Philadelphia Union Chairman Jay Sugarman said in a statement. Read more »
Earnie Stewart, who played for the United States men’s national team for 14 years, has been named the Philadelphia Union’s new sporting director. He’ll begin his job on January 1st.
Stewart is a familiar name to fans of U.S. soccer, as he made 101 appearances for the national team from 1990 to 2004. He was elected to the U.S. soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. The midfielder was on the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup squads, and he scored the game-winner in the United States’ 2-1 upset of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup. Read more »
CBS 3 is reporting Philadelphia Union CEO and managing partner Nick Sakiewicz is out. Kevin Kinkead reports Union majority owner Jay Sugarman called a mandatory staff meeting today.
In an email to season ticketholders today, owner Jay Sugarman told fans:
We are making a change in the front office and parting ways with Nick Sakiewicz. In the interim, Dave Rowan, current Chief Revenue Officer, will oversee day to day business operations. Nick was instrumental in helping bring a team to Philadelphia and building our organization from the ground up, and we thank him for the dedication and perseverance he showed in those efforts and his passion for the club. Now it’s time for a new era of progress to begin.
The Union have largely underachieved in their six years in Chester, qualifying for the playoffs only once. The team has the second-longest playoff drought in MLS. The bright spots of the past two seasons have been the team’s thrilling runs to the finals of the U.S. Open Cup, the knockout competition that runs concurrently with the MLS season.
Unfortunately, last year the Union missed some late chances and lost to Seattle in extra time, 3-1. This year — on Wednesday night, actually —Sporting Kansas City and the Union tied at 1. The Union lost in a penalty shootout, 7-6, even though the Union players said they outplayed Kansas City throughout the match. “I say this very professionally: We kicked their butts,” Philly’s Michael Lahoud said. Read more »
Pity poor soccer. While the rest of the world can’t get enough of it, America blithely continues to thumb its nose at the sport, choosing instead to worship baseball, football, basketball and even ice hockey. This is dumb. Soccer has so much to recommend it. And tomorrow night at Chester’s PPL Park, Philadelphia’s very own professional soccer team, the Union, will be competing in the finals of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup, one of the oldest soccer competitions in the world. The Open Cup is very democratic, because it’s open to amateur as well as pro teams, and also very Republican, as it’s named for the younger brother (and Hill School grad!) of the famed Hunt Brothers silver-hoarding tycoons.
But you don’t care about that. You likely don’t even care that to the immense joy of U.S. soccer fans, the final match of this year’s Cup competition will be televised on ESPN2, which was not at all assured right up until last Friday. (It’s the first time ESPN has televised the final game since 1999.) And while the Union aren’t normally a powerhouse team, they have performed extremely well in Open Cups; last year, they lost in overtime in the finals to Seattle, which is a powerhouse team. This year, they’re playing Sporting Kansas City.
So, why should you spend your Wednesday night cheering for the Union? Here are great seven reasons why. Read more »
Soccer is a weird sport. Example one: The worst team in the league gets to play for a championship.
This isn’t like your rec basketball league, where everyone makes the playoffs — soccer leagues have concurrent knockout cup competitions that run alongside the regular season. And after last night’s victory over the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union are in the finals of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Union are actually next to last in the Eastern Conference, and they do have the fewest points per game in the league. No matter. Sebastien Le Toux’s goal in the 74th minute was all the Union needed to win their semifinal matchup. The Fire had just two shots on goal all game. The team hosts Sporting Kansas City in the final on September 30th. Read more »
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 »
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 »