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The Union

Started on 12 March 2015 by InvertedWingbacks
Latest Reply on 18 March 2015 by Feliks
  • POSTS11
  • VIEWS6092


The tarmac crunched beneath my feet, each step breaking the thin film of frost which lay upon it. It wasn’t unusual for there to be snow in January, but even so, the City felt cold. As I walked, I became aware of someone watching me, matching my every step from the other side of the road. I stopped, lighting up a cigarette, and my shadow made an excellent diversion, stopping for a newspaper. I shook my head. I was probably just paranoid.

Up ahead, I saw the bridge I had been instructed to find, and I pulled out my cell phone to ring my contact. After just two rings, I was connected

”You found us okay then?” I heard the voice twice. Once in my ear, the other, from the man with the newspaper across the road. As he turned, I realised that what I thought was a potential criminal was, in fact, a well dressed businessman, wearing a hooded jumper as protection from the biting cold. As he crossed the road, a sleek, black car pulled up alongside me, and I was gestured into the back seat.

”So, Mr. Young; how does it feel to be away from Seattle?”

”Well, It’s not a massive deal, to be honest. My family still haven’t noticed…”

”Families, Eh? Who’d have em”

The rest of the journey was spent in silence, and with the windows blacked out, I had no view of where we were going. All I knew was that this man had torn me away from my cozy job in the sun of Seattle, coaching high-school kids on the right way to play soccer.

Eventually, the car pulled to a stop, and the door was opened. Above me, the Commodore Barry bridge stretched across the Delaware River. The view was absolutely breathtaking, and I had to stop for a moment to take it all in.

As we stepped inside, I was awestruck. If this was to be my new office, I’d take any offer I could get!

Welcome To Philadelphia Union, Mr Young.
looking good tat! cant wait to read more

Philadelphia Union. My new workplace, and by all accounts, one of the youngest teams in the MLS.

“Despite being one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country and a top-five media market, the Philadelphia area was not represented when Major League Soccer kicked off in 1996. The first effort to bring soccer to the Delaware Valley commenced in 2001, when a group of investors attempted to bring an MLS franchise to Trenton, New Jersey. The centerpiece of their efforts was a $31 million soccer-specific stadium to be built across the street from the Sun National Bank Center and with access to the under-construction NJ Transit River Line. The proposed Trenton MLS team was to have been named "Union FC." However, MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls) held the right to block a franchise in Trenton, as it would infringe on their 75-mile competition-free zone.
Five years later, plans were in place to construct a 20,000-capacity stadium on the campus of Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. The stadium would serve as the home field for both an MLS expansion club and Rowan's football team. Ultimately, $100 million in state bonds to fund the stadium and various other improvements on the Rowan campus were dropped by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. Shortly after the Rowan proposal fell through, Keystone Sports & Entertainment (the group that would eventually own the Union) looked at a site underneath the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, Pennsylvania to develop a soccer-specific stadium.
In 2007, the Sons of Ben supporter group formed and began advocating for Major League Soccer to award Philadelphia an expansion team. They are credited with convincing the league that the area already had an established fan base for soccer.
Major League Soccer added Philadelphia as its sixteenth team on February 28, 2008.] The finalization of the club was the result of a $47 million package approved by Delaware County politicians and Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, that included the cost of PPL Park and a major urban renewal project.”

I leant back in my seat...what an education Wikipedia could give a man!
What really stood out though, was the complete lack of any trophy. That would be a long-term goal for me: to fill the trophy cabinet that currently stood empty. And, the board, mostly, wanted me to do that with American players. Home-grown American players.


Union Starting X (4-2-3-1)I: M’Bolhi, Williams, Vitoria, White, Gaddis, Nogueira, Edi, Le Toux, Pfeffer, Wenger, Casey (c)

We came into this game as overwhelming favourites, despite me only having been in charge for a day. I knew my manager’s introduction was straight after this game, so It was key to get a good start to pre-season with a win here.

After a chat with my backroom staff, I fielded what we considered was our best team - to get a feel for the highest quality this club has to offer, but we did make one concession: Zach Pfeffer. Until yesterday, he had been training with the reserves, but i’d seen enough in training to warrant calling him up into the squad. It would be interesting to see how he linked in with the senior players, especially after two years on loan at Hoffenheim.

We started brightly, and within 10 minutes, we were 3-0 up. Well-worked team goals from Le Toux, Wenger and Casey had Lone Star on the back foot. I was incredibly pleased with what I was seeing, as we kept the ball well, and held firm at the back.

After a frantic opening 10, the pace of the game slowed, as we held possession in midfield, and toyed with our opponents a bit. I shook my head: it’s one thing to be confident...It’s something else entirely to disrespect the other side by humiliating their players. Conor Casey struck a 4th goal for us just before half-time, and we were cruising.

Half Time Subs On: Paul Horst, Paul Zewe, Fabinho, Brian Carroll, Danny Cruz, C.J. Sapong
Half Time Subs Off: Ray Gaddis, Maurice Edu, Andrew Wenger (inj), Sebastien Le Toux, Sheanon Williams, Ethan White

Two of my half-time subs were youngsters we’d just brought from the Academy: Horst and Zewe. Two defenders who were showing incredible potential. Some of the scouts reckoned we’d have been better keeping them at the Academy, but I wasn’t going to run the risk of losing them in the Draft. Both would get better training and tutelage at the senior side, and playing in the reserves.

Danny Cruz, our 24 year old right winger, made an instant impact after half-time, firing in a long range shot to take the score to 5-0. I was impressed by the technique and discipline we were showing, but as Steven Vitoria scored our 6th, I did have a niggling concern about how we would react against a bigger side. As Conor Casey scored again to bring up his hat-trick, Aaron Wheeler replaced him for the last 10 minutes, and our Captain took his standing ovation from the fans.

Full Time: Philadelphia Union 7-0 Junior Lone Star

Goals: Le Toux, Casey (x3), Wenger, Cruz, Vitoria
Man of the Match: Conor Casey (9.8)
I am excited to see how this story develops... good luck!


As the fans partied above us, and the players celebrated in the dressing room, it was my time to face the media. Soccer may not be a big sport in the US yet, but it’s popularity was growing, and the packed press room was testament to that.

No sooner had I sat down, than the questions began

Tony, How does it feel to be sat here as manager of an MLS Club?
”I wont lie, Its an honour. While this is still a very young club, I already feel great pride in it, and great hope for what we can achieve here.”

What’s your philosophy? How can we expect to see the team play?
”You saw what happened up there just now, yeah? Passing play, quick attacking and some deadly finishing? Hopefully, like that!”

And in terms of your signings; what kind of player are you looking for?
”I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know at the moment. This season is going to be about finding young talents from our Academy; rough diamonds who just need a little polishing. I will be focusing on homegrown talents, rather than spending huge amounts on Foreign players for the squad.”

With Three months until your opening game against Portland Timbers, how are you planning on getting your team ready?
”The best way to get a team ready for a season is to get them playing regular football. We have 8 friendly matches arranged between now and then, and if we can fit more in, we will be - the more the team plays as a unit, the better prepared we’ll be for Portland”

The interrogation lasted around an hour, and by the time I was done, my team were ready to celebrate. Waiting for me outside the press room, they all gathered round to congratulate me, and welcome me to the club in their own special way - a dunk in the ice bath that Andrew Wenger had been given for his injury!
Quality writing! Really liking this so far, interesting to see an MLS story

My first month as a professional manager, and I probably couldn’t have asked for an easier start.

Our second game with me in charge, against Philadelphia Fury, was a roaring success. We continued to experiment with personnel and tactics, and it paid off, with 5 different players scoring, as we roared to a 9-0 victory.

Morale was high, but when we welcomed our Academy players in the next game, we faced a tougher test than I was anticipating. We had to wait almost 40 minutes for our opening goal, with defender Ethan White jumping highest to latch onto Brian Brown’s corner, and he powered a header into the bottom corner. Young Striker Terry Torres pulled our Academy level with a wonderful strike after 66 minutes, and as a whole, his performance was eye-catching. Probably the finest youngster on the pitch, he didn’t stop running, and amazed many with his skill. It took until the 80th minute for us to hit a winner, when Brazillian midfielder Fred beat two defenders to slot home for a 2-1 victory.

For the final match of the month, we travelled to Richmond, to face Richmond Kickers. This game was slightly easier, with Argentinian left winger Christian Maidana opening the scoring with a powerful freekick, as our first-half performance exuded confidence. In the second half, Kickers pulled one back through an Eli Garner penalty, and for a few minutes, it looked like they might find a way back into the game. But 21 year old Brian Brown, who is at the club on loan from Harbour View, scored twice from midfield, with C.J Sapong rounding off the scoring with a long-range effort.

Player Of The Month: Brian Brown

With 6 goals in 2 matches, Brian has to be this month’s player of the month. The loanee midfielder has really impressed this month, with powerful midfield performances, and an excellent attitude in training, I have been very impressed with the youngster, and hope his performances continue.

Next Month’s Fixtures

More friendlies, as we look to get prepared for the start of the MLS Season: these games will be the definitive test of our stature as a club, and hopefully provide momentum going into opening day.
Good luck TaT, a good start and I'm looking forward to seeing this story develop. MLS can be tricky, so I hope you can master it with the Union. :)

Another solid month of us, as we approach the start of the season with increasing pace. I was impressed by our performances in each match, and all in all, pre-season so far has been good for us, and i’m more confident about the new season.

Our opening game of the month, away from home against New York Cosmos, could have been tricky for us, but we were impressive overall, with a good defensive performance balanced by some venom in attack. Maurice Edu opened the scoring on 20 minutes, with an impressive drive from the edge of the area which caught the Cosmo’s keeper unawares. Our second came through a Sebastian Le Toux penalty after 51 minutes. Overall, we put on a good show and I’m very pleased with the level of performance we have displayed.

The good form continued against Ottawa Fury, as we rolled him with a 4-0 victory. C.J Sapong was on fire, with a double on 7 and 21 minutes, as he stunned to Fury defence with an all-action performance. Cristian Maidana was the next name on the scoresheet as he tapped in from close-range to extend our lead to 3-0 after just 23 minutes. French winger Sebastian Le Toux rounded off an explosive first half performance with a volley after 29 minutes. The second half was uneventful, and yet again, we impressed with the quality of our play.

Once again, Cristian Maidana was on fire against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, scoring on 9 and 11 minutes as we raced into a comfortable 2-0 lead. Our passing was slick, and we kept the ball well for the entire game. Brian Brown scored again after 16 minutes, and the Jamaican rounded out the scoring after 44 minutes with a well-placed shot. I must admit, we’ve been impressive, sealing games in the first half, and holding on to the lead in the second half. Two 4-0 wins on the bounce have really upped morale in the camp.

Our final game of the month was slightly less impressive, as we stumbled through a 2-2 draw with Harrisburg City Islanders. Brian Brown scored both of our goals, after 18 and 38 minutes respectively. However, while we tried to protect that lead in the second half, Islanders found their way back into the game, with goals from Garret Pettis and Jason Pelletier.

Overall, our final month of pre-season was impressive, and with only one more game in pre-season before we travel to Portland for our opening game, keeping our momentum is critical at this stage.

Player Of The Month: Brian Carroll

An impressive month for our club captain, and clubs across America are chasing the 32 year old. The biggest cog in our engine room, Carroll has a huge role to play in the coming months. It is telling to me that the one game he didn’t start is the one we didn’t win this month.

Next Month’s Fixtures

A big month for us as we look to get our MLS season off to a solid start. With the pre-season we’ve had, i’m quietly confident about our first month of competitive football.
Good stuff, good luck in the MLS!

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