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The Union are expanding their youth operation by partnering with YSC Sports to open up a brand new soccer academy that
masquerades as a high school is a high school.
You see, soccer, as a sport, places a large emphasis on homegrown talent and local academies. This is huge in Europe, but no so much in the US. It’s part of the reason why America doesn’t churn out the sort of soccer talent that other countries do. So, the effort by the Union to fill this learning gap is a noble one.
But let’s not confuse the goals here.
To the Press Release Takedown, a PRT!
Philadelphia Union and Official Youth Development Partner YSC Sports are excited to announce the launch of a new era in youth soccer development in the US with the opening of YSC Academy, a state of the art private school for 8th through 12th grade elite soccer players.
You know, the Chinese do this sort of thing with their gymnasts… and that always ends well:
Located adjacent to YSC Sports in Wayne, PA, YSC Academy is a college preparatory school that provides motivated youth soccer players the opportunity to pursue their dreams of playing professional soccer while engaging in a top-level education program that prepares them for life beyond the game.
Because when you’re an eighth grader and your parents send you to a specialized soccer school, it’s all about life beyond the game.
Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was excited to see this opportunity come together for Philadelphia youth players stating, “Congratulations to YSC Academy on this historic announcement. We are proud to be affiliated with such a top class group of educators and look forward to being the motivational inspiration to the students to achieve their dreams.”
To be able to bend it like Beckham.
All 33 students entering YSC Academy¹s inaugural year originate from Philadelphia Union¹s amateur youth soccer development programs, which are provided to selected youth players in the greater Philadelphia market free of cost. Student-athletes from the school will either play for their local club team or for Philadelphia Union amateur Academy squads (U14, U16 or U18). Some of YSC Academy student-athletes are also US National Team pool players. Over 60 percent of student-athletes enrolled in YSC Academy for the 2013-2014 school year are receiving financial aid, which is provided on an as need basis following NAIS guidelines.
So who’s the esteemed intellectual leading this charge?
Helllllllo, Dr. Nooha!
YSC Academy Head of School Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee said, “As an educator I could not be more excited about the rigorous academic program we have developed utilizing current brain research on metacognition and learning for the student-athlete. Our educational curriculum is focused on developing skills of critical thinking, collaboration, character, creativity and confidence. In an ever-changing world where learning is 24/7 our blended learning approach ensures that each student is fully prepared for the world that lies ahead.”
Actually, you’re starting to win me over, Dr. Koopa Troopa. Critical thinking, character, confidence? At least you’re all in our face about not teaching English, Math and Science. Oh hey look our curriculum just happens to include skills that are REALLY IMPORTANT FOR SOCCER!
For years, college athletes have hid behind faux majors and, come to think of it, I’ve never heard of one D-I basketball player who became a sociologist. But there will be no such ruse at YSC Academy, where athletes – er, students - will wear that collaborator badge with honor, baby.
Success at YSC Academy will not exclusively be measured by how many players are produced to represent Philadelphia Union at PPL Park, but importantly in the quality of students and the strength of character developed as they pursue excellence both on and off the field of play. A daily routine for students will combine a strategic mixture of technical soccer and athletic development as well as rigorous academic courses.
When “academic courses” is preceded by “as well as” in a high school syllabus, you know some serious learnings are will be had they’re.
YSC founder Rich Graham stated, “Core to YSC Academy¹s philosophy, and equally emphasized in Philadelphia Union’s amateur youth development programs, is the idea of kids taking significant ownership in their learning process. Teachers, coaches and parents can guide and facilitate, but ultimately education is in the hands of the student-athlete. Above all else, I am excited to see this special learning environment being made possible for kids in our community, and I can’t wait to see the positive things they will achieve in life when given the chance to maximize their potential.”
On and off the pitch, am I right?!
YSC Academy exists in support of Philadelphia Union’s belief that youth development is the foundation for sustained on-field and off-field peak performance. Philadelphia Union and YSC Sports are deeply committed to being leaders in giving proactively and investing directly in the development of youth soccer.
Hearts and minds. Hearts and headers.
*Disclaimer: I went to college on the Main Line, never living more than 300 yards from the R5, and my fiancée hails from a small Bucks County town called “Buckingham.” I can make these jokes.
I jumped in two years ago and haven’t looked back.
Soccer can be an extraordinarily confusing sport to follow. Forgetting for a second about learning the game, there are countless teams in countless leagues in countless countries with countless titles and cups and championships. It’s like the first time you played Mario Kart and tried to figure out the difference between the Star and Gold cups, and then you had to select for 50, 100 or 150 cc. The fack?! For a new fan of the sport, it can be an extremely daunting task to jump right in. That’s why the English Premier League – also referred to as the EPL (by lifers), Barclays Premier League (by people who want to acknowledge a large multinational bank every time they talk about their favorite league), Premier League (by everyone else) - is for you. It’s the most watched and probably the best sports league in the world. All the teams are in England or Britain or Great Britain (the differences have been explained to me three times and I still don’t get it, nor do I care) and there’s one winner at the end of the season, with no playoffs, no tournaments, no divisions, no conferences, no bullshit. Just soccer. Three points for a win. One point for a tie. None for a loss.
Perhaps you’ve heard of some of the more popular teams: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle.
This isn’t a column on what team you should choose to root for (Bill Simmons already wrote that)– it’s a post on why you should choose the league.
High-level European soccer teams play in a variety of leagues, tournaments and cups. Each team has its national league (English Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy), often a secondary regional league (Champions League, Europa League), friendly matches, and random national and international cup tournaments. It’s a dizzying array of matches that can be difficult to keep track of, especially from across the Atlantic. That’s why you should start with one league, the Premier League. Or the Barclays Premier League, if you’re an asshole.
The season is long (August-May). Games are played almost every week (soccer has breaks for international competition and local cups, and it will piss you off when you turn on the TV one Saturday morning only to find archival footage of things with weird names like the London Derby). It’s easy to keep track of. And many of the world’s best and most recognizable players are in the league (the two best, however – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – play in Spain).
There are 20 teams in the league. No playoffs. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins. It sounds anti-climactic, and it can be, but take, for example, the 2011-2012 season, when Manchester City beat out Manchester United (bitter rivals) on the last day – no, the last minute – of the season.
Manchester City needed a win over lowly Queens Park Rangers to win the league. A tie would give it to Man U, who, while the City game was drawing to an end, had just beaten Sunderland, 1-0.
City was down 2-1 in extra time. They needed two goals in four minutes, which is unheard of in soccer.
They got it, much to the shock of Sir Alex Ferguson and Man U, who learned of their misfortune while still on the pitch.
That was how the season ended. Two games, in two different places, drawing to an end at the same time. It may be the greatest finish to a sports season ever.
Now, not every season will conclude that way. 2012-2013 didn’t. Man U ran away with it, because they’re the Yankees and you should hate them accordingly. If you’re finding any of the information in this post to be new information (as in, you’re not already a soccer fan) and you decide to root for Man U, I hate you, and so does every other soccer fan. You’re the guy who likes the Yankees, Cowboys and Lakers. You’re a sick fuck. And a frontrunner.
But there are other things to consider besides first place:
I asked our fashion editor, Dan Fuller, if he wanted to review the Union’s new alternate kit, which was unveiled yesterday at Xfinity Live! Philadelphia Exclamation Points. Dan, usually not at a loss for words (LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM), responded thusly. It is now our review.
There you have it– indifference and too much Bimbo. It’s like a bad night at the club (perhaps with Sebastien Le Toux?).
The kit pays homage to some team you’ve never heard of Bethlehem Steel, the local soccer club that won the hearts and minds had a few fans back around the time Rose was getting plowed by Leo on the Titanic (1911-1930).
A ridiculous video from Adidas, full of all sorts of marketing BS, after the jump.
Le Toux in the Dub C a couple years back
According to Soccer By Ives, the Union and Red Bulls have completed a trade that will send Sebastien Le Toux back to Philadelphia:
The New York Red Bulls have traded LeToux to the Philadelphia Union for allocation money and the rights to a player to be named later, sources with knowledge of the trade confirmed to SBI on Thursday. The trade came the same day the Red Bulls made a Bona Fide offer to LeToux to secure his MLS rights, which paved the way for the trade.
There’s no place like home.
Several times over the past year, we told you that (now ex-)Union coach Peter Nowak was an asshole. Now we have some evidence… provided by Nowak’s lawyer in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the Union last week. Documents from the lawsuit were obtained by Philly.com.
In June, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz announced at a press conference that Nowak had been fired. The announcement wasn’t much of a surprise, as it came in the midst of a lousy start for the Union and on the heels of a report that Nowak was actively seeking the head coaching position with Hearts, of the Scottish Premier League. It was clear that there was some friction between Nowak and the front office, players, and even fans. Still, though, the team softened the language at the press conference, saying only that Nowak had “stepped down.” Against his will, of course.
What really happened?
The Union told Nowak he was being fired and gave him one of two options: either sign a termination agreement (this one) that would pay him only through only the end of 2012 – not 2015, like his contract (this one) stipulated – or don’t sign, in which case he would not be paid any severance and his contract would not be honored based on reasons (causes) that were detailed in a letter to Nowak (this one).
In the lawsuit (this one), Nowak, who was to be paid roughly $400,000 a year through 2015, claims wrongful termination, citing a clause in his contract (this one) that states he be given 15 days to “cure the occurrence” of any cause for termination. Of course, the lawsuit makes no mention of the sentence that follows that clause: except that Club shall have no obligation to provide Manager such opportunity to cure if Club determines, in its good faith judgment, that the occurrence is of a nature that is not curable or that Manager's continued employment during a cure period could be reasonably be expected to result in material harm to Club.
Translated: If the Manager is such a colossal asshole beyond repair, and keeps trading away our best players, we can fire him without notice.
Nowak's lawyer left that part out.
The letter detailing those causes for termination (this one) is awesome, along with the separation agreement detailing Nowak's two options (take the severance or receive nothing), were given to Nowak on the day he was fired– there was no 15-day notice.
So what were the causes, you ask? Mr. Nowak’s attorney included the letter in the lawsuit, and I can’t imagine it is going to help his client, either in this case or in the long-term.
It’s official: The Union have fired manager Peter Nowak, CEO Nick Sakiewicz announced today. Actually, Saciewizicizcizcz said Nowak “stepped down,” but then added that it was the team’s decision. So, he was fired.
Sakiewiciwicicicziziciz named former assistant John Hackworth the interim manager. The CEO also made it clear that Nowak had been in-charge of all personnel decisions, an admittance that basically (and perhaps rightfully) threw him under the bus for the perplexing trades of Sebastien Le Toux and, more recently, Danny Mwanga, among other moves.
One thing that stood out: Sakickicizizciziciziz was baffled by a question about waning fan support, saying that there are still sellout crowds. And while he may be right, he clearly doesn’t get the fact that butts in seats – especially in a relatively small stadium – does not equate to satisfaction. Most Union fans are pissed at the direction the team is headed.
Personally? I’m watching the Union from a relative distance. But, to me, it seems like the front office has mismanaged the bejesus out of the club. A big part of that was Nowak, however. And he’s gone now.