Category: Union (page 1 of 4)

Re-Post: Your Guide to Becoming a Premier League Fan

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This article first appeared on the site a year ago. Re-posting. Some of the team stuff might be a hair dated. COYS.

If you want to become a soccer fan, or even just sample what the sport has to offer, then I suggest you start with the English Premier League, which opens its season on Saturday.

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:

Continue reading


Here’s a Clever Diagram of a Fantastic Union Golazo

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Despite what ESPN would like you to think, no, the MLS isn’t going to become the next great American thing on the heels of the World Cup. It’s not a good league. Matches are fun to attend, and the atmosphere at PPL Park is great, but the league stinks. It’s borderline unwatchable when the EPL, Champions League and others are so readily available on TV. But, this goal by the Union against THE RAPIDS on Saturday night was awesome, and the diagram tweeted out by team today is almost as good (huge additional props for recognizing a tiny mistake and fixing it).

Nice use of social media. Meanwhile, the Phillies’ Twitter GIRL is reminding everyone that the team is in fact off for the All-Star break. FML.


The Union Fired Manager John Hackworth

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

From the Union:

Philadelphia Union announced today John Hackworth has been relieved of his duties as team manager. Union assistant coach Jim Curtin will take over as interim team manager effective immediately.

A native of Oreland, Pa., Curtin, 34, played over two hundred games for the Chicago Fire and was named an MLS All-Star and the Fire’s defender of the year in 2004. He helped the squad to two U.S. Open Cup titles in 2003 and 2006, as well as the 2003 MLS Supporters Shield. Curtin played his final two seasons in the League with Chivas USA before retiring in 2009.

The new manager is a Villanova grad, so he must be good! The Union were 23-30-20 under Hackworth.

Carry on.


Great Deals on Union Tickets, Including River End

From our friends at TiqIQ

This isn’t exactly the best time to be a Philly sports fan (or a ticket reseller…). With the Flyers out of the NHL Playoffs, and the biggest event of the Sixers season being the draft, times are lean. Even the Phillies are struggling to fill seats and doing a fine job of losing money. The Eagles are months away, which leaves us with the Union.

If nothing else, you can sit with the Sons of Ben in River End and take your frustration about Philly sports out on opposing players. Those seats cost only $27. Of course, you’ll be standing.

If you’re looking to experience the Union first-hand in an actual seat, tickets are available from both the Primary and Secondary market for all games. The Union website has tickets as low as $27, which is right in line with the secondary market. If you want to get tickets in River End, the Union’s Website is the only place you can go.

Over the course of the next three months the Union will play five home games for which tickets start at only $17. If you’re not bullish about hating on the Mets, you can try it out on the Red Bull when they come to town in July. They’re easy to dislike. Of course, for any Philadelphia Union tickets, visit Crossing Broad tickets.

If you’re also interested in the American football, we’ve also got Eagles tickets for all pre-seaon and regular season games, starting in August.


An MLS Representative Cold Called Me and Berated Me for Not Covering the Union

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My phone rang yesterday. I didn’t answer it. I never answer it. I currently have 16 missed calls and voice mails, 6,044 unread emails and 57 unread text messages. I’m not popular (only the emails are really impacted by the site), I’m just lazy. But when I saw I had a voicemail from an unknown Minnesota number, I had to listen. The call was from someone (call him G, for short) claiming to be “from the Philadelphia Union.” He used my first name and said that he was sorry to have missed my call, which I most certainly didn’t place. That piqued my interest. I figured it had something to do with the site. Maybe it was someone in the promotions department trying to spread the word about an event, or someone from the PR department responding to my All-Star Game request from two years ago. I tried to think of anyone I contacted regarding the Union. That list is small, and I was drawing a blank. But I called back anyway.

I found out rather quickly that G wasn’t from the Union specifically. He was from the MLS, and he was trying to sell me tickets. Ostensibly.

Ignoring his scummy sales tactic of claiming that he was returning a call I didn’t place, I humored him for a moment and then informed him that I wasn’t interested in Union tickets and that I only called him back because I thought he was actually with the Union and that he might have been calling me based on the fact that I run a sports blog. I’m sure G rolled his eyes at me identifying myself as a “sports blogger” and assumed that I was just some guy who posted his incoherent thoughts about the local team when he had a few moments to spare (which wouldn’t be entirely untrue…). Maybe he knew exactly who he was calling (he did have my name and number). But I didn’t bother telling him that I make a good living running the blog and that 250k people read it each month. I just politely told him that I wasn’t interested in buying tickets.

He pushed back. Continue reading


The Union Have a New Home Kit

Voila_Capture 2014-03-05_08-38-11_AMThis is all very exciting, I know. The Union unveiled their new home kits yesterday. They feature substantially more gold.

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That’s it. That’s the whole story. The Union have a slightly different new home kit. These things could be made out of fine silk and actual gold, and they’d still look terrible because of that hideous Bimbo logo.

via MLS Soccer


Everything You Wanted to Know About That Union Soccer School


The Union Opened a New Soccer High School This Week

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 9.17.47 AMGood news, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants! There’s a new soccer-based high school in Wayne, so now your kid can run faster, kick harder and do something that Anne’s kid is totally not doing!*

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:

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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?

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“College is not a backup plan. It’s a co-plan.”

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.

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