Posts for Union Category

Stay or Go? The Philadelphia Union and the Road to Relevance

Kevin Kinkead - October 23, 2017

The 2016 Philadelphia Union finished with 11 wins, 14 losses, 9 draws, a -3 goal differential, and a playoff appearance.

The 2017 Philadelphia Union finished with 11 wins, 14 losses, 9 draws, a +3 goal differential, and no playoff appearance.

So.. they improved? Or they didn’t..

Wait, what?

Jim Curtin’s team clobbered Orlando 6-1 on Sunday evening, a visiting team that phoned it in so badly that I could have sworn they were match fixing. It was the Union’s biggest margin of victory in franchise history and only the second time the team had ever scored six or more. C.J. Sapong set the record for most goals in a single Union season and the retiring Brian Carroll was sent out in winning fashion.

In a way, that performance was the perfect end to another bland campaign, meaning that they played well when it didn’t matter. The Union needed results from March through September and didn’t get it done, beginning the season with zero wins through eight games and slumping to a miserable 1-10-6 road record. Questions of Jim Curtin’s job security were casually brushed off even as teams with similar records were axing their managers.

It was business as usual in Chester, where the season’s inevitable outcome was determined less than halfway through. Young players were benched, others regressed, and the team played the same damn formation before finally getting experimental when the season was lost. One step forward, one step back for a franchise that can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Continue Reading

Continue Reading

A Discussion with NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz on His Union Past and Lacrosse Future

Kevin Kinkead - September 19, 2017

Nick Sakiewicz never left town, he just changed jobs.

The former Philadelphia Union executive resurfaced as National Lacrosse League Commissioner last January following 21 seasons in Major League Soccer.

That was three months after his split with Union majority owner and principal investor Jay Sugarman. The pair brought soccer to Philadelphia in 2008, but parted ways at the end of 2015 when their relationship became strained following years of on-field struggles and disagreement on how to move the franchise forward.

For some of that time, Sakiewicz was seen as public enemy number one in Chester, a CEO and Operating Partner who became the face of an underachieving club. In fairness, that was something he never really disputed.

“Someone has to answer and take the heat, I guess,” he told the Delco Times a few months back.

To that point, I viewed Nick as a person who covered for Sugarman’s shortcomings by repeatedly falling on the sword. There was never a doubt that Sakiewicz was a smart businessman, but a lack of resources stunted early Union gains and quickly brought an end to the club’s honeymoon period. Whether he helped his cause or not, most people realized that this was a thrifty franchise with a young coach, no scouting department, and no general manager.

But those days are long gone, and Sakiewicz is now building a new foundation for the NLL.

Attendance is up and expansion is underway. There seems to be stability and foresight for a league that has existed for quite a while now, but for most of that time just spinning its wheels. In many ways, Sakiewicz’s experiences with a rapidly growing MLS made him an ideal candidate to oversee the growth of another niche sport with similar upside.

I ran into Sakiewicz for the first time in two years at last Thursday’s NLL Philadelphia expansion announcement. He agreed to speak further about his lacrosse gig and Union departure, and we followed up on the phone this week. Continue Reading

Continue Reading

More People May Have Watched The US Men’s Soccer Match Than Hockey Last Night

Kyle Scott - June 12, 2017

On Friday, I was on 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City and asked if soccer would become a major sport in the US on par with the four others. I said it would first topple hockey (obviously) but that it would take a truly remarkable run by the US Men’s team or legitimate stars in their prime playing in the MLS.

Or just a random World Cup qualifier against Mexico.

These are just preliminary numbers, but according to these two Tweets, the US-Mexico match last night may have outdrawn Game 6 of the Stanley Cup:

I’m not good at math, but 4.5 + 2.3 comes out to… carry the 2… 6.8. The estimated range for Game 6 was 6.7-7.3. That’s not great considering the Penguins were playing in a tied, tight and controversial clinching game on NBC proper while the soccer game featured a rather uninspiring effort on a network no one watches (FS1).

The fact that a non-World Cup, non-championship soccer match went toe-to-toe with the best hockey has to offer is more indicative of soccer’s rise rather than hockey’s decline– Game 6’s 4.8 rating was up from 3.7 last year. But still, while the MLS may have a ways to go, soccer, as a sport, is big-time.

The Union Are Hiring a Chief Tattoo Officer

Jim Adair - February 14, 2017

We just wrote yesterday about how iffy sports tattoos can be. In addition to fans, athletes are now more tattooed than ever, filled out chest pieces and arm sleeves regularly. So when a new player or coach or trainer comes to the Philadelphia Union and needs some ink, what are they to do? That sounds like a job for the Union’s new Chief Tattoo Officer. Really.

As the job listing says:

To reflect this love of ink and club, the Philadelphia Union is searching for the first ever Chief Tattoo Officer. This is a one-of-a-kind, revolutionary position for an artist or shop to become the go-to place for the Union. Players, coaches, front office staff and even fans will come to you for their tattoos, Union related or not. Tattoos are for life, just like supporting a club, and we want you doing the work.

“This is an exciting initiative for all of us here at Philadelphia Union as we look to provide a revolutionary service for our players and front office, particularly those new to the area,” said Doug Vosik, Vice President of Marketing. “Our hiring process begins immediately; we are looking for a partner with a wide variety of talents and skills, and someone who can offer a broad range including American traditional, as well as Japanese, realism, new school and more.”

Inspired by yesterday’s tattoo post, here’s a suggested design:

union tattoo

Houston Reporters Are Giving Carli Lloyd Shit About Missing Her Women’s Soccer League Games After The Olympics

Kyle Scott - August 29, 2016

It seems Houston area reporters are engaging in a losing effort to pick on Philly area native and THE GREATEST WOMEN’S SOCCER PLAYER IN THE WORLD Carli Lloyd for missing a few NWSL (I found out that was a thing today) games after the Olympics. Oh, I’m sorry, Houston reporter covering professional women’s soccer, national hero Lloyd, who has a narrow window once every two years to make a living – because lord know she’s not doing it playing in the NWSL – wasn’t there to play for the 9th place (out of 10) Dash as they pursue the coveted NWSL playoff spot, probably because she was off tending to endorsements and other business related ventures so she can capitalize on being THE GREATEST WOMEN’S SOCCER PLAYER IN THE WORLD. Oh, Lloyd might not be there for the playoffs the Dash aren’t going to make because she, quite literally, has better things to do during her limited earnings period? Fuck off. Everyone else is laughing at you– somewhat because of your ridiculous line of questioning, but mostly because you cover the Houston Dash.

H/T to Houston area reporter covering the Dash  for a living Corey Roepkin (@RipSports) who would give his right arm and left testicle to ever get a book deal like Lloyd

Sons of Ben: The Movie is Available to Stream Now

Jim Adair - August 5, 2016

Jeff Bell’s documentary Sons of Ben: The Movie is available on video on-demand and streaming platforms now, a year after its Philly premiere. Bell joined Kyle on the very first Crossing Streams in 2013 to talk about the journey he was on making the film (and again in a lost episode), and now that journey is complete.

The film is currently available on TVOD platforms (from Dish, Cox, Charter, DirecTV, Verizon, Suddenlink, Mediacom, Insight, Wow, RCN, Eastlink TV, Rogers, and Shaw), Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Xbox. Additionally, the film is out on DVD after only being offered in limited release.

Here’s an exclusive clip:

Kyle: I watched a good chunk of the documentary last night and was fairly impressed — it’s a great, unique Philly story, even if there are cringeworthy moments where the SOB founders seem to display a remarkable disconnect from reality as they pursue getting a local soccer team, often prioritizing it above the burdens of their personal and professional lives.

Union Color Commentator Faces Up to 10 years in Prison for Prescription Fraud Charges

Jim Adair - July 19, 2016

Philadelphia Union color commentator (and former Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper) Peter Pappas is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit health fraud. According to the Delco Times, Pappas – who referred to himself as “Rx slinger” in his Twitter bio (now deleted)  – received almost a half-million dollars in kickbacks.

[Pappas] admitted he was recruited by a marketing company paid by pharmacies to refer people whose insurance paid for compounded medication including pain creams.

He recruited others to join the scheme.

Pappas faces up to 10 years in prison, but we all know the rich and famous and former indoor soccer keepers always get reduced time.

Former Union Coach Peter Nowak Allegedly Hazed Players by Spanking Them with a Numb Hand, Thought Concussions Were for P*ssies

Jim Adair - January 6, 2016

Peter Nowak was fired as the coach of the Philadelphia Union under controversial circumstances in 2012. This past summer, Nowak sued the players’ union and MLS for causing his termination, and he previously sued the Union for wrongful termination. The MLS/players’ union part of the suit came about because:

During the “discovery process” of the [first] suit, Nowak learned that his firing was “precipitated by an investigation demanded” by the players’ union and conducted by MLS. That investigation, the suit later claims, was related to “a disputed training exercise” which took place in May of 2012.

Nowak is basically alleging that the league and players’ union meddled in his livelihood and got him wrongfully terminated. The suit against the Union was ordered to go to arbitration, and last night Philly.com writer, producer, soccer scribe Jonathan Tannenwald obtained over 200 pages of new documents in the case. It doesn’t look great for Nowak.

There’s a ton of stuff on Tannenwald’s Twitter feed (@thegoalkeeper), but here’s a breakdown of sorts to help you get to the meaty bits:

The lawsuit is over wrongful termination and supposed meddling by the league and the players’ union, but the that’s not nearly as interesting as a head coach that didn’t believe in concussions, spanked minors with a cold, numb, hand, and denied players their CBA rights. DOOP!