The Philadelphia Union is an American professional soccer team based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, Pennsylvania. The Union competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member club of the league’s Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia Union Youth Development System
Philadelphia Union USL Team
On August 19, 2015, the team announced that they would operate a reserve team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that will compete in the United Soccer League (USL) starting in 2016 with matches being played at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium. As a part of the announcement, the Union agreed to dissolve their partnership with the Harrisburg City Islanders. On October 27, 2015, Bethlehem Steel FC’s name, crest, and colors were officially announced during a ceremony held at the ArtsQuest at SteelStacks. “Steel FC” alludes to the historical Bethlehem Steel F.C. soccer club, which played from 1907 to 1930. The name was chosen following a fan poll held between September 8, 2015 and September 30, 2015. In December 2019, the Union announced that the Bethlehem Steel identity would be retired ahead of the 2020 season and the club would become known as Philadelphia Union II.
Philadelphia Union Academy
The Philadelphia Union operates an elite youth Academy training and competition program starting with the Under-9 age group and running through Under-17, after which players graduate to Union II, the Philadelphia Union’s second team.
As for competition, the Union participates in MLS Next starting with the Under-13 age group. MLS Next is an elite North American youth soccer league organized, managed, and controlled by Major League Soccer. The league was launched in 2020. The Union’s younger age groups from Under-9 through Under-12 participate in various regional leagues and tournaments, often playing one year up. The Union Academy teams train and compete in Wayne, Pennsylvania, as well as in Chester, Pennsylvania, home of Philadelphia Union’s first team organization.
While the Union’s competition rosters in MLS Next are composed of boys teams representing age groups Under-13 through Under-17, the Union Academy is unusual in that with many of its young players are competing with and even starting for the Union’s USL Championship team, Union II (Formerly Bethlehem Steel FC). Widely considered one of the top youth Academies affiliated with an MLS club, the Union Academy has seen success in tournaments both domestic and international.
The Union Academy sources talent internally through the Union Junior Academy, as well as externally through well-regarded local area programs such as FC Delco, Real Jersey FC, and The SWAG. Families have even been known to relocate to Pennsylvania to take advantage of the many benefits provided through the Union Academy such as admittance to the YSC Academy, a world class soccer training and college preparatory school that operates in an alliance with the Union Academy.
The Philadelphia Union Academy has produced numerous players for the Philadelphia Union, Union II, elite NCAA programs, and professional clubs across the world.
Between 70 and 80 of the Philadelphia Union Academy’s players attend private school YSC Academy which was founded by Philadelphia Union investor Richie Graham in September 2013 as an innovative, first-of its-kind, soccer-specific school for elite soccer players from grades 6 through 12. The school has campuses in Wayne, Pennsylvania and at the Union’s training complex in Chester, Pennsylvania and is designed for student-athletes who aspire to play professional-level soccer. YSC Academy’s first graduating class was in 2015. A substantial portion of the school’s graduates have gone on to play professionally for the Philadelphia Union and other teams, with the balance going to college.
Philadelphia Union Player Recruitment
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Philadelphia Union Path To Pros
The Philadelphia Union Academy has produced numerous professionals for Philadelphia Union and Union II (formerly Bethlehem Steel FC). Below are the following players who have signed pro contracts after being member of the Academy.
|Player||Current Team||College||Position||Grad. Year|
|Anthony Fontana||Philadelphia Union||Mid.||2018|
|Mark McKenzie||Philadelphia Union||Wake Forest||Def.||2017|
|Matt Real||Philadelphia Union||Def.||2017|
|Matt Freese||Philadelphia Union||Harvard||GK||2017|
|Cole Turner||Philadelphia Union||Mid.||2019|
|Jack de Vries||Philadelphia Union||Mid./Fwd.||2020|
|Jack McGlynn||Philadelphia Union||Mid.||2019|
|Nathan Harriel||Philadelphia Union||Def.|
|Paxten Aaronson||Philadelphia Union||Mid.|
|Brandan Craig||Philadelphia Union||Mid.|
|Quinn Sullivan||Philadelphia Union||Mid.|
|Ben Ofeimu||Philadelphia Union II||Def.||2019|
|Shanyder Borgelin||Philadelphia Union II||Fwd.||2020|
|Selmir Miscic||Philadelphia Union II||Mid.|
|Brenden Aaronson||FC Red Bull Salzburg||Mid.||2019|
|Derrick Jones||Nashville SC||Mid.||2016|
|Auston Trusty||Colorado Rapids||Def.||2016|
|Joey DeZart||Orlando City SC||Wake Forest||Mid.||2016|
|Jack Skahan||San Jose Earthquakes||North Carolina||Mid.||2016|
|Yosef Samuel||Hobro IK||Mid.||2016|
|Morgan Hackworth||San Diego Loyal||Akron||Def.||2015|
|Zach Zandi||Colorado Springs||Villanova||Mid.||2015|
|Aziz Saidi||Varzim SC||Mid|
|CJ dos Santos||SL Benfica||GK|
For a complete list of current and past players, please click here.
Philadelphia Union Recruitment Trials
At the time of this writing, there is no official publishing’s on Philadelphia Union trials. Please come back at a later date while we monitor this club or click here to visit their official academy news section.
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Philadelphia Union Overview
In the Philadelphia metropolitan region, there is a professional soccer team called the Union. The Union play in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS). Expansion team the club was founded on February 28, 2008, and began play in 2010 Subaru Park, a soccer-specific stadium located in Chester, is the home ground of the club’s home matches. Union Sports & Entertainment, with Jay Sugarman as primary owner and chairman of the club, presently owns Keystone. Kevin Durant, a professional basketball player, is also a minority owner of the team.
Jim Curtin now serves as the team’s head coach. Since 2014, Curtin has served as the Union’s head coach. The Union finished second in the U.S. Open Cup in 2014, 2015, and 2018. Extra time defeats to Seattle Sounders FC in 2014 and Sporting Kansas City in 2015 were both penalty shootout defeats. In last year’s championship game, they were defeated by the Houston Dynamo 3–0. For the first time, Philadelphia won the Supporter’s Shield in 2020, making it the team’s first championship. The New England Revolution, the team they beat to win the Supporter’s Shield, swept them, 2-0, in the playoffs.
Philadelphia Union History
Drive for expansion
Despite being a top-five media market and one of the country’s ten largest metro regions, Philadelphia was left out of the inaugural season of Major League Soccer in 1996. As far back as 2001, there was an attempt to bring an MLS team from Trenton to New Jersey; however, it was unsuccessful. New Jersey’s River Line, which has yet to be completed, will be a direct link to the new $31 million soccer-specific stadium that will be erected across the street. The Trenton MLS team would have been referred to as “Union FC” if it had been successful. The MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) had the right to prevent a franchise in Trenton from opening since it would violate their 75-mile no-competition zone. Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, was planning to build a 20,000-capacity stadium five years later. Both an MLS expansion team and Rowan University’s football team might call the stadium their home. Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey ultimately decided against issuing $100 million in state bonds to help pay for the stadium and other campus renovations at Rowan University. A soccer-specific stadium in Chester was considered by Keystone Sports & Entertainment (the entity that would eventually acquire the Union) shortly after the Rowan idea had fallen through.
The Sons of Ben fan organization was created in 2007 in an effort to increase interest in a Major League Soccer franchise in Philadelphia. To MLS’s credit, they demonstrated to the organization that there was already a strong following in the market.
On February 28, 2008, Major League Soccer announced the signing of Philadelphia Union as its sixteenth franchise. When Delaware County legislators and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed off on a $47 million deal that included funding for Subaru Park and a significant urban renewal project, the club was finally completed. Reading Rage, a youth soccer club in the USL Premier Development League, became an official minor league affiliate of the Union in December 2009.
For the 2010 PDL season, the Rage were renamed “Reading United AC” and given a new logo and color scheme. The Union selected Danny Mwanga from Oregon State University as the first pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, along with Amobi Okugo from UCLA and Jack McInerney from the U.S. U-17 National Team. The Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League affiliated with the Union in March of that year. In January 2012, the Union partnered with Costa Rican Premier League club Deportivo Saprissa to forge their first international partnership.
On March 25, 2010, the Union played its first game, losing 2–0 against the Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field. At Lincoln Financial Field on April 10, 2010, Sébastien Le Toux became the first player to score a goal for Philadelphia in their home opener, a 3–2 victory over DC United.
They met Seattle Sounders FC at Subaru Park for the first time on June 27, 2010. The Union’s 3–1 victory was sparked by Le Toux’s penalty kick goal, which gave the Union an early lead at the site. Prior to the start of the season, all 12,000 of the 2010 season ticket packages had been purchased. The Union finished 7th in the Eastern Conference and 14th overall in the league with a record of 8–15–7 at the completion of their inaugural season (W-L-T).
The Piotr Nowak era (2010–12)
In the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, the Union selected three players, including fifth-round pick Zac MacMath. The Union signed a deal with Bimbo Bakeries USA on January 11, 2011. Faryd Mondragón (GK) and Carlos Valdés (C) were inducted into the Philadelphia Union on January 20. (D). He has recently returned from a stint with 1. FC Köln in the Bundesliga and has at least 50 caps for Colombia. Prior to joining the Philadelphia Flyers, Valdés was the captain of Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia’s First Division. Freddy Adu, a US international, was also signed by the Union during the summer transfer window.
With a record of 11–8–15 (W-L-T) and a goal total of 44, the squad finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference and 8th overall in the league. The Philadelphia Union made their MLS Cup Playoff debut with this victory. With four wins and one loss in their first six league games, the Union made an impressive start to the season. At home on October 30, 2011, the Union lost 2–1 in the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-finals, with the Union’s first playoff goal coming from Sebastien Le Toux. On November 3, 2011, the Union fell to the eventual MLS Cup finalist Houston Dynamo in the second leg, losing 1–0.
Nowak to Hackworth (2012–14)
On June 13, 2012, John Hackworth was named interim coach of the Unions, and he was officially named head coach on August 30, 2012. Union concluded their third season in MLS’s Eastern Conference eighth spot and fifteenth overall, with a 10–18–6 (W-L-T) record, with 37 goals scored and 45 conceded. Antoine Hoppenot scored four goals in 817 minutes of action after being taken in the third round of the 2012 Supplemental Draft. The 2012 MLS All-Star Game was played at Subaru Park, previously known as PPL Park, where the MLS All-Stars defeated Chelsea F.C. 3–2. As for the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Union advanced to the semifinals following a 3–0 win over Rochester Rhinos in the third round and a 2–1 extra-time victory over D.C. United on the road in the fourth round. The Harrisburg City Islanders, the team’s primary affiliate at the time, were beaten 5–2 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Goalkeeper Andre Blake, a Jamaican international, was selected first overall after the Union acquired the top overall pick through a trade. Coastal Carolina University midfielder Pedro Ribeiro was eventually selected after numerous trades. Preseason additions also included Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana, and Austin Berry, the team’s previous MLS Rookie of the Year. But even with these additions to their roster, the Union could only manage a 2–7–5 record in their first 14 games (W-L-T). Jack McInerney was dealt to the Montreal Impact on April 20, 2014, for winger Andrew Wenger, a Pennsylvania native. The coaching career of Hackworth with the Union came to an end on June 10th, 2014.
Jim Curtin takes charge (2014–present)
Despite missing out on a postseason berth, the Union advanced to the finals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2014. The team acquired Sporting Kansas City forward C. J. Sapong in the summer. They also dealt Orlando City SC’s long-serving defensive midfielder Amobi Okugo. Fernando Aristeguieta, Steven Vitória, and Eric Ayuk, an 18-year-old Cameroonian midfielder on loan from FC Nantes and S.L. Benfica, were also signed ahead of the season.
Dzenan Catic, Eric Bird, and Raymond Lee were all selected by the Union in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Orlando City SC selected Philadelphia midfielder Pedro Ribeiro in the expansion draft. A 1–6–3 record in their first 10 league games despite the offseason’s flurry of activity has the Union’s fans worried (W-L-T). The Union acquired Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta on July 29, 2015, after trading Houston Dynamo veteran Sheanon Williams during the 2015 summer transfer window. In the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the team had a good run, making it to the Open Cup final for the second time in three years. Matches against Sporting Kansas City were held on September 30, 2015, at Subaru Park.
Colors and Badge
At a ceremony conducted at Philadelphia City Hall on May 11, 2009, the name, crest, and colors of the Philadelphia Union were formally proclaimed. The Thirteen Colonies were united under the banner of “Union” in 1776, with Philadelphia serving as their first capital. Between January 19 and February 6, 2009, fans voted for the winning name among four other possibilities: AC Philadelphia, SC Philadelphia, and Philadelphia City.
The principal colors of the Continental Army’s uniforms during the American Revolutionary War are navy blue and gold. Symbolizing oneness, the team’s crest has a circular shape. As a nod to Philadelphia’s coat of arms, this shield features thirteen gold stars to represent the original Thirteen Colonies. Roughly inspired by the political cartoon “Join, or Die” by Benjamin Franklin that appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754, the rattlesnake flag is also a nod to the Gadsden flag, another Revolutionary War symbolism. Using the Philadelphia civic flag as inspiration, the light blue in the crest is a nod to the Sons of Ben. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware’s state flags all have navy blue, gold, and light blue as the primary colors.
With the gold border and a ribbon displaying “jungite aut perite,” a Latin translation of the phrase “join or die,” which was also used in the political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, the team’s secondary logo is a simplified version of that of the primary logo. Additionally, the name and colors of the Philadelphia Union reflect the city’s pivotal role during the American Civil War era. In honor of one of the most successful early American soccer clubs, Bethlehem Steel F.C., the squad debuted a third uniform in February 2013. Union’s sublimated logo and a Bethlehem Steel F.C. jock tag were included on the outfit, which was mostly black with white trim.
Subaru Park (previously Talen Energy Stadium and before that PPL Park) is a soccer-specific 18,500-seat stadium located on the southwesterly corner of the Commodore Barry Bridge, where the Union play the majority of their home games (U.S. Route 322). The ICON Venue Group and Rossetti Architects designed the building, and the Ardmore-based T.N. Ward Company built it. Sixty percent of the park’s visitors can see the Delaware River thanks to Subaru Park’s unique layout, which is a key part of Chester’s ongoing urban revitalization effort. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Chester, Pennsylvania worked together to guarantee that building activities did not harm the Wade Dump, a formerly polluted Superfund site, located nearby. At YSC Sports in Wayne, about 17 miles north of Chester, the Union train is in full swing.
Lincoln Financial Field, where the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the NCAA’s Temple University Owls play their home games, also hosts the Union on occasion. The Union’s home opener against D.C. United on April 10, 2010 and their May 15 match against FC Dallas were both played at Lincoln Financial Field prior to the completion of PPL Park. Due to construction delays at Subaru Park, the second game was moved to Lincoln Financial Field instead of Subaru Park. On their North American tour in 2010, they played a friendly against Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field, the team’s alternative home for games with high attendance expectations. About 37,500 seats were available for the team’s home opening, although they were restricted to the lower bowl and club sections. In a 3–2 victory over Seattle Sounders FC on June 27, the Union formally opened their new stadium. Aside from home matches for the Union, Lincoln Financial Field has hosted international friendlies against clubs like Real Madrid and Scottish Premier League side Celtic FC. Celtic FC and the Union met for the first time in a friendly in July of that year.
Chester, Pennsylvania is home to the Philadelphia Union’s training facilities. Two new grass fields were added to the facility in the fall of 2014. The Union used to practice at Chester Park, a nearby municipal park, or immediately at Subaru Park prior to having separate training fields.
Located in the former machine shop of the Chester Waterside Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company, the Philadelphia Union established a 16,500 square foot training facility and offices in 2016.
The establishment of the Philadelphia Union and the construction of Subaru Park would not have been possible without the help of the local community. The Sons of Ben, a group of supporters created in January 2007, provided this assistance. Until the official announcement of an expansion to Philadelphia in January 2008, the Sons of Ben petitioned Major League Soccer to do so. The group, named for Benjamin Franklin, was included in the expansion news conference, singing their hymn, “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” and presenting scarves to the ownership group at the end of the presentation. On May 11, 2009, they were also in attendance at City Hall for the naming ceremony.
Even while the Sons of Ben are the most well-known and official supporters, there are a variety of other organisations out there. Include the Tammany Saints, IllegitimateS & Corner Creeps sections 101 and 133; the Bridge Crew, sections 120–121; La Union Latina, sections 114 and 114; and The Keystone State Ultras, sections 120–121; (section 140).
D.C. United is the main competition for the Philadelphia Union. The rivalries between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in other professional sports leagues, are mostly based on their physical proximity and the animosity between the two cities’ metropolitan centers. Because of their close proximity, the Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls have a more limited rivalry. The Red Bulls’ home stadium in Harrison, New Jersey, is around a 90-mile journey from Philadelphia’s downtown. Despite the 2,377-mile (3,825-kilometer) distance between Philadelphia and Seattle, the Union and Sounders FC have a tense rivalry. When the Philadelphia Union’s first Major League Soccer game was played in Seattle, it sparked a national rivalry. During the inaugural home game at Subaru Park, the team faced Seattle. According to defenseman Danny Califf, the animosity culminated during their first season in 2010 when they were frequently pitted against the 2009 expansion Sounders FC “In Seattle’s initial year, there was a lot of focus on us, which may have heightened tensions this year. They’re a good club, and they’d like to take this game to us given the good start they’ve had.”
The Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC are owned by Keystone Sports & Entertainment (S&E). iStar Financial CEO Jay Sugarman leads a group that includes co-founders of the Buccini/Pollin Group Christopher F. Buccini, Robert Buccini, and David B. Pollin; Joseph J. Greco, chairman and president of Premier Management Services and the RevSpring technology company; and David Seltzer, principal and co-founder of Mercator financial advisors. Prior to Sugarman’s purchase of his interests in the club on October 3, 2015, Nick Sakiewicz was the club’s former CEO and an investor. Because of his poor rapport with the Union’s fan base, Sakiewicz was fired as manager of the team. During a press conference on June 15, 2020, it was reported that basketball player Kevin Durant had purchased 5% of the club, with an additional 5% expected to be purchased in the near future.
City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
With a 2019 projected population of 1,584,064, Philadelphia, popularly known as Philly, is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the sixth most populous city in the United States. With a population of more than 6 million people, Philadelphia is one of America’s largest metropolitan statistical areas. The city’s geographic boundaries have remained unchanged since 1854, when Philadelphia County was established as a separate entity. Within the Northeast megalopolis, Philadelphia is also a major economic and cultural center for the larger Delaware Valley. The combined statistical area of the Delaware Valley is the eighth-largest in the United States, with a population of 7.2 million.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the geographic center of Philadelphia is located at around 40 degrees north latitude and 75 degrees west longitude. Philadelphia’s 40th parallel north passes through Northeast Philadelphia, North Philadelphia and West Philadelphia, as well as Fairmount Park. On land, there are 134.18 square miles (347.52 km2) and 8.53 square miles (22.09 km2) of water in the city’s 142.71 sq/mi (369.62 sq/mi).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park’s lakes and the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers are examples of natural bodies of water. Fairmount Park’s East Park Reservoir has the distinction of being the world’s largest man-made lake. The lowest point is the ocean’s surface, while the highest point is located on Chestnut Hill on Summit Street near the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike, at a height of 446 feet (136 meters) (example coordinates near high point: 40.07815 N, 75.20747 W).
The Atlantic coastal plain and the Piedmont meet at the Fall Line in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill River’s rapids at East Falls were flooded once the Fairmount Water Works dam was completed. The county seat is located in the city. Counties in close proximity to Montgomery include: Bucks to the north and northeast; Burlington to the east; Camden to the south; Gloucester to the south-southeast; and Delaware to the southwest.
Climate | Weather
Philadelphia is classified as having a temperate marine climate (Do) by the Trewartha climate classification, while the Köppen climate classification places it in the northernmost reaches of the humid subtropical climatic zone (Köppen Cfa) (Dc). Winter can be somewhat cold, but summers tend to be hot and humid. Zones 7a and 7b of the plant hardiness map represent an annual minimum temperature range of 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 12 degrees Celsius).
The amount of snowfall varies greatly from year to year, with some winters seeing only a little dusting, while others have heavy snowfalls. 22.4 inches (57 cm) of seasonal snowfall is typical, with occasional snowfalls between November and April, but no lasting snow cover. Since 1972–73, seasonal snowfall accumulation has fluctuated from a few millimeters to almost seven feet (200 centimeters). 78 centimeters of snow fell in one storm in January 1996, the most ever recorded in the city.
The average annual precipitation is 41.5 inches (1,050 mm), with eight to eleven wet days each month, but historical rates range from 29.31 inches (744 mm) in 1922 to 64.33 inches (1,634 mm) in 2011. On July 28, 2013, Philadelphia International Airport recorded 8.02 in (204 mm) of rain in a single day. Philadelphia enjoys an average of 2,500 hours of sunlight every year, with the percentage of sunshine varying from 47% in December to 61% in June, July, and August.
There are two or three nights in a typical winter when the temperature drops to 10 °F (12 °C) and the daily average temperature is 33.0°F (0.6°C). The average temperature in July is 78.1 degrees Fahrenheit (25.6 degrees Celsius), however heat waves with high humidity and high heat indices are common, with highs hitting or exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) on 27 days of the year. The growth season can last 217 days if temperatures do not drop below freezing between November 6 and April 2. February has the lowest average precipitation of 2.64 inches, which is typical for early fall and late winter (67 mm).