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Timmah!

Philadelphia Union

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Today it was announced that Philadelphia's entry in MLS, which will start play in 2010, will be called Philadelphia Union. The name was the winner in a fan vote that ran earlier this year.

The colors will be Blue and Gold, and the logo will include a representation of the snake from the Don't Tread on Me flag that was originally used by the colonies, and has since been adopted as a rallying cry of the USA National Teams.

And yes, merchandise is now available!: www.mlsphilly2010.com

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interesting name... im not a big fan of these types. i like the traditional american team names- animals, groups, etc-- not a big fan of the "city"s, and union here

nevertheless, im interested to see what type of international players philly can draw

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interesting name... im not a big fan of these types. i like the traditional american team names- animals, groups, etc-- not a big fan of the "city"s, and union here

I actually voted for "City" myself, but always figured it would either be "Union" or "AC". Animals and such were never part of the mix, because they wanted a brand that would be both unique to the sports scene in Philly, and would lend itself to an organic nickname that would evolve over time. With a rattlesnake in the logo, we have an opportunity for that.

nevertheless, im interested to see what type of international players philly can draw

I was thinking about it on the way home, and even though I sincerely doubt it will happen, Richard Dunne would be very interesting. Man City has already been linked with a push for John Terry from Chelsea, and if that were to happen, it would allow Citeh to move Dunne, who was rumored to be on the move during the last two transfer periods.

Dunne is already established with the Irish team, so he doesn't need close proximity club exposure to stay on that team, and with the large Irish-American population in this area, he would both be a draw, and a strong player to build a defense around.

Again, I have nothing to base that speculation on, but it would be a solid move, IMO.

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Another name that I'll throw out is just-released Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, a Seattle native who was with Reading for the last few seasons.

He's a solid, if unspectacular, player who was called their best player both when they set a Championship points record in earning promotion for the first time in '06/07 and during both of their seasons in the Premiership. He missed numerous matches this year due to injury, but was back in the lineup by the end of the season.

He's not a kid anymore, and at this stage of his career may be interested in a move closer to home. Seattle already has Keller in net, but USA (as the Reading fans called him) could be signed and then loaned out for a few months to stay in game shape as the Philly side gets ready for their debut next March.

As an expansion team, I'd much rather have an experienced netminder in place to both help with the growing pains of the initial seasons and work with (hopefully) a long-term prospect.

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Peter Nowak was introduced as the first Manager of the Union. He's the only person to ever win a MLS Cup as both a player and manager, and will be bringing an uptempo style to Philly.

John Smallwood from the Philly Daily News did a nice assessment of what Nowak will bring to the table: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/col...head_coach.html

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The Union had their expansion draft last week, and completed their first transaction yesterday. Here's a quick down of who will make up the core of the newest MLS club.....

Forwards: Alejandro Moreno, Nick Zimmerman, Sebastien Le Toux

Moreno brings eight years of MLS experience and is an established goal-scoring threat and winner, having been the leading scorer for '08 MLS Champ Columbus....Zimmerman is young, entering his 2nd season out of James Madison, and projects to a wing position....Le Toux will be playing for a 2nd expansion side in as many years, having started half of Seattle's games this past year; he previously played professionally in France

Midfielders: Shea Salinas, Stefani Miglioranzi, Andrew Jacobsen

Salinas is young, but experienced, and was second on San Jose in Assists last season....Miglioranzi is the oldest (32) of the draftees; he spent four seasons in England before coming to MLS....Jacobsen was a 1st-team All America at Cal, and briefly played professionally in France before coming to MLS last season

Defenders: Shavar Thomas, David Myrie, Jordan Harvey

Thomas also brings experience, both in MLS and internationally with Jamaica....Myrie is the youngest of the draftees at 21, and while he has not appeared in any MLS matches, has played professionally in both his native Costa Rica and Spain....Harvey can play both left back and midfield, and brings some offense; he was 4th on Colorado in Assists last year

Goalkeepers: Brad Knighton, Chris Seitz

Knighton has spent the last three years backing up Matt Reis with New England....Seitz could wind up being the brightest light of all the players brought in thus far. He was acquired from RSL yesterday, and was Manager Nowak's choice as backup keeper for the USA Olympic team last summer. He's big and strong, and is an early favorite to be the Union #1 in the spring

SuperDraft will be in a few weeks, bringing more talent, but for now, Union have a nice mix of youth and experience at key positions, and if Seitz can live up to the promise, they'll have a shot at some early success.

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Superdraft is today, being held in Philadelphia. It'll be televised on ESPN2, starting at 2pm: http://www.csnphilly.com/pages/landing_09?...&feedID=704

The Union are expected to take Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga with the top pick.

They also completed a trade last night with DC United. Union traded the rights to goalkeeper Troy Perkins and their allocation place to United for midfielder Fred and their first round draft pick, #7 overall.

Perkins was with United for four years before giving Norway a try; he was keeper of the year for MLS back in '06 and is part of the USA National team player pool. Fred scored 11 goals in three seasons with DC and should move immediately into the Union top XI; he also had a successful spell in Australia.

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Another 1st round pick for Union..... they acquired Dallas' pick at #6 for allocation money.

Union will now get three of the top seven players chosen.

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They went offensive in the first round:

1 - Danny Mwanga, forward from Oregon State

6 - Amobi Okugo, midfielder from UCLA

7 - Jack McInerney, forward from Cobb Creek

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First pick of the 2nd is spent by Union on UConn midfielder Toni Stahl.

An intial impression so far:

"Back to the Union, I can't remember a draft I was more impressed with on draft day. I thought Toronto's draft was strong last year, but this year's Union draft could wind up being the best in league history. Key would being "could". " -From ESPN's liveblog with Ives Galarcep

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Another Bruin in the ranks.....

midfielder Kyle Nakazawa was second in the Pac-10 in Goals last year.

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I somehow managed to forget that Union made yet another Bruin - Brian Perk - their final pick, and the first goalkeeper off the board.

Today, they finalized the signing of USA international defender Danny Califf from Danish club FC Midtjylland. Califf will anchor the central defense with Shavar Thomas, and provide some veteran leadership. While Califf offers slightly more name value than most of the other players brought in by Union, and financials weren't disclosed (as per MLS policy), I think it's highly doubtful that they used their Beckham Exception on him (one player can be signed without counting against the team salary cap).

They also have brought in JC Dellacarma to be their local on-air TV voice. Dellacarma is the lead announcer for ESPN's MLS coverage, and has done several World Cups. There's no official TV deal yet in place, BTW.

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/homepa...us_unclear.html

EDIT: 6abc/WPVI has been announced as the local affiliate for Union soccer.

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Thanks to some more wheeling and dealing, Union have added another defender, American U-23 international Michael Orozco.

Orozco was acquired on loan from Mexican Primera Division side San Luis. He was on the same Olympic team as Seitz, so Nowak knows him and what he can do. Union made a deal with Red Bulls in order to get the top allocation spot, clearing the way for the deal.

Union now have 20 players on the roster, with a little under two months remaining before the inaugural match in Seattle.

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Tonight's the night!

All the waiting and anticipation will come to a head when Union squares off with Seattle Sounders tonight at 9:30 on ESPN2.

The lineup, using a 4-3-3 formation was revealed earlier in pre-game notes released to the media, and goes as follows:

Keeper: Chris Seitz

Defense: Jordan Harvey, Shavar Thomas, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco

Midfield: Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres

Forwards: Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno, Nick Zimmerman

It should be noted that Okugo, Torres and Le Toux are also listed on the injury report; Okugo has a knee sprain, Torres, a hammy, and for Le Toux, a bothersome ankle.

Le Toux was the top scorer in preseason matches, along with sub jack McInerney. Torres is only 18, but was a starter in the Colombian first division before coming here on a trial. He impressed so much he's on the roster, and in the lineup. Those who have seen him say he's a talented attacking midfielder in the mold of Chelsea's Joe Cole.

Only five hours to go!!!!!

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Well, what can I say? As Alexi Lalas said about 18 kajillion times, "They're young".

Seattle has a very good team, and rightly deserves to be spoken of as an MLS Cup contender. Their fans were tremendous (as always) and once they took the lead, they controlled the match.

Philly went with a slightly different lineup than was indicated; Toni Stahl infamously started in place of Thomas, Miglioranzi and Okugo came off the bench, and Zimmerman didn't play.

The standouts were Torres and Le Toux, both worked hard and created chances for both themselves and their teammates. Moreno also put in a good effort, and Orozco may have had the best chance to score, firing a blast from 40 yards out that Keller had to tip over the bar. I can't really blame Seitz for either of the Sounder goals, and he had a decent game, as did Califf, despite being shown Yellow after 33 seconds.

#1 overall pick Mwanga disappointed as a midfield starter, but he was playing out of position, and was subbed out at the half for Miglioranzi. Harvey was uneven and Myrie did little to impress. Jacobson flubbed a scoring chance and was nondescript.

It will be interesting to see how much of an improvement Fred makes, and replacing one of the kids with Thomas should help shore up the defense. There should be enough time before the World Cup break for the team to see how they mesh before the international summer transfer window becomes a consideration.

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It's been a long while since I've brought up the hometown team, but I would be remiss if I didn't talk about yesterday.

Our boys in Blue and Gold won the opener of PPL Park over Seattle, and in the process showed what homefield advantage can mean. I won't go into match specifics, although I will say that I was very happy Fred's excellent play was rewarded with his first goal of the season, and that much-maligned goalkeeper Chris Seitz demonstrated his promise when he made a crucial PK save that kept the score level at 1 and helped spur a prolonged second-half assault on Kasey Keller's goal.

The park itself is excellent. We're as close to the pitch as FIFA will allow, and the site lines are excellent. The concourses are wide and easily negotiable. Even in the sweltering heat, there was a breeze coming off the river that helped keep it from being over the top unbearable. The Union Shop has inner and outer entrances (like CBP and the Linc) which will allow it to be open on non-match days. There's a healthy amount of pre-made player replica jerseys available, and they have an on-site press to make custom shirts on the spot....an eyeball poll indicates that Sebastien Le Toux is by far the team's most popular player thus far. Concessions options include Chickie's and Pete's and Seasons Pizza. They gave out free cups of ice from the start to help everyone try to deal with the heat.

Those of us in the Sons of Ben supporter section have our own entrance at The River End. Underneath our sections is the only windowless, stand-less walkway, and the result is a slightly eerie feel, and I like it (intended or not). There was a small pocket of Sounders fans on hand; they were placed in the back of one of the corner sections near us. We easily drowned them out - homefield advantage will be a reality at PPL, not just a suggestion.

Outside, there's Toyota Park, a plaza that has kids games, a beer garden, stage (a local band played) and a variety of stands set up by local restaurants that will be there every match. I didn't try any of the food, but there's a wide variety of cuisines.

Now, it is not without its warts. Food and drink prices are not for the weak of heart. At $8, a draft beer is $0.75 more than CBP and I think a $1 more than the Linc. Burgers and hot dogs, while large portions, are equally as pricey. Parking is still very much in development, and you either have to have good directions to the walking-distance satellite lots or settle for a shuttle-serviced lot further away. There is no solid public transportation setup in place just yet. I parked in a shuttle lot just off I-95 and it was about a five-minute ride to the park. The lines were long getting out, but I was able to get on an early shuttle - I actually wound up sitting next to the park's architect and his wife. The view of the river I was promised behind my seat wasn't as full as indicated, there's an extension of the building that obscures it (I'd like to see it on a less hazy day).

All in all, I think it went as well as anyone could have asked, and I think Union truly have a home.

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It's been a looong time since I wrote about the hometown team, and with MLS Cup upon us, and the Portland/Vancouver expansion draft coming up next week, now is as good a time as any to recap the season.

The Good....

Sebastien Le Toux had a historic breakout season with the highest-percentage of a team's offense ever; he had 14 goals and 11 assists, accounting for 71.4% of Union's output. He started in the All-Star game and wound up as a member of the MLS Best XI and winning the Fair Play Award. Danny Mwanga led all MLS rookies with seven goals and was a finalist for Rookie of the Year, losing out to DC's Andy Najar. He battled injuries in the second half, but the silver lining is that he'll retain his Generation Adidas roster status, and will be exempt from the Expansion Draft, thus allowing Union to protect an extra vet.

The defense - which was something of a sieve in the early going - began to gel as the season progressed, keyed by the emergence of 'keeper Brad Knighton and right back Sheanon Williams and consistency from center back Danny Califf. They saw flashes of what Andrew Jacobson and Amobi Okugo could bring to the table at central mid, and it was very positive.

They got glimpses of the offensive promise offered by winger Shea Salinas and striker Jack McInerney, but they were fleeting, and in Salinas' case, derailed by injury. Midfielder Roger Torres had five assists and was a starter in the early going. He's searching for a position - he has the skills for the center but the size for the wing.

The Bad....

The team took so long to find their stride that it meant any chance of making the playoffs in the initial season were long, at best. They waited until late July to bring in any veteran experience which forced them to play with inexperienced youth dominating a short-handed roster and it showed. The mid-season moves helped to varying degrees - winger Justin Mapp created sparks from the outside that were missing, and center back Juan Diego Gonzalez brought consistency to the central defense - when he wasn't hurt. Central midfielder Eduardo Coudet was the first addition, and made an impact in the Celtic and Chivas Guadalajara friendlies, but he was generally ineffective in league play.

The offense was so overwhelmingly reliant on Le Toux and Mwanga it made opposing strategy as simple as can be. Alejandro Moreno and Fred combined for four goals, far too little output, even if Moreno chipped in six assists. They got modest support form their more offensive-minded defenders - center back Michael Orozco Fiscal and left back Jordan Harvey, but Harvey didn't score after midseason, and MOF was inconsistent.

It was also on defense that the team's most glaring personnel errors appeared (I'll get to the biggest later). Expansion draftees Shavar Thomas and David Myrie were failures. Thomas barely played before being traded to KC, and Myrie was released after his disastrous outing in the opener against Seattle. Center back Toni Stahl didn't play another minute after being red carded in the opener. Cristian Arrieta started for the first half of the season at right and center back, failed to impress at either, and was rather easily surpassed by Williams, who was rescued from being released by USL-2 side Harrisburg City at the time.

The Ugly....

How can I describe how badly things went for goalkeeper Chris Seitz? He was essentially the Union 'keeper the moment he was acquired from Real Salt Lake, and he offers many of the attributes you look for: tall, long wing span and capable of flashes of brilliance. But it's also been suggested he doesn't communicate well with his defenders, and his propensity for giving up soft goals is what ultimately led to his biggest defender - Nowak - to openly criticize Seitz and bench him in favor of Knighton.

In the span of a calendar year, Seitz could go from Franchise Goalkeeper to Expansion Draftee.

The next step is to see who will be staying and whom will be going to the Northwest on Wednesday (they'll lose at least one player). Superdraft will follow, and during that time, the team will likely have resolved the loan situations for Torres and MOF. Fred is in Australia on a loan spell of his own, and he performs well as he did last time, he may not come back.

A lot will be expected from the team in 2011. The excuses of unfamiliarity and inexperience will no longer apply. They'll need consistency and sound-decision making from the defense, and most notably, decide on a #1 goalkeeper. Will Seitz get another chance, is the job firmly in Knighton's hands, or is there a 3rd, yet-unnamed individual who will take over? More diversity and consistency will be demanded of the offense, and making the playoffs will be a more reasonable expectation.

But if they keep beating New York, I'll give 'em some slack! B)

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ARGH If only it was next week, I could go. Ill be in Philly next weekend. Any chance of moving the whole thing just for me? Or some of it, at least? Ive seen Lunchlady Doris enough damn times.

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