March 5, 2015 |
AFTER TWO preseason training stints in Florida, the Union is back in town and preparing for Saturday's season opener against the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park (4 p.m., 6ABC). There's just one small problem: The game might not happen. Major League Soccer and the players union are locked in contentious negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. With the first game leaguewide of 2015 set for Friday night - Chicago at Los Angeles (10 p.m., UniMás) - time is running out to get a deal done.
February 26, 2015 |
WHAT HAPPENS if a professional sports league goes on strike and hardly anyone cares? Major League Soccer might soon find out. On March 6, MLS is scheduled to kick off its 20th season when the reigning champion Los Angeles Galaxy plays the Chicago Fire. With 20 teams - including expansion franchises in New York City and Orlando, Fla. - a 34-game schedule and long-desired international respect as a quality league, MLS is about as healthy as it has ever been. Last May, MLS along with United States Soccer, signed a landmark 8-year, $720 million television and media rights deal with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision Deportes to broadcast games from this year through 2022.
February 13, 2015 |
A DECADE ago, new Union defender Steven Vítoria left his native Toronto to join the youth academy of Portuguese powerhouse FC Porto. Back then, Major League Soccer didn't have any teams in Canada, and the nation's soccer infrastructure was limited. So it made more sense for him to move abroad at age 18 in order to realize his dreams of playing professional soccer. Vítoria's parents had immigrated from the Azores to Toronto before he was born, which made Portugal a natural cultural fit. And being invited to join a big club was too good an opportunity to pass up. But Vítoria never quite settled at Porto, in part because he was loaned out a few times to other Portuguese clubs.
February 4, 2015 |
IT IS HERE - the calm after the storm, the teapot without a tempest. Sunday's Super Bowl was one of the more exciting ever, with New England beating Seattle, 28-24. Still, just moments after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made the worst decision in Super Bowl history, the thought that crossed my mind was - OK, what now? The NFL is done. The Sixers and Flyers are both having seasons that yield little optimism. The Phillies are still 2 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater, and frankly, considering the last-place projections for them, who much cares?
December 10, 2014 |
IN A BUSY day as far as roster moves go, the Union parted ways with its lone 2010 original and also added a forward. The club yesterday traded midfielder Amobi Okugo to Orlando City SC for an undisclosed amount of allocation money and the expansion team's 2016 second-round draft pick. It also acquired C.J. Sapong, Major League Soccer's 2011 rookie of the year, from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for Philadelphia's best pick in next month's MLS SuperDraft. Sapong, who formerly played for Reading United, a Union developmental affiliate, will be 26 come the season.
December 9, 2014 |
Getting that first win of the season last week, after 17 losses, certainly was a point of pride for the beleaguered 76ers. But what about Sixers point guard Michael Carter Williams? What did it mean to him? Not the 6-foot-6 MCW. The 10-inch plush version that retails for $19.99. At the Plymouth Meeting office of Bleacher Creatures, the doll made in Williams' likeness was a point of interest the morning after Wednesday's game. "Does two dolls make a run?" joked Matthew Hoffman, president and founder of the nine-employee company that opened in February 2011.
November 16, 2014 |
The cornerstone of the Union's strategy, owner Jay Sugarman said, is to internally develop their talent instead of buying it on the market. That strategy was strengthened Friday as the team announced the hiring of Rene Meulensteen as a consultant. Meulensteen, 50, will advise the Union on all soccer operations. The Dutchman spent 12 years with Manchester United and was most recently the manager of English club Fulham. He spent five years as an academy coach for United and will bring his experience with player development to the Union.
November 8, 2014 |
Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said he heard from more than 200 applicants from all over the world for the team's coaching job after John Hackworth was fired on June 10. As it turns out, Sakiewicz didn't have to look past Philadelphia. As expected, Jim Curtin, who was interim manager, was named the Union's third head coach on Friday. Curtin took over a Union team that was 3-7-6 in Major League Soccer. The team went 7-5-6 in MLS games under him. In all competitions, he was 11-6-6 and helped guide the Union to the U.S. Open Cup final, where they lost to Seattle, 3-1 in extra time.
October 28, 2014 |
Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz has become a lightning rod for criticism of a team that missed the Major League Soccer playoffs for the fourth time in its five-year existence. Sakiewicz has heard the criticism loud and clear, both at games and in cyberspace. He discounts the common perception that he has called the personnel shots for a Union team that was eliminated from the playoffs with two games remaining. The Union finished 10-12-12 for 42 points - seven points out of the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
October 15, 2014 |
THE UNION pulled an astounding choke on Saturday night. In a span of 5 minutes, it blew a 2-0 lead late against the Columbus Crew to lose, 3-2, and got eliminated from the Major League Soccer playoff race. You decide which of the following statements sounds closer to the truth: In June, when he fired manager John Hackworth and replaced him with current interim manager Jim Curtin, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said: "I think we have a lot of quality in our team. We're a good team; we have quality in the locker room.