Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union
Philadelphia Union
Full name Philadelphia Union
Nickname(s) Zolos, The U
Founded 2008
Stadium PPL Park
Chester, Pennsylvania
(Capacity: 18,500)
Owner United States Keystone Sports & Entertainment, LLC
Manager Poland Piotr Nowak
League Major League Soccer
2011 Eastern Conference: 3rd
Overall: 8th
Playoffs: Conference Semifinals
Website Club home page
Home colors
Away colors
Third colors
Current season

The Philadelphia Union is an American professional soccer club based in the Philadelphia satellite city of Chester, Pennsylvania, which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada.

The Union became MLS's sixteenth team upon their expansion into the league in 2010. The team plays their home matches at PPL Park, a soccer-specific stadium located on the banks of the Delaware River, and is coached by former Polish international Piotr Nowak.



Drive for expansion

In 2007, the Sons of Ben supporter group formed and began advocating for Major League Soccer to award Philadelphia an expansion team. They are credited with convincing the league that the area already had an established fanbase for soccer.[1]

Major League Soccer added Philadelphia as its sixteenth team on February 28, 2008.[2] The finalization of the club is the result of a $47 million package approved by Delaware County politicians and Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, that includes the cost of PPL Park and a major urban renewal project.[3] Keystone Sports & Entertainment's plan for Chester was initiated in late 2006, soon after the New Jersey legislature terminated an earlier proposal for a soccer-specific stadium at Rowan University.

The Union came to an agreement in December 2009 with the Reading Rage youth soccer organization for it to become the team's official minor league affiliate in the USL Premier Development League. The Rage team was re-branded as Reading United A.C., with a new logo and colors for the 2010 PDL season.[4] In the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, the Union selected forward Danny Mwanga from Oregon State University as the number one pick, as well as sixth and seventh picks Amobi Okugo from UCLA and Jack McInerney from the U.S. U-17 National Team in the first round.[5] In March 2010, the Union signed an affiliation agreement with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Second Division (which has since become USL Pro).[6]

Inaugural season

The Union's first game was played on March 25, 2010, in which they lost by a score of 3–0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field, the first game of the 2010 Major League Soccer season.[7] Sébastien Le Toux became the first player to score a goal for Philadelphia in their home opener on April 10, 2010, a 3–2 win over D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field.[8] The team again played Seattle Sounders FC for the first match at PPL Park on June 27, 2010. Sébastien Le Toux scored the Union's initial goal at the venue from a penalty kick, which was instrumental to their 3–1 victory. All 12,000 season ticket packages for 2010 were sold prior to this opener.[9]

Colors and badge

On May 11, 2009, the Philadelphia Union's name, crest, and colors were officially announced during a ceremony held at Philadelphia City Hall. "Union" alludes to the union of the Thirteen Colonies, of which Philadelphia was the first capital.[10] The name was chosen following a fan poll held between January 19, 2009 and February 6, 2009; the other three options were AC Philadelphia, SC Philadelphia, and Philadelphia City.[11][12] Before the official appellation, the Sons of Ben nicknamed the team as the "Zolos." At a "Meet-the-Owners" event held two days before the expansion press conference in Chester, they wore nametags with handwritten numbers intended to read "2010." The number was mistakenly interpreted as "ZOLO" by ownership group member, Nick Sakiewicz. This led to the Philadelphia Union being referred to as the "Zolos" in a series of inside jokes by the group.[13]

The Union's colors are navy blue and gold, representing the primary colors of the Continental Army's uniforms during the American Revolutionary War. The team's crest is circular, symbolizing unity. Its thirteen gold stars represent the original Thirteen Colonies, while the shield's contour derives from the Philadelphia coat of arms. The rattlesnake pays homage to a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin that was featured in the 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette. The rattlesnake eventually became a national symbol during the American Revolution, representing the danger of disunity, and was featured on the Gadsden flag.[14] The light blue in the middle of the crest is a tribute to the Sons of Ben, and is further derived from the civic flag of Philadelphia.[15]

The team's secondary logo is a simplified version of the above design that consists of the blue shield with the rattlesnake, augmented with a gold border and a ribbon bearing the team's official motto: "jungite aut perite", a Latin translation of the phrase "join or die", which was also used in the 1754 Benjamin Franklin political cartoon mentioned above.[14]

The home jersey is midnight blue, with a gold strip down the center with light blue piping in the color of the Philadelphia flag. The away kit is the reverse of the home kit – predominantly "natural khaki" with a midnight blue panel and blue piping.[16] In 2011, the Union introduced a white third kit which has navy blue shoulder panels and gold and navy trim.


The Union play most of their games at PPL Park, an 18,500-seat soccer-specific stadium located at the southwesterly corner of the Commodore Barry Bridge. The structure was designed by Rossetti Architects and the ICON Venue Group, with the actual construction contracted to the Ardmore, Pennsylvania-based T.N. Ward Company. PPL Park 's design allows clear views of the Delaware River for approximately sixty percent of its spectators, and is the centerpiece of Chester's urban renewal process. The Union trains at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pennsylvania, a community located 17 miles north of Chester.[17]

The Union played their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on April 10, 2010 against D.C. United as well as their May 15 match against FC Dallas due to construction delays at their future home in Chester. Lincoln Financial Field remains the team's secondary home, for matches with anticipated high attendances, such as a friendly against Manchester United, during their 2010 tour of North America.[18] For the home opener, the team limited ticket sales to the lower bowl and club sections, totaling about 37,500 seats.[19] On June 27, the Union officially opened their home with a 3–2 win over Seattle Sounders FC.[20]

Club culture


Grassroots support was instrumental to the founding of the Philadelphia Union and the construction of PPL Park. This backing came in the form of a supporters group known as the Sons of Ben, which was founded in January 2007. The Sons of Ben petitioned Major League Soccer to expand to the Philadelphia market until the official expansion announcement was made in January 2008. Named for Founding Father and Philadelphia icon, Benjamin Franklin, the group was included in the expansion press conference, singing their anthem, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover", and closing the event by presenting scarves to the ownership group.[21] They were also present on May 11, 2009 for the naming ceremony at City Hall.[22]

While the Sons of Ben are the predominant and official supporters group, smaller supporters groups also exist. These include the Tammany Saints (sections 101 and 133), the IllegitimateS (section 133), the Corner Creeps (section 134), and the Bridge Crew (sections 120–121).[23]

In June 2010 Hugh Jackman attended at least two Union games while staying in the city. The Australian actor made no claim to be a supporter of the team but his two visits to PPL park meant he had watched the Union live more times than he had the club he actually supports, Norwich City of England, whom he had only managed to get to once. [24]


The Philadelphia Union's primary rivals are D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls.[25] These rivalries exist primarily because of geographical proximity and the traditional animosities between the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City in other professional sports leagues. The Union also have a bit of a rivalry with Seattle Sounders FC despite the 2,377 miles (3,825 km)[26] between Philadelphia and Seattle. The cross-country feud started when the Philadelphia Union played its inaugural MLS game in Seattle. It continued when PPL Park's first-ever home game pitted the club against Seattle. The rivalry culminated as they were regularly compared to the 2009 expansion Sounders FC during their inaugural 2010 season as evidenced by defender Danny Califf, "Last year there was all this measuring of us against Seattle in their inaugural year, so maybe it created a bit more of a rivalry. They’re a good team coming in here, and after the start they had they’d really like to take it to us."[27]


On January 11, 2011, the Philadelphia Union announced a four-year agreement with Bimbo Bakeries USA to be its official jersey sponsor. The company's U.S. headquarters is located in the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham, Pennsylvania, thus providing local and global exposure to the team. It was also announced that Bimbo will be the official bread and baked goods partner of both the Union and Major League Soccer, as well as an overall league sponsor.[28] The sponsorship deal is valued at about $12 million.[29]


The Union's matches are locally televised by WPVI-TV and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia/The Comcast Network in Philadelphia, and on WQMY-TV in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Select matches are also nationally broadcast on ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, and Telefutura. JP Dellacamera calls the play-by-play with former MLS player Taylor Twellman calling the color commentary and Philadelphia soccer legend Bob Rigby with sideline reports.

Beginning with the 2012 MLS season, seventeen select home and road matches will be broadcast on SportsRadio 610 WIP. The Union will also collaborate with WIP on a weekly hour-long soccer show.[30]

Players and staff

Current roster

As of September 23, 2011.[31]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Colombia GK Faryd Mondragón (captain)
2 England DF Joe Tait
3 Colombia DF Juan Diego González
4 United States DF Danny Califf (vice-captain)
5 Colombia DF Carlos Valdés
6 Brazil MF Stefani Miglioranzi
7 United States MF Brian Carroll
8 Colombia MF Roger Torres (on loan from América de Cali)
9 France FW Sébastien Le Toux
10 Democratic Republic of the Congo FW Danny Mwanga
11 United States MF Freddy Adu
12 Côte d'Ivoire FW Levi Houapeu
13 United States MF Kyle Nakazawa
14 United States MF Amobi Okugo
No. Position Player
15 United States MF Gabriel Farfan
16 Serbia FW Veljko Paunović
17 Trinidad and Tobago MF Keon Daniel
18 United States GK Zac MacMath
19 United States FW Jack McInerney
21 United States MF Michael Farfan
22 United States MF Justin Mapp
23 United States MF Ryan Richter
24 Trinidad and Tobago GK Thorne Holder
25 United States DF Sheanon Williams
26 United States MF Morgan Langley
27 United States MF Zach Pfeffer
31 United States GK Chase Harrison

Reserve team players

This list shows players who have played or dressed as substitutes for the team in official 2011 MLS Reserve Division games, but are not part of the senior roster.

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
United States GK Zach Steffen
United States DF Stephen Basso
United States DF Shane Campbell
United States DF Billy McConnell
United States DF David Rodriguez
United States MF Brian Ackley
United States MF Matthew Baker
Peru MF Nelson Becerra
United States MF Christiano Francois
United States MF Michael Gonzalez
United States MF Christian Hernandez
United States MF Andrew Heir
No. Position Player
United States MF Jim McLaughlin
United States MF Todd Pratzner
United States MF Karl Reddick
United States MF Keegan Rosenberry
United States MF Thomas Shiiba
United States MF Colton Storm
The Gambia MF Sainey Touray
United States MF Andrew Welker
United States FW Kelton Cheney
United States FW Darius Madison
United States FW Melvin Snoh

Notable former players

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.

Current staff

  • Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations – Poland Piotr Nowak
  • Manager – Poland Piotr Nowak
  • Assistant Coach – United States John Hackworth
  • Assistant/Goalkeeper Coach – United States Rob Vartughian
  • Assistant/Reserve Team Head Coach – Republic of Ireland Brendan Burke
  • Head of Scouting and Player Development – United States Diego Gutiérrez
  • Youth Technical Director – United States Alecko Eskandarian
  • Head Athletic Trainer – United States Paul Rushing
  • Assistant Athletic Trainer – United States Steve Hudyma
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach – United States Kevin MIiller

Head coaches

Piotr Nowak, the Union's first manager

On May 29, 2009, the Philadelphia Union announced the hiring of Piotr Nowak as its first manager. He was the captain of the Polish national team for three years, and has also enjoyed success in Major League Soccer. As a player, Nowak led the Chicago Fire to an MLS Cup title in their 1998 inaugural season. As a coach, he led D.C. United to win the 2004 MLS Cup. Nowak has also coached the under-23 U.S. men's national team and assisted Bob Bradley, the head coach of the United States national team.[32]

Nowak's primary assistant is John Hackworth, a former assistant coach for the United States men's national team. His official title is Coach and Youth Development Coordinator.[33] Joshua Gros, a native of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, is the team coordinator. He played as a member of the 2004 MLS Cup-champion D.C. United, of which Nowak was the head coach. Gros is in charge of all player-related issues.[34] Former MLS star Diego Gutiérrez, who was a teammate of Nowak in Chicago, is Head of Scouting and Player Development. His role includes domestic and international scouting along with roster management assistance.[35]


The team is owned by Keystone Sports & Entertainment, a group of investors led by Jay Sugarman, chief executive of iStar Financial. The other investors include Christopher Buccini, Robert Buccini, and David Pollin – co-founders of the Buccini/Pollin Group; William Doran, a Philadelphia lawyer employed by the SEI Investments Company; James Nevels; the founder of the Swarthmore Group and a long-term veteran of the securities and investment industry; Paula Mandle, the chief executive officer of the Swarthmore Group; and Nick Sakiewicz, a Major League Soccer veteran formerly employed with the New York Red Bulls and the defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny.[36][37][38]



Year League Standings MLS
Cup Playoffs
Open Cup
Champions League
Manager Top Scorer Average Attendance
GP Pts W L T Conf. Overall Nat. Name Nat. Name Goals Regular
2010 2010 30 31 8 15 7 7th 14th Did not qualify Did not qualify Did not qualify Poland Piotr Nowak France Sébastien Le Toux 14 19,254 DNQ
2011 2011 34 48 11 8 15 3rd 8th Conference Semifinals Did not qualify Did not qualify Poland Piotr Nowak France Sébastien Le Toux 11 18,259 18,539

Team records

MLS regular season only, through 2011 season

  • All-Time regular season record: 19–23–22 (Through October 20, 2011)
  • All-Time regular season home record: 13–4–15 (Through October 20, 2011)
  • All-Time regular season PPL Park record: 12–4–14 (Through October 20, 2011)
  • All-Time regular season away record: 6–19–7 (Through October 20, 2011)

PPL Park records

  • All-Time record: 12–4–14 (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time average attendance: 17,976 (Through September 30, 2011)
  • All-Time highest attendance: 19,178 (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time lowest attendance: 15,149 (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time sellouts: 14 (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time goals leader: France Sébastien Le Toux (17) (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time wins leader: Colombia Faryd Mondragón (5) (Through October 15, 2011)
  • All-Time shutouts leader: Colombia Faryd Mondragón (4) (Through October 15, 2011)

International tournaments

  • 2011 World Football Challenge
Group Stage v. Spain Real Madrid -- 1:2

See also


  1. ^ Andy Jasner (March 1, 2008). "Sons of Ben rejoice in Philly expansion". Retrieved May 12, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "MLS awards Philadelphia 2010 expansion team". February 28, 2008. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Major hurdle cleared for Philly expansion". Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  4. ^ New era for Reading PDL team
  5. ^ "2010 SuperDraft – Draft Tracker". Major League Soccer. Retrieved January 14, 2010. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Philadelphia Union To Play Harrisburg City Islanders July 27". Daily Times. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Union go down in their debut". The Philadelphia Inquirer. March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Le Toux helps Union hold off D.C. in Philly debut". Major League Soccer. April 10, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010. [dead link]
  9. ^ Gabriel, Kerith (May 20, 2010). "Union season-ticket packages are sold out". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Press release". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ "PHILLY Soccer 2010 Name The Team". January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Philly-area soccer team holds vote for team name". USA Today. Associated Press. January 15, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2009. 
  13. ^ "The Sons Also Rise". Philadelphia Weekly. March 14, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b "Philadelphia Union brand narrative". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Philadelphia Union supporters club". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  16. ^ Union unveils jersey rich with symbolism
  17. ^ Union taking a different approach to fitness in preseason
  18. ^ Union to host Manchester United at the Linc
  19. ^ Gammage, Jeff (September 23, 2009). "Linc to host first Phila. Union soccer game". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Sons of Ben rejoice in Philly expansion". February 29, 2008. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Philly Soccer Page – The Other Supporters Groups
  24. ^ [1] Jackman attends Union game
  25. ^ Goff, Steven (April 10, 2010). "D.C. United fosters a rivalry with expansion Philadelphia Union". The Washington Post: p. D2. 
  26. ^ [cite web |title=Distance Philadelphia – Seattle||]
  27. ^ [cite web |title=Union vs. Sounders a budding cross-country feud|newspaper=MLS Soccer|]
  28. ^ Baking company signs on as official bread and baked goods sponsor of the Union and MLS, Philadelphia Union, January 11, 2011,, retrieved January 11, 2011 
  29. ^ Gammage, Jeff (January 11, 2011), Union soccer team wins sponsorship from Bimbo bakery, The Philadelphia Inquirer,, retrieved January 11, 2011 
  30. ^ "Union ink radio deal with SportsRadio 610 WIP". Philadelphia Union Communications. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Union names Nowak as first ever Team Manager". Philadelphia Union. May 29, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2009. 
  33. ^ Gabriel, Kerith (November 10, 2009). "A bit of a reunion for new Union assistant Hackworth". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved November 18, 2009. [dead link]
  34. ^ "Nowak and Gros reunited with Union". Philadelphia Union. June 11, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Gutierrez Joins Union Technical Staff". Philadelphia Union Communications. December 16, 2010. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  36. ^ "City of Brotherly Love embraces MLS". Retrieved March 1, 2008. 
  37. ^
  38. ^

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