Union Fever!

Union Fever!

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On February 8, 2010
  • Geoff Reid, Piotr Nowak, PPL Park

Piotr Nowak leads the troops. (Photo via Philadelphia Union)

By: Geoff Reid

I must admit, when Philadelphia officially got announced as the next expansion club added to the MLS brass for the 2010 season in March of 2008, I was very skeptical.  Of course at the time, I was still based in Massachusetts as an undergrad and my local side then essentially was the New England Revolution.  For a long time in the back of my mind I was always thinking it was a mistake that the league picked Philadelphia over St. Louis.  Now nearly two years later, my opinion is a complete 180 degrees from what it originally had been.

Since the last update in November, much more has developed: the expansion draft, MLS Superdraft, additional player signings, full fixture announcement for the whole season, date for when the stadium will officially open, additions to coaching staff, the hiring of JP Dellacamera as play by play commentator and local TV contract on 6abc to televise games that aren’t nationally televised, amongst a whole other bunch of information.

The media coverage has been particularly interesting.  It’s not been front page of the sports editions by any means, nor was the Union expecting that to happen. However, signs have been encouraging.  Tom Veit, President of the club told the local newspaper Philadelphia Inquirer that season ticket sales will still cap at 12,000 and that currently the number is closing on 10,000.  Veit pointed out that Toronto FC had as many season ticket holders at this point when they were approaching their 1st season in league play and used the TFC model as an example to prove why he believes all Union home matches will sell out the 18,500 seat stadium when completed.

I personally remain a little skeptical about that because at this point in time, it’s far too difficult to tell but as club President, it’s what he has to say.  If it did happen, I really wouldn’t be surprised because it makes sense by looking at the model they’re following.

The squad is also coming together very nicely.  By no means is the squad complete, but manager Piotr Nowak likes what he has to build the foundations with so far.  What lineup can we see at Quest Field against the Seattle Sounders for first kick 2010?  Again, it’s far too early to tell, but looking at the current squad and assuming everyone’s healthy, why not give it a look.  My projected lineup right now would be this:

  • Chris Seitz (GK)
  • Danny Califf (CB)
  • Michael Orozco (CB)
  • Jordan Harvey (FB)
  • Shavar Thomas (FB)
  • Stefani Miglioranzi (CM)
  • Andrew Jackobson (CM)
  • Fred (LW)
  • Nick Zimmerman (RW)
  • Danny Mwanga (CF)
  • Alejandro Moreno (CF)

Now that lineup is assuming Nowak goes with a 4-4-2 formation.  He could easily go for a 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 or another formation.  Quite simply it’s far too early to figure that out.  He could prefer Sebastian Le Toux, Shea Salinas, rookie Amobi Okugo, or David Myrie in the back.  I’m just assuming for the club’s first ever match, he’ll go for an experienced lineup but if the rookie’s have a strong pre-season, Nowak may not have the option to overlook them.

Another important bit of news that hasn’t been made official and will not be until it is confirmed by the club is the naming rights of the stadium.  For the last few weeks it has been reported that Philadelphia Power and Light (PPL) were to sponsor the stadium for 10 years worth $20million ($2million each year) which would be big time revenue the club will get on top of their partnership with Panasonic and other partnerships.  A jersey sponsorship looks like it’ll happen sooner rather then later with the club just trying to find the right partner in that regard after turning down a few offers so far.  As mentioned earlier briefly, the television deal with the local ABC affiliate here channel 6 is massive because not only is it one of the three main networks locally and affiliated with a major national broadcasting network, ABC is partners with ESPN and therefore will have a good number of live televised world cup matches this summer and assuming Euro 2012 if Disney hasn’t purchased those rights for North America yet.

On top of all that, it’s far better to have a partner like 6abc rather then the local Comcast Sportsnet (CSN) channel because not only do they have the rights to Phillies games, but also Sixers and Flyers too.  I believe CSN wouldn’t give the Union and the sport the respect the team, league and game deserves.  Since there is no Fox Sports Net locally in the area, it should be CSN’s right to broadcast Champions League matches live on Tuesday afternoons which they haven’t been doing at all.  That alone shows how committed they would be toward the club or MLS.  On 6abc, the club has much more room to work with.

Right now, the club is doing their training in Greensboro, North Carolina, hoping to work under a slightly warmer climate then the comforts of home but with this latest snowstorm they haven’t managed to escape it.  Needless to say, the first unofficial match (scrimmage) in team history takes place on Saturday against University of North Carolina (UNC) with a good number of Sons Of Ben members expected to be in attendance.

It’s hard to believe that first kick 2010 is a month and a half away already, that’s if a new CBA can be agreed upon in time.  A message to the league and the players union: it’s up to you now.

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week. Feel free to leave him a message or comment below. You can also reach him on Twitter @GeoffReid.

  • big E

    Please stop calling it Philadelphia Power and Light. Its PA Power and Light! Just use PPL and you won't get hurt.

  • big E

    Please stop calling it Philadelphia Power and Light. Its PA Power and Light! Just use PPL and you won't get hurt.