Pre-Match reading material: Union had busy week on and off the pitch

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The news started Sunday, immediately following the worst loss of the year, when word came of match promotion announcements (Military Appreciation Night 8/11 v. Houston Dynamo and a rescheduled Firework Night 8/31 v. Atlanta United FC), continued with an exciting partnership with the city of Philadelphia, and ended with roster news announcements which saw Carlos Coronel return to Red Bull Salzburg, Cole Turner ink a pre-contract deal, and Joe Bendik join the club as back-up keeper. Catch-up on the news below with some Pre-match reading material.

The Philadelphia Union Foundation, Eastern PA Youth Soccer, and Philadelphia Mayor announce Mini-Pitch project this past week at City Hall.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Military Appreciation Night, Operation Yellow Ribbon, and a 5v5 tourney on Battleship New Jersey

Military Appreciation night is easily one of the more exciting and engaging promotional events Philadelphia Union hold year after year. This year, the entire weekend will be dedicated to honoring the American military ultimately building up to a clash with Houston Dynamo.

Back on July 1st, the club announced a partnership (one of many this month) with Liberty USO and Battleship New Jersey. Why? A 5v5 mini-soccer tournament on the deck of the Battleship New Jersey, that’s why. Titled the Battle of the Branches, the event will take place Tuesday, August 6th. No cost to register and for each team, the Philadelphia Union will donate to USO and Battleship New Jersey.

Firework Night (Reschedule date: 8/31 v. Atlanta United FC) + 90’s Night promo

The club also announced a new date for the annual post-match firework celebration, which was cancelled due to rain on July 6th. Thanks Mother Nature.

Call it turning lemons into lemonade, but firework night just got a whole lot more interesting. Not only will it be 90’s night, which is especially intriguing considering players in the weekly matchday 18 barely even know the 90’s (they weren’t born yet…). But also, Atlanta United FC could provide an epic pre-playoff match for Philadelphia. A true test of their abilities.

2v2 Pro-Am Charity Fifa Tourney 7/23

Lost in the shuffle this week was the news of the first ever Pro-Am 2v2 charity Fifa tournament which will feature Phillies legend Ryan Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Freeway (hip-hop artist and fan), Auston Trusty, and several other Union players.

Localhost will play the honor of host for the tournament, located on N 3rd Street in Philly. It’s an arena where video gamers can battle it out. The event is powered by Independence Blue Cross and N3rd Street Gamers (the same crew that’s presented past Fifa events with the club.)

Competitors can bid for a spot in the Pro-Am tourney with highest bidders earning a chance on the sticks.

In other Fifa related news, Cormac Dooley aka Doolsta (Union’s eMLS athlete and US international Fifa pro) will compete in the 2019 eMLS All-Star Challenge. Read more here.

Philadelphia Union Festival: Friendly v. Reading United AC celebrating 10-year partnership with affiliate club

It’s the summer soccer tradition that keeps on giving. The Union traveled into Reading Tuesday evening for the annual clash against their lower-league affiliates. Although, soured by some heavy downpours and recent news of a high-ankle sprain suffered by Sergio Santos, the event was a success.

Philadelphia ended up with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Anthony Fontana. The match serves as an opportunity to continually send recognition back to Reading United considering the two clubs have been hand-in-hand since day one of the franchise.

Homecoming at the U – August 24th became a must-attend match with announcement of #UnionAlumniNight

The list is STACKED. There’s no other way to describe it. Carlos Ruiz, Fred, Kleberson, Faryd Mondragon, Danny Califf, Ryan Richer, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Willliams, Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, the Farfan twins…… you get the idea.

Just be there.

Cole Turner signed a pre-contract with Union: yet another success story thanks to YSC Academy’s residency program

The 18-year old who often plays like a grown-man with Bethlehem Steel FC in the USL Championship league, inked a pre-contract deal with the Union and his first professional deal with Steel FC on the same day.

The Residency Program has been a fruitful investment for the Union’s ownership group. Turner joins a growing list of Academy players that have traveled longer than usual distances to be a part of the organization (Ben Ofeimu, Issa Rayyan, Snyder Borgelin, and Selmir Miscic on the list as well).

Turner joined the program prior to his sophomore high school year. The Churchville, MD native mentioned he would be driven close to two hours to and from the Academy prior to joining the Residency Program, which offers players like Turner and Ofeimu (originally from Michigan) an opportunity to live with host families nearby the Academy.

So far, it’s been a fruitful investment for the club.

Philadelphia Union Foundation, Eastern PA Youth Soccer, Mayor Keeney announce Mini-Pitch Project

The $3.5 million program to build 15 mini-pitches and two signature soccer fields throughout the sprawling Philadelphia city will bring a “much needed investment in community soccer fields,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. There’s never been such a formidable partnership from the Philadelphia Union Foundation. You can learn more here.

But this is now two great community investments made from Union front office and their charitable branch the Union Foundation.

Remember the initiative in place that helped return a soccer program to Chester High School? Now add this historic partnership, and you get incredible success off the field while enjoying an exciting product on the field with a first place team. It’s been quite a year for the Union, but more on that another time.

Goalkeeper maneuvering from Sporting Director Ernst Tanner solves roster hole

The club announced Carlos Coronel was released in order to rejoin Red Bull Salzburg while Joe Bendik was acquired in a swap for a future draft pick.

The move was calculated from Tanner, who confessed Salzberg approached him inquiring to have Coronel return prior to his loan officially ending. Tanner mentioned he was glad to make the request a possibility despite a lack of goalkeeping for USL affiliate Steel FC.

Tomas Romero is set to enjoy some college soccer and Kris Shakes, the other Academy keeper often seen on Steel FC’s training pitch and matchday 18, left for Penn State already. So some strings were in need of pulling to fill the gaps.

In comes Columbus Crew, who already have a young and talented goalkeeper, the Downingtown, PA native and USMNT keeper Zac Stefen. They agreed to swap Bendik for a 2nd-round pick in next year’s MLS SuperDraft. It was an easy trade for Tanner, who has taken much pride in passing on the draft this year in favor of Academy players.

International Friendly: September 7th v. Pumas UNAM

While many wanted the club to punt on the option of a summer international friendly, one was announced anyway. Philadelphia will welcome Liga MX side Pumas UNAM in early September.

There’s really only one positive here: youngsters can play against some top competition. If you’ve been following any younger Union or Steel FC players, this match is for you.

Oh, and this happened…

Bedoya was a guest speaker at the mini-pitch project unveiling. 6abc made an unfortunate blunder. But Bedoya, true to his nature, had some fun with it of course. Don’t worry, there was no bad blood here.

Tune in at 7:30PM on PHL17 tonight: Union v. Chicago Fire

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union