Our Union team at Philly Sports Network recently received a special invitation. Alexandra Wachman, Public Relations Manager at Comcast, asked if we’d like to attend an Xfinity event hosted by the Philadelphia Union. There would be only a handful of season ticket holders in attendance, would include viewing a team practice, lunch on the deck of the stadium club, an Xfinity demonstration, and conclude with appearances by two Union players. I accepted on behalf of PSN and was looking forward to a front-row seat at a Union practice and was curious about what Xfinity had to show everyone at their demo.
The morning started with Union head coach, Jim Curtin, addressing the fans. He went briefly over how a practice that day would be structured, and then took questions from the crowd. Curtin was, as always, very personable and thanked those in attendance before and after the practice for taking the time out of their day as well as acknowledging their support for the Union.
The practice was divided into three parts. The first was the one that impressed me the most. It was a short field drill with eight consecutive passes needing to be completed before a shot could be taken. Witnessing this up close, the timing, precision, and talent of professionals at this level stood out to me more than ever. I was most impressed with the midfielder, Brenden Aaronson’s footwork during this drill. I mentioned on PSN’s new Union podcast, “Inside the River End”, that Marco Fabián looked a bit disengaged at this point and I suspected he wouldn’t be getting the starting nod versus the New York Red Bulls. You can check out our podcast below…
The second part of practice was more of a wide-open, real match feel. There was a form to the drill, but players seemed to have more freedom to operate on their own. The third and final drill, was a series of midfield passes booted towards goal, settled by the receiving player near the top of the box, followed by a cross to cutting teammates.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I was fortunate enough to meet and discuss the Union and Major League Soccer with a few of my PSN readers. From there, we all took an elevator ride up to the Stadium Club for lunch on the club deck area and then sat down for the Xfinity presentation. I was about to be enlightened.
Now, I’ve had Xfinity for years, but I’ve always relied on my phone for following scores, stats, and players of any sport. I never took the time to see the seriously impressive improvements that my long-time cable provider had made. I knew that simply saying “sports” into my voice remote would bring up a listing of games currently being shown as well as events scheduled for later. What I didn’t know, was how many options and details could be discovered by simply clicking on one event.
Take, for example, an English Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle. Not only could I view team stats for that match, but current, up-to-date statistics for any player from either club for that particular match. Just by speaking into the Xfinity remote, you could simply say the names of two EPL players and a statistical comparison will be displayed for both. I tried this for MLS matches a few days later and not only was it fun, it felt good to put my phone down for a bit – something I’m sure we could all benefit taking a break from.
This past weekend I tried it on NFL games and in addition to all the features I’ve mentioned, it keeps an updated list on the side of your screen of fantasy numbers for any player in any game you select. I can’t wait to use this for the upcoming NBA season and especially March Madness.
A few other products I feel are worth mentioning. The first is called Xfinity Home. Although the most important feature was a 24/7 home security system, Xfinity Home gives the user the ability to have what’s basically a universal remote for their entire home. Fully utilized, one can control the home thermostat, door locks, garage doors, house lights, inside and out, etc.
Another product, called Xfinity xFi, allows the user, in-particular a parent, to have all devices (cell phones/tablets/laptops) listed in a single app. Once these are all added and named to the parent’s liking, one can even set their child’s wifi to cease working at a particular time of day or night.
The day then concluded with a meet-and-greet with winger, Fafa Picault and midfielder, Anthony Fontana. A fun and informative day all-around.
Tying this all back to the Union, I recommend if you have Xfinity, to try the sports app this coming Sunday during the Union/Columbus Crew match at 5:00 PM. 2.3 million customers in the Philadelphia market can’t be wrong. I know Xfinity is a faithful partner of the Philadelphia Union, but I hope there can be even more in the future.
I recently communicated with the marketing department specifically at Xfinity Live. I asked them if they were aware of any Philadelphia Union-related events at Xfinity Live that had been held/promoted in the past few years. They replied, “We have had a close working relationship with the Philadelphia Union and are always working with all Philadelphia Sports teams on great events. We cannot speak to any past events with the Union but can confirm we currently do not have any confirmed events with them at this time.”
Honestly, I was disappointed by the boiler-plate answer I was given, as well as the lack of information provided. For having a close working relationship with the Union, I was surprised that they couldn’t provide a single example of a past event dedicated specifically to the Union. My guess is the same question presented about the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers or Flyers would have resulted in a very different answer. I don’t doubt the relationship between Xfinity and the Union is strong, so when it comes to a place as fan-centric as Xfinity Live, I’d like them to put their money where their mouth is, and turn the outside and inside of Xfinity into Union central when they take the field in the MLS playoffs next month. It’s where things are trending and where they should be.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Green