Written by Will Parchman

earnit

Ever curious how it goes on a typical day inside an MLS academy? We’ve brought you one from RSL, and another from the San Jose Earthquakes. Now it’s the East Coast’s turn. The Philadelphia Union have you covered.

Ever since the opening of the YSC Academy in 2013, the club’s been on a steady upward trajectory with its academy apparatus. Today, the Union are widely considered one of the top 7 or 8 academies in MLS, partly because of the investment and mostly because it’s promoting a healthy brand of soccer mixed with a real pipeline to the first team under new-ish GM Earnie Stewart. There aren’t a ton of academies outside the established Big Four of RSL, LAG, RBNY and FCD with more resources.

That’s largely the focus of Philly’s new 20-minute documentary detailing how it goes for players inside this academy setup. From kids from outside the area piling into host family houses to locals boarding the train each day, it takes a village.

It’s well worth your time, whether you’re an academy head or not. If you’re looking to build a successful club, these represent some important first steps on the journey there.

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Written by Will Parchman

union

Among MLS clubs at the 2017 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, few acquitted themselves better than the rising Philadelphia Union academy. The Union have been beefing up their academy apparatus seemingly exponentially since opening the YSC Academy in 2013, and the recent addition of GM Earnie Stewart seemed to finally wed philosophy to reality.

Since then, the Union U16 and U18 Development Academy teams have annually been among the country’s best. They’ve already pushed out a U17 youth national teamer in Rayshaun McGann, a U20 youth national teamer in Auston Trusty and a bonafide Union first teamer in Derrick Jones. So it should perhaps not be such a surprise that the Union managed to win their group at the GA Cup’s Premier Division level (ostensibly the second tier) and earned a spot in the third-place game against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Without question, the jewel performance of that run came against Monterrey, toting as they were one of the most lauded academies in Mexico and the prohibitive favorites to win the group. In that sense, the Union-Monterrey matchup was always likely to decide which way the group fell, and as we already know, the Union won the head-to-head.

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Written by Will Parchman

blake

Remember when the Philly Union drafted Andre Blake, maybe the most pro-ready keeper out of college in a decade, and stashed him on the bench for the first 23 league games of his pro career? And then, after a 90-minute teaser, sat him for another 35?

Yeah. Those were strange, unfulfilled days.

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Written by Will Parchman

jones

Back in the fall of 2013, as the YSC Academy flung open its doors to student-athletes for the first time, I sat down with then-Union GM Nick Sakiewicz, in addition to some other major names, to dive into the academy’s nuts and bolts.

Sakiewicz has since departed the club under acrimonious terms, but the school is still bulling along. Before YSC, the Union didn’t have a dedicated academy arm, instead relying on a series of regional satellite clubs they’d bring in for broader club-based training sessions to scout. It was essentially the fading ODP model shrunk down to academy form.

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Written by Will Parchman

nowak

The voluminous dump of information in the wake of former head coach Peter Nowak’s lawsuit for wrongful termination against the Philadelphia Union has been dizzying. On Twitter, Jonathan Tannenwald unleashed a torrent of documents, unsheathing allegations that boggle the mind.

Dehydration, spanking, hazing, negligence. Whatever happens, Philly is a tangled mess right now. The only good news from the Philly Union perspective is that all of the players in this case have already moved on from the organization.

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Written by Will Parchman

As if getting pulled out of the game just before penalty kicks and then losing a second U.S. Open Cup in as many years after regulation wasn’t bad enough, Philly keeper Andre Blake got kicked in the face by two players at the same time on Thursday. The single most perfect illustration of the Union’s tenure in MLS ever conceived.

Happy Thursday, Philadelphia! Drinks are on us.

 

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Written by The 91st

Who doesn’t love a good troll job? I know some might disagree, but the folks from New York Red Bulls blog Once a Metro put together an epic video compilation trolling the Philadelphia Union over the number of goalkeepers who’ve played for the team.

It was first posted back in May according to YouTube but is currently making the rounds, and is a must watch, even though the material is definitely from among more low-hanging fruit.

They definitely saved the best for last, too.

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Written by Will Parchman

Rais-M’Bolhi

The Union’s not-so-secret goalkeeper hoarding issue has gotten them into copious amounts of trouble in the past. For one, they used top picks on top young keeper prospects Zac MacMath and Andre Blake just a few years apart, and neither is currently playing for the Union. At some point they had to tell both of those players why they did what they did, and I can imagine both being incredibly uncomfortable. MacMath is on loan (or in exile, definition depending) in Colorado, while Blake rots on the bench despite being one of the most pro-ready keepers to emerge from the draft… ever. Solid. Damn solid.

So that the Union opted to purchase Algerian national team keeper Rais M’Bolhi last year in the thick of all this was no great surprise. The Union accumulate keepers like a 14-year-old accumulated Pogs in 1999: with vehement gusto and lack of regard for those already in your possession.

Cracks already began forming in the signing last year. This moment was the most troubling. This insane moment of terrible distribution against the Fire last year cost the Union two points and essentially ended their chase for the 2014 postseason. This cost $240,000.

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Written by Will Parchman

macmath

The footsteps echoing behind Zac MacMath are those of Andre Blake, the No. 1 overall choice in the 2014 draft who’s languishing on the Philly Union bench. Blake was the most MLS-ready player in the 2014 draft, and unless MacMath suddenly gets very good or Blake is dealt (both unlikely consequences), Blake’s footsteps behind MacMath will only get louder as the year progresses.

How loud? He’s always there.

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Written by Reshad Bahadori

Morgan Hackworth is the son of the Union’s senior team head coach John Hackworth. On day two of the Development Academy Showcase in Florida, Morgan scored this ridiculous free-kick. It gave the Union a 1-0 lead over the Capital Area Railhawks in the first half. Morgan also had an assist later in the game. We’re also 100% sure that he meant to do that.

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