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Club News

Philadelphia Union - A Brief History

26 June 2014

Ahead of Palace's American adventure this summer, takes an in-depth look at our three opponents' history. You can take a look at our guide to Columbus Crew here, but this week we look at our second opponents – Philadelphia Union.

Despite Major League Soccer kicking off in 1996, the city of Philadelphia wasn't represented by a team until 2008 when the league granted them a franchise. Their current stadium PPL Park was built, former Poland international Piotr Nowak was named manager and their first draft pick was striker Danny Mwanga.

They played their first ever competitive game in March 2010 which saw them lose 2-0 to Seattle Sounders but in their first home match, which was played at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL side Philadelphia Eagles), they beat DC United 3-2 thanks to a hat-trick from Sebastien Le Toux.

Le Toux would also notch their first goal at PPL Park which came in a 3-1 victory against Seattle in front of a capacity crowd of 18,779. During the season they also hosted pre-season friendlies against Celtic and Manchester United, beating the Scottish side 1-0 but losing to United by the same scoreline.

They finished their inaugural season in seventh position in the eight-team Eastern Conference, winning eight of their 30 fixtures, with Le Toux top-scoring with 14 goals.

The following season would be much more successful for the club, as they finished third in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the MLS Cup play-offs, however were defeated in the semi-finals by Houston Dynamo. Their ranks were also boosted during the season with the arrival of Freddy Adu and Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, and played Real Madrid in a friendly but were beaten 2-1.

However the 2012 campaign saw the loss of star-striker and fan favourite Le Toux to Vancouver Whitecaps and without his goals the side struggled, finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference but enjoyed their best ever run in the US Open Cup, reaching the semi-final stage before beating defeated by Sporting Kansas City.

The poor league showing led to Nowak's dismissal and he was replaced by John Hackworth. He brought back Le Toux who had by then moved to New York Red Bulls, let Adu leave and signed former Manchester United midfielder Kleberson however these changes only resulting in a seventh-place finish in the conference.

Results failed to pick up during the current campaign and Hackworth was sacked earlier this month with the Union languishing eighth in the conference, and 16th overall in the MLS standings. He was replaced on an interim basis by former assistant manager Jim Curtin who will be aiming to improve on their three victories so far this season.

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