The first leg of Palace’s pre-season tour will see them take on Philadelphia Union for the second time in three years. Ahead of the game in Pennsylvania we give you the low-down on what to expect from our opponents.
Philadelphia Union started life back in 2008 after a fan group called the Sons of Ben formed the year before to demonstrate to MLS the interest in having a team in Pennsylvania. They joined the Eastern Conference and their inaugural season was in 2010.
The Union’s best finish in their six previous seasons in MLS was third in the Eastern Conference in 2011 but they were knocked out in the conference semi-finals. The past two seasons has seen them reach the final of the US Open Cup – America’s version of the FA Cup – but they were beaten on both occasions by Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.
The team play at the Talen Energy Stadium, which was called PPL Park when Palace last visited it in 2014. It has a capacity of 18,500 and was first opened in 2010. There are plans that it could be expanded to around 30,000 seats over the coming years.
Jim Curtin is currently in his third year in charge of the Union and was in the dugout when the sides played two years ago. A former defender for Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, he played 172 times in MLS between 2001 and 2009 before joining Philadelphia as assistant coach in 2012, and this season achieved the most wins whilst in charge of the club.
5. LAST SEASON
A disappointing campaign saw the Union finish ninth out of the 10-team Eastern Conference with 10 wins from their 34 league games. However they did reach the final of the US Open Cup but lost on penalties to Kansas City, and hosted Bournemouth in a friendly but lost 4-1.
6. THIS SEASON
A huge turnaround in fortunes saw Curtin steer his side to top spot in the Eastern Conference at the halfway point of the regular season. An injury-time goal defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders in their opening game of the US Open Cup before two successive league defeats, however they won 3-0 against DC United on Saturday to remain second in the standings.
7. CURRENT CROP
The most famous name in their squad is Tranquillo Barnetta who represented Switzerland in five major tournaments and played for Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke before moving to Philadelphia last summer. New signing Chris Pontius leads the scoring charts alongside Dutchman Roland Alberg, and former Stoke City midfielder Maurice Edu is also on the books. Club legend Sebastien Le Toux has more appearances, goals and assists for the Union than anyone else in their history.
8. FAMOUS FACES
Some of the more illustrious alumni in the Union’s short history include Freddy Adu who represented them for two seasons, former Manchester United midfielder Kleberson played 11 times and famed Colombian goalkeeper Fayd Mondragon was at the club in 2011.
9. PALACE LINKS
Goalkeeper Andre Blake is a member of the same Jamaican national side alongside the recently released Adrian Mariappa. He played for the Reggae Boyz in the 2015 Gold Cup as well as this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
10. FUN FACT
This will be the seventh time that Philadelphia have hosted Premier League opposition, but they have only won once in those encounter – a 1-0 win against Everton in 2011. They have also played Manchester United, Aston Villa, Stoke City and Bournemouth as well as the Eagles, who they lost 1-0 to via an own goal.