In 2008, Major League Soccer announced the addition of the 16th team, the Philadelphia Union. They wouldn’t begin playing until 2010 due to the massive undertaking of building their soccer-specific stadium, Subaru Park, and the major urban renewal project that would accompany it.
Their inaugural match would take place in Seattle where they would lose 2 – 0 to the Sounders. They would go on to win their home opener, in their temporary home of Lincoln Financial Field, against D.C. United but struggled to be consistent for the rest of the season.
Despite their form, the Union would sell all of their 12,000 Subaru Park season ticket packages before their first match in their new home, against the Sounders which Union ended up winning 3 – 1. But they would finish their inaugural season second to last in the Eastern Conference.
The following year they would make a complete 180, finishing 3rd in the East, qualifying for the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in their history. Apart from a U.S. Open Cup semi-final appearance in 2012, mediocrity would haunt the Union for the ensuing years until Jim Curtin took charge in 2014.
In his first year in charge, he would lead the team to a U.S. Open Cup final. The next season, they would make yet another U.S. Open Cup final but ended up losing once again.
Even though the Union made several acquisitions to bolster their team in 2015, they ended up finishing in 9th place out of the 10 teams in the East. It was in 2016 when Curtin’s project started bearing fruit when the team qualified for the playoffs for the second time in their history.
But it was in 2019 when the team made even bigger strides, topping the Eastern Conference and making it to the Conference Semifinals, the best regular season and playoff finishes the team had accomplished in their history.
They didn’t stop there, however, 2020 was the most successful season to date for the Union. They reached the semifinals of the MLS Is Back Tournament, won their first-ever trophy in the Supporter’s Shield Cup, earning Curtin his first Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year award.
Last season, the Union ended the season with a 2nd place finish and reached the MLS Cup Conference Final against NYCFC but after missing 11 of their players due to COVID precaution, they couldn’t get past NYCFC to make their first MLS Cup Final.
Philadelphia is picking up right where they left off last season as one of the top teams in the East making a case to be MLS Cup favorites. They are currently undefeated and sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference.
Dániel Gazdag: The Hungarian playmaker joined the Union last season but struggled to make much of an impact. This season, Gazdag looks like he’s fully adapted to the league, scoring three goals in their first four games of the season.
Alejandro Bedoya: Bedoya is Philadelphia’s captain for good reason. Before joining the Union late in 2016, he was playing for Nantes in the French first division and has made 66 appearances for the United States Men's National Team. In addition to being a leader, Bedoya is seemingly everywhere on the pitch, he is an industrious midfielder who does it all.
Andre Blake: The three-time MLS All-Star and two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Blake, has been one of the marquee MLS keepers for the past six seasons. He’s consistently one of Philly’s best players who has cat-like reflexes to make heroic saves week in and week out.