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The Union — a preseason review

With the approach of the Philadelphia Union's debut game on Thursday against the Seattle Sounders, there has been a pleasing increase of interviews with Union players and staff. We've linked to most of these on the PSP already but decided to gather them all together in one convenient location.

Before we get to that, let's do a quick review of the Union's preseason. With all of the talk off of the pitch about a possible players strike – thankfully averted when a new five year agreement was announced on Saturday – it has been all to easy to be distracted from what has been happening on the pitch.

Union pre-season review

The team's first match was a 5-0 victory over the University of North Carolina in which Sebastien Le Toux had a first half hat trick. The first goal came from open play in the 20th minute. Le Toux got his second goal from a penalty kick after Alejandro Moreno was brought down in the box. His third goal came in the 44th minute from an assist by Fred. Shae Salinas then scored in the 54th minute with Jack McInerney adding the fifth goal in the 89th minute.

The team next headed to Mexico for some training in warmer climes which resulted in a draw and a win. The 2-2 draw was against first division Chivas De Guadalajara. Jack McInerney finished a rebound from a shot by Nick Zimmerman. McInerney continued his impact in the game when he assisted trialist and former Temple University All-American JT Noone's goal four minutes later. The 1-0 win over second division Universidad De Guadalajara came from a goal by Fred in the team's last scrimmage before returning home briefly and then onto Florida for two more preseason matches.

The first match was a Peter Nowak had a fiery teleconference with reporters in which he blasted the lack of respect shown to the match officials both on and off the pitch.

The last preseason match up was a 1-0 loss to USSF Division-2 side the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies quickly pulled in front with a header in the fourth minute. The Union had a number of chances – Danny Mwanga nearly equalized in the 10th minute, Roger Torres in the 31st minute, JT Noone hit the crossbar after striking a rebound from a shot by Jack McInerney – but were unable to finish.

So what does this all mean? Heck if I know, details about the pre-season games were generally pretty thin. The purpose of pre-season games is of course to help define the roster and determine what areas of play need improvement. That finishing seems to be a problem isn't exactly revelatory. When asked if he was ready to announce the starting goalkeeper and lineup for Thursday's game, Nowak said that he is unlikely to do so before the day of the game. “There are no guaranteed spots,” the coach said. “I want the players to be ready for any given day, even if it’s for 30 seconds.” He added, Everything on paper looks good right now. We have to go and play it on the field now."

Cailiff said of the team's confidence, “I think it’s at an all-time high . . . We haven’t had a lot of time together . . . The CBA is in place and we’ll be ready for lift-off on Thursday. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”

Meanwhile, in Seattle . . .

In case you're wondering, Seattle's pre-season finishing has been a bit off lately as well. They were scoreless in a 0-0 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 6. On March 11 they lost 0-1 to the Portland Timbers. A match against the Colorado Rapids scheduled for March 19 was canceled due to severe weather in much of the state.

Participating in the La Manga Cup in February, an exhibition tournament held in Spain that featured a slate of Danish Superliga and Norwegian Premier League sides, the Sounders first lost 0-3 to Rosenborg BK. They next beat Stabæk Fotball 2-0 with goals from Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque. Lamar Neagle's goal in their 1-0 victory over SK Brann enabled the Sounders to finish fifth out of the eight teams in the tournament. Training in Arizona before the tournament, the Sounders beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 after trailing 0-2 at the half.

Union interview roundup

Here's the roundup of interviews with Union players and staff what has appeared since the begining of March, including links to all three parts of the recent interview with Nick Sackiewicz on "It's Your Call with Lynn Boyle" on CN8.

WVHooligan has a link to the Jared Montz podcast interview with Stefani Miglioranzi.

Michael Orozco is "ready to go" this in Philly Soccer News,answers ten questions from usplayers.com, and "remains motivated" in this from CSNphilly.com.

Shea Salinas talks to CSNphilly.com about playing Texas' other football. The article also includes some information about JT Noone.

Peter Nowak talks about the preseason.

Assistant Coach John Hackworth talks to Goal.com about how pleased he about the pre-season and how he is ready for the season to start.

American Soccer News has a Q & A with Union team coordinator Josh Gros.

Union CEO Nick Sackiewicz talks to Goal.com about the new CBA.

Sackiewicz on CN8's "It's Your Call with Lynn Boyle," in what is perhaps the most amount of time any local television staion has ever dedicated to soccer in Philadelphia.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

(Photo courtesy of PhiladelphiaUnion.com.)

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