A View from Afar

Orientation time: A letter to future Union draftees

Dear Philadelphia Union draftee,

Welcome to Philadelphia. We play down the road in Chester, but rest assured, it’s a nice stadium. Mind you, you may never get to play in it, as this is MLS, where most draftees should instead just make plans for their USL futures, but you will certainly see the stadium at some point, even if only from the outside.

We have a few things to tell you up front about the team as part of your orientation. Some may seem strange to hear. Some will seem hard to believe. Just bear with us. These are strange times, and this is a strange franchise. Besides, we’ve had liability issues in the past.

1. You will not be spanked. 

We have done away with corporal punishment for rookies. Under no circumstances will your coach or anyone else affiliated with the club spank you. If that’s your thing, however, we can recommend a place or two around Spruce and 12th streets in Philly.

2. You will be provided water during all training sessions. 

While we recognize that some eastern European, Soviet and Cro-Magnon knuckle-draggers believe that the biological need for water replenishment during extreme physical activity can be viewed as weakness, we are an enlightened sort here these days, mostly because trainer Paul Rushing will beat down any coach who insists on doing otherwise.

We take water so seriously that we even built our stadium right next to the Delaware River. It’s so close that Stefani Miglioranzi once kicked a ball out of the stadium and into the river. On really hot days, you can go take a dip. Pay no attention to the runoff from the DuPont plant. It won’t kill you or anything. Folks here rejected plans for that lethal VX nerve agent disposal there years ago.

3. You probably will never play for Philadelphia in an MLS game, unless you’re a first round pick. And then we’ll probably trade you eventually anyway. 

Nothing personal, but this is just the way it is. We already cut all of last year’s draft picks, none of whom suited up for us in a regular season game (or, to be fair, was a first round pick). Our current roster includes just four players that we drafted, although we’re not sure we can count Leo Fernandes.

We used to make a big deal out of youth development and draft picks, and we felt like we really had some good ones like former starters Amobi Okugo, Jack McInerney, Michael Farfan, Zac MacMath, etc. But we kicked them to the curb, and judging by the way they’ve bounced around since then, we were probably right to do so. We’re absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure that we had nothing to do with derailing their careers or development. We’re also pretty sure that hazing and abusing our quiet, teenage No. 1 overall draft pick who just happened to be a Congolese war refugee had no impact whatsoever on his confidence, psyche, or inexplicable descent from top rookie to minor league player. Alas, I digress.

For your part, you will have every opportunity to make this club, much like low round draft picks Ray Gaddis, Antoine Hoppenot and Fernandes did in the past. Just don’t piss people off like Hoppenot did. He’s a funny dude and actually pretty good at this soccer thing, but our new coach got sick of him and kicked him to the curb too. Naturally, Hop went down and screamed for a penalty.

But again, you probably won’t make the Union roster. Yes, half the roster is empty right now, and we have no idea what Earnie Stewart is going to do with it either. But they tell us he’s some sort of Dutch-American Moneyball ninja, so we’re pretty sure it’s going to be awesome and won’t involve Freddy Adu or too many new goalkeepers.

Bethlehem Steel FC has some bad-assed uniforms though, and we already have your name emblazoned on one of them. If you think the Union roster seems empty, wait till you see Bethlehem.

4. Read only if your name is Brandon Vincent. 

You will start for us, Brandon. Tomorrow. You’ll wonder why you’ll hear the name “Jordan Harvey” bandied about constantly. Give it time. You’ll get it. We have this thing about left backs — as in, we haven’t really had a true one in about five years. (No, we don’t wear two right cleats when we play. Why do you ask?)

Just be ready to get benched in favor of this guy, Fabinho. He’s a nice guy with some modicum of ability. He’ll play well for 88 minutes but cost us the game during the other two minutes. Whatever you do, do not watch him during games. You will watch his repeated, reckless gambles and just know that one of the next ones will lead to a goal, and this will scare you half to death and give you indigestion. We cannot afford for our injury list to include players with indigestion. That is about as real an injury as Danny Califf had before Peter Nowak destroyed his career. And you do not want Peter Nowak to destroy your career. So don’t get indigestion. Therefore, cover your eyes when Fabinho plays, like the rest of us.

5. Everything you think you know about Philadelphia Union may change. 

We fired our chief executive. We destroyed our former manager in court and made him pay us nearly half a million bucks. (Though we’re not holding our breath about ever seeing the money, despite him somehow getting a job in Poland’s first division. Then again, Poland’s government just took a hard right turn toward neo-fascist, so their soccer teams might as well too.) We hired the aforementioned Dutch Moneyball ninja to rebuild the club. Our primary owner even spoke in public for the first time last year — and then did it again twice this year!

So lots of things could change. We just don’t know yet.

Approach it like that great Davie Bowie song: Turn and face the strange. Changes.

All sorts of good things could happen this year. You might even have fun. Welcome to Philadelphia Union!


Your Philadelphia Union orientation staff


  1. So I haven’t gotten further than the title for #1. I just had to say Dan, I’m literally laughing my a** off. Brilliant. Proof, once again, there is no better site covering any sport in our area. Bless you.

  2. Wow. This could be the most sarcastic, snarkiest piece of Negadelphian satire ever to come from our PSP Yota. I love it Dan!

  3. James Lockerbie says:

    Wow, That was hilarious. A very creative way of summing up where this team is right now. The past was ugly, the present is foggy and the future maybe very bright only time will tell.

    Great job Dan, Thanks

  4. 3 season tickets in section 114…$1100… Parking…$20…snacks,beer and bridge toll…$60…. This post by Dan Walsh… Priceless!

  5. Best line: “If that’s your thing, however, we can recommend a place or two around Spruce and 12th streets in Philly.”

  6. Also, has anyone reserved Dan Walsh’s seat at the Cliff of Union Despair? He deserves front row, for sure.

    • I totally ended on an upper! 🙂

      I actually am optimistic for improvement by the Union, but I needed some way to write about Nowak and the draft in one shot. And this was one silly way to do it.

      • Just curious, how many vouchers for Turkey Hill ice cream do the orientation staff receive as payment? I know it’s probably good for the small size only. They could at least upgrade to the medium size.

      • 42.

        But you can only get them at a Turkey Hill store, which means we’re pretty much talking Berks County, Pa. and westward only.

      • Did you possibly forget the zero after the two? Just kidding. We’ve a few Turkey’s in Chester County. And I love them for their iced tea selection alone. It’s the only thing Wawa can’t compete with.

      • 42 is always the answer.

  7. Lol this so great Dan
    6. We believe in concussions . . . we know they exist because our players get them often and our GK even has the cool Petr Cech headgear to prove it. We also believe Widener University grads are more douchy than Harvard, that there should be a formation allowing you to employ 4 goalkeepers and that Danny Califf was born on the planet Krypton. We even believe in Santa Claus, but we don’t like to talk about him because the national media will just rehash the same wornout story of how our great grandfathers once threw snow balls at him . . . back before that whole fake moon landing nonsense.

  8. I can only hope that one day I can channel my Union frustrations in to something this brilliant.

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