For Pete's Sake

College Cup showcases Philly’s skill as a host

Photo: Rob Simmons

Things on the Union front are, like the infamous western front, all quiet.

Sure, the expansion draft list release gave us at least something to think about, after the mind-numbingly long experience that is the MLS Playoffs.

But I would be very surprised if LAFC uses one of its five draft choices on a Union player.

Even with SoCal native Richie Marquez unprotected, the simple fact is that many, if not most, rosters in MLS are deeper than the Union’s. And so it stands to reason that the dregs of other team’s rosters are better than the dregs of the Union’s roster.

Not much excitement there. And we’re still to early in the offseason for much else to be happening, as the foreign transfer window is still three weeks away from opening and an interminable number of drafts remain on the MLS calendar.

Even the quadrennial distraction of the World Cup draw lost a lot of its juice when the USMNT crashed and burned out of CONCACAF’s qualifying tournament in early October.

A quick aside here: it was the right time for Sunil Gulati to step down from the top of U.S. Soccer, but the amount of good he’s done for the game in the United States shouldn’t be forgotten. I’ll admit that I’m partial to the man I used to call “Professor Gulati” when he taught my freshman-year econ class. But it’s a testament to the strides the federation has made under his watch that missing the World Cup is a house-cleaning event. And the next step in his career will be trying to bring the 2026 World Cup bid — a massive joint operation with Mexico and Canada — safely into port.

The 2026 World Cup brings me back to Philadelphia and Union-land.

It may be nine years off, but it would be an absolute dream for Philadelphia to claim a few World Cup matches for itself.

Competition will be fierce, but Philadelphia is on the short list for now.

And there’s no doubt that Philly has the pedigree for it. This weekend’s NCAA College Cup was just another in a long line of high-profile soccer events held in southeastern Pennsylvania in recent years.

In the last four years, the combination of Lincoln Financial Field and Talen Energy Stadium have hosted the final and third-place game in the Gold Cup, matches in the Copa America Centenario and another Gold Cup, two U.S. Open Cup finals, and now the NCAA College Cup.

Philadelphia is also a recurring host of the MLS SuperDraft, and the Union put on a wildly successful All-Star Game five short years ago.

The College Cup might not have the cachet of many of these other big matches, but it was a great atmosphere just the same. If you haven’t, make sure you read Nick Fishman and Ryan Rose’s match reports, with photos from Rob Simmons.

Stanford winning their third straight national title is no mean feat, and going through an undefeated squad to do it only makes it more impressive. Perhaps the most impressive part? A team from sunny Palo Alto staying warm despite frigid December temperatures on the banks of the Delaware.

By all accounts, the event went swimmingly. Attendance may not have been off the charts, but for the fan bases that turned out to watch their team, it was a beautiful scene nonetheless.

If experience hosting events like these goes into being chosen as a World Cup host city, then this College Cup was well worth it for Philadelphia.

Now, the onus is on the Union to host a big match of their own there.

One Comment

  1. The Union have hosted two big matches there, one against Seattle in 2014 and one against Sporting KC the following year. Both were tied at the end of regulation and both ended as wins for the other team. (Damn posts about 6 inches too narrow.)

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