Fan Culture / Satire / Union

WtPh? The new Union mascot

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Unbeaten in their last six matches, 8-2-1 in the last two months, playing some of MLS’s most entertaining soccer, and sporting the hottest striker in the league not named Josef Martinez, Philadelphia Union followed that Monday by revealing their first mascot.

It’s a snake.

With arms.

And legs.

Yeah. Really.

We know what you’re thinking, because we’re thinking the same thing about the mascot called Phang:


Just when you thought it was safe to come out and believe this team was good, the Union brought out a jinx waiting to happen.

If they don’t make the playoffs or win the U.S. Open Cup now, everyone will blame poor little Phang. (Or did you forget this was Philadelphia?)

And you know it’s set up for that.

With Borek Dockal and Ilsinho both hurt, the Union’s two most creative attackers are out.

The Union are about to enter a brutal stretch, with five matches in 15 days, with this weekend’s Montreal home match being swiftly followed by:

  • at Seattle, Sep. 19;
  • Kansas City, Sep. 23;
  • at Houston (U.S. Open Cup final), Sep. 26
  • at Columbus, Sep. 29.

The team’s pending collapse, when Union fans tell the tale in years to come, will have nothing to do with that tough schedule or injuries to key players.

Instead, it’s going to be, “Everything was going great. Then that stupid mascot showed up.”

Now don’t get me wrong. The Union were overdue for some snake stuff. It’s gone begging for a decade, ever since their logo was revealed to be predicated upon the classic Join or Die cartoon featuring a snake. And it’s a great logo. It fits nicely with the team name and the overall Union brand.

But the organic nickname of the Snakes never caught on. Nobody really tried all that hard to make it, nor should they have. It has to be organic, particularly in Philly. People don’t like contrived things. (Unless it’s that hipster sort-of-Mexican restaurant in Northern Liberties serving up carnitas with bacon remoulade. That earned a WtPh too and made me long for Tommy DiNic’s or anything authentic, but I digress.) [Ed.’s note: Dan is right about the carnitas.]

Now we have Phang. He’s blue! He’s gold! He’s got a mohawk! He’s a snake with limbs!

(He’s not a salamander.)

The kids love this one.

That is the hope, of course, that little kids will get a kick out of it. And hey, we relate. My four-year-old little boy might love Phang. He’s becoming a Union fan. Maybe he’ll pair Phang with the Dinotrux.

“When I was working with [the Union],” branding consultant David Raymond told The Inquirer’s Anna Orso, “they said, ‘We know that there’s going to be a period of time where this isn’t going to be popular with our fans, but we’re doing this because we need to engage youth. We are going to stand behind it.'”

Good luck with that.

Much like last year’s summer transfer window ended with the signing of an official team tattoo artist, the timing is slightly suboptimal.

Then again, you could spend your November watching bizarre reptile celebrations, with the little kids going wild about a deep playoff run. Now that would be truly Phangtastic.



  1. I, for one, welcome our new snake overlord.

    • my boyfriends cousin who is 10 years old created this mascot at school in a mascot drawing contest and didn’t get recognized for it or paid that’s so beyond lame she should sue the union for copyright infringement

  2. It’s not for us and I don’t think we should care.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Dude… Dan… why did you have to do this?!?! I am convinced this season is lost now. DAMMIT!! It’s all over!! Phang must go… Phang must go!!
    PS – WTPh… well done. HAHA!


    The Union actually explained the whole snake with arms thing and it’s absurdity has made me kind of almost like Phang.

  5. When I said before I thought it would be a cross between an overly workshopped poochyesque hip hop the rabbit and a homoerotic Chuck Tingle creation I had no idea that I would be dead on.
    Except it looks really cheap.
    As far as a mascot goes. If the Union want to shove some college kid in a costume for minimum wage to represent the team because for some reason they can’t even convince Adam Najem to come out and hang out in an Acme parking lot for 3 hours on his day off that is their right. Small children are a rock solid demographic and furries are an underserved market. (I would love furries to show up at the stadium in droves.) But don’t make it seem like there was a major demand for this.
    There wasn’t.
    I read a quote that said there was a demand from parent and children for a mascot. I am sure it was taken from the same focus groups that made our team change from the most unique and distinctive jersey in the league to some random generic jersey.
    It is their team they can do as they like but dont lie and say people wanted this. That is some Nick Sacesque disingenuousness that will never fail to annoy me.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    Why didn’t they just name it…tetrapedophilis.
    Or Phil for short.

  7. Great piece Dan. Can’t agree about the sandwich though. If this were the summer of ’95 and you stopped at the Wawa on route 1 in Lima, I would have made you a cheesesteak to doubt your convictions.

  8. Russell Rogers says:

    It should have been a drunk mummer.

  9. Can we start calling him Trogdor?

  10. It is not a snake. It is a serpent as in pre-temptation. God banished the serpent to slither o it’s belly after the Garden of Edwn debacle.

  11. Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

    FYI, The Union also claim that Phang is a direct desendent from the snake in the Ben Franklin cartoon. So there’s the historical factor…I think.

    • Old Soccer Coach. says:

      Ben Franklin created the cartoon in the context of the Albany Congress from the 1754 that gathered delegates from 7 colonies to discuss cooperation in negotiating treaties with the Iroquois confederacy and other measures to secure the common defense against the Indians and the French, as they were called at that time.
      Franklin’s Cartoon is the basis of the original STH scarf from season 1, noteworthy both for the omission of Georgia, and the unification of MA, CT, RI & NH — VT & ME did not exist yet — in the image.

  12. Chris Gibbons says:

    ………..maybe Dan was right.

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