Union

Source: Union sign Maurice Edu to multi-year deal

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Source: Union sign Maurice Edu to multi-year deal

As soon as the 2014 MLS season ended, Union head coach Jim Curtin said that one of his top offseason priorities was convincing the team’s ownership to pay the necessary money to bring Maurice Edu back to Philly.

It looks like he got his wish.

Comcast SportsNet has confirmed a Philly.com report that the Union secured a transfer for Edu from Stoke City of the English Premier League and signed the U.S. national team veteran to a multi-year deal.

Curtin did not immediately respond to a text for comment, but the Union head coach has made his wishes known, saying in November that he “hopes [Edu] is in a Union jersey going forward and I think he will be.”

But the deal was always going to be a costly one because Edu had played the 2014 season in Philadelphia on a one-year loan from Stoke City, meaning the team would have to pay a transfer fee to retain his services on a permanent basis.

Still, Edu did enough to impress the Union coaches during his debut season in Philly, showing his versatility as both a midfielder and center back, assuming a leadership role as the team’s most well-known player, and getting selected to the 2014 MLS All-Star Game.

Edu, a former MLS Rookie of the Year, also made U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s preliminary World Cup roster, but got cut before the Americans departed for Brazil.

Curtin has said that he believes Edu’s best chance to remain in the national team picture is at center back. And he also believes that gives the Union the best chance to win, saying that the 28-year-old is athletic enough to shut down big-name offensive players like David Villa and Kaka that are coming into the league this year.

“Mo’s a soccer player,” Curtin said in November. “He’s willing to play center back, for sure. If you look at his record when he played center back, it was successful.”

Edu had been a midfielder for much of his career, which included a successful few years with Rangers F.C. in Scotland, but seemed willing to help stabilize Philly’s backline after Curtin took over as coach in June.

He also seemed eager to return to MLS — the league that helped him revitalize his career after a rocky stint at Stoke City — and to a Union team he hopes is on the rise.

“It’s out of my hands a little bit,” Edu said in October, referring to the negotiations between the Union and Stoke City. “But I’ve definitely enjoyed it here. This is a group I believe in.”

According to a league source, the Union could announce the deal as soon as Friday.

Philadelphia Union officially welcome new part owner Kevin Durant

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Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union officially welcome new part owner Kevin Durant

The Philadelphia Union on Monday officially welcomed aboard their newest part owner/investor, Kevin Durant.

Durant purchased a 5% ownership stake in the Union with the option to purchase an additional 5% in the future.

Durant, a Maryland kid, had previously tried to buy a stake in the MLS' D.C. United before joining the Union.

“I’m excited to partner with the Philadelphia Union for years to come," Durant said in a statement released by the team. "My team and I connected instantly with the Union coaching staff and leadership, as well as the team’s story.

"Off the pitch, I’m looking forward to working in the Chester and Philadelphia communities and making an impact in the same way that the [Kevin Durant Charity Foundation] has been able to in my hometown of Prince George's County.”

The partnership with Durant also includes a partnership with Thirty Five Ventures, the company co-founded by Durant and his manager Rich Kleiman. The goal is to grow "the Union footprint in the sports world, working closely with the Union on marketing opportunities, and expanding the Union’s community outreach in conjunction with" Durant's charity.

In partnership with Thirty Five Ventures, the Union has committed to:

• Developing programs in the Chester and Philadelphia areas to empower Chester’s youth to tackle social and racial injustice in their community and beyond via social justice programs and resources. 

• Address needs related to COVID-19, with support for food banks and local small business recovery efforts. 

• Support youth sports programming and development in Chester and surrounding areas.

MLS is returning, announces tournament set at Walt Disney World

MLS is returning, announces tournament set at Walt Disney World

Major League Soccer is officially returning and is heading to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as a way to resume play in 2020. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is the first time the league is slated to play since the season was suspended due to COVID-19 on March 12. It is set to kick off July 8 and will run until August 11. 

The entirety of this tournament will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where there 54 matches (39 group stage, 15 knockout round) will be played. All 26 MLS teams will be participating in the event, where the minimum of matches per club is set at three and the maximum is seven per finalist. 

Teams will start arriving at the location on June 24, but the group stage will officially begin on July 8. After the initial stage, a round of 16 will follow suit that is set to take place July 25-28. Quarterfinals are slated from July 30-August 1, semifinals will be held August 5-6 and the tournament will conclude with their final game on August 11. 

According to MLS, “The tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST, with the majority of matches to be played in the evening.” 

The full game schedule release will be following a tournament draw that is set to take place Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. EST. You can watch this live on MLSsoccer.com and other social platforms from the league. 

Now, while this will be separate from the regular season, play will still be factored in once the tournament wraps up. All 39 group stage games will be counted for points toward the regular season standings. Winner of the entire event will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League — whether it be a U.S. of Canadian team. For the 2020 season, this will replace who is traditionally deemed the regular season conference leader. 

There is also an opportunity for players to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million price pool.

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, the league will continue its regular season. Though it will be a revised schedule set to be developed at a later date, it will ultimately lead to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup.

You can find more information on the rules and how the tournament will play out here

Health and safety protocols 

A medical department has been developed by the league and has been in consultation with infectious disease specialists, government officials and public health entities — all in an effort to focus on the safety of all who will be involved (players, coaches, officials and staff). 

Here are a few key points from MLS, breaking down protocols that must be followed:

  • All clubs must arrive no later than seven days before their first match
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests will be issued to all essential members of the tournament — this can detect an active COVID-19 infection. If a player or personnel test positive, they will not be allowed to travel and will be overseen by club medical staff. 
  • Only after receiving a negative test result, will players and staff be able to begin training. 
  • Tests will be given out every other day for the first 14 days following arrival to Orlando, in addition to self-temperature screenings and standardized screening questionnaires. 
  • Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose.
  • Players, coaches and officials located on the bench or technical area are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
  • During a game, players have been asked to not exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.

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