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Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

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Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

BOX SCORE

After suffering a lopsided defeat to NYCFC in the season finale at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the Union marched back up to the Bronx on Wednesday night and did it again, falling, 3-1, in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Playoffs to end their season.

• It was the fourth playoff match in franchise history for the Union and also their fourth loss. The club has yet to win a playoff game in its nine-year history. NYCFC moves on to face Atlanta United in a home-and-home aggregate series. 

• Union manager Jim Curtin put his fingerprint on the playoff match by slotting Alejandro Bedoya in at his natural right attacking midfield side, while tapping veteran Warren Creavalle to break up the middle of the field next to Haris Medunjanin. 

• It was a creative idea that ultimately failed to impact the match. Creavalle was pulled for Ilsinho at the half as the Union pushed for a more sustained offense. It took a while but paid off in the 83rd minute, when Ilsinho found Burke for the cross and tap-in goal to make it 3-1. 

• Before that, though, off a Mark McKenzie turnover in the 10th minute, NYCFC opened the scoring on a beautiful play. A Maxi Moralez pass found Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for the half bounce rocket to beat Andre Blake and claim the 1-0 NYCFC lead. David Villa doubled the NYCFC lead in the 26th minute. 

• The Union appeared to gain traction late in the first half when Bedoya was de-cleated in the box. It should have been a penalty kick but somehow went uncalled. It was that kind of night. The Union finished the first half with no shots on goal and just two in the second. 

• It didn’t get much better in the second half. As the Union pressed, Moralez chipped Blake on a fast break for the 3-0 lead. The Union were thoroughly outclassed all match long and especially struggled to generate offensive chances.

• The sting of defeat in important matches is a familiar one for the Union, who have lost four playoff matches and three U.S. Open Cup finals in the club’s history. Wednesday wasn’t even the most painful of the season, as the Union were crushed in Houston against the non-playoff Dynamo, 3-0, in the Open Cup finals back in September.

• But despite the disappointment, it was still a record season for the 2018 Union, who claimed the franchise record in total points, wins and road wins. Midfielder Borek Dockal took the MLS assist crown and young defenders McKenzie and Auston Trusty made names for themselves. Things have been worse for the Union.

Philadelphia Union's new stadium name is a huge upgrade

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Philadelphia Union's new stadium name is a huge upgrade

The Philadelphia Union announced Tuesday a multi-year partnership with Subaru of America, which means Talen Energy Stadium in Chester is now Subaru Park.

I cannot emphasize this enough: what a huge improvement.

Talen Energy Stadium wasn't a miserable name, but it wasn't... good. The sponsor name itself was pretty clunky, and "stadium" is probably my least-favorite designator for a sports arena. Field, park, center (or centre) are all better than "stadium" or "arena", and it's not close.

By switching back from "stadium" to "park", an homage to the original PPL Park name, the Union's home pitch sounds so much more fun. "Let's head to the park for the game" is very inviting. "What a time we'll have down at the park!"

It's good.

Also, "Subaru Park" lends itself to the time-honored tradition of shortening sports arena names. Eagles fans once did it with The Vet and now do it with The Linc; Phillies fans do it with The Bank; Sixers and Flyers fans can either use The Center or The Farg.

Talen Energy Stadium offered no such opportunities, but Subaru Park does. You can call it The Roo, or you can call it The Soob. Both are short, concise, self-contained. Either way, it's fun and good and gives the park an identity.

Between the new field name and the Union's new home kits, 2020 is shaping up to be a very enjoyable season for Philadelphia's soccer fans.

These goals by Union's 12-year-old squad in Brazil will wow you

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@PhilaUnion

These goals by Union's 12-year-old squad in Brazil will wow you

"Nobody cares about soccer in Philadelphia," they said.

"But what if it was 12-year-olds who were playing and scoring sick goals in Brazil?" I responded.

The Philadelphia Union shared some sweet highlights of their U12 Academy team showing off their rather impressive skill in a number of tournaments in Brazil to kick off the new year.

According to the Union's website, the U12 team went on a scoring tear, putting up 22 combined goals in two games against Portuguesa PFF and Oeste Barueri while allowing only 2.

They combined a number of those goals into the concise highlight tweet below. The skill on display is obvious and impressive.

For those who may be unfamiliar with soccer's "Academy" training model, it's a program set up to help develop homegrown talent into stars of tomorrow. You can learn more about it here.

Two more Union U12 tournament games are tentatively scheduled to be broadcast live on the Union's website on Friday morning free of charge if that's your cup of tea.