Union City Blue

A Philadelphia Union Blog

If You’re Going to Dis MLS, Do It Right


David Beckham, in furtherance of his “anywhere but here” approach to his responsibilities to MLS and the L.A. Galaxy, chose to attend the royal wedding on Friday in lieu of being with his team. According to published reports, the jet lagged Beckham does intend to be at the Galaxy game in Dallas the very next day.  The only question remaining for MLS fans is whether anyone will be able to tell the difference between a jet lagged Beckham and the regular version, if he plays. My guess is “no.”

In going through royal wedding photographs, I came across this abomination:

The Beckhams looking like crashers at the wedding of Will and Kate.

I at first thought Victoria Beckham was wearing black when I saw her on television. This would have been a major faux pas. Closer inspection revealed that the sack (her own design) and hat she was wearing were actually navy blue. I know this is a maternity dress, but seriously? The hat (of a type called a “Fascinator”) was one of the more ridiculous ones on display in Westminster Abbey. This is really saying something.

Beckham was wearing his Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal on his lapel. To the unschooled, this might not seem like a big deal. Apparently, the medal was worn on the wrong side. To top it off, he shouldn’t have been wearing a medal at all on this occasion unless he was in uniform – and I don’t mean his L.A. Galaxy uniform, not even the white one. Don Garber needs to make a priority of sending the Gals some extra allocation money to pay for a protocol consultant to avoid these embarrassing gaffes in the future.

I am personally counting the days until American soccer fans see the backside of this pair. God knows what I will do if Beckham extends with MLS or exercises his option to buy into a team. As for Posh, her fifteen minutes would have been up long ago had she not married one of the world’s most famous soccer players. Her agent and publicist’s constant, obvious and lame attempts at trying to rehabilitate her image are getting really old. Case in point, here we have an example of an unintentionally hilarious Posh magazine cover:

I'm Really Not a Bitch, I Just Play One On TV

The royal wedding demonstrates that, if nothing else, Philadelphia Union fans should just be thankful they don’t have DPs.

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I’m all YSA’ed Out

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Enough already with “You Suck, Asshole” – I really don’t care that much either way. The only thing that really bothers me is the lack of a game this weekend. I’m not offended by the chant as I barely consider “asshole” an expletive. I was surprised to learn that people were actually really bothered by it. The chant is funny the first couple of times you hear it, then it becomes old really fast. Like many others, I do find it derivative, unoriginal and fairly stupid. The Sons of Ben can do better.

I don’t see the sense in clinging to this loser to make some misguided point. The Philadelphia Union is running a business and gets to make the rules at their place of business. It’s hard to criticize the SoB leadership for trying to work with the team on this one. Despite what some of the more deluded SoBs believe, fans don’t actually have any leverage over the team. The Union is going to do what it wants, when it wants, and will enforce any rules it deems appropriate. The SoB leadership is just doing what is necessary to retain the privileges that the group already has.

The only thing businesses understand is money. Fans will only gain some leverage if they are willing to stop handing their money to the Union. I doubt this something many diehard fans will be willing to do. Instead, they will just keep complaining while the Union continues to chip away at fan privileges. The naïve belief that the Union is obligated to bow to SoB demands because Philadelphia wouldn’t have an MLS franchise without SoB support only gets you so far. Now that there is a team, the ongoing operational needs of the business are going to push those considerations into the background. As far as getting a franchise, a viable ownership group and over $70 million in public financing for a stadium probably had more to do with it.

Lost in all of this are the other 16,500 fans in the stadium who are ones that are really subsidizing the cost of the River End tickets, many of whom pay dues to the SoBs. Not all of these people are mindless lemming suburbanites looking to dump on the SoBs narrowly focused agenda. Many are not even part of conventional nuclear families. They are single people, DINKS, Latin American immigrants, European expatriates and suburban families, many of whom don’t have a problem with YSA. That’s just the people around me.

Let’s give YSA and any other goal kick chant a rest until something really better comes along. It’s ludicrous to keep whining about this situation while other genuinely stupid, offensive and illegal Union practices go on unabated.


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Theme Music Contest

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Theme Song Contest

Calling ALL Local Bands/Musicians…We Want YOU to Write an Original Theme Song for the NEWEST Philadelphia Union Podcast.

We are looking for something SHORT & CATCHY (30 to 60 Seconds in Length) to play before every podcast. All Genres of Music are Welcome..especially INSTRUMENTAL ONLY Songs.

So if you LOVE the Union and want to get some exposure for you or your band, drop an email to murphphone@hotmail.com

The Winner(s) will receive a selection of Barktees.com T-Shirts and the glory of having your music intro the Union faithful to the Newest (as yet unnamed) Philadelphia Union Podcast.

Deadline for submissions is May27th. The Winner will be announced June 3rd.

Get involved in fan generated media!


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A Day Out in Chester


I had some time off this week, so I decided to check out some of the local eateries in Chester along Route 291 (2nd Street) on the way to PPL Park from the Ridley Park exit. I had often drive by these places and wondered what they were like or if they offered alternatives to what was available at PPL Park for game day snacks or meals. Patronizing these businesses also has the added bonus of supporting the local economy in Chester. Two of the businesses featured here have been around for over sixty years. Here is a description of what I found; of course, hours, menus and prices are subject to change.

OB’s Jamaican Restaurant

OB’s is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Lloyd Street in Chester across from the entrance to the River Bridge Industrial Center (p: 610 874-4530). It offers take out and dine in options for their Jamaican fare. They also serve breakfast. They are open until 9:00 pm, Monday through Saturday.

OB’s serves a variety of traditional Caribbean dishes, including soups, steamed and fried fish, curried shrimp, jerk chicken, curried chicken and goat, oxtail, and pepper steak. Plantains, rice and beans, cabbage, meat and chicken patties and other items are available as sides, as are a variety of sodas. Meals come with rice and beans or plain rice and cabbage. Soups and fish meals come in two sizes; chicken and meat meals come in three sizes. Prices for meals range between $7.00 and $14.00. Sides range from $1.50 and $4.00. OB’s also serves southern or soul food style dinner platters, including chicken wings, whiting, catfish and red snapper with sides of macaroni and cheese, collard greens, yams, potato salad, and slaw. These platters come with two sides and range between $9.00 and $15.00.

I tried the meat patty ($1.50) and the small jerk chicken platter ($7.00).  I got the jerk chicken with beans and rice and cabbage.  The chicken was sectioned dark meat on the bone. Although it fit into a small Styrofoam container, the small chicken meal was a plate full and then some. I ordered the chicken mild, but it was still pretty spicy, which seems normal for jerk.  It was very good, but I couldn’t finish it all at once because of the heat. I actually really enjoyed the beans and rice and cabbage. These are simple dishes but sometimes can be bland if not prepared well. I would order the platter again, but it was kind of messy for me for takeout. I could definitely see myself getting a couple of the meat patties and order of plantains on my way to PPL Park. I loved the meat patty. The soft meat filling was flavorful without being overly spicy and was surrounded by a flaky pastry crust. It makes a great, convenient quick meal.

OB's Jamaican Restaurant

Jerk chicken on the way

The interior of OB's Jamaican Restaurant

Stacky’s Hoagies & Steaks

Stacky’s has been around since 1940, which means it’s been in Chester since the time my Dad worked at Sun Ship prior to being drafted. It is located at 225 Concord Avenue (p: 610 874-6430, f: 610 874-5300). It’s set back about a ½ block off Route 291, so you might miss it.  Hours are Monday through Friday 10-5 and Saturday 10-3. They serve a breakfast menu from ten to noon. The shop had a steady stream of customers, apparently local workers, while I was there.

Stacky’s offers a comprehensive selection of hoagies, steaks, burgers and hot sandwiches. They also have daily specials, salads, soups and sides (fries and chicken fingers). Sodas and chips are also available. A copy of the menu is here and here. They have some unique sounding sandwiches – a “dogpound” (cheese steak with hot sausage), a “catpound” (chicken cheese steak with hot sausage), and a Nigerian Hoagie (roast beef, beef salami, turkey, American and provolone cheese).

I tried a mini Italian hoagie (ham, salami, capicola, provolone) ($5.00). The sandwich was tasty but pretty average. It was still a good value for the size, which was larger than expected for a sandwich described as “mini.” The restaurant was clean, and the service was friendly. Overall, the experience was positive, and I would definitely come back to sample some of the other items.

Stacky's Hoagies & Steaks

May’s Water Ice & Luncheonette

The final stop was May’s Water Ice & Luncheonette. May’s is located at the corner of 2nd Street and Parker Street and has been around since 1947. Hours are seven days a week until 6 pm, with possibly shorter hours on weekends. They are open year round, but hours may vary with the weather. Water ice is available in a limited number of flavors in five sizes. They also serve ice cream. Hot dogs and meatball sandwiches were also available when I was there.

I especially liked the range of sizes offered in the water ice. The smallest size starts at $1.00. The smaller sizes are great for kids or if you are watching what you eat or want to sample different flavors. May’s is a nice place to stop for a treat and or to pick up a lottery ticket to win the cash to get that suite or field level seats at PPL Park you have your eyes on.

I also noticed that about a block south on Route 291 from May’s was Ginn’s bar, which advertises crabs and ribs. That operation wasn’t open when I drove by, but I think it bears investigation in the future.

If anyone has any other local favorites in Chester or has additional information about these locations, please feel free to leave a comment.

May's Water Ice and Luncheonette

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Union City Blue is Turning One

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Union City Blue is celebrating its first birthday. I would like to thank all my readers and Twitter followers for your support. Take a look back at my very first post here. I think things have changed for the better over time.  I  now have a Facebook page as well. Be sure to follow @unioncityblog on Twitter for a special announcement tomorrow.

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A Reminder for Chester

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Now that Sash Bash is over and for those not looking for the open-ended commitment of Union’s Fans Assist, it is still possible to donate directly to the Bernardine Center via the following link:

The Bernardine Center – Donations

I made an interesting discovery looking for the Union’s Fans Assist information on their website. In their latest comical misstep, it appears the Union are now equating Major Molly’s Army with their community outreach and charitable endeavors, having moved the MMA website link from “Fans” to “Community.”  I’m sure the needy in Chester will be glad to know that MMA is on its way to save them.

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The Latest Outrage From the North: A unioncityblue.com Exclusive

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From a confidential source in North Jersey, unicityblue.com has obtained an exclusive preview of a Red Bulls press release.  In fairness to the Red Bulls, the editorial staff of unioncityblue.com has decided to print the release in its entirety.  Although unusually candid for a MLS communication, I think you will see things are pretty much business as usual in Harrison:


New York Red Bulls Reveal Fake Twitter Account

HARRISON, New Jersey (April 1, 2011) – The New York Red Bulls announce today that its Communications and Marketing Departments are the entities behind the explosively popular @BronxZoosCobra spoof Twitter account. “We have been overwhelmed by the response to this campaign,” said Red Bulls spokesperson, Aaron Squire, Director of Marketing. In a matter of days, the @BronxZoosCobra Twitter account now has more than ten times the number of followers than the official New York Red Bulls Twitter account.

“When we saw the awesome snake crest and branding unveiled by the Philadelphia Union in 2009, we knew that our soda-pushing branding sucked by comparison. It was clear that our organization had to find a way to capitalize on snake imagery as well. Symbolically, a sleek, mobile serpent can easily and quickly immobilize a lumbering bovine,” Squire continued. “We knew when the story about the Bronx Zoo’s missing cobra broke over the weekend that this was a unique opportunity to put our organization’s cutting edge public relations philosophy into practice. We didn’t think we’d be able to top the publicity impact of drafting John Rooney in this calendar year, but it looks like we’ve done it.” For the record, the Bronx Zoo has issued official statements claiming that the missing cobra is most likely in a confined space within its reptile house and not in any public area.

The New York Red Bulls seek to utilize a dynamic and novel approach to public relations and marketing.  This is especially important to the organization’s business model since the Red Bulls have failed to win anything in the sixteen year history of club, despite being in the largest market in the United States and one of the best funded MLS teams. The club now faces a challenge in the face of competition from the New York Cosmos, whose recent marketing campaigns have upstaged their own. The Cosmos have not even officially been awarded a MLS franchise.

The New York Red Bulls believe that fake Twitter accounts offer a unique opportunity to reach their core fan base as well as new customers. In this regard, the organization is at the forefront of MLS clubs, many of whom fail to be proactive in developing and managing their own fake Twitter accounts and allow third parties to fill this void. The Red Bulls recently asked Twitter to pull the plug on the @BronxZooCobra account, as they were outraged by the trademark infringement and consumer confusion created by this counterfeit fake Twitter account.  The club also cannot rely on their own supporters for inspiration and ideas to appropriate and trademark as their exclusive property. “The most creative things our supporters have done in the past year are to hack the MLS Goal of the Week results and to throw rocks at the other teams’ supporters’ buses,” said Daniela Solorzano, Marketing Manager.

The organization does express concern over the appearance in the past week of response spoof accounts to @BronxZoosCobra, including @newyorkmongoose. Fortunately, @newyorkmongoose has been completely ineffective in neutralizing @BronxZoosCobra, as one would expect of something originating in New York. The club does fear that this situation may attract the attention of @DCmongoose, who claims to live in the duct work of RFK Stadium in Washington, DC with a family of raccoons and a rat. @DCmongoose has a reputation as a fearless snake hunter and street fighter, as befitting the urban jungle surroundings of RFK. The club does not expect this situation to effect their operations in the near future, as even @DCmongoose will be forced to make a lengthy detour around the deadly serpent image in Philadelphia on his way to New York.

The New York Red Bulls have decided to release this information today due to an incident which occurred at Red Bull Arena within the past forty eight hours. Apparently the actual Bronx Zoo cobra found its way into the Gucci duffel bag of one of their international players who owns a luxury $14.85 million triplex in Soho. The player then carried the bag onto the PATH train and arrived at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The snake was discovered eyeing up “dinner” from an overhead position above the dressing room tunnel as the players practiced. “It’s like you could actually see it thinking ‘they may not have won anything but they do look delicious’ and looking at the players like they were hunks of raw beef, no pun intended,” said Equipment Manager Fernando Ruiz.  Staff members at the scene initially sought to neutralize the situation by offering it one of the Red Bulls’ other 2011 draftees, the Philadelphia Union-loving Corey Hertzog.  The snake was also offered a ride on the Red Bulls’ team bus, but it apparently dislikes conveyances such as planes and buses. Fortunately, once the snake got a good look at the bedpan inspired roof line and industrial interior of Red Bull Arena, it decided to give up its freedom and flee back to its stark cage in the Bronx. It was last seen slithering into the Hudson River and swimming off in a northerly direction.

About the New York Red Bulls: The New York Red Bulls, owned by Red Bull GmbH, are a professional soccer club which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS). Founded in 1996 as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, they are one of the charter clubs of MLS. Operating in the largest market in the United States, they have been the consistent beneficiaries of favoritism from MLS. Until the opening of Red Bull Arena in 2010, the Red Bulls were squatters in Giants Stadium, in which they usually played on a surface with obvious American football gridiron markings.  They are the only original MLS franchise to have failed to win any significant trophy (be it league, cup, or knockout competition) since inception. The competitions which the New York Red Bulls have failed to win include, but are not limited to: MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions’ League, and Super Liga. The New York Red Bulls also compete and obtain mediocre results against out-of-form, pre-season European teams in meaningless friendly tournaments.


Name: Brian Tsao
Title: Director of Communications
Phone: 555 4-BITEME
Web: www.newyorkredbulls.com

Editor’s Note: I think the content of this press release pretty much speaks for itself, but to the extent that it implies that the snake on the Union crest is anything other than a Timber Rattlesnake, I am outraged. Unlike the pathetic, tragi-comic events unfolding along the banks of the Hudson, snake energy in Philadelphia has always been used for good, rather than evil. This can be attributed to two sources.  Although not officially confirmed by the Union, it is widely rumored that multi-lingual team captain Faryd Mondragon can speak Parseltongue, as well as several other reptilian dialects. The area is also inspired by the memory of the Philadelphia Zoo’s own beloved cobra, the late Starfire, who was always a very dignified serpent and would have never dreamed of getting loose and creating this sort of ruckus. Let’s hope for everyone’s sanity that the Bronx Zoo’s snake is located soon.

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The Union DOOPs All Over Supporters, Third Party Vendors, and Other Clubs


Just when I thought there would be nothing to write about for a few days except an actual soccer game, the Philadelphia Union does it again. The Union has recently filed an application to register the trademark “DOOP.”  An excellent article by Chris Savino, contributor to the Brotherly Game, can be found here. I would like to add my thoughts about the legal basis and status of this trademark registration application. The lawyer in me cannot resist doing a follow-up on some of the issues raised in the article.

Information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database can be found here.  The Union filed the trademark registration application on February 7, 2011. The application is listed as initialized and not assigned to an examiner. The Union is seeking trademark registration for the following categories of goods using the international schedule of classes of goods: magnets, bumper stickers, decals, posters, printed paper, signs, prints, stickers, plastic key chains, drinking glasses, mugs, plastic water bottles sold empty, cloth pennants, fabric flags, towels, hats, jackets, scarves, long and short-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts, and “entertainment in the nature of soccer games.”

The Union’s attempt to register this mark raises several questions. The use of DOOP, from the song “Maria (I Like It Loud)” by German techno artist Scooter, was the result of a collaboration between Union coach Peter Nowak and members of the supporters’ group Sons of Ben. Quite frankly, the Union marketing department doesn’t seem to be clever enough to have come up with this on their own. DOOP has been used subsequently by the Sons of Ben on shirts, banners, and other items and by other companies which produce Union-related apparel, such as Bark Tees LLC. I have also found DOOP merchandise in other places on the Internet. The registration of this mark also raises questions about whether or not the Union will take similar action with respect to other campaigns it has cooperated on with supporters, such as Stache Bash and Help Kick Hunger.  I checked, and Zolo is subject of a trademark registration application with respect to some items of apparel.

DOOP has also been used by soccer teams overseas, such as Borussia Monchengladbach, Steaua Bucharest, and US Citta di Palermo. There could be a potential conflict between other clubs who use DOOP and the Union’s attempts to register and claim exclusive use of this mark as it relates to “entertainment in the nature of soccer games.” From reviewing the trademark application documents, it is unclear whether the Union has filed under the Madrid Protocol for registration of this mark in other countries.

The Union have claimed that the intent was not to endanger relationships with existing third party vendors, which presumably means that those vendors might be able to continue to use the mark. However, current vendors would have no recourse if the Union decided to change its policy and enforce its exclusive rights to the mark or if another vendor insists that it be given the exclusive right to produce DOOP merchandise.

The status of this trademark registration application is still an open question. The Union claims the mark is registered, however the USPTO TARR database found here states that this application will be assigned to an examining attorney approximately three months after the filing date. The remaining process, as described by the USPTO, is as follows. Once the examining attorney approves the mark, it is published in the Official Gazette, and any party who believes that they may be damaged by the registration of the mark has thirty days from the publication date to file either an opposition to the registration or to request time to oppose. If there is no opposition and the mark is based on use, the USPTO will register the mark and issue a registration certificate about twelve weeks after the date the mark was published. If the registration is based on the intent to use the mark in commerce and no opposition is filed, the USPTO will issue an allowance in about twelve weeks, and the applicant then has six months to use the mark in commerce and submit a Statement of Use. Within approximately two months after the Statement of Use is approved, the USPTO issues a registration of the mark. Given the process and time frames involved, I doubt that the Union’s application has been approved and the mark is registered at this time. If it is, the Union should be able to produce a registration certificate.

Businesses frequently make the claim that they register marks to protect their customers, but it is really the bottom line which is being protected. Most consumers are savvy enough to realize the difference between officially licensed and non-licensed merchandise and understand the trade-offs. Restriction of the use of marks frequently leads to less consumer choice and higher prices. This registration application is particularly disturbing in that it claims a trademark for “entertainment in the nature of soccer games.” This is a very broad category indeed. In this case, the mark registration has the potential to damage the relationship between the club and its supporters, other fans, third party vendors, and other clubs.

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A Modest Addendum

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It is always refreshing when you realize that you are not dangling out there on a limb by yourself. Some other blogs have given attention to the issue of Major Molly’s Army. My original piece can be found here. A big shout out to the Union Dues blog for writing about this issue.  His piece was acknowledged in the Philadelphia Soccer Page.

To add insult to injury, the Union is staging a Molly “open call” at my local pub.  I now have to drive more than a half hour out of my way Saturday night to avoid this Hooters/WWE-worthy event and find a Molly-free environment.

Addendum to the addendum: When I drove by the Oakmont National Pub on Saturday night on my way to another pub, I noticed that there was a basketball game on the tv in the bar, even though the Union pre-game show had started.  It was also interesting that the Union’s tweets about the viewing parties went out of their way to make digs about the Mollies and this venue. Classy.

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My Hopes, Fears and Dreams for the Upcoming Season

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I have decided not to do an extensive 2011 season preview or detailed roster breakdown.  That horse has been thoroughly flogged elsewhere. In anticipation of Philadelphia Union first kick on Saturday night, I thought I would put forward a few thoughts.

Thinking about the Union’s defense remains cringe inducing.  The back line is thin, with only five officially rostered defenders and plans to try to press inexperienced youngsters or midfielders into service, if necessary. I hope we are spared the return of the Tony Stahl Experiment or another Shea Salinas impersonating a right back. Carlos Valdes should at least be an upgrade at center back. We will need all our defenders to remain very healthy. As for playing three at the back, you might as well just kill me now.

My fellow blogger at Union Dues brought up a very good point about Captain Danny Califf and whether or not he has the personality or leadership ability to lead this team, especially its thin and wobbly defense.  He will be making an adjustment from a goalkeeper who perhaps wasn’t dominating enough in Chris Seitz to one who is perhaps too dominating in Faryd Mondragon. Provided there isn’t a clash of personalities, we should benefit from a keeper who can better direct traffic in the back and organize set pieces. If Mondragon is injured or just doesn’t work out,  it will be tears and possible bloodshed for suicidal/homicidal fans.  Zac MacMath is a puppy in goalkeeper years and Thorne Holder is not a very well known quantity. We would need one or the other to make the adjustment to the pro level pretty quickly.  The technical staff seems to have no compunction about letting defenders go. Peter Nowak was a creative, attacking player during his career.  I wonder if he just doesn’t have a feel for defense and can’t relate to defensive players or articulate instructions to them.

Whether or not formation matters to this team is an open question, especially if Sebastien LeToux continues to have free reign to roam wherever he wants. I believe that outcomes really boil down to skill of individual players and execution, and it may not matter much if the Union is technically lined up as a 4-3-3 , 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2 or whatever.  LeToux needs more scoring help, so let’s hope that Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney can step up their game this season and Carlos Ruiz doesn’t turn out to be another Alejandro Moreno or Fred, both of whom performed under expectations last season.

I will go out on a limb and predict the following starting 11: Sheanon Williams, Califf, Valdes, Jordan Harvey, LeToux, Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Justin Mapp, Ruiz and Danny Mwanga. For the season, I see the Union improving on last year, but still battling to get one of the ten playoff spots. My dream would be a clear path to the playoffs.

I did watch the Sounder-Gals game live last night. My initial impression of Tyler Twellman is that he should be an improvement over Kyle Martino. Twellman was not afraid to call out Beckham over his recent ludicrous training stint (or is that stunt) at Spurs. I found this refreshing given the tendency of MLS and its mouthpieces to make excuses for Golden Balls. I realize that an improvement over last year isn’t a very high bar. Martino’s unintentionally hysterical advice to the new color man on Twitter was not to make the game “too complicated.”  Speaking of Beckham, the ridiculous headband he was sporting last night is conclusive proof that those things don’t look good on anybody.

I am hoping to get to T. Hogan’s Pub in Manayunk, across from the Wissahickon train station, for the Houston game. I did not have much luck finding a place last season on the Main Line for viewing away matches, so I will have to travel further afield.

In a shameless personal plug, I have an extra first row, midfield, aisle seat available in the Union Ticket Marketplace for face value for the first six games.  If interested in additional games, please contact me via email and I can post them.

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