The Philadelphia Union, in terms of age are amongst the youngest teams in the MLS, but age is just a number. In this league it’s experience and chemistry that matters most. The Union have plenty of it.
“We have to shake that young label off,” said coach John Hackworth. “The guys who are still young in age have a lot of experience in our league right now. It’s a time that all of our players need to realize that this season isn’t as much about growth as it’s about going out and executing at the level that’s required for a team that wants to compete for a championship.”
The Union, who unveiled their brand new kits Tuesday night at Dave and Buster’s, finished 2-2-3 in preseason but looked strong and in sync after a demoralizing end to last season. They missed out on the playoffs by a mere three points.
Veterans like Sebastien Le Toux are trying to keep the youth of this team in check and following the right path. The goal is to bring a championship to Philadelphia.
“I try to lead by example and being one of the older players on the team I try to make sure that the young guys do everything they need to do both on and off the field,” said Le Toux. “This year we are young, but we are a good young. We have the energy and hungriness to win a title. These guys have had enough time to learn now and along with some of the older guys like me and Conor [Casey] I think we have the perfect group to bring one here.”
Le Toux is entering his seventh season in the MLS. He tallied a career-high 12 assists last season which ranked him second in the league. He’ll be relied upon heavily to repeat that success this season. He just needs to stay on the field.
“My goal this year is to stay healthy and to make this team a winner,” said Le Toux. “I missed a few games with a foot injury last year and I think it definitely hurt this team’s confidence down the stretch. My health is my number one priority. It doesn’t matter if I get zero assists or goals in a game as long as we’re first in the end.”
In the meantime, Union players are enjoying their new uniforms and can’t wait to start the season.
“As a player, I’m very excited to wear the new jersey’s,” said Le Toux. “It’s nice to have the fans respond the way they have to this [event] because it’s kind of a one-time occasion for them to be close to us all at the same time. It’s a very fun event for us and it really pumps us up for the upcoming season.”
Hackworth on newcomer Edu:
When you add a guy like Maurice Edu, who comes to work everyday working his hardest, that’s important. He’s not only one of those key pieces for us moving forward, but he also has a work ethic, desire and passion to just play like any other guy on the roster. That's important for a team trying to win.