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Calm before the storm for the Union as 2011 closes in

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Breton Bonnette

The news continues  to roll in – though light in nature – as we approach 2011. We’re here to recap it for you…

The Union have bolstered their front office lineup with some pretty impressive hirings. Former Piotr Nowak teammate and USMNT international Diego Gutierrez joins as head of scouting and player development and longtime NJ high school soccer coaching legend Rick Jacobs was plucked from St. Benedict’s Prep where he enjoyed 6 national titles and a hand in the development of former players like Claudio Reyna and Greg Berhalter. Jacobs will operate as Vice President of Operations. Gutierrez joining the front office was something that was relatively imminent throughout the 2010 season. Two ambitious additions. It will be great to see what comes of it. The hiring of Jacobs is already paying dividends. A former St. Benedict’s player, Greg Ramos, who runs the Lehigh Valley Soccer Club just “teamed up” with the Union as one of six youth affiliates. You’ll notice a little tidbit in that link provided by Ramos himself. “We have eight players being looked at as possibly being in the Philadelphia Union system”.

December also saw the departure of goalkeeper Chris Seitz and midfielder Fred to FC Dallas (through Seattle) and New England respectively. There must be moves lined up to sit back and watch Shea Salinas, Alejandro Moreno, Fred, and Seitz leave but one thing is for sure, the Union have some cap-room. The allowance of Seitz to move to FC Dallas seemingly makes way for 39-year old Bundesliga and Turkish league vet Faryd Mondragon to join shortly. His current squad, FC Koln, is already lining up possible replacements in Markus Proll and Michael Rensing. Rumors have placed the announcement of Mondragon at tomorrow. Returning to the departures, the loss of Fred to us is a big one. He certainly didn’t justify his contract in his first season but there were glimpses of former DC United Fred and another year in Nowak’s system possibly could have done the trick or at least upped his production a bit.

Both Amobi Okugo and Jack McInerney continue to endure a very limited offseason, starring for the US Under-20 side throughout November and December. Okugo has been rock solid in the middle and there’s even a little chatter about what it would be like to test him in central defense. McInerney is scoring – and that’s always a good sign. Jack Mac tallied for the Generation Adidas side on their trip to Spain and struck vs. Canada in the first leg of a two-game series vs. the Canadian Under-20s. Undoubtedly, the usage of Okugo and McInerney will increase exponentially in 2011 as they continue to mature.

And last but not least, your First Kick schedule was released yesterday – on time, I might add. The Union will travel to Houston on March 19th before returning to Philadelphia a week later for an afternoon game vs. the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps (and Shea Salinas…) in an afternoon game on the Delaware River. See below for the full fixture list:

Tuesday, March 15

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday, March 19

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC, time TBD

D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m.

FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.

Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30pm

Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.

Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 20

LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 26

Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m.

Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m.

Philadelphia Union vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4 p.m.

Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, time TBD

New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, time TBD

Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 9 p.m.

Thursday, April 14

Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire, 11 p.m.

Thursday, June 9

Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, time TBD

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