Even before Philadelphia Union begin its inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2010, they're already making their mark in the Greater Reading area. Today the MLS expansion club named Reading United AC (formerly Reading Rage) as their exclusive minor league affiliate in this region.
"As the Major League Soccer club in the region, we have a responsibility to help grow the game and teach our young supporters the proper way the game is played," said Philadelphia Union Team Manager Peter Nowak. "Our Technical Staff will work closely with the coaches at YSC and Reading United AC to ensure everyone in the program has the best insights to the game we can provide."
The precedent has already been established in Reading, which has proven to be a very good minor league sports market. For years, the Reading Phillies have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the two-time defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. It is in the spirit of that relationship that Philadelphia Union and Reading United AC have joined forces now.
"As we enter our 15th year of minor league soccer here in Reading, we're taking our game and our serious commitment to soccer in the region to another level," reflected Reading United AC General Manager Art Auchenbach. "We are excited about our affiliation with Philadelphia Union on a multitude of levels. Of course, fielding a first rate club on the field remains our top priority. Our mission is to help train young players, while setting the standard for a local, club neutral program. And that is consistent with what Philadelphia Union is already doing."
Collectively, this means a new era of growth and development for soccer throughout the area. One goal will be to groom young talent in Reading to prepare them to advance to Philadelphia Union and MLS. "We are pleased things came together so seamlessly, with the leadership of Reading United AC," said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. "Our goals and aspirations, from the grass roots on up through our first team are very complementary. There's a commonality of purpose, to do things right, on the pitch and off. We look forward to a long and successful partnership to help grow the game at all levels here in Berks County."
Philadelphia Union will open the 2010 MLS season, with their first ever First Kick on March 25 in Seattle vs. Sounders FC in a match televised nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The club's home opener will be April 10, as Philadelphia Union hosts D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field.