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From the Editor's Blotter: 2014 Kicks Off

The Union kick off the 2014 season in just a few days, so Murph sits down and lays out the Brotherly Game's game plan for the coming season and outlines a few ways for you to not only get involved but also possibly score some free stuff.

Salutations readers! It's Murph and I ask for your indulgence once again while I sweep the porch and dust the shelves in anticipation of a great opening weekend.

The Philadelphia Union's 2014 season is about to kick off once again from Portland. I thought I would share some of the Brotherly Game's plans for the new season and outline some of our off season changes, as well as share some opportunities for you to get involved and possibly score some swag,

Welcome to an all new Brotherly Game

For those of you who are perhaps the more casual readers allow me to introduce myself again. My name is Murph and I am the managing editor of the Brotherly Game. The core staff and I used to run another Philadelphia Union blog called TheUnionDues, and we took over the management of the Brotherly Game in late August of 2013, purposely with zero fanfare. SB Nation has made the site easier to navigate and slicker to read, and we have brought with us a much larger staff and an entirely new vision and outlook on all things Union. We want to bring you the full experience of Union fandom all in one place. Check out the Masthead and we are all there for you to see in living color. We want to be as accessible to you as possible. So feel free to stop us on the concourse or anywhere you see us on match day - or any other day for that matter - and let us know what you think, or even for a chat about the team or soccer in general.

New Line Up

We have added a few new writers who, in addition to our existing staff, help round out our offerings to suit any level of fandom from novice to soccer super freak. Every week expect to see the all the things that you have come to expect from the Brotherly Game like match previews, game threads, match reviews, and breaking news. In addition to that we have added many new regular features such as:

The Academy: Frank Cobbina keeps an eye on the Union's hottest prospects in the academy system so that you can see the future now.

The Academy in College: Matt Ralph follows the Union's academy prospects into their college years from the newest class of freshmen right into the SuperDraft each year. It's a regular soccer Animal House.

Paid their Dues: John Rossi chronicles the ups and downs of players who have left the Union to pursue their careers elsewhere, and you may be surprised what some of the old boys are up to.

Behind the Crest: I regularly look behind the crest at anything Union related in a non sporting setting.

Poetry Corner Kicks: Ryan Stockton sets the brow on high and regales us with Union themed poetry. It's completely unique and a must read.

Doop Cast: Richie the Limey, Pat the Professor and Stormin' Dan Gorman bring you the best Podcast in the Unionverse. It's funny, irreverent, and right on target every time.

Hot Topic: Doug Gobrecht picks the hottest topic of the week and solicits the staff's responses. Great insight into the minds of our staff and the subject matter.

Game Changers: Barry Evans attempts to write through his Scottish accent and highlights some moments in a game that shift the balance.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Andrew Stoltzfus knows ugly, he's a West Ham fan. This feature evens things out by adding up the good, the bad, and the downright ugly from any given match. Always great perspective and analysis and never a punch pulled here.

We have been working on a few surprises this season as well.

New Ways to Get Involved

We want this to be your home as well as ours. We still have our FANPOSTS and FANSHOTS sections for you to be able to share your thoughts and pictures with the rest of the community, as well as the ability to comment on any article. We have also added John O'Donnell to moderate the comments section and keep things fair and moving.

We are always on the lookout for new staff, so if you feel you have something to offer, drop me a line. My contact information is on the masthead.

You are probably thinking to yourself, "this all sounds great but I wish there were a way to get free stuff and get my face in an article". Well now you can. We are starting two brand new features that reward you for being a reader. The AWAY MATCH GIVE AWAY will allow you to receive a FREE Live Breathe Futbol T-Shirt for being part of the community and a bit witty. That's right - the coolest soccer gear around free from the Brotherly Game. Not really the LBF type? How about having your tailgate spotlighted in TAILGATE CRASHERS? Every home match, with the exception of the home opener because we want everyone to go and participate in 'Stache Bash and give to the charities involved, we will be invited to "crash" a tailgate. Don't worry we never arrive empty handed and will feature you and your tailgate friends in an article on the site. Interested in being featured? Keep an eye out for the post calling for tailgates willing to be crashed.

New Season, Same Problems

Looking forward into 2014, the Union is definitely a stronger side on paper. The problem is that this isn't Dungeons and Dragons, and no 20-sided die roll is going to put a ball in the back of a net or even keep it out no matter how wizardlike the defenders' eyebrows are. This is a team with lots of new parts all struggling to settle through their own circumstances. You can say that they are paid well to perform on the field but as anyone who ever moved house can tell you, personal upheaval and instability can throw off your professional life. So here is to hoping the club took care of the incoming players and their families well enough to offset the stress of moving. Even if they did, new players always take time to bed in, and my personal rule of thumb is to withhold judgement on a new player until after 7-10 matches.

I tweeted today that this week is the best week to be an MLS fan. It's like Christmas eve - every team is undefeated, and every new signing a potential superstar. It's a week of hope and optimism, of looking forward instead of looking back. The anticipation of something new and familiar all at once. It's the intoxicating feeling of spring regardless of Puxatawny Phil's shadow - or lack thereof. We are excited for the new season and by the time the first kick is made in Portland, we want you to be excited with us. This is a new team, a new season, and an entirely new Brotherly Game, and we are inviting you to be a part of it.