Here's a trivia question for you: What was the first piece of silverware the Philadelphia Union first team won? The answer is the 2015 IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, played during last year's preseason where they defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-1. The Tampa Bay Rowdies have since claimed ownership of the tournament and renamed it to the Tampa Bay Rowdies Suncoast Invitation. The teams for the invitational were announced today, and the Philadelphia Union are among the teams that will participate.
The games begin against D.C .United on February 17th at 4 pm, the day after they return to Clearwater, Florida for leg two of their Florida training. Union fans traveling down to Clearwater for the annual fan trip will get to see the Union play against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on the 20th at 7 pm. The game will be against Union alums Freddy Adu and Danny Mwanga. The last time the Union played the Rowdies was during the preseason of 2015 where the Union fell 1-0 to the NASL side. The Union then will play the New York Red Bulls on the 24th at 7 pm, and then against Toronto FC on the 27th at 7 pm.
When asked about the importance of the Suncoast Invitational, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said, "It was important for us to schedule high-level opponents this preseason in an effort to maximize our fitness regimen. Our slate of matches during this tournament is exactly the kind of test we were looking for and we'll embrace the challenge. We're looking forward to being down there as we continue to prepare for our season." Needless to say, Earnie Stewart has high expectations for this tournament as it is was gears the Union into season mode and can help with confidence entering the 2016 season.