A few dozen fans who were able to rearrange their schedule on short notice turned out at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington on Wednesday to get an early glimpse of the 2020 Philadelphia Union at an open training session.
Several key pieces were missing from the day’s session — Jamiro Monteiro and Jose Andres Martinez are still working out paperwork and Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie are away with the USMNT — but fans had a chance to see new signing Matej Oravec and most of the returners from last year’s team.
“We usually don’t have that chance to meet them like this so it was fortunate for us to meet them and get pictures with them,” said Abdour Hady, who was able to get a selfie with captain Alejandro Bedoya and interact with several other players.
Hady has been following the team since he moved to the area from Cameroon five years ago and is as optimistic as ever about where the team is heading.
“I believe that within the next two or three seasons we’re going to win the MLS Cup,” he said.
Siblings Amanda Pearl and Ben Pearl grew up playing soccer in Delaware and have been following the team for the better part of the past decade so when they heard there was a chance to see them practice close to home they made sure to be there.
“When I saw they had a training session in Wilmington, I was like yup we’re going to be there,” said Amanda Pearl, who works near the facility, which opened last January and is home to the Delaware Bluecoats NBA G League team. “Last season was huge obviously and I’m looking forward to this season. We already have tickets to the opening game, we’ll be there in the cold.”
Ben Pearl said he liked what he saw from new signing Oravec, a 21-year-old holding midfielder from Slovakia, and was happy to see fellow University of Delaware alum and Union II goalkeeper Todd Morton training with the first team.
“I’m a huge soccer guy so I wanted to check out the team and see what they have going on before they go to Florida,” he said.
The Union haven’t held an open training session during the first week of preseason since they hosted fans at an outdoor training in Chester in 2018. They hosted open training sessions at YSC Sports near King of Prussia in 2017 and several years prior.
The team will train in Wilmington through Saturday and head down to Clearwater, Florida for the first of two camps there on January 27. They open their preseason schedule against Atlanta United at IMG Academy on January 29.