News that Warren Creavalle would not be returning to the Philadelphia Union in 2021 wasn’t completely unexpected when roster decisions were announced earlier this week. But it still prompted plenty of heartfelt goodbyes and gratitude from a fanbase that felt the impact of a player whose impact was felt off the field as much as on it.
Whether it was spending time volunteering with kids in Chester in the after school Design FC program, hosting pop-up shops, designing Black Lives Matter t-shirts for MLS or speaking out along with his teammates about racial injustice, “Coach” Warren was a big part not only of the team but the community he called home since joining the team in 2015.
“Selfishly I loved working with [Warren] every day,” head coach Jim Curtin said of Creavalle in a press conference on Wednesday after the announcement that his option had been declined for 2021. “He is a winner on and off the field. His work with the Black Players For Change group and how much of a role he took in our locker room in the off-season was incredibly valuable. He is at the stage where he needs to be playing minutes at the age he is and those minutes may not have been able to come here. We had a hard and honest discussion and I think one he’ll respect. No one respects Warren Creavalle like I do so it’s a hard one, but it’s time to move on.”
The 30-year-old expecting father leaves the Union having logged just under 4,000 minutes in 86 appearances. Just half of his appearances were starts but he was the type of player Curtin was able to count on to close out games or make spot starts but perhaps even more importantly to consistently train at a high level and set an example for younger players.
One of his most memorable appearances for the boys in blue came in his hometown of Atlanta in June 2018 when he came on after Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin both were sent off inside a half hour. He set up a goal and helped keep the game to a respectable 3-1 score line despite the team being down two men for more than an hour.
Beyond thankful for my time in Philly with the @PhilaUnion. So much love for the friends and fam I’ve made in this community and the support you guys have shown over the past 5+ years. I leave the organization at peace and with a full heart knowing I put everything I had into it. https://t.co/M9G7BLsK1F— Warren Creavalle (@warrenspeak) December 3, 2020
Some other highlights off the field included him being featured in an episode of Calen Carr’s The Movement for MLS in 2018. He hosted pop-up stores for his creative brand Creavalle in the city during his time here after arriving via a trade with Toronto FC in August 2015.
His departure means just two players remain from the Union’s 2015 roster: Andre Blake and Ray Gaddis.