The Philadelphia Union may be leaders in the MLS Eastern Conference Standings, but Wednesday evening the club showed it’s a top-class organization off the field. The Union hosted hundreds of business leaders, supporters, media members and influencers at the inaugural Legends of Soccer Gala at the Crystal Tea Room.
The event, initially planned for 2020, raised around $290,000 for the Philadelphia Union Foundation, which has helped grow soccer in Chester schools and supported programs in and around the Philadelphia area. The Union Foundation has been successful building mini-pitches across the city, provided under-served communities with access to the game, and supported personal growth and development for school-aged children through its i AM Project.
Union broadcasters Dave Leno and Sebastian Le Toux served as hosts for the event with appearances from several leaders in the soccer and business communities. Featured guest MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Union owner Jay Sugarman spoke about their commitment to the growth of the game in the United States and the Philadelphia area, especially at the youth level. The Union were recently ranked the number one academy in the country by Soccerwire.com last July.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was honored for his support of the soccer community. Kenney spearheaded the creation of the Philadelphia Unity Cup, a multi-national World Cup-style soccer tournament that has expanded to 52 nations. The mayor has also been a key figure in Philadelphia’s bid to become a host city in the 2026 World Cup. Fred Penny, President of Bimbo Bakeries USA, was honored for his business leadership. Bimbo, the largest bakery in the United States, has been the club’s shirt sponsor since 2011.
Carli Lloyd, two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, two-time World Cup Champion, and two- time Olympic Gold medalist was honored for her leadership on the pitch. Lloyd spoke with Union analyst Danny Higginbotham about her journey from Delran, NJ, to the peak of the world soccer landscape. She also touched on her recent retirement, starting a family, continuing her soccer clinics, and a new role as an analyst for Fox during the upcoming US Women’s National Team friendlies against Uzbekistan, one of which will take place at Subaru Park on April 12.
The event featured a VIP cocktail reception, three-course dinner, and a silent and live auction which included autographed memorabilia, Union field level and box tickets, and four tickets to the USA-England match in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that fetched $24,000.
Union coach Jim Curtin and many Union players attended the event, including captain Alejandro Bedoya, recent Team of the Week honoree Julian Carranza, Jack Elliott, and homegrowns Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn, Nathan Harriel and Brandan Craig.
For more information on supporting the Philadelphia Union Foundation, go to www.philadelphiaunion.com/foundation.