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In 2008, the Philadelphia Union became the MLS's 16th team and soon began to set about building a new franchise from the ground-up. The Union are named after the Thirteen Colonies, of which Philadelphia was the capital and draws on the city's historic roots. The Union began play in 2010 and boasted one of the most cutting edge soccer stadiums in the United States. PPL Park sits on the Philadelphia waterfront and has sparked a wave of new construction and development in the area. The 18,500-seat stadium is also a prime venue for concerts and other outdoor festivals, but in recent years, it has been the Union's strong play on the field that has been the biggest draw.

Like most expansion teams in their first year of existence, 2010 was a bit rough for the Philadelphia Union and their head coach Piotr Nowak. The team would open the season by losing their very first game against Seattle and only managed an 8-15-7 record. However, the very first game played at PPL Park ended up being a win for the Union over traditional MLS powerhouse, DC United. This proved to be one of only a few bright spots for the Union during their inaugural season, but they certainly began to show signs of improvement as the season wore on.

The Union had nowhere to go but up when the 2011 season kicked off, and they soon showed that their positive strides from the previous year were no fluke. After winning four of their first six games, the team hit a bit of a cold streak before putting together a series of wins to propel them to their very first wild card berth. The team was buoyed by forward Sebastien Le Toux, who led the club with 11 goals and became one of the MLS's most recognizable stars. While the Philadelphia Union lost to the Houston Dynamo in the first round of the postseason, the loss was a positive learning experience that the team could build on in the future.

With new coach John Hackworth in the fold, the Union are looking to make the jump from one-and-done playoff team to a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. While the roster has experienced a bit of recent turnover, the Union are one of the most exciting squads in the MLS and certainly have a bright future ahead of them.

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10/31/2014 1:35:02 AM on TCWEB1