The Away End | Philadelphia Union with Jimmy King 

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New York City FC take on Philadelphia Union tomorrow night.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Jimmy King, lead Philadelphia Union writer for the Philly Sports Network.

How long have you been covering the Philadelphia Union?

This is my second full season covering Union, but I’ve been following Major League Soccer since I went to a Real Salt Lake game back in 2008 while living in Salt Lake City

What has been your highlight in that time?

I really enjoyed following and watching Dániel Gazdag’s climb to surpass Sébastien Le Toux as Union’s all time leading goal scorer. I started tracking the possibility that Dániel could pass Sébastien in the summer of last season but didn’t think it would come as quickly as it did. Seeing him tie and break the record in person was really cool.

What were your thoughts on the 2023 season?

After such a historic 2022, it was probably inevitable to see the Union regress in 2023, but it was still another strong season for them in the big picture - though fans might not feel that same way. The expectations around this club have changed massively over the last couple years. Just being in the playoffs and competing isn’t enough anymore, this fan base wants trophies.

What are your hopes for the 2024 season?

This team has a really strong foundation and should continue to compete as one of Major League Soccer’s best teams, but I think they could benefit from some new faces in the squad that fit within Jim Curtin’s system. Statistically, they’re performing pretty well but just not getting results in the last couple of games, losing three consecutive games at home for the first time since 2012. It’s weird to call a match in Mid-May “important”, but getting back on track against NYCFC on Wednesday could play a huge role in how the rest of the season plays out

What do you think will be the deciding factor in Wednesday's game?

The Union are letting in a lot of uncharacteristic goals right now that are completely killing any momentum they’re able to build within a game. They’ve been incredible at clawing their way back in games, but they’ve still yet put out a full 90-minute performance. Limiting silly mistakes and shooting themselves in the foot is probably the biggest deciding factor for this team right now.

And for any fans that might be in Philly for the game are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?

There’s not a ton of stuff near the stadium - but you do have three solid options. The Larimer is a nice little brewery located just a few blocks from where Subaru Park sits. The beer is good, they’ve got indoor and outdoor seating, and they’ve even got a lot to park in for cheaper than what the team charges. Your other option is the recently opened Union Yards. It’s very Beer Garden-esque with live music, lots of beer on tap, TV’s showing the Phillies or other MLS games, and there’s an incredible taco stand in that same lot as well.

Lastly, just across the street from Union Yards is the Sons of Ben tailgate. You will definitely get a few insults thrown your way, but that’s just the Philly greeting so don’t let that discourage you from chatting with some Union fans - they’re friendly I promise. For one price it’s all you can eat and drink, and there’s usually a few of us independent media members that cover the Union hanging out there before we head to the press box. Please come say hello and enjoy Subaru Park (I haven’t checked the weather yet, but it seems to always rain here so bring a rain jacket!).

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