UPDATE: Kerith Gabriel of the Daily News talked to Philadelphia Union president Tom Veit this morning and sent along some quotes that I have permission to post here:
“Right now everything is running on schedule construction-wise, but we are on a real tight schedule and with MLS yet to announce opening day dates, we just want to make sure that we are covered,” Union president Tom Veit told the Daily News. “If we have to open on a certain date that doesn’t meet our deadlines then that is a problem, so we are just making sure we do our due diligence.”
Veit also confirmed the Washington Post’s report that the team explored playing at 52,000 seat Franklin Field on Penn’s campus was an option but noted the 68,594 seat Linc as a more suitable fit.
“The Eagles have been great,” Veit said. “We know with the Gold Cup having played there and it being a possible venue for the World Cup it would be the perfect place for us to start the season,” Veit said. “So if it does have to be a possibility they are ready to accommodate us.”
Kerith wrote a full story that you can (and should) read here. The rest of this post is me talking:
From everything I've heard so far, it does sound like this is indeed nothing more than a backup plan. It will be interesting to see what happens if they do open at the Linc, though, and to see how many people would attend that game. You wonder many of them would just attend once because they knew they could get in the door.
The other part of this to think about is that there is some history in MLS of teams opening seasons with long stretches of road games because of stadium construction. The most famous example is the Los Angles Galaxy in 2003, when the Home Depot Center opened. That season began on April 5, and the Galaxy played eight road games before finally christening the HDC on June 7.
The impression I get is that those involved in making the schedule would like to avoid that scenario happening again.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I got some more details about the Franklin Field angle from a source at Penn. The school was approached at the beginning of the summer, but the discussions never really went anywhere. It seems like Lincoln Financial Field came into the picture as a venue pretty quickly.
AND A THIRD UPDATE: Word now comes, also from Steven Goff, that the expansion draft will take place November 25. We already knew that the SuperDraft will be held here in Philadelphia during the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which runs from January 13-17.
The Women's Professional Soccer draft will also be held during the convention from what I've heard.
Read the original post from last night below.
This broke late Wednesday night, and it was the first I'd heard of it, but as you all know I do 99 percent of my work from a desk because that's what I get paid for.
Washington Post soccer writer Steven Goff reports on his blog that discussions have taken place for Philadelphia Union to open its inaugural season at Lincoln Financial Field if the stadium in Chester is not ready on time.
The specific phrases Goff uses are that "an alternate location for at least one game has been discussed with league officials," and that there is "no certain date for completion" of construction in Chester.
Goff also states that Franklin Field was rejected as a possible venue, according to his sources.
Major League Soccer is currently working on putting together its 2010 fixture list, and Goff reports that the most recent version has the Union opening on April 10 at home to D.C. United.
Regardless of who plays whom on the opening weekend, the schedule will definitely include a break during the group stage of the World Cup. It will be the first time the league stops play during the tournament.
MLS was criticized in 2002 and 2006 for playing through the World Cup. While there was an increased focus on soccer during those summers, the league's clubs did not have their top players, which made for a clear difference in the quality of play.