Looking back, looking forward, and a thank you

As editor of the Union section, I wanted to take a moment to say a couple things about our first year and what to expect going forward.

I was brought here in March from Sons of Penn to start a soccer section from scratch. After asking around a bit, I enlisted the help of fellow soccer nut Brett Krasnov (who was already on staff here), and together we split the duties necessary to cover a team; previews, recaps, tweeting during the match, covering pressers, and the occasional analytical article. We were granted access by the Union in early May and started covering matches from the press box; from that point on, we had a presence in the box for every MLS and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match for the rest of the year. When it became evident that we had something going, we solicited for a third writer and found Michael Dempsey, who joined our staff thereafter and was invaluable down the stretch, covering most of the matches in person in late summer and into the fall, to season’s conclusion. I owe a lot of people for this year’s success, but Brett and Michael are at the top of the list.

Soccer continues to grow in popularity in the city, but with the team not actually playing in Philadelphia and coupled with the club’s recent record of putrid play, we had modest hopes for a readership in our first year. Sports are funny though; every time you think you have it figured out, it shows you something that tells you that you don’t. The normally moribund Union spent most of the first half of the year in first place or near it; clearly, the changes new GM Earnie Stewart had made were working, and people were paying attention both at the stadium (the Union averaged over 17,000 per MLS match this year, nearly 92% of the stadium’s capacity) and online. Who were these guys wearing the Union kit? You were curious and wanted to know more. They went to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and although that fizzled out, the future looks bright. Regardless of what happens, we’ll be there to cover it for you.

Who told us our section was a success? You did! Everyone who read an article, everyone who tweeted us or shared a Facebook post, everyone who came to see what we were doing…your continued support is why we deemed this venture worthwhile and worthy of expansion, of evolution, of our continued time and effort. Without you, there is no “us”. And so I wanted to take a moment to say “thank you” on the behalf of Brett, Michael, myself, and the rest of the Pattison Ave family; thank you for stopping by even once to let us know this was worth it.

We took a mostly straightforward approach to reporting matches and writing in general this year. One reason for that was I wasn’t sure what kind of strengths and weaknesses the writers covering the U would have, so the theory going in was it’s easier to relax guidelines than to put new ones in place. One of the changes we’ll make next year is we’ll loosen our collars a little bit and let some more of our personality show in our articles. I think it’ll make it more fun for both writer and reader, as each of our unique voices will shine through more. We’re also going to three articles a week on weeks in which the U play one match; you’re reading what we write, so we’ll write more for you! The third article (besides the preview and the recap) could be a profile or a statistical analysis or something else entirely. You’ll have to wait and see!

We have some exciting stuff coming up in the off-season: we have a series coming about the season just passed, a look back at our predictions, and statistical analysis to show what went right and what went wrong for the Union. We’ll also take a look forward at possible moves to improve the team, who may be in and who may be out, and the elephant in the room: will Andre Blake be in goal for the Union next year? So stay tuned.

Thanks again for stopping by, and like the boys in blue, we hope you’ll be back soon.

-Jay

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