Philadelphia's MLS Team Plays Dirty, Like A Philly Team Should

Well, the Philadelphia Union exist now. And if one game is a large enough sample size, they're going to be every bit as physical as the city has come to expect from its teams.

Call them the Commodore Barry Bridge Bullies. The Union didn't make it to halftime of their first ever game before having a player sent off, and it wasn't due to a sissy instant red card. No, Toni Stahl did it the hard way, with two yellows in 40 minutes.

The first came on a hard tackle from behind on Freddie Ljungberg. After the game, Union coach Peter Nowak showed class, saying that Ljungberg was embellishing:

I expect someone like Freddie Ljungberg who has scored so many goals and played hundreds of games with the national team and won so many trophies would be more honest than he is. He is complaining and whining about missing a goal and trying to push the referee for a yellow card is not up to his standards."

Ljungberg, one of the Sounders' best players, later went off with a bad knee from the tackle, so I guess he was really committing to the lie.

On Stahl's second yellow, Fredy Montero did take a bit of a dive, but only after getting a knee in the back. But it wasn't just Stahl. Even the MLS Commissioner had to comment on Philly's physical play:

Certainly everybody will remember the fact that their opening game had a guy that got red-carded, but that's the way Philadelphia has opted to play and that's really something that's up to the coach."

Well, it's certainly worked for the Flyers, so more power to them. (What do you mean, "it hasn't worked for 35 years?")

Sounders spoil Philly's expansion debut with 2-0 win [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
Union coach Peter Nowak blasts Ljungberg [Seattle Times]
Union debuts, scoreless in Seattle [Philadelphia Daily News]