I spoke today with Philadelphia Union president Tom Veit, in advance of the Union's inaugural game at Qwest Field on Thursday.
Mostly I wanted to know how the team was built, and to what degree they modeled themselves after the ultra-successful Sounders.
Here is part of that interview, with some answers edited for length or clarity:
Q: To what degree did you study what made the Sounders successful in Seattle?A: “We met with the Sounders crew a year and an half ago -- even before they started playing -- and spent some time in Seattle and was real impressed with the way they wanted to do business. But we looked to a lot of different teams, because everybody has some uniqueness to them. “Seattle has obviously a great city and the Sounders have done some great things. They’re connected with the Seahawks; they’re playing in the stadium with the Seahawks. So the dynamics are a little bit different. “We looked at Toronto and what they’ve been able to do. We looked at Houston. We’ve kind of looked at everybody in the league and checked the pros and cons and then tried to adapt it to our situation.”
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Q: We’ve talked mostly about off-field issues. Did you study how Seattle bucked the trend of MLS expansion teams struggling early?A: Our team manager – Peter Nowak – was part of the only MLS expansion team to win MLS Cup in their first year (the Chicago Fire). I’m sure again, Peter looked at a lot of different things.”
Q: Even if you don’t compare yourselves to the Sounders, will fans inevitably make comparisons? A: “I think it’s definitely a standard by which others will be measured. And we hope that next year when Vancouver and Portland come in that they’ll be measured against Philadelphia’s success. You know, a lot of times it’s who came in last who’s the last successful one.“Toronto was the success that Seattle was being measured against. But I think the standards were pretty well set in Major League Soccer the last few years. You look at the teams that come in – or the relocation in the case of Houston – with Seattle and Toronto, all very successful franchises. And hopefully, we can continue to raise the level of those coming in behind us.”
There's more of the interview in our Wednesday paper, along with a player-by-player preseason look at the Sounders.