By Erika Webb
Get ready soccer fans. The Philadelphia Union will be back in Deltona at the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex for preseason training this week and will even play a preseason game.
A preseason scrimmage between the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United will take place at Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex at 6 p.m. Feb. 20. It is free and open to the public.
Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk couldn't be happier about the Union returning to Deltona for its third preseason.
"The Philadelphia Union making the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex in Deltona its spring training home, places Deltona on the national map for professional soccer," Mayor Masiarczyk said. "This is just the first step in future economic and commercial development for our city. As an example, the scheduled game between the Union and D.C. United promises to draw large crowds to Deltona, giving the City the opportunity of positive exposure to a new audience of people who may not have considered Deltona as a destination before."
In an e-mailed response to questions Deltona Public Information Officer Lee Lopez explained how the team wound up at Deltona's sports complex.
"The team originally came down in 2010 and were scheduled to train at another facility ... arrived and were not comfortable with conditions at the facility and risking injuries for their players," Mr. Lopez wrote. "A liaison for the trip contacted us to inquire about using Dewey as he was very familiar with our complex."
The 66-acre sports complex was named after a director of one of Deltona's Municipal Service Districts who had a passion for sports.
"Coaches came out for a site visit and they were quite impressed with our complex and the condition of our fields and our maintenance program," Mr. Lopez said. "On more than one occasion coaches have mentioned that our fields are some of the finest that they have played on for practice or games."
The scrimmage pits two teams against each other that have a buddy rivalry.
Philadelphia's first victory was over D.C. United.
"On April 10, 2010, the club's Inaugural Home Opener, Philadelphia notched the first victory in team history beating D.C. United 3-2 in front of 34,870 fans," according to the Philadelphia Union website.
The team also will host a variety of events in the area from Feb. 9-23, including three kids' clinics -- 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10; and 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at the sports complex.
Union players also will visit Deltona schools.
"The Union players will discuss the importance of making good choices and academic success with the students," according to the City of Deltona's website.
The team will host its inaugural "Train with the Pros" day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the complex. Adults 18 and older will be invited to improve their soccer skills by training alongside Union players during conditioning routines and drills. The 90-minute practice session will provide an opportunity for fans to learn from members of the Union first team and technical staff.
There will be a fan-focused open practice on Friday, Feb. 16 at Dewey O. Boster, where technical staff will host a "chalk talk," -- an in-depth question and answer session. Fans are invited to watch the team practice and to join players for a barbeque lunch after practice.
In addition to the scrimmage, the club will compete against six other Major League Soccer, USL and NASL clubs in the 2013 Disney Pro Soccer Classic Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, according to Deltona's website.
Major League Soccer is a professional league, sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, representing the sport's highest level in the United States and Canada. There are 19 MLS teams, 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada.
The six MLS teams participating in Central Florida Soccer Spring Training, as well as USL Orlando City Soccer Club and the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies, will compete in two weeks of group play, with four games on February 9, 13, 16 and 23. Group A will include Orlando City, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC and Columbus Crew. Teams in Group B are the Tampa Bay Rowdies, D.C. United, Montreal Impact and Sporting Kansas City.
For the complete schedule and more details visit www.deltonafl.gov.