Philadelphia Unity Cup draws teams for its third season

2018 tournament will see some changes in timing and location.

Cherri Gregg
June 07, 2018 - 5:58 pm
Mayor Jim Kenney drew teams for the third season of the Philadelphia Unity Cup

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Mayor Jim Kenney drew the names of the teams who will take part in the opening rounds of the third annual Philadelphia International Unity Cup. This year is expected to be the biggest yet.
 
The Unity Cup is a "World Cup Style" soccer tournament where "teams" represent a specific country. This year, 52 teams will participate, up from 48 in 2017 and 36 in 2016.


 
"Soccer is life, soccer translates everywhere," Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday. He came up with the Unity Cup in 2016 with the goal of bringing together Philadelphia's immigrant communities.
 
"It's an opportunity to celebrate the city's cultural diversity and encourage our residents to learn and explore our city's many cultures," he says.
 
The season will kick off Aug. 3 with the opening rounds of games. Teams will play throughout the city for several weeks, and the effort will culminate in a championship match on Oct. 13 — one month earlier than last year. In addition to shifting the dates on the tournament, the city is moving the championship out of Philadelphia to the Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.
 
"We'd like to do it in Philly, but the Union Field is such a beautiful location, and it's not that far away," Kenney said.
 
"Last year, because of the cold, a lot of people couldn't make it out there," Foday Turay, coach of Team Sierra Leone, said. His team was runner up in the 2017 Unity Cup championship.
 
"October means it's going to be better," Turay said. "Plus, its World Cup year!"

2018 Philadelphia International Unity Cup drawing results
Courtesy of City of Philadelphia

 
Since the Unity Cup launched, African teams have dominated. Ivory Coast was the inaugural champion. Last year, Liberia, who came in second place in 2016, was the champion.
 
"We been blessed. Everything been going well for us," Jayson Waylee, coach of Team Liberia, said.
 
Team Jamaica came in third in 2017. Alvin Malado, coach of Team Jamaica, says they hope to upset the Africans.
 
"We've been training, so we're trying to take it all this year," Malado said.
 
The city brought back presenting sponsor Goya Foods. The event will also receive the support of the Philadelphia Union Foundation, and the Union will host Community Youth Clinics throughout the tournament, bringing soccer instruction and education to children across Philadelphia.
 
They will connect with soccer lovers across the city by hosting a FIFA World Cup watch party on June 30. They will also host an International Block on Saturday, Sept. 15.