SOURCES ACROSS Major League Soccer have confirmed what has been on the wish list of Union supporters:
PPL Park will host the MLS All-Star Game in July.
The event, to be co-hosted by Philadelphia and Chester, is expected to be announced Tuesday in an 11 a.m. City Hall news conference featuring Mayor Nutter, MLS commissioner Don Garber, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz and Chester Mayor John Linder.
This would make the second consecutive year for an East Coast venue to host the event. Last year's All-Star Game was at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., home of MLS' New York franchise.
Philadelphia-Chester apparently trumped bids from Kansas City and Vancouver.
Garber has expressed his desire to have the event hosted at a soccer-specific stadium from now on, eliminating Lincoln Financial Field as a possible venue. The source confirmed that the Union not only won the bid, but that PPL Park, the 18,500-seat facility on Chester's waterfront, will be the site for MLS' showcase.
While it's been confirmed the game will be played in July, an exact date is unknown. Also, the guidelines on ticket allocation and right-of-first-refusal for Union fans remain unclear. But the biggest question is whether Garber will announce an opponent at today's news conference or whether MLS is still ironing out that detail.
For the past 2 years, that club has been Manchester United, which won both matches by a combined 9-2 margin. The Red Devils already were in the States last season, taking part in the World Football Challenge.
Sakiewicz said 2 weeks ago that he lobbied Garber on the Union's behalf to host the All-Star Game.
"We are very confident that PPL Park would be a great venue for the All-Star Game," Sakiewicz said then. "It's something personally that I want to come to our building, and I think it would be great for our city and I know our fans would really take to it."
Pajoy to join Union?
It's been speculated that Colombian striker Lionard Pajoy was getting ready to make his foray into Major League Soccer. According to a source, it appears that MLS club will be the Union.
The source told the Daily News that a pesky contract situation with Pajoy's current club, Itagui Ditaires, of the Colombian first division, stalled an earlier announcement, but that the deal should be completed in the next couple of days once a visa and other paperwork are approved by the league.
The news of Pajoy's imminent arrival to MLS was first released by Colombian soccer website FutbolRed.com.
Members of the Union's technical staff declined to comment. A source said that through Union chief scout and development coordinator Diego Gutierrez, the Union was able to help Pajoy, 30, realize a desire to continue his career in America.
It's too early to say whether Pajoy will become the replacement should forward Sebastien Le Toux, currently on trial with Bolton, receive an offer from the English club. He is the current leading scorer in Colombia's first division, with 10 goals in 18 matches and a total of 13 goals in all competitions with Itagui.
Pajoy would bring a wealth of experience to a young Union attack corps that features Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Josue Martinez (signed this offseason) and top SuperDraft pick Chandler Hoffman, all under age 22.