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June 12, 2023

Rob McElhenney's Wrexham AFC to play Union II this summer in Chester

The English soccer club co-owned by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds will visit the Union II at Subaru Park in Chester on July 28.

Wrexham AFC, the English soccer club on the rise and with worldwide notoriety through celebrity owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, will be making a stop in Chester this summer. 

Announced Monday, the underdog club will play the Union II – the Union's developmental team – in a friendly at Subaru Park on Friday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. to cap off its American tour with a homecoming for McElhenney, the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star and Philly native.

McElhenney, whose local roots and Philly sports fandom have bled through "Always Sunny" for 15 seasons and counting, purchased ownership of Wrexham alongside Reynolds in 2020 and steadily built the club up from a downtrodden and struggling group to a team that just earned its promotion into England's League Two – English's fourth-highest division and the first rung on the full-time professional ladder for its clubs. 

Throughout, they also chronicled their journey with the team and its bond with the town it represents through the critically-acclaimed FX docuseries "Welcome to Wrexham," which has helped the small club gain a worldwide fan base. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Wrexham AFC to Subaru Park,” Union club president Tim McDermott said in a statement“They have successfully captured a worldwide audience with their National League title and subsequent promotion to EFL League Two. We look forward to an exciting match and the opportunity it brings for Philadelphia Union II to showcase their talent. It will be such a great experience for fans to witness the clash between these two clubs and see the skills on display.”

In a similar vein, the Union have also undergone a steady rise through the ranks of Major League Soccer – though over the course of a decade – developing into an MLS powerhouse that last season fell just a penalty kick round short of its first championship. 

Their homegrown development of players with the Union II (formerly the Bethlehem Steel) and commitment to its facilities in Chester (which now include plans for a $55 million sports and recreation complex on the waterfront) played heavily into that. 

"We're looking forward to our tour to America in the summer,” Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said. “The club has had a small taste of the support we have over there, and it will be great to take our first-team players over to see that support firsthand. The matches scheduled will be a good warm-up for our first season back in the EFL, and we’re looking forward to visiting Philadelphia, the home of our co-chairman, Rob McElhenney, for what promises to be a competitive game and a terrific ending to our summer tour.”

Wrexham originally tried to arrange an American tour and visit to Chester and the Union in the summer of 2021, but continued uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic at the time put those plans on hold. 

Tickets for the exhibition game aren't on sale yet, but the Union opened up a priority list for non-season ticket holders to sign up for on their website.

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