Soccer, a sport that the United States as a majority still does not understand, yet the rest of the world considers gospel.
Why is that?
Maybe its just a generation thing here. And soccer is growing in numbers every year.
Alas, there is hope.
Maybe I should start this article explaining me, before I ask that you understand my opinion, and obsession with the sport. I am a man in my 40’s, working a blue collar job, with 2 young boys, (John-10 and Nicholas-6), and a wonderful wife. American dream huh? So how does my obsession come into play? I have loved soccer since I first played at the YMCA back in the late 70’s. But at that time, and even through the 90’s, soccer was not a popular sport at all. Finding a pick up game in the Philadelphia area was a very rare occurrence. My playing time may have diminished, but not my love for the sport.
Fast forward to 2008. Philadelphia was awarded a professional soccer team! The Philadelphia Union was going to be our team! But I knew it would be an uphill battle for them, along with us. We needed to help spread the word to help the public understand this game with no time outs, and a clock that never stops in a city that was raised on Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. We had our work cut out for us. How could we convince the public that this is the team we should be pulling for? The majority of them didn’t even want to try and understand the basics of the game.
Maybe we are still working on that, but I can tell you as a season ticket holder, the times are changing. And for the better. Every game, there is more and more families going to the games, and that is great to see. We are going there to watch some of the older players like Connor Casey, and Letoux. But it is the new faces that will keep the fans here. See, the fan base is not like the ones for the Eagles or Phillies, we are different. We buy the players jersey’s that we like. It is always a pleasure to see a kid out somewhere wearing a “Maidana” jersey. That is custom made. Not one you just pick off the shelf. (Can you hear that ownership? We are investing money into the club!) And you know what we as fans want? Product…bottom line…product. And we are starting to get it.
Their acquisition of Cristian Maidana last season was brilliant. This kid, and I can call him kid since he’s younger than me, is a phenom. I dare you to watch his moves on the field and try to emulate them at home. Just from experience, please place pillows on the floor. It is going to hurt when you lose your balance and fall. I’ve watched over 30 years of soccer, and he is a special player. Other teams give him the space when he has the ball. If they try and steal it, Chaco will make them look foolish. My kids imitate him at home, and it puts a smile on my face. Thank you Chaco Maidana for all you do. You’re good people.
But I am asking that all of you that read this attend a soccer game at PPL with your family. The Philadelphia Union has done a tremendous job with making it a family experience, and have hooked me for the future. I hope that when you do go, you get to see and feel the enjoyment that I do every game. And when they score, get ready to sing the Doop song. The stadium will shake with everyone dancing, and you will feel what I feel.
Down on the river side of the stadium, you will see the Sons of Ben. Watch when they walk in as a group. holding the flags above their heads, and showing their support for a great team. It will be like nothing you have ever seen. After the game is over, you will see the kids, our future smiling and thanking you for taking them. Stop by and pick up tickets for the next one, you will be hooked!!
Till the day I die,