Culture / Fan Culture / Featured / Union

Who are ya?

Opening day jubilation edition

The excitement was off the scale.  Our team — the team the area’s many soccer fans had been eagerly waiting for — was finally opening their new stadium, an absolutely stunning venue on the banks of the Delaware with the Commodore Barry Bridge hawking a view of the action from the background. We were overwhelmed with the moment, no one quite bothered by the tough opposition presented by the Sounders, a squad that dropped us 2-0 back in Seattle during our first ever match. Our eyes widened by joyous glee, we just hoped that some of the energy brimming inside us all would spill over onto the pitch.

PSP: Who are ya?

George and Gaby Carroll.

George and Gaby Carroll are die-hard Union fans.

PSP: Where are you from?

George: We live together in Philly where I grew up.

Gaby: Born in Mexico City.

PSP: How did you get into soccer? How deep does your passion for the game run?

George: It’s the only sport I played my whole life. I’m a big supporter of the national team.

PSP: ….we’ll get to that later…can’t talk about it right now. [To Gaby] I’m sure you’re feeling equally gutted [ Mexico was losing 2-nil at the time on the way to a 3-0 loss to Argentina].

Gaby: Uhhhh…I don’t want to think about it either.

PSP: So what about your background as a fan?

Gaby: It’s the only sport I supported my whole life. I backed two teams; one was the Pumas of Universidad Nacionale or UNAM, the local university team. The other was Club America. I came to Philly in ’97 with a great passion for the sport so I’m glad to have a home team to root for.

PSP: Yes, I’m absolutely thrilled like everyone else must be.

Gaby: It’s great to have them here. We finally have a home.

PSP: What are your expectations for today and for the remainder of the season? Honestly, given the excitement, I haven’t even had a chance to think about the fact that The Sounders are definitely favored. I haven’t even begun to worry about that.

George: They play well as a team, but the results aren’t necessarily there. They just went through boot camp. They’re a new team with a lot of young guys and they started out with a ton of road games. You can’t make it any harder. Given that, they’ve dropped mostly close games without any 6-0 losses in there.

PSP: How closely have you guys been following the World Cup?

George: As much as we can. We’re loving it. We were at Fado for the USA match Saturday and Le Toux stopped by and joined us at our table.

Gaby: He was awesome. No one recognized him. He came in, watched the match with us, and bought a round for our table — while having a diet soda himself, of course.

PSP: So given what you’re seeing right now and what you’ve seen in Philly during the World Cup, what do you have to say to all the media pundits who have wondered whether anyone would watch The World Cup, while asserting that only a deep run by Team U.S.A. would enable the sport to take off here?

Gaby: Oh, God…even we’ve been surprised with the excitement we’ve seen in Philly the last few weeks. Saturday was no different with people filling Fado. It’s like soccer fans are coming out of the rocks.

George: We’re like the freemasons. You don’t think we’re there, but then something like the World Cup comes along, or that USA v Turkey game, or the Union,  and you realize we’re everywhere. And we’re only going to increase in number.

Gaby: Sure, a lot of people who showed up for the U.S. game were there for the spectacle, but we are a big community and its shown via the big turn outs at bars around the city and here today.

George: Add to that the fact that opening game tickets [at PPL Park] sold out in under five hours after it was announced that the team had gone beyond 12,000  in season ticket sales.

PSP: So you both have season tickets then?

George: Yea, we got them within two to three weeks of the announcement. We’re front row two sections over from the midfield line.

PSP: What are your thoughts going in? How will the excitement impact the game? How do you guys feel right now?

George: I think it’ll be an amazing experience, that the atmosphere will be awesome. This is a new organization that is taking one key additional step in wedding itself firmly with Philadelphia and it’s people. We’re excited to be a part of the opening of their new stadium and I hope that energy can help us against a very talented Sounders team.

Gaby: Absolutely psyched. Go Union!!!

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(Along the concourse.)

Fado staff and regulars J.R., Marie Prouse, Andrew Boorady, Molly Coulter, Stevie McKenna (left to right) at the Union-Sounders match.

PSP: Who are ya? Where are you from?

Andrew Boorady. Buffalo, N.Y. I’ve been in Philly for awhile now.

PSP: How excited are you for this game, THIS DAY?!

Andrew: Extremely excited. We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Can’t believe it’s finally here. It’s overwhelming.

PSP: With that in mind along with the overjoyed expectant masses streaming by, what do you have to say to the soccer detractors who fail to properly acknowledge the American fanbase, while denying it will ever take off?

Andrew: I would say they need to open their minds a bit. Soccer is not an American sport. It’s a worldwide sport. The turnout for The Union alone is enough. The World Cup turnout further shows it. All you need is the ball and your feet. Its simplicity is what informs its brilliance. It’s a sport that, once you get into it, it’s very addictive.

PSP: We’ve gone through some tough times with the Union but their huge upside is readily apparent.

Andrew: As with any expansion team it’s a learning process. A couple things need to happen, definitely. Shoring up the D. Taking the good foundation we have and going from there. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance. The strikers need to improve as well.

PSP: It’s great we have this day as a counter following a loss that saw a USA squad full of potential dropped out of the World Cup. What are your thoughts in the aftermath?

Andrew: Clint Dempsey was my guy on the U.S. squad. He played his heart out. Sure he did miss some opportunities, but he is the stereotypical team player, always deftly playing the ball up field to Bradley and Donovan.

PSP: How did you take it?

Andrew: It was crushing when they lost. They had a good showing, better than it has ever been, with ESPN and even ABC airing all the games. I’ve been at Fado for 2 ½  years. It’s been crazy, with a ton of people really getting behind the tournament and team USA. I was working Saturday and I was up and down with all the fans as I rushed about the place. We lived and died together.

PSP: So, wow, we do have soccer fans in Philly?!

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah. And it’s not like we don’t play it here. I played it as a kid. I’m a big hockey fan. Both games are quick moving, fluid, and organic in their build up, the rise to excitement.

PSP: I see you came with a few friends.

Andrew: Yeah. A bunch of the staff along with other fans rode down on a bus from Fado. We’ve got one leaving about two hours prior to every home game.

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Post game, before the 135/136 archway.

Louisa Nicolini and Christina Geary are all smiles after the Union opened their new digs in style.

Who are ya? Where are you from?

Christina Geary. Delran, NJ.

PSP: How awesome is this? 3 second- half goals! How excited are you?

Christina: You don’t even know. I’m so excited to be here. Very proud to be a part of this. I never would have expected this! I would have been happy with a tie. I feel like everyone else: so elated, especially with the win.

PSP: Yeah, tell me about it. I was focused on enjoying the moment, while not even thinking about what we would all presume to be a lopsided match-up. It seems the energy paid off.

Christina: Oh my God yeah.

PSP: How big of a fan are you? Do you play?

Christina: I’ve really gotten into it the last few years. I don’t play. A lot of my friends play. Many of them are on Drexel’s varsity team.

PSP: So, a giant high after watching the U.S.A. get knocked out.?

Christina: Yeah, but they’re my number two team. My first is Brazil.

PSP: What? Is Mom or Dad from Sao Paolo?

Christina: No, though I consider myself half Brazilian since so many of my friends are from there. They’re the ones who got me into soccer.

One Comment

  1. Great pictures and article, especially the one with George and Gaby, my son and daughter-in-law! Our family is very excited to have our own soccer team here in Philly. Go Union!

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