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Fans’ view: PPL Park steps onto the world stage

Photo: Barb Colligon

Think about Premier League soccer for just a minute. What comes to mind?

Great footballers? Great stadiums? Great history? Great Supporters?

The answer to all of these questions is “Yes.”

Now think of MLS. Those of us who have watched and supported this league and the Union know that things have come a long way and are continuing to move in the right direction.

But the question I have is, “Does the world see it that way?”

The answer is clearly no.

In the upcoming weeks we — and by “we” I mean Philadelphia area fans and MLS — have the chance to show the world what MLS is all about, starting with the upcoming friendly against Aston Villa and concluding with the MLS All-Star game on July 25.

While the Aston Villa match may not seem a premier fixture, the club has a history that rivals some of Europe’s top clubs, including a European Cup in 1982 (now known as the Champions League). They also boast a stadium which seats nearly 43,000 fans, so they know what it is to have good support.

Villa will be airing the friendly on its website, providing an international audience for the match. This is our chance to showcase our club and supporters to the soccer hotbed that is England.

Perhaps even more important, however, is the MLS All-Star game against 2012 Champions League winners Chelsea FC. This game has dual importance for the Philadelphia area.

First is the fact that one of the best teams in the world is coming to play against MLS talent. Now I know many of you are thinking that Chelsea may not play their stars for the majority of the match, which diminishes the value. But when you look at the bench Chelsea will bring, you’ll see it rivals the first team of many other “world clubs.” So either way, MLS will be competing against top players, which will provide the MLS players the opportunity to make a name for themselves on a world stage.

The second opportunity lies in the fact that we are hosting at PPL Park fans from every other MLS city. We know what great fans we have, but cities like Seattle and Portland often get all the credit when it comes to supporters.

It’s time for us to occupy the River End, even though the contest’s result has little to no meaning to the Union, as we only have one player on the bench (Carlos Valdes). While it may be strange to enter the River End for a match like this, I assure you the atmosphere means everything when it comes to respect.

I know that as a member of the Sons of Ben, a season ticket-holder, and an avid supporter of this club that I would like nothing more than to come out of this month of July with not only a few victories but also the respect of fellow clubs both here and abroad. So, Philadelphia fans, come early, be loud, stay late, and show the rest of MLS and the world what “doop” is all about.

2 Comments

  1. I’ll be there loud and proud but it would help if the MLS All Stars could avoid the drubbing they’ve suffered the last two years at the hands of Man U. Rabid supporters are great but providing a little actual competition would be more likely to draw attention on the world stage than loud cheering.

  2. Steff Worthington says:

    I run the ‘British Legion’ page on facebook (UK based Union fans page) and I was screaming blue murder at not being able to find a place to watch the match. MLS needs to buck it’s ideas up. I know of a few MLS fans this side of the pond and there is definately a market here for MLS. It’s pretty difficult though when Matchday Live isnt available outside of the US and there is no jersey retailer here in Europe (I’ve bought two Union jerseys in the past bust cost and import tariffs make it unlikely I’ll do so in the future.
    I usually have to scout out illegal streaming to watch instead (MLS! TAKE MY MONEY!) but in this case I couldnt find a stream anywhere… I find out a day late its being screened on Villa’s site (which, I guess may have been obvious to some but its not usually a thing that happens as money locks down screening rights here in the EU).

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