Fans' View

Fans’ View: Some perspective for Negadelphia fans

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Every time we see her at PPL Park, my wife and I share a silent shudder. She has earned herself a nickname. She is the “He-Stinks” lady.

Sitting directly behind us, she slings barbed arrows of “He stinks!”or “He’s terrible!” with every errant touch of the ball. While she is the epitome of the Negative-Nancy, pessimistic, Philly sports fan, a quick perusal of the comments section on the Philly Soccer Page shows that she is not alone. We Union fans tend to be Wordsworths with our criticism and aphasic mimes with our praise. But why?

The explosion of soccer on television in the past few years may be partly to blame. This season through NBC, we are treated to every single match of the Barclay’s Premier League. Highlights from Champions League fixtures make their way onto Sports Center, and we have weeknight access to World Cup Qualifying matches from all corners of the globe.

This gluttony of high quality football has raised our collective expectations of the beautiful game. We bemoan a lead-foot touch on Saturday evening at PPL Park because we just witnessed it done so simply on Saturday morning at Anfield.

Holding our fair Union to this lofty expectation is unfair. The feats we witness in the top tiers of football are incredibly difficult. Worse yet, the more skilled a player is, the more easy the move appears. When you have 11 players capable of ball mastery, attacking football looks fluid and simple. It is true that MLS has improved significantly, but it still has a long way to go in terms of quality to be considered among the world’s elite.

So what are we do to? Shield our eyes from top tier soccer? Expect mediocrity?

Not exactly.

Keep watching the good stuff, but try something else too.

Try to watch a full 90 minutes of other MLS games that don’t include the Union. (Editor’s note: Portland, Salt Lake, and Colorado are three particularly attractive teams to watch.) This should be easy heading into the playoffs where the outcome of several games impact the Union. My guess is that if you root for Toronto to beat Chicago, you’ll see that midfield woes and frustration in the attack are not uniquely our own. These other games provide much needed perspective and can help you see what we do well comparatively.

We love to criticize our teams. Not because we’re are innately negative people, but because we so desperately want them to do well. So go watch some other MLS games these next two weeks and accept that most of the players in the BPL are on a different level.

If all else fails, you could come out and watch me play in my over-35 league. That should lower your expectation bar nicely.

17 Comments

  1. I think there are one of those in every section. I have one behind me in 109 that has caused me to consider changing our seats. My frustration is that a lot of her comments show that she really doesn’t understand the game…

  2. In the CIX, we used to have a bunch of English dudes who would give the business to Danny Califf (“You’re not good enough to be paid! You’re stealing out money, Danny!”). I always thought they just wanted attention. The soccer at PPL may not always be the best in the world, but it’s OUR soccer. No one ever got better by telling them “you suck” — nor did any viewing experience. Boo the refs and the opponents, but you gotta support your team.

  3. Or it could just be that he stinks

  4. Portland, Salt Lake, and Colorado are three particularly attractive teams to watch.

    Wow, who ever woulda thought a list like that would include COlorado

    • Colorado is a lot more fun to watch when it isn’t 30 degrees out and their field isn’t lined with snowbanks.

      Hey, weren’t the Union undefeated against all those attractive teams this year?

  5. I am not sure saying the entire league sucks just as bad as the Union is very helpful in dismissing people negative feelings.

  6. He-Stinks Lady says:

    Terrible post! BOOOO!!!!!!

  7. buzzkill_ed says:

    Portland may have an effective midfield, but I also find them to be one of the dirtiest teams in the league. Chara particularly so. They hack the other team and argue if it’s called. They roll around for minutes if they’re fouled. They have some quality in their team, but I have a hard time watching them.

  8. No, MLS is not the EPL/BPL. That doesn’t really make anyone feel better. The fact that MLS is virtually unwatchable doesn’t make me feel better. In fact, I have seen other teams play, for the most part they are also pretty bad, and it doesn’t make me feel any better. If the Union was not a home team I would not watch it. Hopefully, in another 16 years the quality accross the league will improve, whether because the academy systems are producing better and better players or the salary cap is raised significantly or both. Either way, quality of MLS play needs to improve if the league is to gain in popularity and global respect.

  9. Smackey the Frog says:

    Truth is, we’ve made some terrible personnel decisions over the past two seasons that seem designed to make us a mediocre mid-tier side. That just sucks, sucks, sucks. Instead of being a sure-fire playoff contender post-2011 the FO seems quite pleased with the status quo. And I’m not talking about DPs… we didn’t/don’t need DPs. Casey is really the only positive transaction we’ve made this season, but we’ll see what CUSA’s first round pick brings. I still feel that most of the fan’s negativity stems from those idiotic moves.

    I’m with you on the negativity in PPL though. 100% negative people are simply the worst. I do not understand the motiviation for showing up if all you want to do is rag on the players. Yes, some deserve it, but the fans around you don’t.

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