Fans' View

Fans’ View: And so it begins, again

Photo: Earl Gardner

I started my countdown clock before I turned off the TV on Oct 26. I followed every offseason move, read every article I could get my hands on, and dutifully watched all four preseason games — one in person Florida. I was ready!

Finally, Opening Day arrived. Sunny, not too windy — not bad at all after Thursday’s snowstorm — and I was looking forward to a few beers in Lot A before marching into PPL Park.

No one warned me about the La Brea Tar Pit that my home-away-from-home had been turned into by all that snow. All I can say is “wow”. As I drove in, I fishtailed all over — it was like driving on ice. Thank goodness I got there early before the lot filled or there would have been a few angry tailgaters. As I hopped out of my car in my industrial strength mud boots, I sank.

Yes — sank. Walking around I could hear giant squishing sounds coming from the ground as it tried to suck the boots off my feet. In all my rainy tournaments, or my years in the Peace Corps, never have I experienced mud like that.

But you know, none of that mattered. Not the cold, the wind, or the quicksand of a parking lot. All my friends were there, new and old, plus lots of frosty beverages and tasty snacks.

Friends, food, and mud. Photo: Staci Klemmer.

Friends, food, and mud. Photo: Staci Klemmer.

And my boys in blue were playing!

As I do every year, I entered PPL Park early and awaited the whistle with optimistic anticipation. I had seen during preseason that Fernando could score goals, that our midfield was starting to gel, that Sheanon looked to be in good form after an injury plagued 2014, and that we now had a team whose average height was taller than my own.

And then, sadly, I was a wee bit underwhelmed.

As my Dad used to say, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” And boy, were we close — more than a few times.

But I really wanted to start the year off with a loud and rousing “DOOP”!

I used to be one of those “an ugly win is better than no win” kinda folks, but more and more I have come to appreciate beautiful soccer. And we’re not there yet, neither at PPL Park or elsewhere in the league.

I watched bits of all four MLS games that were televised this weekend, and I have to say, the only beautiful soccer I saw was from Seattle. Maybe I’ve been spoiled after watching months of EPL games, but my expectations were a bit higher than what I saw in those opening games.

Yes, I know its the first weekend, so we have nowhere to go but up, right? So enough of the Debbie Downer.

It was great to be back among “family” in PPL Park. I loved walking the concourse and saying hello to folks I haven’t seen in months. It was great to find out the fans around our new seats (we moved to Section 105) are just as welcoming as fans in Section 109 were. Even better was finding out good friends have the seats behind us.

We’ve got 33 games left, plus Open Cup games. and I’m ready and in it for the long haul. I’ve already started planning road trips to catch as many away games as I can. Meanwhile, my friends, colleagues, and students have resigned themselves to listening to me rave or rant on the day after games.

And I’m ready to enjoy the ride.

I’m just hoping it’ll be in a beautiful convertible Camaro, and not some rusty old Chevette.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Lot A was a mess. We’ve had downpours before but never that much mud. I think they may have taken a layer of gravel off when they were plowing.
    One thing that was fun before the game was to try and figure out all 10 flags (country and players). Bosnia was the hard one for me.

  2. “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”…..+1! Great Line!

    • agreed. Your dad and mine would get along famously, Staci. I fear we are going to have to get used to “ugly wins.” It’s kind of Curtin’s thing.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Glad you’re not old enough to remember, “horseshoes, hand grenades and H-Bombs.” : )

      • haha…+1. But look, in 2015 they have 1 nuke thats splits apart into ten nukes in space and can take out a whole continent…… bout we call it even? Lol!

  3. While not picking up all 3 points was a bummer, the worst part of that day was Lot A, and not just the terrible conditions. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I arrived closer to kickoff than I would have liked only to be told “Umm, we prolly don’t got no spots left for you, but you can try to park somewhere.” Luckily We were able to park (glad we took a small car) and trudge our way towards Mordor, I mean PPL.

    Question: why are some games “pass only” and some “cash or pass” for Lot A? And more importantly, how can one find out which games are which so friends who drive separately don’t get turned away?

  4. I tend to agree Staci regarding the manner the game is played stateside as anyone can attest. I watched quite a few MLS games this weekend so I could have a fair comparison. Seattle played nicely. LA tends to play nicely. And yes, Orlando FC played a lively beautiful game as well – or as best can be replicated around here- and to be honest only a small part of that was because of Kaka. Okay a bigger than small part. Kaka is lovely. Smart and incisive movement all around him in the final 3rd but truth be told IMO, Okugo and Higuita controlled the entire ebb and flow of the game.
    Brek Shea in the left back position makes him even tolerable for me- funny how Adrian Heath…I guess… was the only one to think of that ideal move? Higuita is a good player a bit out of control sometimes but when you already know your ass is covered by the fine form of Amobi Okugo- you can jaunt around a bit more and maybe a bit haphazardly.
    Sorry for those of you who seem to struggle in witnessing his excellence. Did I say Great? No.

    • Ahem. I’m still blind to the ‘excellence’. Though admittedly I didn’t see the Orlando match. But I’ll trust what you saw Joel. This time. (haha). All in fun.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Okugo was tidy, last weekend. Strong tackling and smart distribution.

      • That’s his game. With the standard gut the defense pass once or twice each game that shows you he’s more than capable of delivering that kind of ball.

      • The Black Hand says:

        So glad we got rid of that crap!! It was ruining the beauty of our Rt 1 football…

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Gentleman, I don’t often dissent when you post things, I have find what you have to say insightful, and I agree a majority of the time… but I have to break stones. Okugo didn’t do very much in that opener. Would I rather still have him, yes. But don’t say he had a great game vs NYCFC. I do agree he is a nice player, and will probably be successful in Orlando, but Sunday was nothing special.
        Praise when praise is due. Not because you think we should still have him (which we should btw)

      • The Black Hand says:

        Wolf, The respect is mutual.
        I’m a gusher, when it comes to Okugo. I think that the boy has got that “something”. That said, it wasn’t that he showed an outstanding individual performance. It was that he quietly played his designated role…and he did it well. He held his position, tackled hard (but not over the top) and distributed the ball well from the deep midfield. He didn’t drift to high, nor did he lag behind. He was quick and decisive with his distribution, but not too hasty. He looked to make positive ball movement, when in possession; all the while shielding his back line. Okugo played his position and it benefitted his club…that’s about all you could ask for.

    • I saw Okugo playing where he was weened to play……sitting in a double holding spot with Higuita…….with freakin Kaka in front of them. I actually think I saw a tear go down his cheek when they lined up! Haha… think he misses anything about this club? Dude, he’s playing in the position he wants to……with very good players around him….in front of 60,000 at the Citrus Bowl! I’m happy for the kid………

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I would have to study replays carefully repeatedly to be certain, Mix Diskerud’s very well taken goal was struck in space that one would normally expect a DCM to cover. I do not have a clear understanding where Okugo and Higuta were and why they were there. That said, in Curtin’s two striker set, Okugo might have an edge as a sole DCM because he usually stays home and delivers an immediate simple ball, but not at a quarter of a million per year.

    • Higuita missed the tackle on Diskerud (he was haphazard as I mentioned) and Okugo was marking Nemic in middle. Mix Diskerud should have been contained by Higuita- it was a lovely calm and clinical finish. A mistake yes, but teams are going to score goals- generally speaking they controlled the midfield and rendered NYCFC impotent.
      As far as Okugo and his worth- I guess it was better to pay Edu 600K than Okugo 250K. Maybe we should of paid Okugo 400K to show him he was the young cornerstone of a young team, thereby retaining his rights for next 3 or 4 years and slowing his roll with “europe” move/talk and let Mo.Edu walk – who likes to wander a bit much and is at his ceiling and getting older- thereby saving 250K in the deal to properly put into a serviceable LB that is left footed thereby not negating the Winger Wenger who plays on same side who is also right footed- moving Raymond to RB and jettisoning the ceiling reached Shaenon Williams. I dunno.
      I get it, he doesn’t play here anymore- yeah yeah. 🙂

      • The Black Hand says:


      • I thought Orlando looked decent too, better than NYCFC……they dictated the match more….especially as it went on. You could see that they will be a handful in this league as they play more together. Kaka was a man amongst boys out there………….sprinting to get the balls for corner kicks…instead of waiting for the ball boys……loved it! He willed them to get the equalizer……

      • Double Amen

  6. “the only beautiful soccer I saw was from Seattle.”

    – Someone missed the Mix goal for NYC.

  7. Staci,
    I like this article. It’s about maturity of expectations from the fans. Winning ugly (or tying ugly in this case) doesn’t cut it in soccer because most game’s outcomes mean very little in comparison to the bigger picture which is working towards the next World Cup. Soccer is special in that way. There’s always a bigger picture until the World Cup.

    Philly is not exempt, but the Union FO folks act as if we are. If you watched the Orlando-NYFC game this past weekend the field was awash with World Cup former stars, recent stars, and future stars. Who won the first game of the season? Who cares? 60,000 Orlandonians got the chance to see first hand how well someone new to them, like Amobi Okugo, stacks up to the likes of World Cup class players like David Villa and Mix Diskerud. IMO Omobi showed his new fans how great he might be someday for the USMNT.

    BUT in Philly someone like Omobi is sitting on the bench during the biggest game in franchise history, against Seattle in the 2014 Open Cup final. I guess the mentality is if Omobi goes out there and shuts down Clint Dempsey and Obafami Martins then we have to pay him more… or even worse Philly soccer fans might start thinking more about the big picture like getting excited about how Omobi would do on the USMNT in the next World Cup cycle. Philly Union FO took that from me. Orlando gave it back. Thank you Orlando.

    Once our expectations matures then that puts pressure on the FO to actually do it’s job which is to deliver a soccer product worthy of the name PHILLY. I’m glad to see this article and see it as a step in the right direction.

    • Fucking A. Again it’s always erudite true and on point from you.
      And another thing–it’s called the beautiful game for a reason. It is supposed to be played beautifully and anything short of that is well— American Soccer.
      They took Amobi Okugo from me and I am still abundantly sad about it. Dude is a baller. You are dead on GerN.

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