Commentary / Union

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Photo by Earl Gardener

Terror Behind the Walls. OysterFest 2018. Garbage at The Fillmore. The Spooktacular Pet Parade.

If you’re looking for things to do this weekend in The City of Brotherly Love, Philly is full of them. If you want to know why Philly is full of fun right now, look no further than the revitalized Inquirer and its piece on Visit Philadelphia’s Meryl Levitz.

If you’re a regular visit to this corner of the internet, you don’t need any of these things because your social calendar is already full.

This weekend is about soccer.

More than that, it’s about to be the best Philadelphia soccer weekend ever.

Saturday night’s alright

No time for Tinder on Saturday night, friends.

Bethlehem Steel are taking their talents to The Lou’ for the franchise’s first ever conference semifinal. Saturday night at 7:30, at a baseball stadium where a soccer champion was crowned in 2017, against the current side of one of the Union’s former head coaches, one of four teams to pull off a first round upset in the USL Playoffs will see if they can keep the momentum going “on the road again.”

(Speaking of Tinder though, if you’re making the trip and you’ve somehow matched with a John Hackworth lookalike on any social dating sites, that’s simply a case of coincidence. The universe is not sending you a message. Given Hackworth’s now rugged good looks, you can reconsider the action about to be suggested in the clear morning light of Monday next, but given the nature of fate, serendipity, and the butterfly effect, and for the sake of the Steel: swipe left. Just this once, swipe left.)

It was a nail-biting, smash and grab victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds over the weekend. For those who missed the stream and the recap, the Steel climbed back from deficits in both regular and extra time to force a shootout, then buried 8 straight penalties and watched as former Union draftee and scapegoat Ray (formerly Raymond) Lee missed The Riverhounds’s eighth penalty wide.

Last time Steel made their way to the Bluegrass State, they came home on the wrong end of a 3-1 result. Though they held the champs to a scoreless draw in Bethlehem two months later, they’ll have to find some offense this weekend in order to see themselves through to another franchise first: a conference final.

Fire up ESPN+ at 7:30 to see what happens.

When Sunday comes

This past week’s 1-0 loss to rivals New York Red Bulls featured a bumpy pitch, a patient and deadly opponent, a debatable decision by an official, some sloppy finishing, and yet some of the most organized soccer the team from Chester has ever displayed.

Despite the loss, everything the Union had to play for last weekend remains in tact this weekend: a third seed in the Eastern Conference and the guarantee of a home playoff game, only the second such game in team history and first since 2011.

Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm, the Boys in Blue will battle the Pigeons of New York City FC in the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium. On August 18th of this year, City was among the league’s best sides and real contender for the Supporter’s Shield. The Union were still a question mark of a team then, but rode some luck and arguably their most complete game to date that evening to a 2-0 victory (highlights here).

Many might argue that the Union remain a question mark of a team. However, since their August rendez vous, City have dipped and the Union have stormed their way up the table. Among the hottest teams in the league going into Decision Day, Philadelphia has a chance to finish their late season hot streak with what would be arguably the team’s most important win of all time.

Bonus points: The Philadelphia American Football Eagles also have a match this weekend, at the renowned Wembley Stadium, home pitch of Tottenham Hotspur and the English National Team. Kickoff is 9:30am on the east coast, refreshingly not at all in conflict with any other important American sports (sorry, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Burnley, and Chelsea fans. You’ll have to fire up dual screens). So, as you recover from the prior night’s celebratory Bethlehem Steel bourbon, you can do so with a large plate of bangers and mash, two kinds of blood sausage, bacon and ham, and some fried tomatoes.

Or tom-AH-toes.


Union fans haven’t had a weekend like this before.

Philadelphia sports fans know when a weekend like this comes, it’s best to brace for the worst and hope (in the most negative way) for the best.

Because Philly Soccer Page is also a self-help website, founded on the principle of guiding Philadelphians to a more positive sports-life relationship, here is some alternative advice:

Live in the moment. Say “YES.” Embrace the now.

Visualize victory.

Enjoy the best weekend ever.



  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Buzz Bisinger’s book, A Prayer for the City, is a phenomenal behind the scenes look at what a total mess mayor Ed Rendell inherited and slowly began digging Philadelphia out of in they early 1990’s.
    It is no surprise to me, Meryl Levitz came along at roughly the same time as quite truly, that was the turning point for Philadelphia’s revitalization.
    Course this article’s argument is its all about soccer and oblong football…so I doff my cap and quietly step aside.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Part of my family is from Northeast Philly and, though I visited them several times a year every year for 24 years before I moved to 49th and Pine (another story for another time), we only went to Center City one time and The Vet one time… in the whole 24 years. That’s how bad they thought this part of the city was.

      That I get to live in the city, downtown, with a family and good work is a darn miracle.

  3. I’ll be bummed, as will other parents I’m sure, if the Union playoff game is Halloween night and we can’t attend…

    • What a joke that MLS has Halloween night scheduled as a playoff game.

      • if we host on halloween, the Union should make a trick or treating event out of it. i know some folks do that trunk thing where fans could be encouraged to do the same. not a procreator, but i do know that many with kids now schedule it on weekends when midweek. day of was never a problem at catholic school: all saints day Nov 1.

        while we’re talking conflicts, 10 years ago was halloween AND Phillies parade so it was a lot of fun.

  4. $35 open Bar and Buffet at Tir Na Nog during the Eagles game. Benefits LaSalle Academy School.

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