Fans' View

Fans’ View: A former Union season ticket-holder chews out his team

Photo: 215pix

Editor’s note: Philadelphia Union fan Tim Herring of Blue Bell, Pa. sent this email to Philadelphia Union, the Sons of Ben and The Philly Soccer Page on Dec. 9. He is not renewing his season tickets. We’re publishing his email under our Fans’ View feature, because many other Union fans have echoed this. It’s been edited only for grammar and formatting.

Dear all,

Congratulations to Atlanta United for winning the MLS Cup last evening!

What an incredible season and performance last night they had, and what an incredible achievement to not only REACH the final in only the SECOND year of their franchise but also to WIN the final. Also a big congratulations to the Portland Timbers for their season and reaching the final

Now, we have some questions to ask as Philadelphians. 

  • Did the Philadelphia Union win the final in their second season?
  • Did they even REACH the final in that season?
  • Have they EVER WON or even REACHED the final?
  • Has the Philadelphia Union EVER even reached an MLS Championship SEMI-final?

Of course those are rhetorical questions, as we know the answers to all those questions, and thus are merely the warm-up questions.

Hey, at least the Philadelphia Union has a mascot! And with a mohawk no less!

Now, the REAL and key questions for us to face in Philadelphia are:

  1. Why did Atlanta WIN a championship in only their SECOND year?
  2. Why did a city of metro area population of about 5.5 million (9th place in the U.S.) have an MLS team perform so much better than the team of the city of Philadelphia, which has even greater metro-area population of about 6 million (5th place in the US)?  And, why does Atlanta United play matches in a stadium that holds 73,000+ fans (that many attended last night) and the Philadelphia Union only has a stadium that regularly has 17,300 fans (yes, not a typo, that is seventeen thousand…) attend — despite team performance — and barely holds only about 1,200 more?
  3. When will the Philadelphia Union hold the current coaching staff, which has been in their role for FOUR years now, accountable?  (The current coaching staff — which again has been in place for FOUR years — holds the players accountable every day and every year;  the managment has held the coaching staff accountable before, including firing John Hackworth after only ONE year in that non-interim portion of his role)
  4. When will principal owner Jay Sugarman hold himself accountable?  (Well, that of course is a semi-rhetorical question…)
  5. Thus, most importantly: when will Philadelphia Union fans — especially the season tickets holders — hold principal owner Jay Sugarman accountable by WALKING away?

As for me, I have walked.

Questions for us to ponder in this off-season…


Tim Herring

Former Philadelphia Union founding member and season ticket-holder


  1. Section 114 (Former) says:

    As someone who left after season 4 and took four sesaon tickets with me, I keep wanting to come back. And will. When management shows dedication to winning. I don’t need them to win, just to give it a real try without limitations from Mr. Sugarman.

  2. Wow, he probably regretted writing this after he saw the team re-signed Fabinho, Creavalle, Przybylko.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    “Mid table is the business plan and every article, conversation or discussion that ever gets written or spoken first has to surrender to this context.”
    look at me, quoting myself.

    • Actually… no, you don’t have to surrender to this ownership’s con.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Did I say surrender to the ownership’s con?
        I said you need to surrender to the ownership’s business plan which is not a con.
        ….at which point ‘you’ accept it for what it is and continue along with that in mind, or ‘you’ chose to be a change agent and affect change… good luck with that, by the way.
        Any decision that gets made as it pertains to Philadelphia Union first must be viewed in the context -average is the working model… at least for now.
        Throw an Alphonso Davis in there and maybe things take a turn which is why Academy is so important as the game develops stateside.

      • Jeez, for an elephant, your memory isn’t too hot.


        The ownership’s plan is bare-minimum investments while watching their team’s worth grow. You’re bringing up context while ignoring ten years of failure and a league that’s left the team in the dust.


        Seriously, you don’t have to be an apologist for this organization. VISION… PLAN… whatever. They still stink and will continue to do so.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Yeah lopeeeezzz. I’m an apologist. Are you new?
        Tell ya what, we’re done here.

  4. I feel your pain Tim….I made the same decision 2 years ago (I was also a founding season ticket holder).

    The good news is that you will probably be able to get your same or similar seats on StubHub for 50-75% of what you were paying for them as a season ticket holder.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    I have been a Day One guy too. And I re-upped this year. There was a slight reluctance, but I can still afford it (getting a little more difficult, but not impossible) and I enjoy going and tailgating etc. Also recently, I have gotten a few friends, who DESPISED soccer, into the sport, and they seem to have a good time too. So for me, I have adjusted expectations and I enjoy the games for more than just the performance of the team, which I regrettably admit has been consistently lackluster. I will continue to consider it every year, and see what the team does, before renewing. Like basically everyone, I rue to the day Sugarman is finally gone. But until then… it is what it is for me, personally.

  6. Founding STH here. And re-uped again. Would I like a championship? Sure. At least give me a run in the playoffs please. Would I like some marquee DP’s? Sure.

    Here’s the thing. I love soccer. I love live soccer. And I have had the chance to see some of the best (here’s looking at you Thierry, Didier, David and David. etc.) play meaningful games against my team which, as we know, sucks. You know what? I have seen some pretty good soccer being played in Chester, but as we also know, it is not always being played by my team. Despite that, I re-uped.

    And I don’t get the scorched earth thinking that since we have a penny pinching owner, it’s better to not have a team. Sorry, I don’t get it. I don’t want to travel to DC or NJ to watch pro soccer. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be opposed to Sugarman selling to Flushie McDeeppockets.

  7. Well done for voicing your opinion. I personally re-upped because I enjoy the sport and the atmosphere on game day – it’s a nice reprieve from the daily grind of the work week – but I will never fault nor criticize those who choose not to renew especially in this case when it will *hopefully* send a message to ownership. You raise valid questions, but I fear you may never get them answered (or resolved in some cases) especially as the value of the league
    (and teams) grows.
    The real issue is that the Union entered MLS at exactly the wrong time – 2.0 was just reaching its peak, and the league was pushing suburban stadiums and a family-friendly environment – until Portland, Orlando, and more recently LAFC & Atlanta crashed the party with their downtown stadiums and rabid fanbases. Imagine if the Union had entered BEFORE Seattle, and maybe grabbed some momentum before the re-direction. Or if they entered AFTER Portland and opted for a stadium downtown (at least within city limits) to capture the same fan-base that got the team in the first place. We’re stuck with a poor owner ($$-wise) and poor management (competence-wise) in a beautiful-yet-awful-to-reach stadium.

    • I wouldn’t disagree totally, I think the big difference between us and Atlanta is that the Union had a fan base in need of an owner, Atlanta has an owner who desperately wanted a team and knew he could build a fan base. One has fans who want a team, the other had an owner who wants a team.

  8. I’m a founding member and did renew my tickets for next year…

    If we have another season like this one… and with Docktel gone, it will be or worse, I’ll not be Renee I g tickets for 2020.

    FYI – don’t think for a minute that ownership cares, They are cashing in on the $14 beers,over priced concessions, and apparel ware.

    When the cash cow ends, they will sell the team locally or move the franchise to another city

  9. i walked away as a season ticket holder after the ’14 campaign. i couldn’t take it then, asking for real change. it’s never come. also, i couldn’t convince anyone to go semi-regularly. distance, new sport, etc. as the mediocrity continued season after season. i still go infrequently, often on comp tix.
    i took my folks this past season to see an 0-0 match vs the Crew that was the worst soccer i’ve ever seen live. still went to see Zlatan and some other matches though. briefly thought about getting back into a plan. nah.

  10. I had to walk after the 2016 campaign. This was my second season as a non-STH after being a founding member, and I haven’t looked back at all. It’s just consistently more of the same infuriating mediocrity. I could stomach it if they tried and came up short, but a lack of effort at several levels of the organization is what doomed it for me. Ultimately, I’m better off watching matches on TV, and as someone said above, if I want to go to a match or if things are looking better for a stretch, I can get better seats cheaper than if I remained a STH.

    There are only so many hours in the day, days in the week, and weeks in the year, and there are way too many things vying for time to consistently give it to something that is not only unfulfilling but actively disappointing on a consistent basis.

  11. Current coaching staff hasn’t been around for 4 years though. Only Curtin has. Curtin’s staff is completely different now then it was when he started.
    Hackworth was only fired because Nick Sak needed to continue to deflect blame from himself.
    Founding member who renewed for 2019 here. The play of the team in 2018 (atleast at home) was much improved over previous seasons. I look forward to seeing how Tanner can help this organization evolve. I view the games as an escape. I still get enjoyment out of going to Union games. When that stops being the case, I’ll stop renewing.

    • You are technically correct, but I was using “staff” as relative to the Sr. Managment and Team owner — thus I was just referring to Curtin.

      We have think BIG picture here to have impact.

  12. carmen dibenedetto says:

    I was a FOUNDING MEMBER but after 9 long years I gave up my two CLUB seats. I have had with this inept organization. My friend had two season tickets for 9 years too and he gave up on them just like me.
    Soccer itself is not going to make it here in Philly. There just isn’t enough offense to calm the crowd. You can sit for 90 minutes to a boring 0-0 score.
    I wish them luck

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