Roundtable

Roundtable: Union win the Supporters’ Shield

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union won the 2020 Supporters’ Shield yesterday, capping off the best regular season in club history with a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution.

We asked the PSP staff to share their feelings after a day unlike any other in Philadelphia soccer history.

How did you feel when the Union won their first-ever trophy?

Dan Walsh: Strangely calm and serene, like the universe was saying, “Thank you,” to Philadelphia, and we knew it.

Chris Gibbons: I felt calm when the Union won, like the worries of the world were gone for a few minutes.

Mike Servedio: Sweet relief. It was a weekend of feeling relief all around. I think I slept better on Sunday night than any time over the last few years.

Steve Whisler: Part relief, part shock, part euphoria. I’m just really so proud of everyone involved with the club, from the fans to the players to Jim Curtin and the front office. This means so much more than a middling club scraping by for a U.S. Open Cup (even though those finals losses obviously stung). It’s a huge statement about how far the Union have come, and everyone involved should be really proud of what they’ve accomplished—and ready to take the next leap toward an MLS Cup.

Tim Jones: Since I was in the stadium, I was engulfed by the elation of the collective roar of the fans as we realized that Drew Fischer was blowing the final whistle.

Peter Andrews: Disappointed. After over a decade of waiting, to have these scenes play out in front of a miniscule (and probably ill-advised) crowd in the middle of a pandemic just felt like the most “that’s so Union” way to win a trophy. That’s not to take anything at all away from an incredible season, but the team and the supporters deserved a better moment.

Nick Fishman: It was weird. With the Eagles and Phillies wins, I was overcome with joy. It felt like something I had earned through my fandom. Despite covering the team, I’m still a huge fan, but it wasn’t the same feeling. I was happy for others. I was happy for all the fans I know and those I don’t. I was happy for the players I got to know on the beat. I was especially happy for Curtin, who is has been a pleasure to cover.

Sean Griswold: Just relieved honestly. Knowing the team’s history with the prior Open Cup finals had my nervous before kick-off. Now it’s more belief that the Union can actually win MLS Cup.

Thomas Hill: Disbelief. It’s hard to believe that after all we’ve been through as Union fans that we finally did it. For so many years it felt like it was some far off future dream. Especially when clubs like Atlanta and LAFC started to pop and immediately dominate. I thought there was no way we’d be getting hardware until we had new ownership. Being one of the first kids to really grow up with Union heartbreak definitely made this an interesting moment. I think growing up with a sports team is special. Before you hit the age of 17 or 18, nothing is really bigger than sports if you’re a sports fan. There’s not much to worry about in life, so a lot of your emotion goes into your favorite teams results. When the U dropped the open cup in back to back years when I was a kid it was devastating for several days each time. It felt like the worst thing in the world and something I’d never recover from. So to see this? Disbelief.

Marjorie Elzey: I teared up when I realized they were going to win it and anticipated the moment. I was torn between being a fan and being a photographer. I was in the front row of section 103, watching Jim Curtin with the entire bench pressing towards the middle of the field waiting for the whistle so they could run out on the field to celebrate. The crowd all around us was standing and cheering, the players were cheering and trying to contain their excitement. I took a moment and thought of all the people who would have been there to celebrate had COVID-19 not happened, my family included. I know other teams/fans will say that this year “didn’t count” but in my opinion, it counted even more since the players had to overcome so much to win the shield.

Steve Edling: Thrilled! We’ve been season ticket holders since 2010 and it has been long overdue. Really wish that more fans could have been in the stands to celebrate such a historic moment for the team/city – the crowd noise would have been deafening! Can’t wait to attend in person again with the latest member of our family (Anderson born in June).

Will Boehmer: I felt jubilation when the final whistle blew. Being in attendance and watching that game, there was no doubt in my mind we were going to make history yesterday. It seemed so fitting with Philadelphia having come through for a lot of us like-minded people in the presidential election; that the Boys in Blue would do the same. The thought that our city’s togetherness and ability to lean on each and be there for each other in these very important moments in our club and country’s history left me feeling so proud to have called this city and surrounding area home. These results don’t happen over-night and while it has been a long-time coming, this year I’ve always felt confident that things would come together both politically and on the soccer field.

Staci Klemmer: I felt vindicated. After all those years, all those missed chances, coming so close, to finally actually win? It was epic.

Who is the first person you thought about when the final whistle blew? Why?

Dan: Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Natalie, who kicked the first ball at the first Union home game at age 5. And why? Because we have hope. (But also Ray Gaddis. Because we have hope.)

Chris: The first person I thought of were the PSP commenters. I couldn’t wait for them to share their joy on our match report.

Mike: I honestly thought of so many people yesterday. I texted Ed Farnsworth at the final whistle. I thought of the years that I’ve spent watching mediocre soccer from the press box with Joe Tansey, Matt DeGeorge, Jonathan Tannenwald and many others and the joy that was watching this season. I thought of Jim Curtin, who I’ve come to know as a stand up, honest man who it is easy to root for. The whole crew from the 700 (‘sup George, Ken, Chopper, Rullo, Ian, Boris and others).

Steve: I was thinking of Jim Curtin—who, yes, actually showed some very real emotions on the sideline yesterday. Besides post-game pressers, I see Jim around Philly every now and then with his family, and he’s the nicest, most real dude we could ask to helm the city’s club. He’s evolved so much these past few years—and taken all the bumps like a champ—and I was really, really happy for him being able to put this season together. He doesn’t just deserve this trophy…he earned it. And then I had a lot of schadenfreude for all the people who love to hate on the Union.

Tim: First persons, plural, The team was already all standing on the sidelines out of their collectives seats, and the explosiveness of their sprint onto the field as they heard the final high-pitched penetrating vibrato focused all my attention on them. Players win games. Coaches can lose them, but players win games.

Peter: I watched the game with my parents, who had minimal interest in professional soccer when the Union came to Philadelphia in 2010. Now my mom texts me her thoughts about what’s going on with the team, and my dad celebrates every goal so loudly that it scares my cat. So I thought of them.

Nick: My first thought went to the players and coaches. Then, it drifted to the person who introduced me to the Union. He was a family friend and a Rangers-loving Scot. He’s the same person who introduced me to early morning matches at what was then Dark Horse Pub— where i won tickets to my first Union game. He was already a Union season ticket holder, but my now fiancée and I  joined him for our first tailgate. After one day in Chester, I was hooked.

Sean: Jim Curtin. People were calling for him to be fired after losing 3 finals and play-off games for years, glad to see him prove almost everyone wrong.

Thomas: My father, Dave. He took me to my first Union match in 2011, and has been by my side constantly through my Union fandom. We’ve really gone through each and every moment with the Union together, and to be able to hug after the final whistle and finally say “we did it!” felt surreal. Last year we both moved our schedules around, and met in Atlanta for what at the time was the biggest Union game in history. That sort of travel is pretty common with us, as we live apart from each other in the south east. To get to Philly sporting events is a pretty big commitment, and it’s amazing to feel a sort of reward for that commitment, for lack of a better word. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention my mom here, who not only has put up with our incessant fandom, but has also started to get involved herself. Big love to both, who drove down two hours to my house to watch not only today, but last weekend as well. We did it you guys!

Marjorie: After wishing my family was there, I thought of a friend who passed away in January of this year. He is the reason I love the Union. 5 years ago, he gave me his tickets for a game and I took my older sons and sat in the heart of the Sons of Ben. It was the best experience I have ever had at a sporting event. I was hooked and my family became season ticket holders. Without our friend giving us the tickets, I would have never brought my camera to a game or have had the privilege to photograph the game, let alone be credentialed into the press areas. Each time I photographed a game this year, I took a photo of his memory card at the field with the marquee showing who was playing. Tonight I took his card with the graphic “Supporter’s Shield Winners 2020”. It seemed only right that he was there to celebrate the Union’s victory. I miss him and what this moment would have meant to him.

Steve: Gaddis – he has been one of our favorites since he joined the team in 2012. While he often gets beat up by fans, you can’t deny his huge heart and the hard work he does for the team. Bedoya handing him the captain’s armband was a great gesture and well deserved.

Will: The first person I thought of when the final whistle blew was Richie Graham. His investment in our area with YSC and his passion to fund our youth and provide them with opportunities to grow and learn as people and soccer players has paid off in the biggest way thus far. Him, Jim Curtin, Ernst Tanner, and Jay Sugarman amongst other front office and coaching staff can not be praised enough for the on-field product we have seen get results time and time again this year. Brendan, Mark, Freese, Real, Anothony, and even Auston Trusty need to be thanked and praised for their commitment to themselves and the Union organization throughout their young lives. Much more lays ahead for those lads and the Union faithful will be there with them forever now. That’s not to forget Ale Bedoya’s commitment and the heart and soul of our on-field group, Andre Blake and Ray Gaddis. The time to win the MLS Cup is now.

Staci: I thought of my son James and his favorite player Danny Califf. James has been to almost every game and has traveled to many away games with me. He was 6 yrs old when we started going to games and has always been the optimist.  I am so lucky that I have someone who will never say no when I ask – “Wanna go see the Union play in (insert city here)?”

7 Comments

  1. James Lockerbie says:

    My first thought was of my Brother Rob and our families enjoying the Team together at home and in the Stadium. Then I reflected on two of my Fan’s Views Father Nick Sakiewicz and how far we have come from his departure. The second A question of Faith and how Tanner’s influence on Curtin was like Von Steuben’s on G.W

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    I was at the game, and I too like some people, felt a weird sense of calm. Almost deserving. Excited and yelling and clapping for sure, but like it was just the next step for the team after the season they had. Now, if they pull off the MLS Cup win, I might be a little more emotional
    .
    I was at the game with my dad. Him and I have been STH since day one and I just thought of all the bad soccer we watched and how we kept trying to convince ourselves the team was good. I also thought about how impressive it was that the Academy plan actually is beginning to pay off and how this team should be good for (hopefully) years to come.

  3. Overcome with emotion… I had no idea how I would feel when the day finally came that the Union would win any trophy, let alone the Supporter’s Shield which even in August was a pipe dream to me. My dad and I have been STHs from the 1st day they went on sale and, like the rest of us, had to endure years of mediocrity and sometimes downright awful soccer. It felt like for much of the existence of this team, we loved them (but we didn’t always like them) simply because they were our team. We always allowed ourselves to become emotionally invested in the new players throughout the years even when we knew it was going to be another painfully middling year. And we did this all while enduring the jabs of much of the rest of the city refusing to acknowledge that soccer exists in the region, let alone that it has a professional soccer team.

    /

    This just feels like vindication of so many years of emotional investment and heart-break mixed with a group of players, coaches, staff, and front office that are rightly deserving of this moment because they cared and invested themselves as much as we did into the team. They are great people at the jobs, and even greater people away from their jobs and it’s so satisfying when good things happen to good people.

    /

    This is a true Philadelphia-styled team through and through that won with no super-stars and a small budget over teams with significantly larger payrolls and egos. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And maybe it was the months of built up emotional tension, uncertainty, and anxiety from everything that happened this year plus the relief from the election results all just hitting at once, but I cried. It just felt like a long LONG overdue dose of relief and good news and that we FINALLY had something to be happy and excited about. My heart was full last night in a way that it hasn’t felt for a long time.

  4. Loved reading everyone’s takes. I was fortunate to be in the stadium yesterday, as well as 3 other games during this highly unusual, memorable season. I definitely felt emotional around the 70 minute mark or so, when given the NYRB score and our score, when even the most cynical philadelphia fan instinct in me said we really do have this one. When the whistle blew, it was mostly pure joy, with a tiny bit of relief. I couldn’t be happier for Curtin, Gaddis, Blake,and Bedoya who helped build this thing. And for a team that plays the right way, makes a difference off the field,and a group that seems to genuinely enjoy playing together.

    Even better, the first person I thought of was sitting next to me – my twelve year old son. Eleven years of attending games together, from an 18 month old somehow sitting still, entranced for 90 minutes (the only time he ever sat still like that) to becoming a pretty talented youth player in his own right now, soccer has always been a special bond for us. The Union has always been something we shared. Simply awesome to experience that moment together. Congrats Union family – we got one!

  5. First person I thought of was my wife standing next to me who I’ve been going to games with since 2010. After that it was Brendan and Mark for delivering the trophy that they wanted to in what may have been both of their last regular season game for the team.

  6. I was there too yelling & cheering my head off.
    Thought of Ernst.
    Like Pachey always says – VISION. I don’t think they do this without Ernst.
    Looking forward to see what he does with the Aaronson bucks.
    It also had to be especially great for the homegrowns that came to cheer the U as kids and now brought us the first hardware.

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