This October, many Philadelphians have been buzzing over the success of their sports teams. The Phillies were underdogs throughout the postseason and now competed in the World Series. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL. Even the Flyers are enjoying a great start to their season with new coach John Tortorella.
Unfortunately for soccer fans, the Philadelphia Union seems to be forgotten and left out of all the buzz.
Feb. 28, 2008, Philadelphia officially announced it would add a soccer team. The Philadelphia Union joined Major League Soccer, MLS, playing in the Eastern Conference in 2010. The Union has had a rocky past in gaining a name in Major League Soccer.
This season the Union went 12-0-5 at home and 7-5-5 away. They had a stand-out season led by head coach Jim Curtin. Curtin has been the coach since 2014 and has definitely shown results for his hard work. In 2020 the Union won the Supporters Shield and they have made two consecutive championship runs, in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Last year, in the conference championship, they faced New York City FC, losing 2-1. This year they played NYC again and secured a 3-1 lead, carrying them to the league championship.
In the light of the Union going to the MLS championships, conflict has arisen, with NBC Philadelphia mistakenly reporting the Union would go to the MLS world cup against the Los Angeles Futbol Club. The Union and LAFC face off in the MLS championship, which only accounts for teams in the Eastern and Western conference. This did not sit well with soccer fans, who wonder why people do not know as much about American soccer, when compared to the furor surrounding Europe’s Premier League.
“I just didn’t grow up watching soccer, honestly I think it’s kind of boring” Holly Smith sophomore accounting major said.
And yet, the team has a select few hardcore fans. Union superfans the Sons of Ben were created in January of 2007, hoping to invigorate and bring life into Delaware Valley soccer. This group is hard to miss, located at the River End of Subaru Park, chanting, jumping, and displaying their one-of-a-kind signs at every game.
“We are in the United States, so you know, not as many people care about soccer here,” Hannah Ferris, junior soccer player at Kingsway High School said. Many people become infatuated with the culture of European soccer, since it has about the same equivalent as our National Football League over here.
End of season defeat
On Saturday, Nov. 5 the Union took on the Los Angeles Futbol Club at Banc of California Stadium to compete for the championship.
Many gathered at Subaru Park in Chester, PA., to cheer on the Union in what would be their first championship win since starting in 2008. Both teams came out fighting, with a tying score of 3-3 at the end of regulation. LAFC triumphed with a win in a penalty shootout, scoring all three goals.
“This season was really good, it was unfortunate that we lost the final game, but I think we played our hearts out and will come back stronger next season,” Peter Mihaly, sophomore Nursing major at Cabrini University, said.
This being said, MLS still has a long way to go to make it into mainstream media, but for now the team looks to get recognition.