Goal to the world

Union fans flocked to PPL Park to "Kick off the Holidays"

Barilo family holiday photo

Photo Credit: 
Philadelphia Union Communications

For Union fans, the end of the MLS season served as the kickoff to their holiday season.

The Union hosted a holiday party at PPL Park, inviting fans to come take their holiday picture with players in the Union locker room, shop at the Union store, decorate the goal in River End with ornaments, and stay to watch the MLS Cup match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo in the Stadium Club.

Over 500 Union fans took their Christmas pictures in the Union locker room with Chris Albright, Chris Konopka, and Sheanon Williams; among them was season ticket holder Tami Troise.

“What did I say?” Troise exclaimed to her daughter as they left the locker room. “I just wanted to meet Chris Konopka! You have no idea! That made my holiday!”

Hailing from Staten Island, Troise’s husband was always a Philadelphia sports fan, so when the Union were added in 2010, Troise and her family made the drive down to PPL Park for every match, quickly becoming die-hard Union fans.

Union fan Francis Barilo was excited to meet two of his favorite players, Chris Konopka and Chris Albright, on his 12th birthday. After going out to breakfast with his family, Barilo was looking forward to spending the rest of his birthday at PPL Park. Proudly displaying his Union jersey with numerous autographs, Barilo exclaimed, “It’s so cool! Now I just want to play with the players I saw!”

Nolan Hughes, 7, visited PPL Park and was thrilled to step onto the pitch for the first time. When asked his favorite part of the day, he quickly responded, “Everything! And touching the field. But everything!” Hughes was one of many Union fans who stopped to decorate the goal at River End. Each fan grabbed an ornament, string of lights, or ribbon, and added to the goal before the official lighting at halftime of the MLS Cup game between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.

Shortly before the MLS Cup game kicked off, the winner of the Union’s Behind the Crest contest was announced in the Stadium Club. Jolynne Bremmer, a web content and video producer at Arcadia University, was selected as the winner to travel with the team to preseason training in Deltona, Florida. Bremmer will have a press credential to cover the Union and have her work included in the Union’s game day program, Inside the Net. “I’m just so surprised, so shocked,” Bremmer said.

“This is what I do for my job, so to do it for the Union is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to work in sports, so this day is a dream come true.”