Sons of Ben Ready for Union Home Opener

In January of 2007, Bryan James, Andrew Dillon and David Flagler were simply three friends having a few beers and discussing ideas at a downtown Philadelphia bar.

No official plans were on the horizon. 

This was just talk.

With no Major League Soccer team, no stadium and no good reason to believe a club would be coming to Philadelphia anytime soon, this trio still kept the faith. And the Sons of Ben were formed.

Fast forward more than three years later and the supporters group is going incredibly strong. In fact, more than 100 members made the cross-country trek to Philadelphia Union’s inaugural game at Seattle on March 25.

For today’s home opener against D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field? Let’s just say the opponent is in for a treat.

More than 2,000 SOBs are expected to attend with a march from McFadden’s to the stadium shortly before 5:00 p.m. The game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

When the SOBs arrive at the stadium, they’ll be part of a celebration, which is expected to include a crowd of more than 30,000. Walter Bahr is expected to be in attendance along with Vice President Joe Biden, who attended high school at nearby Archmere Academy in Claymont, Del.

“It’s almost surreal to me,” said James, who ironically was a huge fan of D.C. United when MLS made its debut in 1996. “It’s like, ‘Is this really happening?’”

Yes, it is.

Corey Furlan, who helped to coordinate the gameday activities in Seattle, said he’s absolutely psyched for this event.

“The home opener is the culmination of three years of hard work with the SOBs and 15 years of waiting since the inception of the league,” Furlan said. “It doesn’t really seem real, because so far we have been traveling to see matches in North Carolina and Seattle. This time we will be able to see a match in our backyard and not have to travel all that way. The march to the match is going to be absolutely electric. We have had pockets of SOBs numbering 300 to 400, but this will be the first time we have 2,000 of us together in our colors, singing together. It’s going to be LOUD!”

There will be other incredible moments ahead, highlighted by the club’s debut at PPL Park on June 27.

This first game is something the SOBs will never forget.

“It has been a long time coming,” James said. “I’m really excited. It doesn’t seem real. I’m sure it will on Saturday.”

Well Union fans, Saturday is here.