TRAVELING SUPPORTERS HELP KICK RIVALRY

Players appreciative of sons of ben, union fans at red bull arena

Before Philadelphia Union made its long-awaited debut this season, regional rivalries were already being discussed.

With D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls lurking so close up and down Interstate I-95, it was natural to look forward to these types of games.

The 3-2 victory over D.C. United in the home opener on April 10 was a heck of a start. Though Philadelphia Union fell just short in a 2-1 loss at New York before 15,619 fans at Red Bull Arena on Saturday – including a large contingnet of loud Philadelphia fans – another regional rivalry is clearly being built.

“Definitely, you can see it happening,” said Philadelphia Union rookie forward Danny Mwanga. “Our fans did a great job. You could hear them in the crowd. I wish we had a little bit better of a result to give them, but we’re going to keep working hard to win for them. They’re great fans. We were happy to have as many of them here.”

The Sons of Ben were indeed heard loud and clear with their patented chants, and other Philadelphia fans were sprinkled throughout reinforcing support for the Union. It’s plain and simple: there are good reasons the passionate Philadelphia fan base had been clamoring for a franchise for years. They’re loyal to their teams, they’re competitive, and they love soccer. Now they have a team.

In this inaugural season, rivalries will develop. There will be storylines, plots and tons of subplots.

“Oh my gosh, I think it’s awesome how the Philadelphia fans support us,” said goalkeeper Chris Seitz. “They have been there from the beginning and we’re very fortunate. I wish we could have gotten a ‘W’ for them. I think in these particular rivalry-type games, you will see some wild things happen. I’m looking forward to all of our games, obviously, but especially these against D.C. United and New York.”

One prevalent theme through the first four games, most notably against D.C. United and New York, is the amount of chances Philadelphia Union is creating. For an expansion team, it can easily take a dozen games or so to be cohesive on the field.

Yes, this club must minimize mistakes. But, the talent is there. You can see chemistry on the field through four games, which is a major credit to the technical staff.

“I think it was our hard work in training and through preseason and the attention to detail from the staff and the players,” said midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. “We have worked very, very hard since we got here. The staff is always pushing us to improve, and that work has come out on the field. I think the sky is the limit here.”

How about a regional rivalry?

“These fans from Philadelphia who made the trip and poured their hearts out, well, all I can say is how thrilled we are to see that,” Miglioranzi said. “They drove here and pushed us with everything we had. I wanted us to win for them so badly. I think it proves how passionate they are. I saw that from the beginning in fan events in the city of Philadelphia. I think they’ll help build a regional rivalry with D.C. United and New York. I think these are going to be fantastic games to be a part of. I can’t wait for future games against them.”

New York and Philadelphia met for the first time in 30 years in top-flight professional soccer, a rivalry that has been dormant since the 1980 season in the old North American Soccer League.

In that season, it was the New York Cosmos battling the Philadelphia Fury.

Well, this is a brand new era with Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.

This is a brand new rivalry and one that is sure to keep getting better as the weeks, months and years move forward.

“We’re so close to each other,” said forward Alejandro Moreno, who served as Philadelphia’s Captain in this game. “We can feel it. I think it’s going to be great. It’s going to be important for us to get results for our great fans. I think they saw a lot of great things.”

With so many more on the way in this rivalry that is sure to be heated.

“I can easily see that,” Seitz said. “I think being so close to one another, it’s natural to see special things happening in this rivalry.”