Sunday’s christening of PPL Park will be a momentous occasion for all Philadelphia soccer fans.
The eagerly anticipated match between the Philadelphia Union and the Seattle Soudners has been circled on the schedule for months. Sure, the Union have played two “home” games, at Lincoln Financial Field, but this building is theirs. Their house. And as they say, if the house is a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.
I’ll be one of the lucky ones in attendance and knowing what Philly sports fans are like and how the team has been performing, here are five random observations, in no particular order, of what we all can expect on Sunday.
▪ A whole lot of SoBs: You all know who the Sons of Ben are by now, the loony, loud and unrelentingly dedicated supporters who don the navy, gold and light blue every week to cheer on their Union. Over 5,000 strong, the SoB have their own section in the stadium, not to mention their own dedicated entrance. Located at the River End of the stadium, this group of fans will stand the whole match, will provide a large portion of the noise and will definitely be the most crazed.
▪ Freddie Ljungberg will get booed…and bad: Philadelphia fans always need someone to hate. Like the sun in the day and the moon at night, it’s just the way things go. Ljungberg raised the quick pulse of Peter Nowak at First Kick this year, as the Philly manager accused the Swede of simulation at certain vital points in the match between the Union and the Sounders. Playing in front of the Philly fans for the first time, Ljungberg may think he’s at White Hart Lane during his days at Arsenal.
▪ The Union will score first: I’m not usually one for these types of predictions, but I’m convinced that the fans on hand at PPL Park on Sunday will virtually “suck in” the first goal of the match. Cliché, yes, but it holds true in this case. Nowak’s side should come out strong as well and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t dominate the match’s opening stages.
▪ A beautiful new stadium: Isn’t this the obvious one? PPL Park itself is being heralded as one of the nicest soccer-specific stadiums in the league. A lovely waterfront setting with a river-spanning bridge cascading over it, PPL Park is placed wonderfully and should give the soccer fans in the region something to look forward to every time the team has a home game.
▪ The same thing—another 12 times: This isn’t a one-off, people. The Union will drop their bags and let their hair down in this place and will call it home for years to come. There are 12 more home games to come after the Seattle match, and every team that visits can expect a rowdy crowd, the star players getting booed, an energetic, in-your-face team and a lovely place for it to all happen. You’re welcome.
With the match just 24 hours away, we can sit back and enjoy what’s about to come as it’s definitely going to be something quite special.