Commerce City, Colo. – When the Rapids visit the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, they shouldn’t be surprised to hear cheers from the stands at the new PPL Park.
Colorado midfielder Jeff Larentowicz grew up in nearby West Chester, Pennsylvania, and he’ll be making his first professional appearance in front of many friends and family.
“A lot of my friends have season tickets to the Union,” said Larentowicz. “It’s going to be exciting. My mom bought about 65 tickets; my aunt and uncle bought about 35 tickets, and I still have people calling me. So I think there’s going to be a lot of people watching.”
Growing up without a professional team to follow, Larentowicz was happy to learn that his hometown had a team joining Major League Soccer when the expansion franchise was announced in early 2008.
“I was excited when they got the team, and obviously thought about one day playing there,” said Larentowicz. “Even when I was a kid, it would have been great for me to have a pro team in town. Now that they do have a team, their support is great and they have a ton of fans, even people that I grew up with.”
While friends and family are regulars at Union games, Larentowicz expects that they’ll be cheering for him and the Rapids on Saturday afternoon.
Former Colorado defender Dan Gargan -- who now plays for Toronto FC -- and Larentowicz were teammates at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, and has already visited his old stomping ground.
“Our high school friends went to the Toronto versus Philly game and got themselves in a little bit of trouble because they were cheering for Dan,” said Larentowicz. “So I’m sure they’re going to be cheering for me.”
Colorado are currently in fifth place in the West, and if the playoffs were to start this week the team would qualify. Only three points from third place, the Rapids are looking to strengthen their position.
“For us, at this point, every game is a game that we need to win just because of the way the Western Conference is looking,” added Larentowicz. “It’s still a tough game, but it’s a game that we can win and a game that we need to win.”