England striker Darren Bent has spoken of his excitement for visiting Philadelphia today as Aston Villa roll into town ahead of tomorrow night’s International Match with the Philadelphia Union.
The Tooting-born star will prepare for tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m. clash with a practice session at PPL Park this evening, as new manager Paul Lambert primes his Villa players for the start of the Barclays English Premier League next month during a three-match US tour.
A prolific goal scorer who is used to landing knock-out blows on his opponents, Bent is especially looking forward to visiting a country and a city for which he has immense respect when Villa touch down in the City of Brotherly Love – and the home of Rocky Balboa – today.
Speaking for Aston Villa’s official website, Bent said: “I love America. I go on holiday to the USA every year and try different places. It’s somewhere I’m so passionate about. So when I initially found out we were going across the pond, I was delighted.
“I love a bit of Rocky. I used to love the films when I watched them regularly five or six years ago. They were tremendous.
“It would be nice to do the Rocky Steps – the whole run through the town, up the stairs and then give it the whole celebration stuff at the top from the film. It would be nice to do those kind of landmarks certainly because that’s not something I have done before.”
The 28-year-old, who has enjoyed previous spells in the Barclays English Premier League with Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, has also heaped praise on the growing force that is Major League Soccer as he and his Aston Villa teammates prepare to face the Union.
Bent has identified significant improvements throughout US soccer in recent years, with the standards of play and athleticism now presenting a major challenge to top European sides.
“The MLS is improving all the time," he added. "The standards keep on going up. I have been impressed with the MLS; it’s definitely getting better and better.
“It is a breeding ground for athletes. They are athletes before anything else. That’ll be good for us. The games will be hard but good and I am looking forward to it.”
To make sure you don’t miss out on seeing Bent and co. in action at PPL Park, reserve your tickets now by visiting www.philadelphiaunion.com/tickets or by calling 877-21-UNION.