Fandom comes in many forms. For Philadelphia Union season ticket members Patrick Houseman Sr. and his son, Patrick Houseman Jr., what started off as a one-time trip to Talen Energy Stadium many years ago turned into a one-of-a-kind experience, a bonding tradition, and, this August, one of the Union’s 2019 Moments of the Year.
"Walking through life the way I was, was the norm," Houseman Sr. said. "Once I started going to the games, I found something that him and I really enjoyed doing and that’s when I realized that there was more joy to life and I was missing parts of this. I have depression and have gone through spells where I was there but I wasn’t really there, and I missed a lot of his first seven years, and Union games help us really gain those lost years back.”
That extraordinary first game father and son attended saw CJ Sapong score to defeat the New York Red Bulls. The Housemans were only there after taking tickets from one of Pat's co-workers, they never intended Union games to become a key element of the connection between father and son.
"Sapong scored and the whole place went nuts,” Houseman Sr., recalled. “I didn’t know what to do so I just picked [Patrick] up and we were cheering together and singing the song and it was a special moment for us. Since then, it’s what we have done each goal.”
When Pat saw the Union post a contest that gave the winner access to a suite and the chance to spend the night in Talen Energy Stadium, he saw it as a chance to give Patrick a special moment with his favorite team while giving himself the opportunity to share his story and, hopefully, help others speak about what they are going through. Pat didn’t expect to win, so he didn't tell Patrick he had entered until after he found out he won.
"After I was told that I had won, I showed him this contest and I asked him if I should enter it. He was really excited and that’s when I told him that we had won.”
The Houseman family arrived at Talen Energy Stadium and was given a full tour by Union Ring of Honor legend Sebastien Le Toux. Inside their decked-out suite, the family was received custom Union kits before swinging through the Union shop for a spree that included hundreds of dollars of swag.
"I’m at a loss for words right now, I don’t any other teams in Philadelphia that would do this for their fans. We get a lot of time together in the car, the stadium, and we love this atmosphere," Pat smiled.
What started off as one night out at the stadium has turned into a treasured tradition between father and son. While it can’t make up for lost time, the memories created with the Union have generated lasting moments that both will cherish for a lifetime.