With the Philadelphia Union set to host their inaugural playoff match this Sunday, much of Philadelphia is gripped with Doop fever. Another symbol of the team's success at reaching hearts and minds came last week, when the Union announced a deal with sports radio station WIP to broadcast 17 matches, beginning in 2012.
The move was more than just an impressive marker of Union soccer moving into the media landscape. WIP has a reputation as a bastion of old-school Philly thinking. Think every sports radio talk show you've heard, only more so.
During an interview on the station about the Union/WIP deal, Union executive Dave Rowan actually had to reassure host Glen Macnow that he didn't have to like soccer if he didn't want to. Macnow clearly was speaking for some undefined portion of the listeners that appears to believe they will be forced to accept soccer into their lives while giving up Cheez Whiz.
Few have captured that irascible mood better than the Twitter feed, @FakeWIPCaller. Though he is a composite, @FakeWIPCaller was happy to provide an irrefutable take on how Philadelphia's yet-to-be converted are responding to the popular success in town, the Philadelphia Union. Below is the transcript of SB Nation Soccer's exclusive interview.
SB Nation Soccer: @FakeWIPCaller, thanks for joining me today. As you know, the Philadelphia Union are set to host their playoff opener at 4 PM on Sunday. Talk a little bit about how you intend to prepare for the game.
SBN: Well, I'm sorry to hear that. The Union may not have your allegiance yet, but they repeatedly sold out PPL Park. Have you given any thought to hitting the soccer match at 4, then heading over to the Eagles game at 8:20?
@FakeWIPCaller: Howard- If I wanted a sport where there's no tackling and no one can get their hand on the ball, I'd just watch the Eagles try to play defense. But if you're asking me the Union's playoff chances, here's what I want to know- Are the Union's players Philly guys? Do they hustle? Do they "get it"? Do they have anyone who played at Penn State?
SBN: Sebastian Le Toux is a great example of just the kind of player you'd love. He had some difficulty catching on in the French leagues, but impressed in second division US soccer, and has become one of MLS' most dangerous scorers. How's that for grit?
@FakeWIPCaller: French leagues? You think I want to watch a sport with French guys in it? I got my hopes up when I heard the Union had a guy named Carlos Ruiz- but then they got rid of him? What's up with that?
@FakeWIPCaller: I have no interest in a sport where no one runs into walls.
@FakeWIPCaller: Oh, that's just ridiculous. Soccer on the radio? What's next, the WNBA? Every minute WIP is broadcasting soccer is a minute that the fans aren't holding the Eagles and Phillies accountable.
SBN: How is soccer on the radio any different than other sports on the radio? The 76ers are on the radio, and the Union outdrew them this year. At least, the 76ers would be on the radio, if the NBA had a season.
@FakeWIPCaller: If we're going to talk about soccer, I need to know the important things- can you bring hoagies into the stadium? At what point do they cut off beer sales? Is ownership committed to spending enough money to win?
SBN: I think you're missing the point here- Freddy Adu and the Union play an exciting brand of soccer. As far as ownership goes, it really isn't about spending enough money- there's a salary cap. But I feel like we're getting off topic here- I'm not sure holding the Phillies accountable has anything to do with the Union's chances. How do you think they measure up to their opponent on Sunday, the Houston Dynamo?
@FakeWIPCaller: As long as it's like baseball and the Houston franchise is run by an incompetent former general manager of the Philly franchise who frequently trades Philly his best players, I like our chances.
SBN: In an interview on WIP this week, Philadelphia Union executive Dave Rowan repeatedly had to reassure a WIP host that no one would force him to listen to soccer if he didn't want to. Talk about why to many, other sports merely exist, but soccer is somehow considered a menace on par with the disease in Outbreak.
@FakeWIPCaller: Hey, soccer's far from the biggest disease in Philly sports. Andy Reid continuing to have a job is much more of a blight. Man, WIP's going downhill. First they bring in Barkann, now this.
SBN: Looks like we're finding some common ground. You've repeatedly taken issue with the fact that the Phillies have conducted interviews, left their own houses, and lived normal lives despite losing in the first round. Talk a little bit about the intangibles the Union need to bring to avoid a similar fate.
@FakeWIPCaller: If the Union lose in the first round, it's important they engage in a monastic existence throughout the offseason, occasionally pausing for periods of self-flagellation (both figurative and literal). And any Union player that tweets about MLS games involving other teams after they are eliminated should be subject to both a $1 million fine and his immediate unconditional release.
Ring a bell?
SBN: Prediction: who goes furthest this year, Phillies, Eagles or Union?
@FakeWIPCaller: Well, the Phillies' year is already over, and the Eagles- yeah right. So I guess it's the Union by default. Of course, I've joined many of my fellow callers and hosts in vowing to root against the Eagles until Reid is fired.
SBN: So the Phillies are gone, and they've betrayed you anyway by eating meals and not throwing themselves on a funeral pyre in Rittenhouse Square. The Eagles are now the team you root against. Sounds like you are ready to embrace the Union. How will we know Philadelphia has officially taken the Union to heart?
@FakeWIPCaller: You're welcome. Fire Andy!