This Saturday, we will be back at PPL park for Stache Bash (which you should attend, as it raises money for fantastic causes). Home opener, excitement high - re-acquainting ourselves with friends (and those we would call family instead of just friends). It certainly has me counting down the days - and got me thinking of what my top 5 moments at Union home games are. I decided to share my top 5, and without any further waffling - here they are.
5. Saturday April 9th 2011 vs New York Red Bulls, PPL Park, 68th minute - Roger Torres scores with his first touch.
Primer Gol Roger Torres Philadelphia 1-0 NY (via jjvergel)
The 2011 season started off well. 1-0 wins against Houston and Vancouver, and a narrow 1-0 loss to LA. The Red Bulls were a team full of stars - Marquez, Henry, Agudelo - and lets be honest they dominated the game. However, little Roger Torres came on in the 66th minute, a NY sub was made - and after the throw Torres put pressure on, Tim Ream passed to Danny Mwanga, Mwanga passed to Roger and Roger tucked it into the bottom right corner. Any goal against the Red Bulls is special - so maybe this is just an "All goals against the Red Bulls" moment, but the fact it was Roger's first touch makes it that extra bit special in terms of importance.
4. Sunday June 27th 2010 vs Seattle, PPL Park, 59th minute - Seitz penalty kick save.
Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders 3-1 Game 11 (via blelbasani)
Hey - it's not always about goals. The penalty save is around 2.30 in video - but you should watch whole highlights anyway since it is also always great to remember the first ever game at the beautiful PPL Park. Another game I got there as early as possible. Train to Chester transportation center, shuttle bus to the ground, walk around before the game and one of the first in our seats. Seattle had taken the lead - but a Sebastien Le Toux PK brought us level. A couple of minutes later Seattle got a penalty. Goalkeeper Chris Seitz had been much maligned for some terrible mistakes, he had no chance right? Wrong - Seitz got down sharply to his right and stopped the penalty. The crowd went wild - and for maybe the only time Seitz's name was sung all around the stadium (not in mockery). The Union won 3-1, and it may have been impossible without that save.
3. Saturday October 5th 2013 vs Toronto FC, PPL Park, 94th minute - Kleberson free kick.
GOAL: Kleberson sends PPL Park into raptures with a last-minute free kick (via Major League Soccer)
Fabinho had been sent off for stupidly kicking a player. It had been a flat performance by the Union - and after having said that the Union weren't "desperate" enough to play Kleberson earlier in the season, he got on the field. A Brazilian scoring a great free kick maybe isn't that surprising, and for some reason I had a feeling we would score. The release of emotion from Kleberson and what had been a frustrated 18,000+ in the stands make this my 3rd best ever home Union moment.
2. Saturday April 10th 2010 vs DC Utd, Lincoln Financial Field, 80th minute - LeToux scores 3rd goal, game winner from a free kick.
Philadelphia Union GAME WINNING GOAL Le Toux HAT TRICK vs. DC United (via MattWetherell)
Earlier in the game the Union had taken a 2-0 lead, a Seitz mistake (albeit the ref should have probably chalked it off for goalkeeper interference) and another goal had DC back at 2-2. Alejandro Moreno got the ball, got taken down, Free kick Union.
The wall/keeper positions were terrible, but still - Le Toux put the free kick away in the bottom corner. Bedlam in the stands again. A first ever win, first ever hat-trick, and my wife was hooked. Season tickets were bought that week and I was a happy guy :)
1. Saturday April 10th 2010 vs DC Utd, Lincoln Financial Field, 4th minute - Le Toux scores first ever Union goal.
Philadelphia Union FIRST EVER GOAL Le Toux vs. DC United (via MattWetherell)
Being a Scotsman, who had lived in Augusta, GA for 5 years without seeing a single live game, I had woken up early that Saturday. Even though the Union struggled the week before a 5-0 defeat would have left me happy, as just seeing the sport live was enough. I was standing outside waiting for the gates to open - bought my scarf, in my seat, and had dragged along my wonderful wife for the game (at the time - she thought the sport was boring). 4 minutes in, the Union have a free kick on the right, and after the initial delivery was cleared, the ball went back to Torres, he swung it in and Le Toux was there to nod home. The crowd reaction altogether is about half of how I felt. Of course I was lucky enough that Vice President Joe Biden didn't cause me to miss that goal. Sorry for those of you who missed it.
That first ever home game deserves the top 2 spots in my opinion. There were many memorable moments that just missed out - Carlos Ruiz's goal against Chicago (which may be the best ever Union goal I've seen in person), Le Toux scoring on his comeback game, the first playoff game... But for the reasons listed above, those were my top 5.
What are your top home memories? If I missed something out - tell us in the comments section.