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Fan Gimmicks - When your number isn't up

Every year, the league promotes gimmicks to try and get MLS fans to spend money on teams or the league. The latest gimmick was to have fan photographs on the players numbers for the month of August. So - how did that work out for Union fans?

Fans with their photo on number 1 and 3 will be on the back of Michael Lahoud, or will they?
Fans with their photo on number 1 and 3 will be on the back of Michael Lahoud, or will they?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At some point in the last off-season, MLS and the Philadelphia Union announced that in August, Union players were going to be wearing special numbers on the back of their shirts. The numbers would be made up with photos of fans, who uploaded their picture into the position they wanted it.

Being a sucker for special things like this, I signed up for the privilege of having my ugly mug, along with my wife and stepdaughters photo on the number 2. This was to allow my wife to have "Life" and "42" on the back of her shirt, I was going to just get #2, and my stepdaughter was getting #92 (which is her birth year, nothing to do with Rais M'Bolhi).

The first problem happened when uploading my stepdaughters photo. When I got the proof sent back, it definitely wasn't her. I gave it a few minutes in case it was just a mistake, and it was still the "wrong photo". Obviously I got in touch with the Philadelphia Union contact about this (Mark Evans) and he was fantastic helping to fix the issue. Apparently, two people who chose the same spot at the same time caused issues. Not only did I get a new code to get a photo from Mark, but MLS also gave me another code due to the problem. Lucky me.

I had just bought new jerseys, so instead of getting the even more expensive than normal personalized jersey, I ordered the numbers only. I went to pick them up before the New York Red Bull game, and didn't have the time to put them on the shirts. Maybe that was a good thing however, as rumor started to go around that people had either been moved around, completely left off of the number, or were covered up. One of those fans was Kieran Todd, who at the time could not see his photo on the number 0. Another, Katherine Zettler's birthday surprise, and getting a Danny Cruz jersey was spoiled as it seemed her photo was covered up:

covered photo smaller

Some photographs were covered up

The photo supplied by Katherine showed where she believed her photo was suppose to be. Ninety percent of the photo was cut off. Given she bought the shirt just for the benefit of having a photo on the back of her favorite player, she wasn't a happy fan.

Of course, this is an MLS wide event, and the Union or Angelo's soccer corner, who are selling the numbers and personalized shirts are not to blame for anything. I did reach out to both Mark Evans and Chris Hayes at Angelo's to see what was going on. They both, individually, told me the following:

There were some numbers that had to be reformatted after the initial photographs were submitted. This meant that some photographs had to be moved around, and were put in different places on the same numbers. After that, there were still some borders that had to be filled in, so people like Katherine's photo were used to just fill in those gaps. The whole photograph will be somewhere else on the number.

This was an issue that wasn't quite apparent until people started to complain that they were missing from where they should be. The Union looked into the matter and obtained all the proofs to see what was going on. They were able to help those that had issues with photo issues, and all of the initial panic has since died down.

Chris Hayes wants all fans to know that if they have any questions about the numbers, they can go and see him at the Union store as soon as possible. He will be able to show them the proofs and help them find their photo. If they are unable to go to the store they can email and the twitter is @PhilaUnionShop.

So now all that is over, I'm going to be dropping by PPL Park with all my "2"s. Now I need to think of something witty to put on the back with it, something else I'll probably fail at, just like avoiding to get suckered in by all these cool promotions that MLS and the Union have. I can't wait to see what the next "cool" idea that I'll spend my money on.

Until the next one, there are still numbers available if you forgot to order them. Having your photo on your shirt is a gimmick that will make a nice souvenir in future. Sorry for all those with a 2, as you have to put up with me being on your back.