Dear Philadelphia Union Fans,
I sat in Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday as the Union went up 1-0 against the Vancouver Whitecaps and I was very surprised at how quiet the stadium seemed. I sat in Talen Energy Stadium as the Vancouver Whitecaps tied the game and scored again at the end of the half to go up 2-1 and the noise level did not change. There were no cheers of course, but that means there was no cheering before the goals occurred. Maybe it was just an off night for the Sons of Ben and some of the fans just didn't have voices after Wednesday's game against Chicago. But when the Whitecaps scored their third goal, I realized that it wasn't just an off night. Because when that third goal found the back of the net in the 84th minute, the stadium emptied. Hundreds and hundreds of fans got up and made their way for the exits. They lost faith because their team was down 3-1 with 6 minutes plus stoppage time. I always expect fans to leave games early (though I'd prefer if no fans left early), but I did not expect to see so many fans, not just make their way towards the exits, but run down the stairs towards the concourse. Simply put, it was embarrassing, because if the 2016 team has taught us anything, its that there is always time to change a game.
Since the 2012 season, fans have been demanding for a team that tries in games. We just wanted to see soccer be played at a competitive level because the quality of play that we had was horrific. I know this because I have been a die-hard fan since the 2010 season and have been one of the fans that demanded a higher quality of play. We saw signs of it during the US Open Cup finals in 2014 and 2015, however we were not quite there. This year, I do think we have reached the point of high quality play. It took seven years, but we got there. And now after begging for this very team for years, we can't give them what they deserve. Against Vancouver, I saw players chasing after balls after going on long runs only seconds before. I saw players throw their bodies in front of balls to keep the ball in the opponents third of the field. I saw rookies coming up big to make stops on plays that should have resulted in goals. I saw Andre Blake make incredible saves all season, putting his body on the line to attempt a clean sheet. I saw Brian Carroll play a full 90 minutes of hard soccer at age 34 after playing a full 90 against Chicago only a few days before. Yes, the Union were down 3-1 with six minutes left, but they have proven themselves to us this year as a team that can come back and make things interesting and push for results after letting down fans for 7 years. This team deserves a full 90 minutes of your time. Not 81 minutes of your time, not 84 or 89, but the full 90. They work hard for hours and hours during the week, surely you can honor their commitment to the club, to the game and to you the fans and give them 90 minutes of your time.
The atmosphere at Talen Energy Stadium was rather quiet and has been for many games this season despite having incredible moments like Tranquillo Barnetta's stoppage time free kick to beat Orlando City SC, or the first hat-trick for the Union since 2010 thanks to Roland Alberg, or even staying even with the star studded Los Angels Galaxy. This team deserves a loud atmosphere and it is in our power to do so. If you have season tickets in the Sons of Ben, don't use your ticket just for the tailgate pregame. When you're at the game, sing loud and sing proud. Don't just socialize. I don't care if your seats are right in front of the drums or in the top corners of the sections; you bought those tickets to go nuts for the Union, so use them for that purpose. Don't be ashamed of this team. They deserve for you to be at the stadium and to be loud. Season ticket holders, you know the chants, you know the songs. Sing along throughout the stadium. Don't worry about what the people around you think about you. You are a season ticket holder which means you care about this team. Don't be ashamed of this team. They deserve for you to be at the stadium and to be loud. Casual fans, educate yourself about the team. Try to learn some chants and if you don't have the time, they are not hard to learn. If your kids begged you to go to a game, let them sing and sing along with them. Encourage their love of this team. Don't be ashamed of this team. They deserve for you to be at the stadium and to be loud. If you buy tickets to a game but suddenly can't go, or if you have season tickets but can't get to a game, please find someone to take the seats. This team deserves sell outs even on a Wednesday night game, and we have hardly sold out games this year. Don't be ashamed of this team. They deserve only the best.
This is the year we have been waiting for fans. This is the year where our prayers have been answered. This is the year we actually have hope of playoffs and doing well in them. This is the year we actually have a shot at silverware in the US Open Cup. The players know it, the coaches know it and they are all working 110% to make up for the years of struggle and bring this club, this fan base, this city, a championship. So now its our turn to recognize the players and coaches efforts, come to the games, be loud and proud, thank the organization for working so hard to achieve what we hoped this team would be. Big things are happening at this club, do not be fair weather fans. Be the die-hard fans that brought a team to Philadelphia in the first place, be the die-hard fans that this club deserves or don't come at all.