Bill Gusler has been to every Philadelphia Union road match against the New York Red Bulls, but his trip to the Philadelphia Union’s scoreless draw on May 26 in Harrison, New Jersey, had a little extra meaning.
It was his last road trip as president of Union supporters’ group Sons of Ben, a role he first assumed on an interim basis in 2015.
Gusler turned the presidency over to the group’s director of merchandise, partnerships, and branding, Matt Gendaszek, last week because he is moving to Davenport, Florida, with his girlfriend Meaghan DeProspero. The two met on a trip to an away match against the Red Bulls three years ago.
“It’s what he loves, his passion, and I know he’s excited for the move and he’s gonna miss it but he does deserve to relax a little bit because it is a huge portion of his life,” DeProspero said. “Even on the offseason, he’s planning for the next season. We never got a break.”
“It’s like a child,” she added. “We’re not having children, so the Union is his child. For sure.”
Gusler first served on the Sons of Ben’s board as the philanthropy director, and his sister Jessica is also on the board this season as the travel director.
He hasn’t missed any home matches, even when it meant driving to games from Reading, Pennsylvania, during the Union’s first season and traveling from the Poconos during the last two seasons.
Bill has also made every trip to matches against NYCFC, DC United, and the Red Bulls.
“It’ll be weird for me to not even, not just be in charge or as a board member, but just to not be there at every match,” he said. “It’s like this is such a big part of my life, so it’ll be different and it might take some getting used to.”
Gendaszek will serve as interim president for the rest of the season. Then, the Sons of Ben will hold elections for president and other positions.
The Sons of Ben will miss Gusler as president, said Michael Frazier, 35, of North Wales, Pennsylvania.
“He kind of has this facade to him as a Philly guy,” said Frazier, who formally joined the supporters’ group in 2012. “He’s got that charisma to him of a good leader.”
“He’s really enthusiastic,” said 27-year-old Philadelphia Mollie Suitch, who is the Sons of Ben’s social media director. “He’s always leading the chants and being a capo during the games; just he brings a great culture to it.”
Bill Gusler’s final match as president was the Union’s 3-1 win against the Chicago Fire last week at Talen Energy Stadium. After the game, the Union tweeted a video thanking him for his work as president.
.@SonsOfBen president Bill Gusler has never missed a game at @TalenEnergyStdm. We thank him for all of his contributions to the U and wish him the best in his move to Florida. pic.twitter.com/dOJe0HSaNR— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) May 31, 2018
The Sons of Ben also displayed a “Billadelphia” banner during the match.
#Billadelphia ☠️ pic.twitter.com/mjsagWFBJx— Sons of Ben (@SonsofBen) May 31, 2018
Though he is no longer president of the Sons of Ben, Bill Gusler’s passion for the Union won’t fade. He plans to attend Philadelphia’s road match against Orlando City SC on Sept. 1.
“I’ve had a few people ask me, and it’s actually insulting when they do, if I’ll become an Orlando supporter,” Bill Gusler said. “Absolutely not. Just like any other team, you know what I mean, Philly that’s my city. Those are my teams. So I’m not cheering for anybody else even when I’m down there. They’ll still be the Union, they’ll still be the Eagles, still be the Phillies. I don’t switch teams just because I moved.”