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Waterlogged in Ohio: A Cincinnati-born Union fan recounts his journey to Nippert Stadium

Raymond Retzner’s first Union away game in seven years was an eventful one

MLS: Philadelphia Union at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


Hello, I am Raymond Retzner and I have sat in Section 133 of Talen Energy Stadium with two of my sisters since the beginning. Section 133 is split into two halves. The top half is reserved for the away fans and the bottom half is Union supporters. Sitting with the away fans, I get to interact with away fans almost every game and when I travel to away games it helps me know what to expect in other team;s stadiums. In the beginning, I traveled to New York Red Bulls, D.C United and Columbus Crew matches. My away record was a dismal 0-5-2. My last away match was in 2012.

When Cincinnati was awarded a team, I got excited because it is where I was born. My parents were born right across the border in southeastern Indiana and I still have relatives there. When the schedule came out, the first game I looked for was Cincinnati away. The game happened to fall on a weekend that I had already planned to be out in Indiana.

Saturday morning, I woke up to heavy rain on the farm and it continued during the drive to the hotel I was staying at outside of Cincinnati. My sisters and I prepared for a rain game. Rain games to me can be some of the most memorable. Do you remember the Seattle and Chivas USA rain games at Talen? This game was no different. Cincinnati Stadium is still being built so they are playing at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.

Parking is mostly in garages so there really is no tailgate scene. My sisters and I walked with the raincoat-clad Cincinnati fans to the stadium in the deluge. Everyone from security to the beer vendors were very welcoming and helped us to our seats. The section reserved for away fans was 215, which I thought was a sign of good luck since one of the area codes of Philadelphia is 215.

Before the game, some Cincinnati fans came and talked and wished us good luck. When the game started there were about 20 Union fans and two police officers in our section. The stadium was mostly full and the Cincinnati fans were loud with their chants and drums even in the wind and rain. The first half the Union controlled the game, most of the time, but the game was held scoreless thanks to a Cincinnati goal that was called offside. The halftime whistle blew and we headed to the concourse for a respite from the wind and the rain. We watched as some of the Cincinnati fans exited the stadium deciding it was not worth sitting in this weather.

The second half began with the stadium less than half full. The rain and the wind intensified, I was soaked to my bones and it was becoming miserable. When the Union scored the first goal, it felt like Section 215 was the warmest section in the stadium. The Doop chant rang out after the hugs and high fives. The nerves kicked in though as we wondered if the Union could hold the lead. As the game went on, the stadium emptied out a little more. It seemed like the wind and rain picked up even more when the second goal came and the mass exodus of Cincinnati fans began. We stayed and chanted to the end of the game.

On the walk out of the stadium we could hold our heads high. Most of the Cincinnati fans ignored us, but some did say good game and thanked us for coming. We got in our car with the heat on full blast and headed back to the hotel for a hot shower and dry clothes. On Sunday, I headed back to Philadelphia with my family, happy with three points and my first away win.