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‘I didn’t expect to cry’ when the Union won the Supporters’ Shield

Former Brotherly Game editor Eugene Rupinski reflects on yesterday’s big day

New England Revolution v Philadelphia Union Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It was around the 82nd minute that it started to sink in. The in-game scoreboard on ESPN Deportes flashed that Toronto FC had lost to the New York Red Bulls 2-1, and it all hit home.

The Philadelphia Union had won their first ever major trophy.

I didn’t expect to cry. I expected a wave of relief to come over me, numbing away the years of mismanagement. The cruelty and graft of the Peter Nowak years, the close-but-no-US-Open-Cup-trophy years of the John Hackworth era, the incompetence and endless pursuit of goalkeepers during the Sakiewicz regime, and even the redirectional years under Earnie Stewart; the tears came and washed it all away in a flood of emotion as the clock pressed on toward 90 in Chester.

There have been a lot of dark times rooting for this club, and this season has been a ray of light in an otherwise mostly dark year. I thought about the cruel irony of it all, that perhaps in order to feel this joy we had to suffer so much for so long. We had to watch as the Seattle f*cking Sounders raised an Open Cup on our field. We had to watch Andrew Wenger miss that penalty against Sporting Kansas City. But if those and so many more psychic wounds hadn’t been inflicted, would this be as euphoric?

As the referee blew his whistle three times to bring the season to an end, I thought about my dear friend Eric Shertz, who passed away in 2014 during the Union’s dark period. About him and other Union fans who wouldn’t get to see this moment, and hoping that wherever they are they too are reveling in the same joy that we all felt.

There’s still work to be done. There’s still work to be done this season. But it’s okay to take some time especially as fans and appreciate this. Because the Philadelphia Union - our Philadelphia Union - are Supporters’ Shield Champions.