Here we are in the beginning of May and the Philadelphia Union haven’t quite grabbed that first win of the season. Actually it’s been a while since they got that last win, but we don’t need to talk about that one here, as it’s well covered territory. What I’m aiming for here is why we as fans, staff, and volunteers of the team are truly bothered by this on a deeper level. Then I figured it out.
We’re all in this together.
There’s a certain very deep dedicated culture of Union support. Maybe it’s because we grew with the team since 2010 as compared to the other Philadelphia teams. The team is still fairly new. Maybe it’s because of a very interesting and occasionally sordid history that we’ve had so far with the team. Or maybe it’s because, in a very crowded Philadelphia sports team landscape, it’s hard for the Union to get a seat at that crowded table. However you look at it, this team very much feels like “our guys” rather than a team we support that we can look at logically or reasonably.
I remember at the 2nd U.S. Open Cup game, before the final went into penalty kicks, a fellow volunteer I was working with said, “This team means so much to me personally, I can barely watch this shootout.” There’s a bit of this team that does feel very personal to us, maybe it’s because many fans have interaction with the players, for example. I think we all in some way, shape, or form have a great John McCarthy story. His interaction with the Union fan base is so incredible. He’s my 9-year-old son’s favorite player bar none. The McCartholytes (not sure McCarthy nation has ever been called that, but I’m going with it here) are a perfect example of Union culture. John gives us his all, and in return we give him our never ending support (and the great “Lord Helmet” nickname).
So, because of this, because we’ve waited so long for a team (I remember before we had the Union, I’d fire up the ole playstation and ‘create a team” option on FIFA I’d done “Philly FC”), mixed with our history of the team (remember those early days trying to find the Live Well channel to see the games?), as well as our personal interactions with the players and staff–the losing streak hits us hard because we’re so invested in this team on a personal level. It’s okay to vent. Let those voices be heard because like the late great Eric Schertz so famously said “when you’re here, you’re family.” Like any family there are ups and downs, but the important thing is you never have to feel frustrated alone. We’re all in this together.