This is the ninth part of a series in which we introduce Orlando City fans to the teams our Lions will be facing in 2015 when the team starts play in Major League Soccer. Today we take a look at the Philadelphia Union.
What are the three most important things Orlando City fans need to know about the Union?
William Murphy: Philadelphia sports culture is a bit rough around the edges. There is no subject too taboo for a Philly sports fan to use as a weapon. That being said, we have huge hearts and I have never witnessed any issues with away fans that were not initiated by them.
PPL Park is to downtown Philadelphia as Disney is to downtown Orlando, so if you visit make sure you have a car.
Philly is a beautiful and culturally diverse city that has quite the reputation for both history and food. Bring your appetite and a camera.
What nicknames, chants and slang are unique to Philadelphia, and can you please explain them if they aren’t readily apparent to the outsider?
WM: The most unrecognizable nickname for the team is the “ZOLOS,” which stems from one of the original events sponsored by the front office. They were handing out “Hello my name is:” tags and several people wrote (apparently rather poorly) “2010” in honor of the inaugural season of the Union instead of their name. One of the front office staff asked, “What’s a Zolo?” The ZOLO tag was thus born.
There is a signature song that the Sons of Ben have been singing since day one. The River End breaks into FOUR LEAF CLOVER at 20:10. Honestly, this has been a bit contentious in the last few seasons and has not become Philadelphia’s version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” that the Sons of Ben had hoped it would be. As far as chants, I would say that if you googled Celtic or NERevs chants, you would be hard pressed to find anything different
Finally THE Philly word is “Jawn.” Check out our travel guide for its meaning and other local vernacular.
What are the can’t-miss things to do when Orlando City fans visit a Philadelphia Union game?
WM: We have done several visitors guides, as we have hosted the MLS SuperDraft the last two years. I would refer to those for details but no trip to Philadelphia is complete without eating a cheesesteak, seeing the Liberty Bell and grabbing a picture with the Rocky statue in my opinion.
Who are the key players on the Union that we should know about?
WM: At this point it’s anyone’s guess who will wear a Union kit in 2015. We are expecting a large turnover and, without knowing who the permanent coach will be, it’s difficult to say who will stay.
Which Philadelphia players do you think might get exposed in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft?
WM: I can easily see quite a few of our players being exposed, but the player most likely to land in Orlando is probably Zac MacMath. It’s been widely rumored that he would move there in the off-season, for a variety of reasons that may or may not be valid. Honestly, the Union don’t have many assets to protect, as evidenced by the team’s league position. The unprotected list will be largely populated by out-of-favor B-teamers and hopeful salary dumps. I could easily see players like Aaron Wheeler, Antoine Hoppenot, Danny Cruz, Leo Fernandez, Austin Berry, Corbin Bone, and perhaps even a vet like Michael Lahoud go unprotected.
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