Sometimes it’s best to take a step back to admire the chaos, instead of simply walking away from it completely. Behold, the first edition of Fan Chant Friday on UnionFanTV.
It’s been a season of ups and downs (but mostly downs) for the Philadelphia Union. Whether Jim Curtin’s team manages to creep into the playoffs this campaign remains to be seen. Although thanks to the bloated nature of Major League Soccer’s playoff system, there is still a pretty good chance.
Here’s how the Eastern Conference table stands, following Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Montréal and other results around the league: Table.
Simply put, it’s just another year. Another year of blindly, or rather naïvely thinking that results will begin to fall the Union’s way, that the front office brass will field more than just a competitive side in MLS.
It’s usually around this time every year, following a poor performance or result, when many fans decide to throw in the towel and move on with their lives. Until March that is, when the perpetual cycle of supporting the Philadelphia Union kicks off once more.
Finding the resolve on matchday to read up on various Philadelphia Union blogs, to flip the switch and turn on The Comcast Network, or make the trek down to Talen Energy Stadium gets to be awfully tiresome after a while.
Being a supporter of the Philadelphia Union is often easier said than done these days, but it wasn’t always this way.
In the beginning, supporting the Union was seen as pretty carefree. Although the Union’s inaugural team was a run-of-the-mill side, whose players were mostly poached via the Expansion Draft, fans nevertheless flocked to then PPL Park to see a band of misfits play.
Why did so many families journey from their quiet suburbs to a place like Chester, PA?
Why did so many people set up shop hours before a match, on top of an old toxic waste dump?
And why did an overwhelming majority of fans sweep the mediocrity on the pitch under the rug?
Why? Partly because it was their band of misfits. Soccer fans in the Philadelphia region reveled in finally having a local club to support, a club not coined D.C. United or Metro Stars.
But also because of the atmosphere inside the stadium.
It was unfamiliar to the average Philadelphia sports fan. It was electric, and it was unrelenting regardless of the score. A raucous, packed River End brought it for 90 minutes, while the rest of the stadium joined in unison.
Chants like Come on the U and the now defunct Philadelphia Clap were simple to learn, which helped bridge the stadium together. Player songs were a personal favorite among fans, who shrewdly anointed players throughout the team with a tune of their own.
Results were an afterthought in those days. For most fans, the overall matchday experience, from the tailgate to the autograph session that lasted until the stadium flood lights turned off, was what they happily came for.
Fans still want their money’s worth these days, but results are what matter more now. It’s a fanbase that has matured along with the team, who gets that soccer is a results based business. Thus, when the results don’t come for Curtin’s side, many fans are turned away.
Aside from an underperforming team, I believe its the matchday experience that is making it easier for fans to trickle into the ground well after kickoff, skip out on the tailgate, and cancel their season tickets altogether.
How can a middle-of-the-pack soccer team like the Philadelphia Union fill their stadium, regardless of results? An answer to this question can be found in all corners of the world, at places like Selhurst Park in South London to Providence Park in Portland, OR.
Before walking away from the chaos altogether, maybe Union fans should contribute more to it.
Fan Chant Friday was originally introduced by the Sons of Ben via their Facebook page, leading up to the 2016 Major League Soccer season.
UnionFanTV cannot take credit for such a brilliant idea for fan engagement. Instead, we can try to give Fan Chant Friday a platform, even if it’s a small one at that. So what’s our hope for this new series?
To help bring out the creativity and shrewdness from Union supporters that has been previously heard in the past, as well as inspire more engagement among an ever-growing fanbase.
This week’s Weekly Belter is a player song for the Union’s Bosnian midfielder, Haris Medunjanin.
This one is sung to the tune of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 80’s hit song, Come on Eileen (1982):
Come on! Haris get your DOOP on. Come on! Go get your DOOP on. [x4]
Oh how you have grown, oh how you have shown
Come on! Haris get your DOOP on. Come on! Go get your DOOP on. [Repeat progressively faster until it dies down]
Oh! He captains our team!
At this moment, you mean everything!
No need to stress
[In unison] NO!
‘Cause Haris knows best
Verge on dirty
Have a song or chant you think should be sung around Talen Energy Stadium or on an Away Day? Let’s hear it. Tweet @UnionFanTV with your absolute belter. Happy Fan Chant Friday, everyone.