CHESTER, Pa. – Brian Carroll has played more than 200 games since his MLS career began in 2003.
But for the Philadelphia Union midfielder, home openers never get old.
Five months after their last game at PPL Park, Carroll and the Union open their 2012 home slate with a Sunday showdown against the Colorado Rapids (4 pm ET, NBC Sports, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
“It’s always exciting,” Carroll told MLSsoccer.com. “Every year it seems it gets more and more intense, more and more exciting. … We have one of the best atmospheres in the league and I’m sure all the fans are excited to get out and see what we’re made of here at home.”
Last year, the Union enjoyed a ton of success at PPL Park, losing just one time in 17 tries. Since PPL opened in June 2010, the Union own a 12-4-14 overall record at their home stadium along the Chester waterfront.
Interestingly enough, it was the Rapids that handed the Union their only home loss in 2011.
WATCH: Nowak previews Rapids match
“We’ve been good so far and we need to be continue to be good [at home],” said Union manager Peter Nowak. “We’ve asked for three years to play the first game [of the season] at home but it never happens. I hope it’s going to happen next year.”
The Union have indeed opened their season on the road in their first three years in the league and were defeated in two of those contests, both in the Pacific Time Zone.
Monday’s game in Portland was a difficult opener for the Union, who dropped a 3-1 decision to the Timbers, in part because of the team’s small field, wet turf and loud fans.
The conditions and atmosphere will naturally swing in Philly’s favor Sunday but Nowak expects equally stiff competition.
“As I said to these guys in the locker room in Portland, the Colorado team is going to be even more physical than this team,” Nowak said. “The game is going to be fast, they’re going to go up and down and they’re capable of doing good things. We need to make sure we stay compact and organized.”
If nothing else, the Union know they’ll be able to get a lift from the home crowd for Sunday’s game. And Carroll is not only excited himself but also for the team’s new players that have never before seen the passion of the Philly fans in person.
“I think they have an idea and a sense based on wherever else they played around the world,” Carroll said. “But you can’t really explain it in words. You just have to go through the experience yourself.”