CHESTER, Pa. – All but two of the Philadelphia Union players will be watching Wednesday’s AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park (8:30 pm ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura, TSN/RDS in Canada), instead of playing in it.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in the game. After all, it’s their stadium that will be on full display.
“We think it’s the best stadium in MLS, so we like that it will be thrust into the national spotlight like this,” Union rookie Antoine Hoppenot told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s fantastic for the stadium, it’s fantastic for the team and it’s fantastic for the city of Philadelphia.”
For Union defender Amobi Okugo, it will be extra special because he said he grew up rooting for the MLS All-Stars’ opponent, Chelsea FC. Throw in the opportunity to root for teammates Carlos Valdés and Michael Farfan – the Union’s two All-Star representatives – and seeing Philly’s home fans from a different perspective, and you have a potpourri of exciting happenings at PPL on Wednesday night.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Okugo said. “It’s going to be a chance for Philly to show our atmosphere on the world stage and we’re not going to disappoint. The Sons of Ben do a great job and I’m sure they’ll do a great job for the All-Star game.”
Like everyone on the Union, Okugo hopes to one day be in the position to play in the MLS All-Star Game. The same goes for 19-year-old striker Jack McInerney, who is excited to watch Wednesday’s contest live to soak in the skill and the pageantry – before, he hopes, it’s his turn.
“Hopefully I’ll be in it one day but you never know,” McInerney said. “So I’ve got to check it out while it’s here.”
And when the Union players watch, will they have any predictions as to what will happen on the field?
“I think the All-Stars will take ’em,” Hoppenot said. “I have faith. I think the All-Stars are ready to go. I like the All-Stars in the game.”
The Union rookie then predicted big things for center back Valdés, who has two goals in his Union career.
“Carlos might have a hat trick,” he said with a laugh.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.