There has been a steady stream of events since 2008 when Philadelphia was awarded Major League soccer’s 16th franchise.
First came a name. Then an identity, one that the city has wholeheartedly embraced and connected with.
After that came the squad, slowly compiled by coach Peter Nowak through the expansion draft, the MLS SuperDraft, free agency and trades.
Eventually, the MLS debut (loss to the Seattle Sounders), the first goal, the home debut (a win over D.C. United), the first win.
The only thing missing was the new home.
Now, after two years of waiting, the Union will finally play in front of their home fans in their very own building. Yes, PPL Park is set to open on Sunday and what an event it should be. The 18,500-seat stadium will host its first MLS match when the Union take on, as fate would have it, the Seattle Sounders again.
Attention MLS fans: watch and learn.
As we’ve seen from the Union’s first two home matches, Philadelphia fans bring the noise. 35,000 for the first match and 25,000 for the second, soccer fans in the tri-state area have embraced the side.
Despite the disappointing results, the team is fresh after the World Cup break, and they should be charged up for the match. Rightly so. The game could end up defining the team’s season.
Seattle haven’t been playing that well of late and the chance of taking a result is quite possible for a Union side that must rectify the mistakes that have left them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Regardless of who comes out with the points on Sunday, the match itself is the real milestone. It’s another event to add to the ever-growing list of achievements in the team’s young history, perhaps the one that will linger longer than any other.