It’s always fun to get together with 300 other friends who share one common joy - what some could consider obsessive – of a soccer team during the offseason. Why not, it’s fun to catch up with people when you don’t get a chance to see them regularly. The even better side is that a fundraiser is attached to this party.
The Sons of Ben, in their 5th year of existence, were able to make a deal to use McFadden’s at Citizen’s Bank Park for the annual Help Kick Hunger event, which in my view means there was a large amount of pull to reserve this location. Not only were they able to get a large, fun location for the entire group, the Sons of Ben, Bearfight Brigade, and the Philadelphia Union were able to raise $8,300 for HKH – this event alone! That’s a remarkable feat for any young, small group. The even better kicker is that another event is not far off to raise money – annual Stache Bash will be coming soon (opening day), and if you enjoy seeing weird looking moustaches, this event is for you.
I’d like to give a thanks to the Philadelphia Union for co-ordinating with the SoB’s and bringing Brian Carroll, Zach Pfeffer and Jimmy McLaughlin. As well a special thanks to the SoB’s who ran, set up, volunteered, and got the prizes to give away. I’ve done much smaller events like this before, and it’s such a hassle. What you do is greatly appreciated. An even bigger thanks to Veljko Paunovic for coming out. I’m sure he had no obligation to attend, but still came out for the fans. He is nothing but class, and we here wish him well in his next step in life (hopefully assisting with the Philadelphia Union..cough..cough).
Some highlights of the night – aside from the ongoing BearFight tournament:
1) The total amount of funds raised.
2) A ‘suprise’ announcement teaser, which includes the Philadelphia Union, MLS, and the City at City Hall on Tuesday. All are invited. 10:30 AM IN City Hall. Follow the bunch of people in Union gear. We can all make assumptions on what it’s possibly about.
3) The presentation of the Serbian flag to Paunovic.
4) The Bearfight Brigade is now sponsored by Monster.
As for my time at the event – let’s just say the beer was flowing.
Union fans were swept away in the fallout of the bombshell dropped when news of Sebastien Le Toux’s exodus to England was announced on Wednesday, January 18. It had been a seemingly routine day of roster activity, with four young reserve players not having contract options picked up to make way for new players signed and drafted during this off-season. The day has been coined “Black Wednesday” (also due to the later-announced retirement of Veljko Paunovic), however because Union have lost their first real star.
Fan outrage has been abundant and vocal, to the same magnatude that they show support for the side. Union’s Front Office has been besieged with questions of “Why?” and “How could you do this to us?” and the like. The transfer alone would have been devastating enough for the fan base that has grown to love the Frenchman, but the abruptness with which the news was revealed made the impact all the more shocking. Many vow that this pain will linger into the season, especially if those assigned to fill those (purple, pink, or yellow) shoes do not produce to a satisfactory level.
However, this is the reality of professional soccer in these United States. MLS, in the world of football, is a minor league. Teams in more prestigious leagues will come calling for MLS players that show great ability. And, those players will go, because playing in a top-5-in-the-world league, such as the English Premier League in this instance, is a footballer’s dream-come-true. Those of us who appreciate all that Seba has done for this team do not begrudge him one bit for wanting to go. But, here is what the fan base must realize to move on from this: It’s just like breaking up with your first girlfriend/boyfriend.
This was a great relationship. We were always happy to see him, as he was the best part of our (game)day. The adoration was mutual, and things seemed to be going great. Together, the relationship was progressing from nothing, to a playoff berth in just 2 seasons. But, for now, he’s gone, and our world seems crashing down. I almost expect Punchy the Bear to start claiming that the sky is falling (though he might do that anyway when he’s drunk and I wouldn’t know the difference). The fan base wonders how the team is going to function at all without their beloved Sebastien. But, like dating, we must all realize that there are plenty of fish (NO! NOT CARLOS RUIZ!!!) in the sea, and a new relationship will come into our lives and help us get over this one. We’ll both move on, because in the world of football, there is no such thing as marriage. No player stays forever, so we’re in a constant cycle of “dating.”
But this one hurts, because you always remember your first. And Sebastien Le Toux is the first ever star of the Philadelphia Union.
P.S.-Bolton plays Liverpool at 12:30 this Saturday, so I will be watching the pre-match show with bated breath hoping to see Seba on the pitch. But even if it’s not this week, I hope to see him perform in an EPL match at some point very soon. Good luck, Seba!