Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

Fire Preview

It's Chicago in town tomorrow, and quite obviously, the biggest story is our own Peter Nowak and Justin Mapp facing off against the club where they made their MLS careers. While it's been a few years since Peter played for the Fire, Mapp was wearing red as recently as late July. Having spent eight years and hundreds of games in the Windy City, there's got to be some sort of bond between him and the fans there, but he's a great professional, so if he plays tomorrow evening, I wouldn't expect anything less than total commitment. He's been pretty good since arriving here (he was available in the expansion draft, why did we take David Myrie again?), and having picked up two assists and a very important goal in his last two league matches,  as well as an assist in the Chivas friendly, seems to be in the midst of a nice little run of form. He's a proven MLS contributor right in his peak years, which is something our roster is sorely lacking in, so hopefully he can give the Fire management a bit of a "You made a mistake letting me go" present.

In goal, I really have no idea who we'll see. Peter was apoplectic following Seitz's error against KC, and there seemed to be a consensus among the press corps that if Brad Knighton was going to get a start again this season, it would be against Chicago. That being said, however, Peter's had a week to cool off, and if he still sees Seitz as his long-term starter, he won't want to undermine his confidence at this point.

Along the backline, we've got Gonzalez and Orozco-Fiscal doubtful, and Toni Stahl completely ruled out, so it's going to be a bit thin in defense. Harvey and Califf will be joined by Arrieta, while Salinas, listed as probable, has shown he can play a fullback role. If Peter doesn't want to risk Shea for extended minutes in defense, Sheanon Williams could be set for his MLS debut.

In midfield, well, your guess is as good as mine. Migz will probably start in the center, joined by one of  Okugo, Nakazawa, or Coudet. If I were a betting man, my money would be on another start for Okugo. At this point, with the playoffs unlikely, he'll want to give his youngsters plenty of time. With Moreno probable, Peter might give Alejandro the start and move Seba Le Toux back to the wing, with Mapp on the opposite side. If Moreno doesn't start, expect Torres on the flank, especially with Jacobson questionable.

Up top, Danny Mwanga will undoubtedly get the nod. Le Toux will partner him unless Peter feels like Moreno is ready for a start. You'd think with his injury problems though, the boss will want to wait until he's fully fit.

Our opponents from Chicago are lucky, having no players out to injury, although I believe Gonzalo Segares is out with a suspension. Must be nice.

I would like to take a final moment to say a few words about Brian McBide. The Chicago forward is retiring soon, and the game at PPL will be one of his final professional matches. While we usually turn our backs and yell "sucks" after opposition players' names are announced, I'll definitely be giving McBride a round of applause. The man is a class act, an American soccer legend in every sense of the word, and a pioneer for Americans strutting their stuff in the big leagues of Europe. There are few players who transcend their club shirt into the realm of universal adoration, but he's definitely in that group.

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.