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.

Filtering by Category: Union News

River Cup Update: Rosters announced for July 15 charity match

Philadelphia Union and the Sons of Ben, the club’s supporters group, released today their official rosters for the inaugural River Cup that will take place at PPL Park on July 15. The charity event will feature some of the Union’s ownership including Jay Sugarman (Chairman), Nick Sakiewicz (CEO & Operating Partner) and Rob Buccini (investor) as well as executives and technical staff including Peter Nowak (Team Manager/Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations), John Hackworth (Coach), Rob Vartughian (Assistant Coach/Goalkeeper Coordinator) and Brendan Burke (Reserve Team Head Coach and Assistant Youth Director).

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Union vs United: Order US Open Cup Tickets Here!

The Union take on DC United on Wednesday April 6th at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown, MD. This is the ZOLOs first game in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament and a big turnout is expected.

Tickets are $20 and need to be ordered via the downloadable form provided by the DC United staff. To order tickets follow the instructions on the form. If you have any questions please direct them to Dan Giffin at D.C. United, 202.587.5479 or dgiffin@dcunited.com. There will NOT be a bus for this trip.

Download the order form HERE.

The Kyle Nakazawa Interview

I wanted to get an inside perspective on the Union players, and thought, what better way then to begin interviewing them! Kyle Nakazawa has become a favorite of section 140 where I reside, so it was only fitting that he is the first to be interviewed. Below is the transcript of my interview. Matt: You grew up in Torrence, California and went to UCLA. What was it like moving to Pennsylvania? What do you miss about SoCal?

Kyle: It was a pretty drastic change I'd say moving from Southern California to Pennsylvania on the east coast, especially during last January and the cold winter we experienced. I live in West Chester and the town has really grown on me all year...I appreciate the fact that I can walk almost everywhere and I rarely need to drive, and also the fact that it is a young college town. What I do miss most about SoCal is the Pacific Ocean.

MM: Tell me about your roommates. What kind of influence have they had on you? What have you influenced/tried to influence them with?

KN: I couldn't have asked for better roommates. My living situation is great and the guys I live with are awesome. Of course I'm sure everyone knows I live with Sebastien from our cribs video. I also live with two other guys from West Chester that have been a great addition to our house. I've tried to influence them with my cooking, and we all do a fairly good job maintaining the humor in each other's lives.

MM: Were you a fan of the MLS growing up? What team were you a fan of growing up?

KN: I did grow up watching Major League Soccer and I supported my hometown LA Galaxy.

MM: The first match you played in was in LA, what was it like coming on the field in your hometown?

KN: My first MLS appearance was a really special one...I was sick all week long leading up to the LA trip so I was a little concerned that I wasn't gonna get in. But fortunately I came on in the second half. The result wasn't ideal but to make my MLS debut in front of all my friends and family was a special experience that I will cherish forever.

MM: What was it like getting your first start against the defending MLS champs (RSL)?

KN: After my debut I made my first start the next game against Salt Lake...Salt Lake is a difficult team to play against at their home as can be seen from their record at home, but I went into it like any other match and I physically felt much better than the week before. I was excited to get my first MLS start and first 90 min match.

MM: What was it like training and playing in the Ajax Amsterdam Youth Program?

KN: Training with Ajax Amsterdam was one of the most special experiences I've had as a soccer player. Being exposed to such high professionalism and such high quality soccer on a daily basis was amazing. Although still very young, we were treated like young professionals day in and day out and expected to perform and act like professionals. The soccer culture in Amsterdam incredible and my experience with Ajax significantly helped my development as a young player.

MM: What was it like playing with Galaxy Rios?

KN: Playing with the Galaxy Rios was great game training for me during my college off-season, especially since it was back home in LA. The coaching staff was great and helped to keep me in a competitive environment each week. Another perk is that we were able to train with the first team which was awesome.

MM: You have experience playing on the international level at both the U-17 and U-20 level. What are the main differences between playing internationally compared to playing in the college/pro ranks?

KN: I'd have to say that the biggest change from playing at the youth national team level and the college level is the physical aspect. I was no longer playing against guys my own age, but rather 3 or 4 years older. The physicality was the biggest adjustment. From college to pro ranks, the biggest difference is speed of play and speed of thought.

MM: What sports do you like playing/watching, besides soccer?

KN: Besides soccer I pretty much just surf and occasionally play golf...Although I have grown into quite a hockey and football fan, I support our Flyers and Eagles!

MM: What are you goals for next season?

KN: My goal for next season is to just keep improving and to have a better season than this year.

MM: What do you enjoy doing during your free time and in the offseason?

KN: In my free time I enjoy playing music: guitar and ukulele. I also enjoy surfing.

MM: Tell me about the Soccer Hawaii program.

KN: This is the first year for Kyle Nakazawa Soccer Hawaii. It is a camp on Kauai where part of my family lives, and it is going to be held from December 20th-23rd of this year. Growing up I always spent my summers on Kauai with my family. Young kids on Kauai have always been into soccer and I thought what better way to encourage the growth of the sport in young players there than to have a camp consisting of MLS and college players. All the details of the camp can be found on my website: www.kylenakazawa.com. We are anticipating a successful showing!

MM: Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview Kyle! Have a great off season and I look forward to seeing you on the pitch come March!

Union v. Chivas USA Preview

You know how you sometimes plan something out in your head, really mean to do it, but never quite find the time to sit down and actually execute the task in question? Yeah, sorry for the delay in blogging, fellow SoBs. I blame work. The internet company expects money in exchange for bringing me lolcats and twitter, and burying pennies in the back yard has yet to result in a money tree. Now, looking forward to tomorrow's match, Eduardo Coudet is listed as questionable, and being so close to the end of the season, my gut feeling is that young Amobi will be in the starting eleven. He might not be able to pass a stool in a laxative factory, but you can't deny he's got the work rate to make things difficult for the opposition, and the potential to be a key player in this league. I'd be very surprised if Coudet and Miglioranzi are both around at the start of next season.

Speaking of people who might not be around next season, I expect Chris Seitz to be on the bench again. Brad Knighton has allowed just a single goal in 202 minutes this season, while Seitz was averaging a goal against every 51.5 minutes. My only worry with Brad is his tendency to come out too early, the opposite of Seitz's timidity. In the Chivas Guadalajara friendly, his penchant for agressive keeping nearly gave up an early goal, and we all know what happened against Dallas when he rushed out too early against Brek Shea.

The opposition this week is Chivas USA, who like us, are effectively out of the playoff picture at this point. Their biggest game left is the derby match against the Galaxy next week, so there's a chance Martin Vasquez will be looking past our little ole expansion club and thinking about trying to win that game, and you can't really blame him. Beating the Galaxy would restore some pride to a season that could have gone better for the Goats. Think how much more fondly we'll look back on this inaugural season once we kick the taurine-tainted piss out of that group up I-95 in a  few weeks.

I expect we'll look something like this tomorrow afternoon:

----------------------Knighton----------------------

Orozco-Fiscal--Gonzalez--Califf--Harvey------

Mapp-------Miglioranzi---Okugo----Jacobson

--------------Le Toux--------Mwanga------------

Jack Mac and Nakazawa to come on later, of course. And I think we're good for a win, too. I said as much on my Goal preview. We're rested, and they've got their biggest rivals next week. 2-0 to the mighty Zolos.

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.

Union Introduces Players to Philly; SoB Help Kick Hunger

It was an evening that was years in the making. We've all been to Tír na nÓg before for various occasions but this one was just a little different. This time, it was the Union. This time, it was the players. The first eleven. The Union Eleven. The pub was packed for the event with members of Sons of Ben as well as the general public. The event was scheduled to start at 6:30pm but the crowd was already in place well before hand. The press were there to get their standard quotes from the guests of honor but the players interaction with the fans was what everyone was looking forward to.

16450_199477242187_89209317187_2983065_4826144_nDuring the pre-event the Sons of Ben were collecting donations for the annual Help Kick Hunger campaign. Not that it was needed, Philly's always been generous with their giving to this effort, but an added incentive to donate this year was the chance to win an autographed authentic Philadelphia Union jersey signed by The Union Eleven. From the charity standpoint it was a massive success and was highlighted by the drawing for the jersey. The winner, Viggo Nightbay of Philly was the lucky winner.

The event started right on time with loud cheers, chants, and applause. We've spent so much time looking forward to these moments that it immediately sunk in and was summed up perfectly for one member: "@#$% we have a team!!". After a good laugh the Union brass got on with the program before the player introductions. Coach Nowak then took the mike and really got the crowd going. Starting with Keep Chris Seitz, Nowak went introduced all the players to the city with each receiving a very loud reception.

Alejandro Moreno drew the task of addressing the crowd for the players. Keeping it short and simple he said exactly what we all knew already. It's our team. They'll play hard every game. They'll do everything they can to win and bring a championship to Philly. It's what we expected but he could of said anything and we would have eaten it up. It didn't matter. We were there for our guys. Our players. Our team.

The First XI

The Union picked the first ten players in franchise history on Wednesday in the MLS Expansion Draft and made a trade for another as the 2010 roster began to take shape. Some of the more notable selections for this "First XI" are Sebastien Le Toux (Seattle Sounders) and Alejandro Moreno (Columbus Crew).

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SoB’s Participate in Union Commercial Shoot

On a mild October night on the University of Pennsylvania campus, a bunch of SoB's got together with the Philadelphia Union staff to participate in the clubs very first commercial shoot. Smoke bombs were going off.  Faces were painted.  Spirits were high and the atmosphere was energetic as the shot progressed.  The highlight of the event wasn't even captured in the final footage.  Union head coach Peter Nowak decided to get in on the game and take a few penalty kicks...in a full suit!

The commercials will air on various channels in the near future and we'll be sure to post them once they're available online.

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