Philadelphia Union FO Beat Sons of Ben FC 2-0 In 2nd Annual River Cup
Chester, PA – Philadelphia Union front office staff squared off against the Union’s supporters club the Son’s of Ben Sunday night at PPL Park for the 2nd Annual River Cup. The origin of the match started with the Sons of Ben asking to play on the pitch at PPL Park, it then turned into a challenge of supporters verses coaches and staff of the Union. Last year’s River Cup helped raise over $25,000 for local youth soccer club Chester City United. This year’s charity was the Philadelphia Union Foundation.
Each team brought deep rosters with 30 players for a full 90 minute match of 11 v 11 soccer. The Union bent the rules a little by adding Rubén Amaro Jr. General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Wednesday at the River Cup press conference Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz jokingly told me adding Amaro Jr. was legit since each team cross promotes for each other. Amaro is more well known for baseball, but also played soccer at William Penn Charter School in the early 80′s. The SoB’s even directed a few chants at Amaro Jr’s personnel moves and his weight “Hey Ruben Lay Off The Sweets.”
The game itself was full of a little friendly trash talk. Last year the Union FO won 2-1, that match was only 60 minutes. This year the game was made into a proper 90 minute match with a full half-time. The teams emerged from the same tunnel the Philadelphia Union enter onto the pitch. Both squads lined up for the National Anthem and a few minutes after 6 pm on a warm August Sunday the game was underway.
The Sons of Ben FC came out on fire as they wanted to the get cup. SoB FC made a lot good early runs but they were blanked by Philadelphia Union FO keeper Mike Quarino. SoB lone goal scorer last Corey Furlan was all business and SoB FC’s most solid forward early on. As the match started to take form the Philadelphia Union F.O. started to play physical and threw some of their older weight around.
Just a few minutes before the 20 minute mark Nico Abelenda of the Union FO found the back of the net with a soft shot from the 6-yard box that he curled inside the far left post. Seconds later the PA speakers blasted the famous “DOOP” song (Maria (I like It Loud) by Scooter), but the Son’s of Ben did not “DOOP.”
The Philadelphia Union FO pressured to make it 2 – 0, but the score remained the 1 – 0 at the half. During halftime the fans were entertained to players from Chester City United as they played a friendly game with pug goals. Also ESPN The Magazine was present for shot and story about the Union players in stands watching their coaches and bosses in action. After the shot the players posed for photos and signed autographs for fans of all ages.
Speaking with Philadelphia Union keeper Chase Harrison at halftime he jokingly said he was going “get on” some of Union coaching staff about bad passes, they (Union Coaches) always stress this during Union practices. Overall the players on hand were entertained and got a kick out of watching a game in the stands where 18,000 plus watch them play.
When the game resumed the SoB FC came out of the locker room poised to get on the board. The SoB FC were awarded a penalty kick four minutes into the 2nd half but Philadelphia Union FO goalkeeper Mike Quarino made a huge save by diving to his right to knock away the PK and keep his team up 1-0. Throughout remainder the game the SoB FC continued to pepper the Philadelphia Union FO goal.
Sports can be cruel as the SoB FC were about to find out. After being mere inches from making the game 1-1 and just 6 minutes after failing to convert a PK the SoB FC found themselves 2-nil down. The second goal came from Brendan Burke in the 55th minute. Burke is in his second year as Head Coach of Philadelphia’s Reserve League team and Assistant Youth Director. Also the past four seasons Burke has been the head coach of the Reading United A.C. PDL squad.
Burke’s fun on the pitch came to end earlier than anyone wanted, as he suffered what I am told is a broken ankle. This put a small shadow of the event as it was charity match. The teams carried on for the next 10 minutes and the mood was down. The Philadelphia Union Front Office held on the clean sheet and the game ended 2-0.
The teams remained on the pitch after the match and Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz addressed the crowd. He thanked them for coming and spoke about how great of an event it was. After the Philadelphia Union FO was presented the River Cup trophy the Sons of Ben handed over what they say is the “real” River Cup, a golden spray painted ball with a wooden base. This brought laughter to everyone on the field and in the stands. All players from both sides then posed for a post match photo.
World Sports Show Man of the Match: Philadelphia Union FO Goalkeeper Mike Quarino (@MikeQuarino)
All Photos From Dorothy Neuman Cooper
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