Union v. Stoke City

Jeremy and I enjoyed watching the Union play Stoke City at PPL Park.

The only time scarves are acceptable in the summer.

I love the Prem.

A die-hard Arsenal fan, I’d easily consider the English Premier League the best footy in the world. And though it had been almost two years since I’d seen a Premier League team in person while living in England, when my cousin, Stephen, said he would be away on a business trip and offered me his tickets to see the Philadelphia Union play Stoke City, there was no way I’d be passing them up. Stoke may perennially live at the bottom of the table during the Prem season, but they would still be heads and shoulders above the Union.

After interning for the Union last fall, I was excited to make my first visit to PPL Park since December, and I was able to visit with my former internship coordinator and my boss, the digital media director. It was my first Union game without Stephen, who I would always come sit with and we’d complain about the game and get to catch up for the second half.

But with Stephen away, I was able to take my brother to his first professional soccer game, and even convinced him to get a Union scarf, so he’d be included in the chants and songs. He actually enjoyed it!

We definitely had a blast and had great weather and the night couldn’t be complete without sharing a bucket of crabfries. Stoke didn’t play at all like they were on a relaxed overseas summer tour. Instead, they passed and attacked as if they were in mid-season form. I loved the opportunity to watch England standout Peter Crouch in person, who was much more gangly and awkward in person, but still a phenomenal athlete. Though the U lost, they played a hard-fought second-half, and denying Crouch two chances at the goal line was easily the highlight of the night.

After working so closely with the Union and their players for the semester, it was wonderful to be able to step back and watch the game as a fan. I always relish the chance to watch world-class footy, but to see a Prem team in-person, and at my home stadium, was something I won’t soon forget.

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