August 18, 2011
By Charles Cuttone
Great sports town? Prove it.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber thinks Philadelphia is a great sports town. After all, fans are gaga for the Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers and the Union (the Sixers, maybe not so much).
“This is a great sports town,” Garber said of Philadelphia. “It’s amazing how much sports interest there is in this city,” Garber said at the Union’s fan summit at PPL Park on Wednesday.
“The core fan base (for the Union) existed before the club did.”
So, Philly, if this is such a great sports town, Saturday afternoon is the time to prove it. The Philadelphia Independence are playing their first game at PPL Park, a WPS semifinal game against Women’s World Cup heroine Abby Wambach and magicJack. The stadium is way too big for the crowds the team normally gets, but this is a chance for this great sports town to really step up and prove how great it is.
Philly, you love a winner? The two-year-old Independence are making their second straight appearance in the playoffs, going all the way to the final last year. A win, and they’re back in the final.
Philly, you love stars? There’ll be plenty of them on the field Saturday (kickoff at 4pm). The Independence boasts league MVP Veronica Boquete and U.S. World Cuppers Amy Rodriguez, Lori Lindsey and Nicole Barnhart. magicJack, well, they have about half the U.S. Women’s National team, with Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx , Christie Rampone, Jillian Loyden and Hope Solo.
Philly, you love local kids making good? Barnhart is from Gilbertsville, and Independence rookie of the year candidate Sinead Farrelly is from Havertown.
Philly, you love coaching geniuses? Independence coach Paul Riley has won back-to-back coach of the year awards.
Philly, you like to wrap things in the USA red-white and blue that is such a part of the city’s DNA? Then here’s the first chance to see so many of the players who got the country so excited during the Women’s World Cup.
Philly, you a great sports town? Prove it on Saturday.