New Rivalries Born
If Major League Soccer is
all about rivalries, the addition of the Philadelphia Union as its 16th
franchise is another positive step in that direction.
First think of the Pacific
Northwest, where Seattle Sounders FC will be joined next season by Portland and Vancouver.
Sounders co-owner Drew Carey jokingly referred to the trio as "the
triangle of death" at last November's MLS Cup. Now group the Union, which was announced by the league on Feb. 28,
2008, with the New York Red Bulls and D.C.
United, and the
possibilities for another fierce rivalry are endless.
Take it from the LA Galaxy's
native New Yorkers, Edson Buddle and Bruce Arena, and New Jersey's Gregg Berhalter -- league
officials made a smart move in putting the league's newest franchise into the
so-called city of brotherly love.
"I think it's
great," Berhalter said. "There are some real dedicated soccer fans
there. Looking at the response to their first home game (at Lincoln Financial
Field) was unbelievable. "The goal is to get a concentration of teams in
one area to get some rivalries, like they're going to do in the northwest. It's
what we have here with Chivas. You add Philly and Red Bulls to it, with D.C. not
far away, and you start creating some interesting games.
"Having Philly is an
important part of that. I like it."
Buddle, who grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., about
a 2 1/2-hour drive from Philadelphia, also was
pleased to see a franchise in Philadelphia,
even though he's never been to the city. "I've just been to the train
station on my way to D.C.," he said with a grin.
Buddle did say he was
pleased to see the league expand in that part of the country, mostly because
it's closer to his home.
"There's a lot of
soccer in that area, so it's important," he said."I think the fans
deserve it. It will be even better once they build their own stadium."
home field, 18,000-seat PPL Stadium, is scheduled to open in July.
"You're probably going
to see a lot of fans from Philly when they play in D.C., and a lot of D.C. fans
in Philly," Buddle said. "Hopefully there won't be any fights or
brawls, but we like that as players, when fans are getting into it.
"It makes you play
harder, especially if you're at home and you know the fans are behind
Arena, who grew up in the
Bronx, said he didn't spend much time in Philadelphia as a youth and went there
only when his college team, Cornell, played Penn in soccer and lacrosse.
"I don't know Philly
that well," he said, "even though a bunch of my Cornellians reside
there. I think the rivalry is fabulous ... the 95 rivalry with New York, Philadelphia
"I think it will be
very similar to what we'll be doing on the West Coast, obviously with L.A., San Jose and Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. And Chivas in
"And maybe we'll add San Diego that mix. That
would be a fabulous rivalry."