Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Image: Photo by inmediahk via Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED.

 The Major League Soccer (MLS) season is underway with 29 teams playing for the ultimate prize — the MLS Cup. The season is demanding and everlasting for everyone, but who is recognized for the success of a winning team? Most people’s answers would be the players on the field but, many undervalue the power that the fans have. The soccer team Philadelphia Union, which entered its 14th season as a team in America’s top division, is known to have one of the most unique fan bases within the MLS — the Sons of Ben. For the Philadelphia Union, they might be the key to a league title. 

The Sons of Ben is an upgraded version of your everyday “student section.” The group’s name originated from Benjamin Franklin, an iconic figure for the city of Philadelphia. Instead of a group of high school seniors, the Sons of Ben includes a variety of adults who are passionate about the same thing: Their team’s success. The group includes members of the Independent Supporters Council (ISC), a dedicated fan base for members who eat, sleep and breathe the team they support. Typically found in the River End seats of Subaru Park Stadium, in Chester, PA, the Sons of Ben sing, play instruments and chant their famous slang, “DOOP.” The Sons of Ben has a code of conduct that their supporters must follow. They are called to “Be Loud,” “Be Proud,” “Be Smart” and “Be Passionate.” Visiting teams would find the group rowdy, annoying and passionate throughout the full 90 minutes and more. So how can the Sons of Ben help the Union win games?  

Statistically, the average MLS stadium holds about 24,340 people. Atlanta United holds the greatest number of supporters at a 42,500 maximum capacity. The Philadelphia Union is known to have the second smallest stadium in the MLS. Subaru Park has a max capacity of 18,500 seats within the stadium. This comes as an advantage when the Union hosts upcoming games. The less people in a stadium, the more of an impact the crowd can make. It’s easier for the players to ignore banter from fans of the opposing team if there’s a huge amount of people in attendance. A heckler would not be able to reach the player and convey their message, but in Chester, it is easier for the Sons of Ben to get their way. The river end section is behind one of two goals in which the opposing side will have to defend at a certain point. This provides an opportunity for the members to either encourage their team or distract the visitors. The group’s goal is to mess with the opponent and beat them mentally. If they are successful, then the players on the field can do the physical work and score goals.  

Whether you’re a fan of soccer or not, it is impossible to ignore the work that the Sons of Ben do for the Philadelphia Union. They commit their time to a team that will either give them memories of a lifetime or ones to forget. With the MLS season in its early stages, it’s exciting to see what the Sons of Ben have in store for this season.  


Billy Mills is a third-year Media and Culture Major with a minor in Communication Studies.

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