Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT Location: Lincoln Financial Field TV: Fox Soccer Channel (Dave Johnson, Christopher Sullivan, Katie Witham and Todd Grisham)
It's been 16 days since the Union last played a game. The season opener at Seattle counts in the standings just as much as tonight's match does, but in a lot of ways, that felt like a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing - the home opener and the first chance for the region to see its team in person.
It's also the first time in 30 years that a professional men's outdoor soccer team representing Philadelphia will play a game in its namesake city. If you haven't already read Jeff Gammage's story from yesterday's Inquirer looking back at the old Philadelphia Fury, you should.
Those of you who were at the pep rally at City Hall yesterday afternoon will enjoy this photo gallery put together by my Philly.com colleague Esther Lee. There are more highlights from the event in the video player at right.
The atmosphere at the Linc should be pretty wild. Around 30,000 tickets have been sold, of which 1,000 have gone to D.C. United fans who will travel up from the nation's capital. As the Washington Post's Steven Goff writes this morning, this matchup could blossom into a real rivalry, with deep ties between both clubs' rosters and front offices. Among the people who've represented both teams is Union midfielder Fred, who featured in Kerith Gabriel's Union Meeting column in yesterday's Daily News.
(There's also a preview of the Independence from Marc. The Daily News' Mike Mazzeo reported yesterday that the Independence will play at PPL Park next season, which is of consequence despite everything else going on this weekend.)
I talked Fred after the Union's practice yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field. I also spoke with Peter Nowak, new signing Cristian Arrieta, Roger Torres and Andrew Jacobson. Audio of all the interviews is in the player below. Thanks to Cristina Maillo-Belda of the Union's media relations staff for help with translation.
I'll be getting to the Sports Complex at around 3:00 to set up, and I'll be putting together a video of highlights from the various pregame festivities. I'll also be hosting a live chat during the game, and I hope those of you who will be watching from home will join me for it.
For those of you who will be in the stands, my liveblogs are iPhone-compatible. I don't know yet if they can be accessed via BlackBerry, but give it a shot. It would be great to hear from you.
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