Tempered enthusiasm for Sons of Ben at MLS SuperDraft
Market Street had erupted into frantic flurrying but inside the Field House, it was hard not to sweat. Partially because of the shoulder-to-shoulder Sons of Ben filling the place, making it a hive of sky blue scarves and $3 Philly Pale Ales, but also because the Union had a pair of first round picks in this year's MLS SuperDraft.
"Definitely exciting," said Andy Sherlock. "We should pick some young guys who maybe have some potential along the way."
Any team in a professional draft would garner buzz while wielding not one, but two picks in the first round (No. 2 and No. 6). Much has been said about who the Union could take - one of the two Golden Bears defensemen, Christian Dean and his higher ceiling or Steve Birnbaum and his higher floor, or maybe local boy Steve Neumann. It's the first round, so it's going to be hard to miss somebody effective, right?
Sherlock looked down at his beer in disagreement. "Well... look at 2010. Danny Mwanga. You never know what's going to happen with draft picks."
This would not be the last time that year and man would be mentioned in talks of the Union's first round picks. It's misses like Mwanga, combined with the appeal of seeing each other, that dominates the Sons of Ben mindset during the draft.
"A lot of these guys I haven't seen since the last game of the season, so it's good to see everybody," Sherlock said. "I took off work so, drink up."
When asked if the draft is a great excuse to drink at 10 in the morning, Ed Fagen said "Absolutely. It's a reunion of sorts."
Tim Sosar clarified, saying it's an excuse to catch up with people they have not seen since October.
"This kind of bridges the gap until March, when we all get back together for matches," he said.
There's a Help Kick Hunger event the Sons of Ben are hosting on Saturday, and various birthdays and meetups in Wilmington, but this is probably the liveliest hub of Philly soccer fans until they're back at PPL Park.
There are good players to take with their picks, but no one is letting themselves fly off the handle on anyone in particular.
"If you look at past SuperDrafts, those top five or six guys are usually decent guys," Fagen explained. "It could be two guys that are key to your season this year, buy, hey, that remains to be seen."
"I'm of the mind that if they keep the two first round picks, take the guy you want at two, and take the best possible player at six," said Sosar. "I don't think the problem the fans have is with the draft picks, I think it's what they do to build around those draft picks."
Mwanga hasn't left the Sons of Ben embittered to the draft, but the miss does infrequently haunt them. They have thoughts on what the team should do, and remain excited to see who they wind up with, but mostly the question of who the Union should grab is answered with shaken heads.
It'll be someone effective, but who it is exactly doesn't quite matter. More important is that the Union's biggest fans have assembled, and they aren't prepared to draw blood depending on whose name is called at No. 2.
"Their play will speak for themselves once they're picked," said Frank Lockerman. "You don't know until you get them how they're going to turn out. We'll see who's available and hopefully they get the right guy. But it's always great to see [fellow Sons of Ben] you don't see during the offseason, get that camaraderie going, and look forward to a great year."