CHESTER, Pa. – In the days leading up to Sunday’s showdown with the hated New York Red Bulls, Union manager John Hackworth had pretty much the perfect Philadelphia experience.
Let him explain it.
“I had a guy come up to me at Wawa this week,” Hackworth said. “He didn’t say hello. He didn’t introduce himself. He just grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, you better beat New York.’”
Whether or not he was motivated or intimated by this gruff Wawa customer, the stirring convenience store pep talk worked wonders as the Union hammered the Red Bulls, 3-0, in front of a sold-out crowd at PPL Park and an ESPN audience.
And beating their rivals from New York (I mean, New Jersey) is not something the Union do often. In fact, it was the first time Philly accomplished the feat in 26 months. And even though the Red Bulls were playing shorthanded, it was a win the Union players feel should send a message to the rest of the league.
When the press conference ended, I asked Hackworth the most important question of the day: What Wawa was he at?
He told me it was the one between Ridley and Swarthmore. But there are still so many more questions. Was he getting a sandwich? A smoothie? Pumping gas?
Most importantly, who was this fan that grabbed him? If you're reading this, please step forward and accept your prize for being the perfect, no-nonsense, New York-hating Philly sports fan.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com, CSNPhilly.com and The 700 Level.