Earlier in the "Countdown to the Cup" series on SportingKC.com, we looked at the record-setting crowds at Sporting Park during this year's tournament.
Today -- 19 days until the Sept. 30 final at PPL Park -- we turn our attention to the opponent's most well-known supporters group: the Sons of Ben.
19 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE SONS OF BEN
- Ben = Philadelphia icon Ben Franklin, whose political cartoons once featured a version of the rattlesnake now seen on the Union crest.
- The group was founded in January 2007, more than a year before the Union were awarded a MLS team in February 2008 and long before the Union's first game in March 2010. In the interim, the Sons of Ben could be seen attending numerous soccer matches and events, including Philadelphia Kixx and New York Red Bulls home matches, as well as MLS Cup 2007 at RFK Stadium. They further introduced themselves to MLS fans when the 2010 MLS SuperDraft was held in their hometown.
- The group's official motto is Ad Finem Fidelis, meaning faithful until the end in Latin. The Philadelphia Union's secondary logo also features a Latin motto, "Jungite aut Perite" which translates to "Join or Die."
- The Sons of Ben have inspired a "Sons of Jeffrey" student section for Penn State soccer matches, and once helped organize the "Daughters of Betsy" for the Philadelphia Independence of the Women's Professional Soccer League from 2010-11.
- The River End, on the banks of the Delaware River, is home to 2,000 seats for the Sons of Ben and players enter/exit the field through a tunnel in the middle of the section.
- Of the nine goals that Sporting Kansas City has scored at PPL Park across all competitions, only two have come directly in front of the Sons of Ben: Graham Zusi’s strike in a 3-1 win during the 2013 season opener and Dom Dwyer’s penalty kick during a 2-1 loss in October 2014.
- On a related note, Zusi once took out the Sons of Ben drum with an errant shot in 2013 (gif).
- The Sons of Ben, and their role in bringing Major League Soccer to Philadelphia, was featured on the debut episode of MLS Insider in June 2013.
- In addition, the "Sons of Ben" full-length documentary premiered this summer and is available to order on DVD.
- Like Brisket Bob, the Sons of Ben masterminded "The Chester Chainsaw" to mock Timber Joey and the Portland Timbers earlier this year.
- Not to be confused with the supporters group, Sons of Ben is also the name of a British recording duo with a debut album coming out this month as well as a literary group.
- Each year, the Sons of Ben form a team to play the Philadelphia Union's front office. The fifth annual River Cup will be held next Saturday to benefit the Philadelphia Union Foundation.
- The group frequently contributes to charitable and philanthrophic causes. This week, they provided free lunches for teachers in the Chester-Upland school district.
- When officiating decisions didn't go the Union's way in the opening two weeks of the 2015 season, the Sons of Ben wrote a strongly-worded letter to MLS executives.
- Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia launched a Sons of Ben: Rowdy Style Ale last year.
- You may recall the hitchhiking robot who was vandalized in Philadelphia last month. His successor, Pope Bot, is traversing across the city "to show everyone that Philadelphians are kind, gentle and ready for Pope Francis' visit" later this month. He joined the Sons of Bens at the team's last home match.
- Sporting KC supporters have, to date, bought more tickets for the U.S. Open Cup Final at PPL Park than the total number of tickets purchased in The River End, according to the Sons of Ben president (shown celebrating the Union's semifinal victory in this video).
- Speaking of away fans, the Sons of Ben were more than 600 strong at Red Bull Arena for this year's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal -- which was played at 4 p.m. local time on a Tuesday due to an ICC match between Paris Saint-Germain and ACF Fiorentina later that night.
- Doop. That's the tune, embedded below, sung by the Sons of Ben after every Union goal.