The Philadelphia supporters’ group the Sons of Ben have over two thousand members and their team won’t start play for two more years. Those following MLS closely have read a lot about them in recent times, as a year ago they had thirty-odd members and no team at all, playing an important part in giving Philly the buzz needed to win that sixteenth MLS franchise.
Steven Wells has been on this beat for a long time, but his cover story in the Philadelphia Weekly provides the definitive look at the SOB and perhaps more importantly, explains why they and supporters’ culture in general matters for American soccer. And no, I’m not linking it only because Steven quotes me on the topic; it’s really essential reading.
Staring eyes, shit-eating grins, blue-and-yellow Philadelphia scarves wrapped across their bouncing shoulders. They pogo up and down, yelling “Sons of Ben! Dee be de de!” while doing a crazy little two-step and trying not to spill their pints.
The chant—a mutation of the “Ma Nah Ma Nah” song popularized by the Muppets—is only about a week old.
These guys are Philly soccer fans, and they’re kinda making it up as they go along.
Meet the Zolos—the crazy fans of Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-named American soccer club. They’re better known as the Sons of Ben (SOB). They’ve got a club crest, flags, a Latin motto, a customized bass drum, six different scarf designs, thongs, mousepads, aprons and mugs. Lord knows how many songs and chants, and—at last count—2,010 members. (Hence Zolos. Get it?)
Read the rest here.