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MLS Expansion To Include Philly (er, Chester?)

What is more delicious than the perfect cheesesteak? Well, if you are from the Keystone State, perhaps a report that indicates MLS will award its sixteenth franchise to the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this afternoon.

Well, not quite actually. The league will actually select Chester, Pennsylvania as the site of an expansion franchise to begin play in 2010.

Located twenty miles outside central Philadelphia, Chester had been a dying city until a few years ago. However, a recent economic boom (fueled by everyone’s favorite family-friendly way to raise tax revenue: legal gaming!) and a pledge by both the county and the state to put up significant amounts of dough (a combined $77 million buys alot of hoagie rolls) created the perfect scenario for Chester to be selected as the site of Philly’s soccer specific stadium.

Another thing helping Chester (er, Philly) procure a team was the grassroots campaign of the Sons of Ben, a supporters group founded in January 2007. The Sons of Ben, or S.O.B.s (get it?), held a ticket drive and several events to show MLS that Philly not only could support a franchise, but could do so with a frenzy of devotion. After showing up and causing a notable ruckus at the SuperDraft (a la insufferable NFL fans), the S.O.B.s were thrilled when MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated that it was not “if” Philly would get a team, but “when”.

So, in a nutshell, MLS is not (really) expanding to a city with only 36,000 or so residents, its just building a stadium there. The City of Chester, once known as a key naval shipyard for the Union during the Civil War, will now be known for gambling and soccer (not a good combination, right Italian soccer fans?) and not much else. Well, some claim that it is also the birthplace of the hoagie sandwhich. Writing this post is making me hungry. Too many hoagie and cheesesteak references…

Speaking of which, this new-fangled team will need a name (and some players, but a name first), and the Cheesesteaks won’t cut it (though Cheesesteak Soccer Club or CSSC would be cool).

Early blog discussion indicates that many local fans like traditional club names such as Philadelphia FC. However, as the league already features FC Dallas and Toronto FC, I would be surprised if a third club used a similar moniker.

Other names that have gained repeated mentions: the Philadelphia Athletics (or A’s for short). The MLB team based in Oakland originally played in Philly, and thus the name has historic value, as well as a connection to soccer tradition (one of the most famous Spanish clubs is Atletico, and many international squads are part of larger athletic clubs). Thus, Philadelphia AC (as in Athletic Club) has also been often cited with approval by fans.

My guess is though that the team will opt for a name more in line with the American tradition of naming our squads after animals, natural disasters, or whatever other strange shit some idiot can come up with. No offense to America (or Americans for that matter) but isn’t it kind of foolish how we try to name our teams after fuzzy things, intangible ideals or scaaaaaary stuff? (i.e., the Mighty Ducks… oh wait, Emilio Estevez’s career is kind of frightening sometimes…)

Thus, I am sure we will end up with the Philadelphia Liberty or Philadelphia Independence or Freedom or some other patriotic moniker that is better suited for a JV Girls powerpuff team than it is a professional soccer club (or PSC… hey Philadelphia PSC isn’t bad…). If the ownership goes down that route, I say go for the Philadelphia Franklins. It honors the City’s most famous resident while making me think about $100 bills and “making it rain.” Methinks I have been hanging out with Pac Man Jones too much.

So, in closing, here are a few names I think the city should take and run (up the stairs of the art museum) with! (hey, I did manage to get a Rocky reference in this somehow…)

Philadelphia Athletics (or AC)

Philadelphia Brotherhood FC (it is the City of Brotherly Love, after all)

Philadephia Union FC (in honor of the City’s role in the American Civil War)

Finally, in pure jest (and with hatred from and for Eagles and Phillies fans), I suggest the Pennsylvania Wilford Brimleys. After all, he has been talking up the Keystone State for years (or at least its products like Liberty Mutual Insurance and Quaker Oatmeal, anyways). Plus, he kind of looks like Ben Franklin. Well, like a Ben Franklin who never ages, still can’t pronounce “diabetes” correctly, and shits himself when someone criticizes Steve Guttenberg.

Owners, I don’t really care what you name your new toy. But for fans’ sake, I suggest you name the team anything but the Chester Cheetahs, please… (well, I suppose the Chester Molesters could be worse).