The United States Soccer Team will play a quarterfinal match in Philadelphia this weekend in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Philadelphia Union will play their inaugural season next Spring in the MLS.
The tournament will feature two games this weekend. The first is Canada vs. Honduras, while the second game features Panama vs. the up-and-coming United States. The fan base that turns out for the game could give a hint to the the MLS's future in Philadelphia.
The two quarterfinal matches will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The field or pitch is a yard or two short of a regulation soccer field, but FIFA approved the field. The Union will play in a soccer-specific stadium that is being constructed and was not able to be ready in time for these games.
The games are being played in Philadelphia to test the market, and a large turnout could very well mean a very good future for the Union. The Union already have a huge fan base, which is nicknamed the Sons of Ben, and have 2,000 active season ticket holders at the very least.
There are 18,500 seats planned for the soccer stadium in Chester, a suburb of Philadelphia. To be a successful franchise they will need to sell 15,000 tickets a game at least.
Now Lincoln Financial Field holds slightly more people at 68,532. Of course there will be away fans from Panama, but about 20,000 tickets have already been sold. I believe if 50,000 people show up on Saturday the future will look bright for soccer in Philadelphia.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup proved that the U.S. was able to have a professional soccer league. Let's hope that the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup can prove to the MLS that Philadelphia is a soccer hot bed.