Photo: Earl Gardner
As a lot of you probably saw on Wednesday night, a few players from the Independence made their way down to the Union game against Everton. In fact, Lianne Sanderson probably should have suited up for the Toffees, but that’s a different story.
Tasha Kai and Val Henderson were there, banging the drum in the River End. Sanderson and Joanna Lohman were there, taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. And Jen Buczkowski and Danesha Adams were there, just hanging out and enjoying the game.
I was lucky enough to sit and chat with Henderson, Lohman, and Sanderson for a while during the second half. Tasha Kai joined us for a few minutes in the seats, before running back to the River End, where you could tell she was having a ton of fun.
We were following the Western New York – magicJack (can’t believe I just wrote that as the name of a professional soccer team) game on my cell phone. The players were excited to hear that the announced attendance was over 15,ooo for magicJack player-coach Abby Wambach’s homecoming in Rochester, New York. More notably, they were a bit disappointed to hear the final score with WNY winning 3-1. New York closed the gap with the table-topping Independence to just one point with the win.
An extra treat of getting to sit with the girls for a little while, though, was talking to Liz Manning, organizer of the the Cheesesteak Supporters Club, the Independence’s official supporters group. She told me stories of winning a contest at an away game against Sky Blue FC, where she was photographed for the Sky Blue website wearing a giant cheesesteak hat on her head. And another story of almost getting her cowbell taken away by a security guard in Chicago after some good natured taunting of some Chicago fans last year following the Blackhawks victory over the Flyers in the Stanley Cup.
After the final whistle sounded and the crowd started to shuffle out of PPL Park, a middle aged man yelled down from a few rows above us to Val Henderson. “Val, We’ve seen you play a few times…You should have been with the team in Germany.” Val smiled politely and thanked the man and invited him to come see the Independence’s next home against Atlanta next weekend. He smiled and responded that he would be there for the playoffs.
Walking out into the concourse, Union fans questioned if Sanderson and Lohman were actually Independence players (they were wearing their jerseys). They were excited to find out the answer was yes. A man had his young son pose with Sanderson, Lohman and Henderson for a photo. Sanderson thanked the man for his support and surprised him with two tickets to the Atlanta game. The man walked away happy and said he would be there.
It was great to see the Independence players getting some rock star treatment because they more than deserve it.