Fan Culture

Let’s go shopping!

Holiday shopping. Whether you’re the kind a shopping pro that began planning this year’s holiday gift purchases sometime between last Christmas and the New Year, or the kind that wakes up anxious the morning after Thanksgiving already feeling behind, or simply the kind that puts his head down and bravely soldiers through the holiday shopping season with grim determination, a little help is always welcome.

If you’re shopping for that special Philadelphia Union fan, read on, for help has arrived. So, put on your Philadelphia Union Go Nuts Kukui Nut Bracelet ($15.93) for “good luck, enlightenment, and protection,” strap on your custom Philadelphia Union Sambas from mi adidas ($90), make sure your Philadelphia Union specialty license plate ($50) is protected inside its Philadelphia Union metal license plate frame ($19.17), and let’s get shopping.

Customize it!

Customized!

Or you can simply shop from home on your computer as you glide your mouse across this nifty Philadelphia Union mouse pad ($11.95) or with another device of your preference, safely encased with one of several skins from Skinit (from $14.99), of course. It’s up to you, really.

Buy local

There are several local retailers where you’re sure to find a gift for that special Union fan. Angelo’s Soccer Corner has locations in Huntingdon Valley, Berwyn, Lancaster, and Harrisburg where you can find plenty of gifts for use on and off the pitch, from boots and balls to replica jerseys for both adults and kids. And, their online store has free shipping.

Angelo’s also runs the club shop at PPL Park for a more specifically Union-themed gift selection and fills orders made through the Union’s online store. With new home and away kits to be released in 2014, now’s a good time to find deals on Union jerseys. At the Union online store, you can buy a youth-sized replica jersey for only $32.95 and shipping is free! It’s surely a great deal because we all know your little dooper is growing out of that shirt in no time. And if you’re shopping for a little one, why not consider a Philadelphia Union Junior Supporters Club membership. Three membership packages were available in 2013 that ranged in price from $35 to $130 and included a rising scale of goodies and membership privileges. It’s the kind of holiday gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

Bark Tees has scores of Philly soccer-themed t-shirt designs to chose from and you can shop their selection online or at their shop in Westmont in New Jersey. A mix of humor and deep local knowledge informs their design philosophy. You can’t go wrong with classics like the deadbull shirt in navy or light blue ($19.99) or the Ben Franklin Doop shirt ($19.99). There are also soon to be classics like the Grateful Ben design, available as a t-shirt ($19.99) or as a hoodie ($34.99).

Live Breathe Futbol is a local brand where fashion meets football. They regularly launch new collections of designs such as the new Little Victories collection, which includes this striking Striker’s Crew sweater ($45). A personal favorite is the One Nation Under Futbol t-shirt ($25) from last summer’s Rebels collection. You can also check out LBF’s collections at the new Media FC shop in Media, Pa.

A Sons of Ben membership makes a great stocking stuffer at only $27 for the year and comes with a membership package that in the past has included things like scarfs, flags, and decals. You might also consider the gift of tickets for Help Kick Hunger charity event that will take place during the NSCAA convention in January. Tickets go on sale on Dec. 1 and you’ll save $10 from the cost at the door if you order before Dec. 31. You can put these and other stocking stuffers in this cool US Soccer embroidered Christmas stocking ($19.99).

Wrap it!

Wrapped!

Speaking of supporters groups and US Soccer, it’s probably safe to say that most Union supporters also support the US national teams. What better way for your special someone to combine supporting the US national teams and local pride than with a American Outlaws Philadelphia Chapter t-shirt ($19.99) or scarf ($25)?

The greatest gift of all for that special someone might be a 2014 season ticket. Full season ticket plans range in price from $324 for SoB members in the River End to $10,440 for a field-side table that seats four. The Union is including one 2014 parking pass for free with each season ticket account in honor of the team’s fifth season in MLS, so you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars in parking fees no matter what season ticket plan you choose.

And if that special someone is also a fan of the Philly Soccer Page, stop by our MLS Cup viewing party on Dec. 7 at The 700 in Northern Liberties for PSP t-shirts ($15), coffee mugs ($10), the elusive hand-screened Philadelphia soccer history Liberty Bell print on archival quality paper ($40), as well as 700 FC Doop gloves ($10). Up the Union!

Heritage

Soccer’s history in the Philadelphia area is among the oldest in the country and the runaway success of the Union’s Bethlehem Steel FC-inspired third kit design underscores just how much Union fans appreciate that history. While your chances of finding one of those BSFC-inspired kits is nigh on impossible (the shop on the MLS site says you can pre-order with earliest shipment expected in February but that might be left over from last year), there are still BSFC-inspired Union t-shirts out there for men ($17.99) and women ($21.99), and kids ($15.99). It might be worth a visit to the club store at PPL Park to see if more BSFC items are available.

Of course, other online companies have Bethlehem Steel inspired t-shirts, such as this fetching navy blue shirt from Bumpy Pitch ($30). Pothunting’s version ($16.95) references the Bethlehem’s 1919 crest and is available in short sleeve in charcoal or taupe and also in a black long sleeve version ($18.95).  Who Are Ya Designs keeps it simple with this t-shirt in navy blue ($19.95).

If that special someone likes to read about local soccer history as well as wear it, consider Roger Allaway’s history of the team, Corner Offices & Corner Kicks, available from Amazon from $22.46. And while we’re on the subject of reading, a subscription to the beautifully designed magazine The Howler ($50) is also a great option.

Atomized!

Atomized!

Other Philly soccer history inspired options include this awesome Philadelphia Atoms t-shirt (19.99) and this distinctive Philadelphia Fury t-shirt ($27.95) that comes with the logo pre-aged. The English company Toffs — think Mitchell & Ness for soccer — also has recreations of the Fury’s jersey from the 1970s (£34.99, or about $57) and 1980 (£39.99, or about $65). It’s a funny thing how ugly can become fashionable.

Some soccer fans’ idea of heritage ends somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. If your special someone is one of those Eurosnobs, take a look at the offerings from USA Soccer Guy. There are lots of t-shirts to choose from, such as the Soccer Gunners of London, the New Castle Soccer Skunks, the Totten Ham Soccer Chickens, and the Liver Duck Red Sox. They all come in at £15, which is about $25 in good old American money. Sadly, the Fred Perry’s Lighthouse shirt seems to be no longer available. Damn you registered trademark infringement!

USA pride

2014 is a World Cup year so you can’t do wrong with a little USA pride. A Centennial jersey ($84.99) makes a wonderful gift although you may be disappointed to learn that women’s jerseys don’t seem to be available for purchase. There are many USA t-shirt designs to choose from, such as this nicely retro officially licensed offering from US Soccer ($34.99) although, if your special someone is like me, you might might opt for this navy blue t-shirt ($24.99) so the tailgating stains won’t be so obvious, even if it doesn’t have the centennial crest.

Don’t forget the US Soccer Resin Gnome ornament set, a steal at $15.99.

Get collectible

Those with a deep wallet might consider this brilliant collection of five limited edition commemorative World Cup qualification posters, each of which is signed by the artist who designed it. At $799.99, you can tell that special someone the framing costs are on her.

Looking back to past World Cups, why not consider a 1994 World Cup Tournament Proof Half Dollar Commemorative coin ($14.95) complete with its original U.S. Mint box & certificate of authenticity? If the coin itself isn’t already cool enough, it was made at the Philadelphia Mint. Bumby Pitch even has a t-shirt ($30) that references the, shall we say, unique, denim inspired US kit worn during the 1994 World Cup.

Tonied!

Tonied!

You can find all kinds of Philadelphia soccer related collectables on ebay such as this groovy Philadelphia KiXX Pez dispenser ($34.99), which is still sealed in its original packaging complete with a packet of Pez candies. If you’re looking for affordable stocking stuffers, consider trading cards. With a quick online search you can find Union team sets from 2012 ($9.49) and 2013 ($3.99) and there are plenty of individual cards to choose from such as an Amobi Okugo rookie card ($1.99). There are also cards for now departed notables such as Michael Orozco Fiscal ($1.99) from 2011 when he wasn’t even on the team, Danny Califf ($1.99), Danny Mwanga ($1.99), Chris Seitz ($1.99), Gabe Farfan ($1.99), Alejandro Moreno ($1.99), Jordan Harvey ($1.99), Justin Mapp ($1.99), Shea Salinas ($1.99), Carlos Ruiz ($1.99), Faryd Mondragon ($6), Freddy Adu ($1.50) and, uh, Toni Stahl ($1.99).

Happy holidays

Whew, that’s a whole lot of shopping. And after all of that shopping it’s important to take a little time for yourself. So, why not kick back and enjoy an adult beverage of your choice in a 15 oz. Union tankard ($31.79 for a set of two) or shot glass ($12.99 for a set of two). After that you can lay your head down on your Union pillow case ($15.99) for some well earned rest and dreams of just who the Union may be shopping for to strengthen the team for the 2014 season.

Hopefully you didn’t forget to pick up a Union piggy bank ($24.99) for yourself. Christmas 2014 is right around the corner.

3 Comments

  1. Or you could pitch in for a DP.

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