LOS ANGELES — Philadelphia sports fans came up empty the last time two teams from the City of Brotherly Love competed for a title at the same time. Andre Blake and the Philadelphia Union are hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.
The Union will be participating in their first MLS Cup final on Saturday afternoon at Los Angeles Football Club. Later that day, the Phillies will try to stay alive in the World Series and force a deciding game when they face the Houston Astros in Game 6.
“It’s really going well in Philadelphia right now,” goalkeeper Blake said. “There’s also pressure, but we have to deal with that. It’s a great time to be part of Philly sport, and yeah, we’re in a good spot. Hopefully we can really bring it over the line.”
It will be first time since 1980 that two Philly teams are making concurrent title runs. The Flyers lost to the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup finals and the 76ers fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals that year. Both series went six games.
The Union do not get the benefit of a series. The MLS Cup is winner-take-all.
While the Phillies went on an improbable postseason run to their first World Series since 2009, the Union have been steadily building toward their title shot. They won the Supporters Shield as the top team in the regular season in 2020 and advanced to the Eastern Conference final last year before losing to eventual MLS Cup champion New York City FC.
Philadelphia led the league in goals during the regular season with 72 and conceded a league-low 26.
“Over the course of the last four or five years, we’ve shown a level of consistency that perhaps Philly doesn’t really get that recognition, like a lot of folks maybe don’t think that. When you look at total points amassed over those years, we’re at the top,” midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said.
With the Eagles off to an 8-0 start for the first time in franchise history after their 29-17 victory over the Houston Texans Thursday night, midfielder Dániel Gazdag said it has been different competing for attention with different sports, but exciting.
“We are really excited that we have the Eagles and the Phillies who are doing great this season, and we support them and are rooting for them. I hope they can win it, as well, and obviously us,” he said.
This will be the fifth time teams from Philadelphia and Los Angeles have met with a professional sports title on the line. The other four times were in the NBA with the Lakers holding a 3-1 advantage.
LAFC midfielder Kellyn Acosta is hoping to add another championship for the City of Angels.
“I’m a Cowboys fan, so I don’t like the Eagles. I know that they’re undefeated, but shout-out to the Eagles, I guess,” he said. “The Phillies are in the World Series, so congratulations. And yeah, we’re playing against the Union. But yeah, we’re here in LA, LA is home, and we’re hoping to have a good result on the weekend.”