The Away End | Philadelphia Union with John Zapata

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New York City Football Club face off against Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. 

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to John Zapata, founder of the DOOP By The River Podcast.

Hi John, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering Philadelphia Union? What has been your highlight in that time?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity! 2019 was the year I decided to cover The Blue and Gold. It was the perfect storm.

The moment I decided to go all in on DOOP coverage, it was the beginning of witnessing the best moments in Philly Soccer history!

The highlight has to be a lowlight for many in DOOP Nation, but you have to go with MLS Cup Final last season.

When you consider where the club was 5-10 years ago, ridiculed by many in a sports-crazed US city, with not much winning, it made us not the most popular… MLS Cup final culminated in a stamp of approval at the end of the day to the MLS, to the world, and more importantly to Philadelphia! It’s a moment of pride.

What are your thoughts on the team’s start to the season?

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a disappointment so far. Considering where we left off last year, expectations have been higher than ever. Getting bounced in CCL (to LAFC again) and US Open Cup, topped with a rough start to league play, put a sour taste in a lot of mouths… 

What are your hopes for the 2023 season?

With that being said, it doesn’t mean that it will be a disappointing season. Plenty of Soccer left... the track record of this team speaks for itself, and don’t look now, but they are starting to catch some steam.

They sit 5th in the East table leading up to Saturday’s matchup. Hopes have to be high again - MLS Cup or bust at this point… 

What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?

The key as almost every week is the “Big 3” of The Union up top: Uhre-Gazdag-Carranza. When those guys are on, it’s hard to stop this stout defensive team. We saw how important that was last week against New England.

And for any fans that might be in Philly for a game in the near future, are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?

Obviously Philly is another great food and drink city, so there’s a great bar and restaurant in every corner. Great underrated spot to understand the beauty of our city would be Sunset Social - the beautiful skyline, as the sun sets, while drinking a cold beverage of your choice!

Within city confines, if you’re looking for good cheesesteaks, I recommend: Sonny’s, Philip's, Tony and Nicks, or John’s Roast Pork. Of course, all of the tourist sights and sounds are in old city.

I give fair warning: stay away from The Rocky statue if you want to win, as it has been notorious to bring bad luck to away teams! Ask Alianza, Vikings, Niners, and the list goes on!

Best of luck to NYCFC... Let the rivalry continue!

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