There’s a new team playing at Franklin Field, but it's been around for a while.
The Philadelphia Fury is a professional soccer team that competes in the newly founded National Independent Soccer Association. The Fury as they appear today have been around since 2011, but their history is more rich than that suggests.
The original Philadelphia Fury was an expansion team in the famed North American Soccer League back in 1978. One of their initial investors was Mick Jagger. They featured some decorated players, including Peter Osgood, who played most of his professional career with English side Chelsea and was even a part of the English national team. The Fury also featured Alan Ball, who played for Premier League clubs Arsenal and Everton. In the years following, however, attendance dropped and the Philadelphia Fury were no more — until 2011.
Since 2011, the Fury have bounced around American soccer leagues, struggling to find a permanent home or a permanent stadium in which to play. With the emergence of the NISA and the opportunity to play at Franklin Field, however, they seem to have found both.
“Right now, we’re the only professional [soccer] team that’s playing inside the [Philadelphia] city limits,” co-captain Connor Hurff said. “The fact that [Franklin Field is] historic just puts a lot more incentive for us to continue our history.”
The Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer play in Talen Energy Stadium, located in Chester, Pa. The Fury are proud of their Philadelphia roots.
“Starting today, American professional soccer returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 1980,” Steve Holroyd, the director of the Society for American Soccer History, said.
The United States soccer league system has three professional divisions. In the first division is the MLS, which is the most popular and largest American soccer league. The second division consists of the United Soccer League Championship. The NISA, where the Fury reside, is in the third division, along with a second USL league: USL League One. A third league, USL League Two, is not considered a professional league by US Soccer.
Just because the Fury are in the third tier of American soccer doesn’t mean they are lacking in talent. Striker Sidney Rivera was drafted to the MLS in 2015 and currently represents the Puerto Rican National Team. Attacking midfielder Cristhian Hernández played for the Philadelphia Union for three years. These athletes have talent, and playing for the Fury allows for more creativity.
“A lot of us were shut down for our style of play, trying to be creative like I was. This platform not only gives us a chance to play, but be creative in the process,” Hurff said. “We have a really fun team. We’re going to be really fun to watch.”
Allowing this creativity are Cris Vaccaro and Matt Driver, who are the coach and CEO of the Fury, respectively. Vaccaro is a retired goalkeeper who played for a variety of American professional soccer leagues, as well as internationally for Puerto Rico. Driver was previously the assistant coach for the New England Revolution in the MLS.
“Cris and I have always been dedicated to the development of American soccer players,” Driver said. “These lads can entertain and excite, both on and off the field.”
The first opportunity to watch the Fury in action will be on Sept. 7 at Franklin Field against Stumptown Athletic.