Homeward bound: Wenger, Union to play at the Clip

By on July 22, 2015
Andrew Wenger, a Philadelphia Union midfielder, signs autographs for fans at Clipper Magazine Stadium last Wednesday. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Andrew Wenger, a Philadelphia Union midfielder, signs autographs for fans at Clipper Magazine Stadium last Wednesday. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Dave Collins, the voice of the Lancaster Barnstormers, last week described Warwick grad Andrew Wenger as one of the top five athletes that Lancaster County has ever produced.
For those who recall the Lititz native being selected No. 1 overall in the Major League Soccer draft in 2012 by the Montreal Impact, there might not be an argument.
It would make for a fun debate, anyway.
And Monday, Aug. 31 has all the makings of a fun time at Clipper Magazine Stadium, as Wenger will put his considerable talents on display when he and his Philadelphia Union teammates play a friendly against Harrisburg’s City Islanders at 7 p.m.
“This county certainly has produced exceptional athletes,” Collins said during a press conference last Wednesday, July 15. “We’ve seen many of them take the field here at Clipper Magazine Stadium as baseball players, but we’re going to see one take the field here in a soccer uniform.”
With the Union in the middle of a playoff chase &tstr; they currently trail Orlando City SC by just two points for the Eastern Conference’s final spot &tstr; Wenger and Co. certainly have a lot of work ahead of them before traveling to Lancaster.
But the former Warrior star is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I’m excited for it, especially because it’s so close to home,” Wenger said.
Some might even call it right in the backyard. Andrew’s parents, Jim and Kathy Jo, have a different perspective, however.
“Having traveled to Montreal to see him play, we actually consider PPL Park, Chester (the Union’s home field) a backyard venue,” Jim said. “I guess Clipper Stadium would be considered our front yard?”
Regardless, getting to the Clip on Aug. 31 will certainly be a shorter drive for the Wengers, who also keep busy following the soccer careers of their son, Jonathan, a redshirt junior defender at Elon University (N.C.), and daughter, Elizabeth, a sophomore defender at Georgetown University.
“We try not to miss any games,” Jim said, “so it will be nice to travel a bit less to see this one. It will be nice for many who follow his career to be able to see him play close to home.”
Despite the fact that many family and friends will surely be in attendance, Wenger downplayed the notion of having any extra nerves.
“It will be just like any other game,” he said. “It’s still a game at the end of the day. My parents (Jim and Kathy Jo) come to the games in Philadelphia all the time, so it won’t be much different … I think everyone on the team will come out and try to put on a good performance and a good show, in a sense. It will just be an exciting and fun night.”
It won’t be the first time that Wenger has played soccer in a baseball stadium. In April, the Union played in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., battling NYCFC to a 1-1 draw.
“It’s a little different because your sight lines are a little bit different,” Wenger said, “but it won’t be too big of an issue.”
His sight line was a good one while scoring his first goal of the season on July 11 in a 3-0 shutout of the Portland Timbers. His tally in the 70th minute opened the floodgates for the Union en route to their sixth win of the season.
“We were happy with the performance,” said Wenger, who also has two assists and eight shots on goal this year. “The idea now is just not to get too high or too low and move forward. We have a tough game in Toronto this weekend (a 2-1 loss last Saturday), and we’re playing in a new stadium in Toronto, they just expanded it, but the game’s about us at this point. We played well the last game so we’re just trying to keep the momentum going.”
After a lot of near-misses this season, Wenger’s goal came in his 18th start of the year.
“It’s always a little frustrating,” he said of the long wait, “but you stay focused and you keep moving forward and keep working.”
His focus right now is on D.C. United, who the Union will face this Sunday at 5 p.m. at RFK Stadium. But their match against the City Islanders at the Clip is just around the corner.
Wenger still recalls watching from the Clipper Magazine Stadium seats in 2009 as the City Islanders took on Crystal Palace in an exhibition.
“This is a great stadium here,” he said. “It was a great event, and hopefully we can replicate that.”

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