By Michael Bennett

The woeful Philly Union open their season tonight against the New England Revolution, and while the team has been a failure on the field, the New York Times has given some notice to their most loyal fans:

Even studiedly provocative groups like Philadelphia’s long-suffering Sons of Ben, known for their occasional contempt for their team’s management but also for a “No one likes us, we don’t care” chant borrowed from the infamously hostile supporters of the London club Millwall, regularly show a softer side. The group maintains a philanthropy tab on its website that charts, among other initiatives, money and goods raised in an annual community food drive for the residents of Chester, Pa., which is home to the Union’s stadium.

Corey Furlan, one of the Sons of Ben founders, said of the apparent paradox: “Look, we’re Philadelphia sports fans — loud, obnoxious, whatever — but the type of people who care deeply about our team also give their energy, care and passion in other aspects of their life. We didn’t just want to drop into Chester for 17 home games a year. We wanted to put down roots.

“I mean, players and coaches come and go, but we’re the people who are going to be here forever.”