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Philadelphia Independence keeper Val Henderson gives a behind-the-scenes take of everyday life with the WPS expansion club. In the latest installment, Val talks about the meaning behind the club's other nickname.

If you’re a Philadelphia Women’s Professional Soccer supporter, then you’ve figured out by now that we are the Cheesesteaks (the mighty, mighty Cheesesteaks). Yes, we rep the Independence logo, and that’s our official name, but among friends and family, we’re known as the Cheesesteaks.

Somewhere in the inception of our team, we chose this title. Building our own foundation from scratch, we decided it would take more than just “Independence” to get us to the top. And what can be more inspiring than a Cheesesteak? Yeah, it’s a little different, but different special (the good kind of special).

The cheesesteak has many meanings. For one, it’s flair. We’ve got to be the only professional Cheesesteaks in history. So we’re unique. Our name lies in the culture of our city and the enjoyment of its inhabitants.

Also, it stands for “meat and potatoes,” the hard work behind our team. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “bread and butter.” Finishing has to be a forward’s bread and butter, while precision in passing is the midfielder’s. It’s their livelihood. But without the work, the meat and potatoes, there can be no fine finishing or nice passing. There can be no life to a team. So it all comes down to our work, our ability to be steaks.

Last weekend we were more cheese-cakes than cheese-steaks. We showed up in New Jersey without our meat and potatoes mentality. It was as if we’d lost our mojo. I’m not going to blame the Krzysik family, but their polish sausages may have deterred us from our steak-ness. That or the hour and a half lightning delay 15 minutes into the game. But part of being steaks is not allowing ourselves to be deterred. Keeping our focus under duress. When we don’t do that, we don’t deserve to be the cheesesteaks.

So this week we have to earn back our title. At the beginning of the week we were cakes, but we’re shaping up. Blue collar is our way (check it out on our yellow jerseys). We’re the team that will outwork you, the team that will do double days all season, the team that’s going to know we put in the work and can be confident in our preparation come game time.

And once that meat and potatoes is in order we’ll deliver the bread and butter. It’s when we’re all working for each other that we make magic, when the work doesn’t look like work, it just looks like great soccer.

So this Sunday, at our last regular season home game, please get your Philly fill. Cheer on the Cheesesteaks, because we plan to be in full force.


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