The Sons of Ben (SoB) is an independent fan club for the Philadelphia Major League Soccer (MLS) team. The Sons of Ben group was created in January 2007 by soccer fans from Philadelphia and its greater metropolitan area, using such existing MLS fan clubs as the Screaming Eagles, Empire Supporters Club, La Barra Brava, Texian Army, and Section 8 Chicago as models. The name of the club alludes to Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States and a particularly iconic figure of Philadelphia.
Bryan James, Andrew Dillon, and Dave Flagler founded the Sons of Ben supporters club on January 17, 2007, Benjamin Franklin's birthday. Philadelphia soccer fan, Ethan Gomberg, suggested the name. SoB is the first Philly MLS supporters club. The club uses the colors blue and gold, from Philadelphia's city flag, but may assume the official team colors when they are announced.
The Sons of Ben began during a flurry of rumors regarding Major League Soccer's negotiations with investors regarding a team located in the Philadelphia region. The group has more than 2,500 members and ran a season ticket drive, attracting 2,800 requests. Both state and county governments have agreed to partially fund the Rivertown project along the banks of the Delaware River in Chester, Pennsylvania. This mixed-use development will be anchored by a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium (Chester Stadium) just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge. On February 28, 2008, Philadelphia was confirmed to be the league's 16th team, meaning that their initial goal has been accomplished. The Sons of Ben refocused their efforts on the most important mission of any supporters club: supporting the local team. The team will begin play in 2010.
At the "Meet the Owners" event held two days before the official MLS press conference in Chester, the Sons of Ben wore nametags with handwritten numbers intended to read 2010
. The number was mistakenly interpreted as "ZOLO" by team co-owner Nick Sakiewicz. This led to the Philadelphia MLS team being referred to as the "Zolos" in a series of inside jokes by the group. The Philadelphia MLS team's ownership group, Keystone Sports & Entertainment LLC, designed a specific entrance and a 2,000-seat section of Chester Stadium for the Sons of Ben in recognition of their loyalty.