Union fans mourn death of original supporter

[OBITUARY] Major League Soccer is not yet so big that the death of a fan is not felt around the league. Expressions of sympathy have come pouring in to the family and friends of Philadelphia Union supporter Eric Shertz, who died in his sleep on Sunday.

More so than at just about any other MLS club, the Union's launch was inspired by its supporters' group, Sons of Ben.

Shertz, 38, was an original Union ticket-holder and traveled to its first MLS game, at Seattle, in 2010.

Like at many clubs, offshoots have formed. Shertz was a member of the Bearfight Brigade. And like so many supporters, Shertz was more than just a fan. He helped found Bearfight FC -- the Bearfight Brigade's own soccer club that has 100 members and is based in Wilmington, Del. It is completing its first season in Pennsylvania's Inter-County Soccer League.

“I have spoken with the team and I can tell you everyone from [CEO] Nick Sakiewicz down has reached out to us,” Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson told MLSsoccer.com. “Many of these people knew who he was and interacted with him. The feeling in the Philadelphia Union front office is a bit somber as well. Everyone that met him thought he was a great guy, a great fan and a great father.”

Shertz's funeral will be held at Hicks Home for Funerals in Elkton, Md., on Friday (viewing: 10 a.m.-1 p.m./service and burial: 1 p.m.). Click here for information on making donations for the family.

A wake will be at Stoney's British Pub in Wilmington on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Shertz is survived by his son Gabe who attended many games with him, his mother, father and step-mother and two brothers.

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