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Fans’ view: Real life doesn’t come with Ctrl+Z

Photo: Earl Gardner

The truism is that “Good teams win bad games.” This does not preclude bad or, to be fair, middling teams from occasionally winning bad games. I was surprised and pleased by Sunday’s win, but I still fear the Union are closer to that second sentence than the first.

They played a poor half against as good team in Week One and lost. They played a below average game against a below average team in Week Two and won. That is the luck of a drunk guy falling down the steps and not getting seriously injured rather than the luck that follows talent and hard work.

I’m not writing it off entirely. Road points are road points; and playing chins up and countering is a marked improvement upon the complete collapse after conceding in the opener. It just doesn’t convince me that the team is out of the depths of last year.

Another, too common, saying is that old classic, “Mistakes were made.”

They’re the weasel words trotted out during public shame-sessions where some person or entity needs to acknowledge some horrid thing without talking full ownership of it.

We are looking at a team where mistakes were made. Well, we’re looking at the aftermath anyway. The wacky adventure that was Nick and Novak’s Infinite Trade List dug us a right tight little hole way deeper than could be imagined and, the truth is, there is no quick or easy way out. Real life doesn’t come with Ctrl-Z (Ah! Ah! He said it! He said it!)

Until the Adu money is off the books, until our first round picks run onto the pitch in the starting XI instead of running to the airport for the red eye out of town, until MacMath grows into the big boy pants Mondragon left for him in the locker room (they seem seem awfully roomy in the crotch), and until the team can create an actual identity, it will not be undone.

Think about the Union. We love them. I love them. But, who are they? What defines them?

To date, we love them because they exist. We “love the one we’re with,” but they’re featureless. We project onto them the image we want to see and, in return, they sell us ourselves. We are both consumer and product.

The Sons of Ben are defined. They have a collective personality and character. They are loud. They are bold. They are real in their own right.

The team they follow is so ill defined that it advertises the SoB as much, or more, than they do the team itself. When they ask, “What do you stand for” it’s not just a slogan. They really want to know so they can co-opt it. They are begging to be told what to do or who to be.

Are they a possession team? A hard-nosed defense-first team? Route One? Nope. They are a team so devoid of character that 87 percent of recent conversation has been dominated by chicken.

Even the damn chicken has more character. Chick-Fil-A. They make tasty chicken and hate on the gays. See. Loathsome, but defined.

Mistakes were made. They will take time to unmake. There will be teases of potential and, probably, many more bad games won and bad games lost.

I think they’ll get there. Step one is figuring out who they want to be.



  1. Chicken Sale at Dirty Bird’s

  2. Nice piece, too true. Hopefully, they “find” themselves before the season is over.

  3. The Black Hand says:

    Nice work.

  4. Here’s their story sad but true…..

  5. Josh for da U says:

    I agree, I miss the days of the U being known for defense and having Califf throwing bows (1 season) even though it was frustrating not scoring goals at that point.
    “To date, we love them because they exist. We “love the one we’re with,” but they’re featureless. We project onto them the image we want to see and, in return, they sell us ourselves. We are both consumer and product.”
    Exactly how i’ve felt last season and so far this season but couldnt express in my own words. Cause theres no way im not love drunk over MY team,through the good and bad.
    Im hoping Okugo is our savior. All we need is that spark of emotion, that same emotion we show as fans, to be out on the field.
    Im glad the season is young and we are hopefully going to have that identity back soon, whatever it may be

  6. JediLos117 says:

    I dont get pieces like this. Do teams need identity? Does every team have one? Or do their identities change depending on their opponent?
    Look at Real Madrid. They are a quick striking, fast, can score at will and technical…until they play Barca then they become a wait, park the bus and counterattacking team.
    This is the thing about Union fans. We all know what this team is about and we all get it. The issue is we dont like it and we want better.
    The Philadelphia Union is a young inexperienced team filled with known, unknown, unfulfilled but assumed potential being built for the future.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I think the trouble is, we have no idea what the Union is about. We hear, from our manager, that the club is focusing on playing a more possession/passing oriented game. Come match day, we see the opposite. I think that we all know that the club has a lot of work to do. The problem I have is with the fact that I don’t see us making any progress, towards becoming the club that Hack is telling me they are working towards. My fear is that we don’t have a manager capable of developing his “vision” into a product on the pitch. My FEAR is that our true ‘identity’ is that of a poor club, who will continue to be poor. I think a lot of fans, myself included, are finding this unacceptable. There has to be some sort of progress to build upon.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Again our true identity is of a young inexperienced team. All aspects of our beloved club. The front office, the coach and players are mostly inexperienced…even our supporter groups…and ultimately yes an inexperienced team will be a poor club…until they gain experience or an experienced piece or two…
        In the end, weathering tough years are what make us true fans…I love my shitty team,DOOP!

      • The Black Hand says:

        I want to see my team progress

      • And an inexperienced coach. What worries me is that Hack has never successfully shaped youth players into stars. All he was in the past was a youth coach. He is experimenting with I’d say only a 50% chance of success. Rather would like to see an experienced manager who has had success elsewhere and has been hired because of that.

    • Los I’m with you in a way. But what annoys me is all the talk about being a possession team and everything that goes along with it. If you could see that’s what they were trying to do but were just inexperienced or bad at it, but were trying none the less I could deal with it, but it seams all to often they just look lost. I had low expectations for this year, new coach and young team and all, but at least show me you’ve been on the pitch before, how many times did they clear the ball right to Colorado last week, and I don’t mean 50 yards down the field to them, I mean they hit the opposing player 10 yards from them in trying to clear the ball with time to pick there head up and pass it, where’s the possession in that?

      • JediLos117 says:

        We can’t minimize just how difficult it is to play in Colorado at altitude. Im happy we played there early in the season and not mid to late summer.
        I will be concerned if 34% possession becomes the norm.
        I think were gonna see a great deal of more possession against New England. I just hope that possessio translates to 3 points…as greater possession doesn’t gaurantee victory.

  7. Several of those first round draft picks are seeing plenty of playing time. Jack, Amobi, and Zac were all first rounders for the Union.

  8. Interesting read. I think you can say the same thing about Portland as far as being defined by their fans.

  9. In my eyes, the U is the definition of a scrappy team where the emphasis is on ball-winning and hustling NOT skill and positioning. This seems to be what the fans value and it’s a workable strategy, so maybe it’s a good fit.

  10. Chris Rudderow says:

    Very similar.. Another spot where the main product is providing a venue where fans pay to hang out with one another…

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