Fans' View

Fans’ View: Where to next?

Photo: Daniel Studio

So that escalated quickly.

A promising stretch of soccer that delivered clean sheets and well-earned results gave way to a 120 minute struggle against USL side, Rochester Rhinos, and then complete implosion out west against the L.A. Galaxy. And the win over Seattle only reinforced that the Union roster appears tissue paper thin these days, due to an ongoing lineup of nagging injuries and players who haven’t quite lived up to expectations.

Where does this leave Union fans, now that we have arrived at the midway point of the season?

I regularly see suggestions to stop going to games – to hit the front office where it really counts. I understand the logic, but disagree.

First, I enjoy tailgating way too much for that. I also still enjoy going to the games (admittedly not as much as when we were a bit more competitive), and Union games at PPL Park are still a great night out with family or friends.

My other argument is that we are supporters, for better or for worse. Despite the continued frustration with our team’s front office management — which I wholeheartedly share — I also think we should invest time and energy into the players, who in reality suffer from that same lack of vision and direction up top. There are countless examples of Union players giving their time and energy towards fans, and an empty stadium environment is a poor way to return the favor.

If a financial statement is your outlet, why not stop with concessions and the team store? But my recommendation is to take advantage of outlets where you can have a voice, not to stay away altogether. Talk to a ticket rep, take advantage of team delivered fan surveys, the team’s Facebook page, Twitter (it’s hard to find a business that doesn’t respond quickly to customer service related issues on Twitter these days), or right here on PSP. I’m confident that, even with a scaled back marketing/PR/communications group, the Union do keep tabs on social media commentary and what’s said here on PSP.

With that said, here is one fan’s wish list for what I’d like to see during the second half of the season:

No BS, just progress

I really don’t want to hear that we’re only 2 points out of a playoff spot. That’s all smoke and mirrors due to an Eastern Conference with three or four good teams (no great ones), plus a slew of teams with games in hand. We’re not a playoff team this year. Fans will generally accept that if we see a semblance of a well thought out, deliberate plan being put in place, starting now, to get us there next year.

Cut the cord

Rais Mbolhi, despite his World Cup pedigree, just didn’t fit. Curtin was decisive in his removal from the team. Now it’s time to free up salary cap space and an international roster spot during the summer transfer window. I’ll also expect the Union to use the remaining months of the season to identify others unlikely to be here in 2016 and ensure we transition those minutes and spots in the 18 to players who will, or perhaps more importantly, to players who we’re not quite sure about yet. I love and respect players like Conor Casey and Fred, but giving them significant minutes at this point does nothing for the plan beyond this year.

Roster rotation

Riding the same set of 11 starters just isn’t the way to go now. Even if our depth falls off drastically after the 14th or 15th roster spot, mix things up. The rest of this season should be a great chemistry experiment to find combinations of players that work, and perhaps even alternate formations that we can deploy tactically. What do we have with Ayuk? McLaughlin? Blake? Give these guys a chance to shine and see what kind of hand we have going into next year.

No square pegs in round holes

Play players in the positions and roles where they have the best chance to succeed. Maidana needs to stay in the middle of the park. To get Pfeffer time, rotate the roster game to game enough to get him time at the No. 10 spot, and have him spell Nogueira a bit. Pushing Chaco or Pfeffer out to the wing doesn’t spell progress for the future, as that’s not where they best help a team. Same with the outside backs. Sheanon Williams adds much needed flank play on the attack for a team severely lacking in good flank play this year. Let him be dangerous on the right, and live with whatever inconsistency comes along with his talent over there. Ray Gaddis’ strength (1-v-1 defending) is a strength on either side. Keep him on the left flank, mixed with Fabinho depending on form, to get the most out of what we have available.

A plan

What kind of team do we want to be going forward? Who is the person to implement it? There has to be someone with player personnel experience, preferably MLS personnel experience, to lay out a framework and vision. Pieces must fit together. Use the remainder of this year to figure out what we want to be and figure out who fits that vision, and prepare to make tough decisions on some players who may not fit well.


Despite the standings, the league worst goals against and points-per-game statistics, show me that you care. We invest a lot of time, money, and emotion into this team. Make sure that’s returned. Regardless of results.

Chase the Cup

MLS cup dreams should be set aside. Sneaking into a 6th playoff spot should not be the goal any longer. A run through the US Open Cup, in my opinion, should take priority over league games now. With fewer games to focus on and competition who may well prioritize differently, the Cup is much more of a possibility than getting back into the playoff picture, given the hole we’re currently in and our relative lack of depth. Go all in for the Cup.

Honesty and transparency

This is probably the most difficult ask and the one least likely to come true. But what went wrong? Where are we heading? Who’s calling the shots? Why do we still not have a GM in place? What’s in the Renee Meulensteen report? What’s the plan for the summer transfer window? Next year? What is our true financial picture? Philadelphia Union fans are invested in this team. The Sons of Ben movie reinforces that. This website reinforces that every day. We deserve an equal investment in the form of open communication.

It’s been a brutally difficult year to be a Union fan, and I do feel like it’s too much to ask to put all of our faith into the offseason.

We just need a little something to hold onto now that suggests brighter times are ahead.


  1. “My other argument is that we are supporters, for better or for worse. Despite the continued frustration with our team’s front office management — which I wholeheartedly share — I also think we should invest time and energy into the players, who in reality suffer from that same lack of vision and direction up top. There are countless examples of Union players giving their time and energy towards fans, and an empty stadium environment is a poor way to return the favor.”

    End of story.

    • Let me ask you a question Steve why does arguing to withdrawal monetary support preclude me from being a Union Supporter?
      This is an old argument on this site…. Do you think just because you choose to spend money in: rain, sleet, snow, win or lose you are a more loyal fan then I because my feelings are so strong that I argue to withdrawal financial support as an agent of change?
      I have as much stake in this as you emotionally and when ‘people like you’ with your position of condescension make your superiority argument it really sucks.
      I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses to continue going to games just don’t complain if after a decade or two the same insane results continue. Once again I started my whole argument above by stating I appreciate the author’s POV- you are the one whole made this personal by saying essentially I am a typical Eagles Fan.

      • You argue to withdraw financial support to which you yourself admittedly do not provide. Lobbying others to perform an action you have no vested interest in? Come on now.
        Anyway I am not saying i am superior to you, never did. You seem to have some feelings of insecurity that are boiling over. What i am saying is that i might lend more weight to your “strong position” if you stood with us instead of beating your chest from the couch.
        Trust me i will not complain if things persist for years to come, that is what being a supporter is all about.
        And as far as making it personal, if my generalization struck home then as they say “if the shoe fits”.

      • Okay Steve. I acquiesce.

      • Go have a beer, it’s almost Friday

      • This logic is why the Eagles will never need to win a Super Bowl and the Phillies will go another 2 decades without a sniff at late October. This logic is chump logic? You want to be fair to the players? Sink the team and give them a shot a going to a club where they aren’t wasting their time and talent. This side doesn’t have enough players or reserves to rotate people in their natural positions without losing 11-0. It’s all fantasy.

    • The problem is that the ownership group doesn’t care about player or fan experience. As long as the money keeps coming they don’t care about what’s said about them on social media. That’s why Sugarman keeps the fans at arms length. So its nice in sentiment, but no change will occur unless we the fans hit them in the wallet.
      That said, I think there could be alternative courses of action: somewhere inbetween disrespecting the players and being a pushover. Just off the top of my head, the stadium is owned by the county, right? So theoretically, the fans (taxpayers) should have some say in how its used. So I suggest we sign a petition to change whatever bill/law/agreement is attached to the stadium and say ‘in order to have use of this stadium the Union needs to spend X amount of dollars on player and coach salaries.’ This will force the ownership group to pony up without disrespecting the players.
      Just my two cents

      • Delaware county does in fact own the land and stadium, however the team owns the rights and has a 30 year lease.

      • Probably wishful thinking that the lease could be amended; the only way it could happen might be if the Union fail to keep up their end (not sure what their end is exactly other than the $500,000/year (?) tax).

      • $1 dollar a year lease, and tax payments of $150,000 a year thru 2040…
        Keystone group are very smart business men…just not very good at running a soccer club.

      • and not willing to spend money, in contrast in how you are willing to spend money – and give it to them.

  2. I appreciate this position. But I too am an ardent supporter of the Union and have lobbied at length for withdrawal of ticket sales as the means of revolt.
    I appreciate the players and their offering of time.
    The State of our Union far outweighs any one or few players just like the Federal government super cedes the importance of any one state.
    I don’t want people to not go to games…I want change!
    The only true measure of power we have is our dollars and it is the ultimate authority…if you are happy tailgating and getting autographs good on all of you…I am in this not to be duped, to play the game beautifully and to win. This is a great footballing city and our game should represent that at every turn. This is simply unacceptable.
    Case closed.

    • Can i have your stuff?

      • Do you mean my scarves or the stones for taking this strong a position?

      • You get no points for turning your back when things get tough. If you were a supporter you would understand.

        Huge difference between a philly fan waiting for the eagles season to start and a Union supporter.

      • You got the wrong guy sir.
        I don’t miss a game. EVER. You misunderstand and I resent your insinuation. I said I appreciate the author’s position I however will not pay to go games- never said 1 word- not ONE word about withdrawing support.
        Clean the wax out. Fix the spectacles. Piss me off.

      • “have lobbied at length for withdrawal of ticket sales as the means of revolt.”
        The word revolt does not mean support the last time i checked….
        if you dont pay to go to games, dont stand next too me in the river end and sing for 90+ rain,snow,sleet or hail, win, lose, or draw you have no horse in this race and your “strong position” means jack.

      • No worries Steve. No worries.
        What are you 24? 28?
        You ooze of a Millenial.

      • Sorry my misguided friend, i was born in the 70’s.

  3. On the “Cut the Cord” section:
    Can we please add Carlos Valdes to the list? He clearly doesn’t want to be here which makes it best to sell and move on. It is debilitating to repeatedly have his loan deals expire and then find another and repeat.

  4. I have one wish… That an ownership group with real resources and a commitment to winning but lacks a team/city/stadium, to come to their senses and realize that they could purchase the Union from Sak and Sugarman for a fraction of the current $100 million buy-in. Stadium, team, and fanbase already included.

    • james Lockerbie says:

      Bingo! That should be every union fans top priority lets go exploring for new owners. We need to find potential owners and beg them to make an offer Nick/sack can’t refuse.

  5. Great One says:

    I generally feel that people should go to the games and buy whatever they like there if they are still enjoying it. However, if the only way to create change is in fact to stop spending money on the team, then that must be done. I’m not sure that’s the case, or if it will work, but I know what’s going on now is not working. We have regressed in most ways. Our only real hope is that Sugarman could make enough money on the sale to sell to someone with more interest and bigger pockets.

    • I’m a believer in doing whatever works best for you. My personal point of view is that while my enjoyment of the game day experience ebbs and flows over time, I still find the time, money, energy and whatever else I trade in order to be there worthwhile. I also believe that being actively engaged with the team, whether you’re a Son of Ben, STH, and/or commenter on PSP & Twitter gives you a bigger voice than staying home or otherwise dialing back your engagement. The Sons of Ben protest march to the stadium got plenty of attention. Being a STH means access to a ticket rep who takes feedback and to surveys that allow you to weigh in on just about anything. Staying home plays into the hands of the “we don’t have the revenue to compete with the big boys” mentality, and takes away one of the few (only?) advantages we have in recruiting players – one of the best fan bases in MLS.

      I respect the opposing view – whatever works for each individual – but wanted to make a case for making a statement while staying ‘all in’.

      • Great One says:

        I completely agree with you about the SOB protest. It was a great idea. I do however think it needs to come into the stadium. I get the point about disrespecting players, but I’m sure there are people smarter than me who can come up with a good way to do it.

      • While the S.O.B. protest was a nice show, what did it really accomplish?
        Anything? A “We agree that the fans deserve better” doesn’t really do much for me. Sure the national media picked up on the story for the 15 mins they were here, but, so what.
        It’s still same ‘ol same ‘ol around here. By the way, we still don’t have that promised G.M.
        As to the author’s suggestion that the Union’s P.R. staff pays attention to media outlets, ok maybe they do, but it really doesn’t seem to effect them very much.
        I’m new to this site. Just found it this year. I’m so glad it’s here. I’m glad the PSP writers do such a good job going in-depth and spending copious amounts of time covering such a bad organization. From what I’ve seen from them and the many commenters that frequent this site, I can only imagine that you all have shown your displeasure about the Union’s ineptitude for as long as this site has been here. So, again, if the Union’s P.R. department pays such good attention, what has all this angst and passion done to change the Union’s operating procedures?
        I agree you have the right to spend your money any way you want. Especially when it comes to one’s free time and enjoyment. But why keep giving over your hard earned cash to this organization, which is completely inept at making sure your enjoyment during your free time continues?

      • P.S. If I were the Union and I read this site, I’d be thinking, man the fans are P.O.’d, but look they say they are still gonna give us money. No need to worry. Rome isn’t burning, yet.

  6. james Lockerbie says:

    Next sob letter to team should be a warning to the f.o. we will ramp up an organized drive to find new owners. If you don’t get your stuff in order! This search will be so organized and relentless the original founding fathers of the sobs will be proud and honored by our spirited efforts.

    • Yes. But you will have to be very careful espousing this as some amongst us will deem these people traitors and somehow unloyal….
      Boy the philosophical land of Ought & Should this falls into…but would be fine by me if the SoB decided they should accept this ‘rogue’ responsibility to….
      …. surreptitiously go out and and find investors who in turn make the current ownership group ‘an offer they simply cannot refuse.’
      Excellent thinking.

  7. Did anyone else just get a STH survey request in their inbox? Probably just a coincidence as far as timing goes, but timely none the less.

    • Yup. Survey is well designed and I spent a lot of time answering it. However, I doubt anything will happen. Told them to build a bar and food joint behind the SOB’s to make the experience slightly better. I appreciate the new Dogfish bar but this was a quick fix, has no food and requires many stairs to climb. Think someone can design a much better place in the river end.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I got the survey too and just filled it out with my wife. It makes you realize that there are two parts to the STH experience. One is the on the field product which most of us agree currently leaves a lot to be desired.
      However, there are things the organization does really well. For example, they have continually hired good, friendly people to work at the stadium in positions such as parking attendants and ticket takers. The loyalty point perks which include the meet the team event in January are a great idea. The money the team raises for the Philadelphia Union Foundation is appreciated as a way to give back to a community that can really use it.

  8. Mr. Sugarman says:

    Sorry bitches, but I’m keeping the franchise. I thought that you all were “Union ’til the day I die”, but if you guys don’t want to support us, I’ll find another fan base that does. Plenty of cities would love to have an MLS franchise

    • Well played….what company shall
      We hire to expedite the move?

    • James Lockerbie says:

      Mr Sugarman we our union til we die! we want owners that are just as committed as we are and have the resources to provide the Union the talent it requires to be a top team! We don’t want to get rid of the Union just U! That’s what I would say to the real Sugarman if given the opportunity. Take a lesser role with the organization or step aside completely.

      • Well and if you see Mr. Sugarman’s logic through to its conclusion, he is no more “Union til the day I die” than the fans he is berating if he is willing to ‘take his franchise to plenty of cities’ because this fan base is pissed off at becoming a laughingstock punchline and the statistically worst team in MLS.
        I commend those minds willing and able to SUPPORT loyally just as I commend those minds willing to SUPPORT by standing up to proffer boycott as a reasonable solution: hail, rain, ice, snow be damned.
        Time will tell.

  9. Good read Scott. Reminds me of thanksgiving dinner at my house… “Mom likes me best!”…” No me best!!” My fellow contributors I think we need to agree to disagree. The humor and sarcastic wit of the comments section has long been a favorite thing about this site. So a boxing ring,oversized gloves and the announcer’s blairing voice.. “In this corner..the Old master..EeellllPAAACKEEdeerrmm..” And in this corner….his challengeger…. SSTTEEEVVEEEE!!! ….I’d pay to see that!

    • Enjoy the hell out of bending language into a pipe wrench in the name of a good debate.
      Arguing is as Philly as Philly gets.
      Ultimately, The Elephant comes in peace.

  10. Joe DeMarco says:

    Does anyone own a business? Do you believe the owners are thrilled about making money over having happy customers? A happy businessman is getting both; both S’s want to be winners. In the professional sports business, making money is a nice bonus but not crucial.

    • All evidence to the contrary. Where do you get the idea both S’s want to be winners. Where is your evidence? It’s not on the field. It’s not in the F.O.(or better, lack there-of). It sure as hell isn’t coming from their youth program. So again, where is the proof of what you claim?

  11. So here is the thing its argued back and forth go to games or don’t go to games hurt the FO wallets or don’t. Disrespecting players vs protesting in the stadium. Yeah ultimately you have to do what you as a fan think is best. However, that still changes nothing. We still have a bad FO with a bad team the wrong coaching staff and people who are stubborn in each area of this organization. To improve ideas must be expanded, risks need to be taken, and stubbornness needs to be set aside for the good of the organization. The problem is I do not see an organization I see disjointed arguing amongst the FO and Fans, between players, between Coaches and players, between Coaches and the FO. Ultimately this team will be good when they learn to be an organization that works as one in whatever way they can. Yes we have a terrible FO however its not changing and we have heard that again and again. Something else has to be done a new approach must be used and I would say a new approach should be taken by all. It is said all the time that the fans brought this team here so why not unite and bring in players and support for this team as well. Lets go above the FO and take it upon ourselves to make this the team we want.

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