Readers poll: Evaluate Philadelphia Union’s season

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union made the playoffs in 2016 for just the second time ever.

They also recorded a losing record and finished in the bottom half of the table.

Much of the roster turned over. Some newbies played well. Some did not.

Certainly, the names were different, beginning at the top with sporting director Earnie Stewart and rolling right down to Rookie of the Year candidate Keegan Rosenberry.

What do you think of the Union’s 2016 season?

Vote in the poll below and lay out your thoughts in the Comments section below.

[poll id=”27″]


  1. Easy call. While everyone probably doesn’t agree on how much of a step forward the club took this year, it’s pretty clear that we did move forward with how the club operated this season. We now have a plan and have put a structure in place in order (both on and off the pitch) to help the Union move forward.

    There is still lots to do, but full credit to ownership as well as Stewart/McDermott for making this step.

  2. Clearly some positive steps were taken and anyone who says otherwise is a nearsighted dope.
    I’m confident the new training facilities (despite the ugly mural), the new staff/mindset, the shaken roster (still shaking), and the observations of 2016 are going to lead to a more successful 2017. We learned a lot this year and we [should] head into the offseason with clear goals. I think EStew is now settled and our team is moving towards a spine he and Jim can build with. Like with any sport and any team, the season is unpredictable. I would’ve never believed the start we had in 2016 but I was equally surprised by our end of season death.
    There were some very “Union” moments but they felt different to me this season. Instead of thinking “same old Onion” I was thinking “I thought we were beyond this”. That change in my own personal belief is encouraging. I am proud of what we did this season but I know the best is yet to come. Chin up, everybody.

    • I agree that they moved forward although I find it hard to understand your comment of ” I think EStew is now settled and our team is moving towards a spine he and Jim can build with.” What spine are you speaking of? To me the spine looks this way a GK, maybe one CB although that could be debated based on recent play. No CDM to speak of that can help the team the way it needs (no I don’t count Carroll as he is getting to old which makes it likely to be not a working spine). No CAM he just left for Switzerland and no Bedoya is not a #10. And no viable striker who can score double digit goals. To me the spine on this team is what is lacking the most in fact I would argue that you need to replace 5 positions out of 7 in the spine of this team.

      • In the moment I was only thinking about four/five (CB) possible positions, understanding the need for others (which I believe will be satisfied): Blake (for now), Marquez/Yaro/Trusty, Edu, Bedoya.
        Of course we don’t have a 6 or a 9 but Bedoya is a *serviceable* 10. When it comes to order of priority the replacement of Noggy and Sapong is of the utmost importance. A new 10 would be the cherry on top if those two openings can be thoughtfully filled.
        Edit: Obviously we have no clue if Edu will ever wear blue&gold again.

      • Yeah those you list make one very very shaky spine that can be broken at a moments notice. To me there are many many holes. While this won’t happen I wonder if the team could switch to at 4-3-3. Up top put LW Alberg ST Pontius RW Sapong
        LAM ??? CDM??? RAM Bedoya
        LB Fabi CB ???/Marquez CB ??? RB Rosenberry
        GK Blake

      • Notice I originally said “moving towards a spine”. The players I mentioned above in addition to above average signings at the 6, 9, 10 would make a fairly competitive spine. It sounds like you have zero confidence in Blake staying, the abilities of Marquez/Yaro/Marquez, Edu’s return, or Bedoya’s versatility.

      • So no I don’t think Blake will stay without a big fat contract which puts the Union under pressure needing so many players. After seeing Marquez hoof the ball upfield so often towards the end of the year and so many last ditch tackles for being out of position I am not sold on him being that good with out a vet next to him. Yaro I am not sold on the kid has confidence problems and you can see that by how Curtin talks to him and protects him from the media. No I am not confident of Edu’s return and have said for awhile I think he is wasted space on the team. And Bedoya to me is someone I want on the wing, could he play the 10 probably do I see much more value on the wing yes I see one of the best wingers in the league if he gets moved there.

    • As a nearsighted dope who voted that it was a step in the right direction I take offense at that remark as an insult to us nearsighted dopes!

  3. Step in the right direction.
    I mean the bar was set so low.

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Hey. Truth. Go easy on near sighted dopes, will ya? I am one, for one. ;-).
    In the first twenty-five votes, no one said worse. Twenty-five is not quite enough for a statistically valid sample, I suspect. But the numbers will come.
    The absence of the negative response, should the trend continue, may be the most significant point determined by the exercise.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Forecasting six hours into the future is hard.
    That said, I would have added one other change to the exercise’s list of changes, namely, the establishment of a fully integrated farm team as part of the organization.
    We will not see concrete effects on the first team in quantity sufficient to draw conclusions yet, probably not for a few years.
    There is hope and optimism on that front. Whether it is wishful thinking accompanying newness, or whether it turns out to be substantive meaningful developmental support that positively effects first team results only time can tell.

  6. Dan, with all due respect, this is a redundant poll–you’ve asked this same question in different fashion a few times since end of season.

    Idea for new twist on this–MLS after 20 years. After all Union quality is relative to quality of the league.
    El P has been very vocal in his dislike of the league and raises some valid points. League is clearly viewed negatively by some Europeans but has gained traction in Europe past two years with viewership and attention paid by their media.
    Alberg’s comments about distance echo same comments by Gerrard last year—that and midweek or 3 games in 8 days–does that effect quality of play in any way?
    Drogba complained about turf fields. Sure there are a number of factors mentioned.

    Playoff format–watching a team play in a home stand, win and still not advance seems odd to most Americans.
    While others like EL P say you just need a table.
    Yet one European player, I forget which, was mentioned by Ed as stating he liked playoffs better than table because not as much excitement in final run of PL as top spots are usually clinched before final 4-5 games. Ditto La Liga.

    What ideas would improve MLS?(besides Pro/Reg—Sorry, El P, John O is right here–it’s dead horse in US)

    And let’s be fair–what does MLS do well?


    • Regarding the Euro player liking MLS playoffs, I believe it was David Villa if my memory serves me correctly.

    • A lot of good starting points for conversations in here.

      MLS is clearly better now than it was 20 years ago. Better now than 10 years ago. But how do you make it better?

      I like a cup competition at the end of the season, but I think top point getters in both conferences should be named conference champions. (This will make even more sense as the number of teams in both conferences approaches 15) So this year, trophy’s would go to Dallas and NYRB. Conclude with a cup competition with 8 top teams. Liga MX has a system like that.

      But more crucial, I think, is that MLS needs to put in place a plan to take off the training wheels and make the league really competitive. Pro/Rel is important, but I think it’s a final stage of a longer plan that first finds a way to dissolve single ownership, remove salary caps, conform to the international schedule and work with the NCAA to line up the collegiate game with the professional game.

      As far as I’m concerned, it makes no sense to talk about MLS as a top league until an MLS club can win a CCL cup (by beating a top La Liga club). Call me when that happens, and we can talk about the league’s place among the best in the world.

      • Thank you, Pete.
        Cup format sounds good.
        As far as lining up with collegiate….el p would point out graduates are “too old”.
        While I agree with you to some extent -especially if NCAA goes full year-does use of USL as a “minor league feeder team” aka Steel make argument moot?


      • I think the wisdom there is that college will continue to be a destination for talent, so it makes sense to be sure players in that system are getting as close to the real thing for development as possible.

  7. Playoffs, DP USMNT signing, 3 excellent players taken in the draft, new training facilities, and Earnie taking over from Sak, this poll is easy. Certainly a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to hear the arguments that we are worse off now then when we were a bottom of the table team with Sak in charge.

    • Section 114 (Former) says:

      Positives: Rosenberry, Yaro, Herbers. Earnie for Sak (if that’s “this year”). Blake proves he’s for real. Willing to spend some money, but not real DP money.

      No change: training facilities (all that happened was construction), USMNT (Edu out, Bedoya in)

      Negatives: Blake about to leave. Nogs gone. Barnetta gone. Curtin has proved he can’t learn to be an in-game coach. Don’t seem to be successful at spending DP money.

      I ended up at “Meh”

      • Is Blake really about to leave? I feel like he’s going to be here for some time. At least for one more season. I have to think Stewart believes his value can go up.

      • 0 offers, phone calls, interest, from anyone, according to the SD as of the conference with J.C.

      • So here are my thoughts on Blake. You only have one more year on his contract from my understanding, you either lock him up now or sell him. As letting him leave freely would be the worst thing the team could do for itself. If you don’t give him a new contract I do see him walking for free because why shouldn’t he try to see if he can develop and advance himself. Currently there may be no suitors because while a great shot stopper his organization of the backline is poor and he can not distribute, but there are plenty of teams out there willing to teach these things.

  8. I gave Earnie a C in the last poll, and even I say that it was still a step in the right direction, even if it’s just a small one.

  9. Before Nogs left, I truly believed we would be in the mix to win the MLS Cup. I was under the assumption that Edu would return in the second half of the season and that ES would find us a better striker.

    Looking forward, I am very concerned about the potential lack of quality on this team next year. With Barnetta gone, Blake a possibility to be sold and if Edu does not return, then we are in Deep Doodoo. I understand Pontius could be gone as well!

    As much confidence as I still have in ES, he has his work cut out for him. This may have been a wasted season for the most part since the Union could practically be a new team AGAIN next season.

    A lot of Ifs right now. I hope to be more optimistic by spring training.

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