Commentary / Union

Some Union players still have much to fight for

Photo by Paul Rudderow

Technically, the Union still have a chance to make the playoffs. It’s a small chance, but it is there. But with no action at the close of the Secondary Transfer Window last week paired with an embarrassing loss to Montreal, many Union fans are trying to figure out why they should keep watching the rest of the season. Granted, making the playoffs, let alone finding the team’s first ever playoff win, would make for a Cinderella story like nothing this league has ever seen before. That slimmest of possibilities isn’t enough for many people.

Luckily, even though the team doesn’t have much left to play for, there’s plenty of reasons for individual players to keep giving it their all until the season closes in late October. Some will be playing to cement their position in the starting lineup next year, some will be playing to earn a contract extension or renewal, and a few will be looking to draw attention from outside the team or even the league.

Andre Blake

The Jamaican’s contract could end with this season, but with a team option to add one more year, there’s no reason to expect him to leave for free. He turned heads at the Gold Cup, but an unfortunate injury means he missed an opportunity to showcase his skill in the final. Once his hand is healed, he’ll likely be giving his all for the remainder of the season, trying to draw attention for a well-deserved move to Europe. It’s also his last chance to show his talent this year, as Jamaica failed to make the cut for the Hex in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

Jack Elliott

He’s a rookie of the year contender and performing well above what could be expected of a Generation Adidas player, let alone a fourth round pick. Not only could a continued run of form change the “contender” title to “favorite”, he could also make an impact on how the Union handle the rest of their depth at center back. With a lower contract and more than adequate skill, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Union move on from Richie Marquez should the young Brit give them a chance to.

Oguchi Onyewu

Another surprise success story at center back, he’s allegedly 35. That’s perilously close to ancient by soccer standards, but he’s shown he still has plenty of gas left in the tank so far this season. If he keeps it up, he could find himself playing when he’s 36, and with the right contract, the Union would be lucky to have him.


Ilsinho has been a bit of a frustration for fans since he arrived, as his unquestionable skill with the ball is almost crippled with occasionally poor decision making. He’s been the best of the No. 10s this year, but that’s faint praise, and his contract is very heavy for what else the Union could be getting for that money. However, it’s not inconceivable that even at 31 he’s not quite ready to hang up his cleats. If he shows value in the remaining games this season, it’s not unbelievable that the Union could offer him a (much smaller) contract for next year, or maybe he could find a home on some other team.

Jay Simpson

This is a tough one, since it seems very likely that he’s only going to have fragments of games to work with through the end of the season. Making things even tougher is the fact that he simply does not fit the system the Union insist on playing, so he won’t exactly have ideal conditions to make his case with the few minutes he’ll find. But what he will have is stacks of motivation. Presumably he’s not crying over the sizable checks he’s receiving for hanging out at practice, but at 28 years old this can’t be when, where, or how he wants his career to end. And that’s what he’s up against if he doesn’t get out of Philadelphia- the end of his career. So his best hope is to showcase his talent with every second he gets and hope for a trade or transfer to somewhere his skills will be better used.


  1. Jim I give you credit for at least trying to drum up interest.

    • Agreed, thanks for trying…
      I myself am tuning out. There’s just nothing about this team currently that excites me to convince me to slog through watching another mundane performance. No new signings to check out, no rookies that are playing to dream about their futures (Najem, Herbers, Jones, Trusty, Rosenberry, etc). Honestly, for the past two weeks, I’ve found myself more interested in the Steel and watching Romero, Moar, Fontana, Conner, Burke, Nanco, Jones and Najem show some potential and dreaming about what may be one day…

      • While Chris Sherman’s statistics yesterday rank the difficulty of schedule facing the Bethlehem Steel in their final ten games as the most difficult in the either USL conference, the group has risen well to challenges all season.
        They certainly face some, since five of their remaining ten are against placeholders two, four and five in the eastern table.
        However, they have five away wins as I type, tied for second-most in the east with Louisville and Orlando. Only Charlotte has more with six.
        Urgent? Yes. Desparate? Not yet. Impossible? Of course not.
        The younger kids played better last night against the best side in the east than their more highly valued Union reserve brothers did against the same team in Bethlehem a couple of weeks ago.
        Don’t bet your house, but if you have five dollars you can afford to lose, … .
        They could finish above the line, and everyone of us knows it’s really hard to beat the same team three times in a season if the matchup is at all close.

  2. Please add Jim Curtin to this list.

    • Desacrate through Reverance says:

      He’s not fighting for anything. I’m starting to think as long as Sugarman is owner, Curtain will be coaching this team. Either way we are screwed.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    8 years in and still… every single August we have the same conversation: what’s left to play for? Do these “insert guys here” have something still to prove… Who will be on this team next year?
    It’s just so freakin exhausting. I will watch the last few games, with ZERO expectations, and try to enjoy them. What more can I really do?

  4. I will watch and hope for the best. Mostly I hope to see the young guys! But Curtin probly wont play them!

  5. Isn’t Curtins contract up at the end of the season? Can Earnie fix the glitch?

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