A strange streak for the Union

The Union beat the Richmond Kickers on Tuesday night.

Did you watch the match? With a broken live stream, unless you were one of the thousand or so who ventured down to Chester, PA, the answer is probably no.

It actually doesn’t matter if you saw the 5-0 victory or not. I suppose it matters if you’re the kind of fan who takes pride in saying you were there when Jay Simpson and David Accam got off the schneid. Or the kind who will reminisce about Michee Ngalina putting on the hallowed Hoops for the first time.

What matters is that the Union continued a strange streak Tuesday night: For the last six matches, the Union have shown up, played hard, and done either what is expected of them or more.

In Union history, that’s noteworthy.

The path

The Union went to Montreal on May 12th, and outplayed a team they’ve only beaten once north of the border. They survived a red card to their striker and the creative onslaught that is Ignacio Piatti and went home winners. The team performed.

Next, the Boys in Blue found themselves hosting a side they’d never beaten, Real Salt Lake. Over an 11-match stretch since 2010, the Union had only scored 10 goals. That is obviously not a recipe for success. However, two bulging Onion Bags in the first half and 2 more after RSL pulled a goal back and the Union were unleashed. The team performed.

In a sweaty Red Bull Arena, the Union brought patience and poise to the harshest press in Major League Soccer. Misses by Marcus Epps and C.J. Sapong may have left the team ruing points dropped, but the fact of the matter is the Union stood toe to toe with the league’s best and didn’t flinch. The team performed.

A hunkered and man-marking Chicago Fire came to Talen Energy Stadium in search of a parking spot for their bus. The Union leaned on the individual brilliance of Ilsinho and their new talisman, Borek Dockal, to write the Fire a ticket, boot their front wheel, and have the whole lot towed back to Bridgeview, IL where it belongs. The team performed.

In a space ship docked somewhere in downtown Atlanta, the Union ran into a problem. No, not the unrelenting Five Stripe attack known for scoring goals by the handful. Instead, it was the unfortunate lapse of a Major League Soccer official and the subsequent breakdown of otherwise rational men as a response that could have been their undoing. The men that remained, the wall that they built, the flood they kept nearly entirely at bay… it was “the gutsiest performance in Union history.” Despite their own lapses and some indescribable adversity, the team performed.

When the 51st ranked side in professional American soccer brought themselves and a dozen fans up Route 95 for a Tuesday night Cup match, the Union did something they’d only twice done before in 8 years U.S. Open Cup participation: actually pummel a lower division side. In 2012, the Union beat Rochester 3-0 and Harrisburg 5-2, and every other time the Boys in Blue have faced a lower division opponent, the result has been in doubt until the very end. On Tuesday, the team performed.

Now what?

The team performing doesn’t fit the historical narrative of the Philadelphia Union. Whether flagging down the stretch and missing the playoffs or simply not showing up for winnable matches, the team has been consistently inconsistent for all of its existence.

One month does not a season make, and this type of midseason, optimistic bounce is absolutely the Union’s familiar dance.

But the team has performed, and that’s something.


  1. I am an optimist. The tide is turning, we have young players starting, we are finally playing in a system we recognize and can appreciate, and players are playing hard every game. We are no longer a bad team playing bad soccer and losing. We are a decent team playing good soccer and sometimes losing.

  2. Richmond was a terrible team: Penn or Villanova could have beat them. I was there and it was fun to see players one usually does not see play. Wish Ayuk had played; miss his summersaults after scoring.
    But I agree that ever since Adam joined the Union the team is playing much better and I now go to the games full of anticipation.
    Was disappointed to see how few showed up on Tuesday. But those who showed up had a great time!

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    I agree with james… seems like the tide could be turning. ES leaving and the new hire to be will really cement the next few years for this club

  4. At the beginning of this season, this team had me so dispirited, so enervated, so infuriated, that I swore I would not attend a single match unless and until they showed me something.

    Well, they have now played well — quite well — for 6 straight matches. I’m including the Atlanta match, about which I agree with Dan Walsh’s assessment, and the US Open Cup match.

    So I’m taking my sons to Talen tomorrow night. Now if the league would just get around to rescinding Bedoya’s red card…

  5. UnionGoal says:

    Don’t jinx us $#!+

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