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The Union are creating their own luck

Photo credit: Paul Rudderow

I think you create your own luck.

Jim Curtin said that last month after the Union drew against New England. But it’s not the first time he’s expressed that sentiment. Many times he’s made reference to the fact that while random chance does play a role in the game, the preparation and ability to take advantage of the good luck, and minimize the impact of bad luck, is what makes the difference between a good team and a bad team. And in years past, he was saying it by way of explanation of why the Union failed to win a game. It was a pragmatic, non-inflammatory way of acknowledging that while things didn’t go the Union’s way, the Union needed to be doing a better job at the things they can control before they worry about the things they can’t.

However the Union of Sunday night were significantly removed from the cliff of despair that’s haunted them for so long. Their victory over the visiting Portland Timbers was clean, complete, and felt inevitable fairly early in the game. The only missing piece from the starting lineup was Daniel Gazdag, though is he really missing if he hasn’t been fully integrated into the team yet? And they were facing the Portland Timbers, the team that bested the Union in last season’s MLS is Back Tournament. After revealing that they’d lied about kickoff time, Alexi Lalas and the gang on Fox Sports spent a half hour telling viewers this matchup has the potential to be an MLS Cup Final preview.

As the game played out it became clear that this wasn’t the clash of the titans that the network programmers would have hoped when they earmarked this for a nationally broadcast game. The Timbers have been absolutely decimated by injuries, most significantly in goal where they were forced to start an “extreme hardship signing” in Logan Ketterer, of late from El Paso Locomotive of the USL Championship. Very quickly it became clear that the Timbers game plan was to merely survive the ninety minutes ahead of them and get to the international break on the other side to give their battered team some time to recover. But it all fell apart for them in the twenty sixth minute, and the Union never felt threatened in any of the remaining hour of play.

It is indisputable that the Union were lucky to encounter a diminished Portland, especially as they’re just starting to make their way out of the hole they dug themselves in early MLS play this season. The Union have always had a hard time with the Timbers, in fact Sunday was the first time the Union have beaten the team in green since 2015. But all of the practice, the preparation, and the planning came together at the right time and they took three points from a team that should have been able to resist them more than they did.

In short, they created their own luck.


  1. Section 114 says:

    My thought watching the game was that those first two goals were the kind of goals that the Union traditionally conceded. It’s nice to not have it be prototypically Union.

  2. Union ‘luck,,’ I think has been greatly enhanced by a real stingy defense, helped in now small bit by the play of Andre Blake. Only Orlando (4) and Seattle (3) have allowed fewer goals than the Union (5). If they can continue to hold that line, they’re going to have a ‘lucky’ season.

  3. Blake is always a difference maker.
    He makes big saves consistently.
    The defensive backs are good and confident playing in front of the best MLS keeper.

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