Snoozing, but keeping things interesting

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

It’s funny what a busy 48 hours in the transfer window and a 7-0 victory can do to change the narrative.

Last week, Union fans were on the receiving end of both updates to the data stream that feeds their 2022 Model of Fandom. The original form of this piece – prepared on Thursday morning so as to be nearly ready to Tuesday publication, given a busy weekend – seems so distant today as to be comical. However, The Model changes quickly and regression/reversion to the mean is real. A 7-0 victory over DC United is just as impactful as a 1-0 loss to Chicago Fire.

So before fans, the team, or anyone involved starts thinking everything is different, here’s how everything felt just a few short days ago.

Written Thursday, July 7th

A snoozefest, week after week

This is boring.

This whole season of not losing, barely scoring, but barely giving up any goals… it’s all so boring.

Aren’t you bored?? I’m bored.

You know what I want? Give me Aaron Wheeler at center back. That’s not boring.

Give me “Maurice Edu training off the to the side,” or Jack McInerney being traded out of the blue just a few games into the season – seemingly in the middle of the night, give me the Ken Tribbett Experience, or even the multiple trades of Sebastien Le Toux.

Certainly not boring – but then also not good, if we’re honest.

Because the Union are good right? Almost every other team in the league would trade places in the table with them tomorrow, no questions asked – wouldn’t they? Cincinnati is literally trying to build the 2019 Union, piece by piece. So at least the answer to that question is “yes,” even if the caveat might be “at one point in time” and “in one small media market.”

But also, the Union are still boring.

Actually, they’re more than boring – they’re boring and ugly.

They’re ugly because not only are the Union not losing, they’re doing so while whole-heartedly looking like a team that might never win (Author’s note: #agedlikemilk). My great, great friend Mr. Jeremy Lane already covered this, but they can’t pass, they can’t shoot, they can’t dribble (really, they can’t dribble at all), and this isn’t just one author or one website’s opinion either. The folks over at the MLS mothership agree.

They’ve played narrow, direct soccer over the past few years, but it’s gotten even more narrow and more direct and more physical and more attritional. It’s been pretty hard on the eyes.

“PRETTY HARD ON THE EYES!!!” (picture George Costanza screaming this as he storms out of his parent’s living room for some reason)

How many top- or nearly top-of-the-table teams are described as “pretty hard on the eyes?”

Certainly not Manchester City. Not vintage Barcelona. Not Bayern. Not Alabama football. Not Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.

The only response anyone should have when looking at [the Union’s] performance from the last week is judgmental aggressive frowning.

Besides the fact that Judgmental Aggressive Frowning is Union Hulk’s indie rock band name (especially with the trade of Sergio Santos last week – a real Hulky tear-jerker, can’t wait to listen to the songs that come out of that glass case of raw emotion), ugly and boring has now grown into Judgmental Aggressive Frowning, or JAF.

That’s harsh, but it’s true – JAF face is the face we’re all making!

Do we have to keep tuning in to ugly, boring games of soccer where no one wins?

Isn’t this America?!?

Is interesting better?

Right now, the most interesting thing in UnionLand might be the internal strife over at the Sons of Ben.

Interesting, yes, but not a good thing for anyone who supports the team. And frankly, this website isn’t the place to recap or comment on what’s going on inside the group – that kind of repartee is much more well-suited for Twitter, where currently everything is on fire, no one is happy, and Elon Musk has ten kids.

Elon Musk has ten kids?? WHAT?!?

Moving on.

Whether you like the SoBs, loathe them, or simply tolerate them, having a diverse, well-led, vocal, and passionate supporter’s section is a hugely important piece in having a dynamic and difficult to break home field advantage.

“Interesting” like what is going on there right now is objectively not good.

So maybe “interesting” is the Union transferring half of their bench in the span of 48 hours last week – that was certainly not boring.

Of the four who’ve departed (or been reported to be on their way out), none of them really saw the field for the Union in any consistent or reliable way. You could make an argument that one of them, Sergio Santons, deserved a better send-off than he was given (Jose Martinez certainly thought so on Friday night), but as fellow PSP writer James Nalton pointed out last week, “Santos is obviously the ideal Union forward, if only he were currently able to be a Union forward. That the Brazilian rates so highly in [so many] underlying statistics makes his enforced absence even more frustrating.”

“Interesting” might have been that many Union players openly opined for the Brazilian to stay in Chester. Of course, were they going to be glad he was gone? In any case, those things weren’t boring – they weren’t better (maybe?), but they weren’t nothing.

Perhaps the interesting thing is the potential incoming transfer of a Czech midfielder you’ve never heard of (and I say that in the best possible way – it’s a good thing you’ve never heard of him, that’s Moneyball at its finest!). He has a cap, can play multiple attacking positions and with both feet, and the Chicago Fire want him too (ok, that last part isn’t good).

Is he good? Who knows.

Will he adapt to MLS in time to help the Union in 2022. Of course not.

But he’s certainly interesting – and for some reason, someone compared him with Paul Pogba.

Back to life, back to reality

This kind of hand-wringing seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?

The pendulum swings, and then it swings back.

To start the season, the data pointed to a run-away Union Shield. Then, for weeks on end it pointed toward unending malaise – even if the team’s standing didn’t falter. Then DC came to town and the Union looked like world-beaters again.

Both version of the data can be true – and another data point will be added to update The Model tomorrow night in Miami.

Whatever the result, hopefully it’s interesting and not boring.

So it goes.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Hopefully tomorrow night will be the last time Carranza can’t play because of his loan status. Would like to see the option to buy exercised.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      It would be a travesty to let him go, at this point.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I hate seeing Sergio go. I actually loved his attitude. Always smiling. And I guess I was more forgiving of the occasional miss (alright, more than occasional), because — even with injuries — I always felt like he was out there giving it everything.
      One hopes that his sale proceeds go directly to keeping Carranza.

  2. I know nothing of the strife of the SoBs but I must admit, they are leagues ahead of the supporters in Columbus. The only time any sound came out of the stands was when the stadium screens told the crowd to make some noise. It was pitiful.

  3. Ideally this is the event that snaps our offense into place. Everything else is clicking right now, it’s time to launch this team into a dominant playoff spot and make a run!!

  4. Clean sheets win you hardware. Goals can be found…..a squad that continues to give up nothing is hard to come by. I bet Jim is just as happy giving up nothing as he is putting 7 in the net…..he’s an ex CB! I’ll take a boring machine any day of the week from the fiasco this club was pre Tanner!

  5. It also bears mentioning that the Union Phav4 accounted for 20% of the USA U-20 team roster.
    In 2022, ignoring the 10-0 St. Kitts result, the U-20 team outscored their opponents 23-4 with Aaronson, Sullivan and McGlynn accounting for 16 of those 23 goals!
    Some Union games and stretches of games are gray, but the future is bright.

  6. Judging by all star voting rest of league would agree. (Btw I think Glesnes/elliot deserved it over Wagner.)

  7. Waiting for all of Chris’ articles to be published in a hard bound book, cover design the big yellow lightning bolt of the fan kit.

  8. Ernst Tanner fined by MLS for talking to a German soccer magazine at the underhanded way LAFC got Bale:

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