PHLSportsNation

At the beginning of the year, I predicted that the Union indeed would make the playoffs. I predicted the Union would get the 5 or 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and I would have been happy with that. That would’ve shown the team making progress from one of the worst teams in the league in 2015 to a team with a future.

Now that the U have made the playoffs, am I still happy with that? My gut reaction is no. The team started the season on a tear. They were the top team in the East at the Copa America break in June and right in the middle of the Supporter’s Shield conversation. But after the break it all went wrong. Fast forward to October and the Union had slipped from first in the East to sixth, only making the playoffs on a tiebreaker over New England. The Union even managed to lose their last three games, including two at home by a combined score of 7-2. This team has frustrated me and most of the fan base.

But let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. Besides the drastic turn in fortunes, did we see what we wanted to see from the Union this year? The Union took the time to balance both sides of the ball, adding three rookies on defense, one of which played every single minute of the season and deserves to be Rookie of the Year (Rosenberry). The offense was spread around with more players contributing than ever before. The team was able to overcome major injuries (Edu) and departures of players (Nogueira) because they had the depth they haven’t had in franchise history. The Union were even able to attract a top class USMNT player (Bedoya), providing on field quality and off field excitement that the team has been lacking. The team’s core is now not built around aging veterans but a good mix of youngsters and players in their prime, a winning formula for years to come. Some key players are rumored to be moving in the off season but Earnie has proven to be the man we wanted him to be, the one who would make us a contender.

So even though the Union made the playoffs this year in the most disappointing way possible, they have built themselves into a team that will be there year after year. It will not be another five years before the Union’s next playoff appearance. So this year, let’s just enjoy the experience. Each game we play isn’t live or die. Either way, we will be back. The Philadelphia Union are here to stay.

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