On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Union lost to the last-placed Chicago Fire. The loss emphasized where the Union had lacked all year long. After losing Jose Martinez to a red card, the road does not get easier.
“That’s so Union” is a phrase that has been around for years. It had more use when the club wasn’t contending for trophies. However, that is not who the Union are anymore, at least not who it should be.
Call it an overreaction, call it whatever you want. If you want to be taken seriously and contend for trophies, losing to bottom-level teams isn’t acceptable. We are halfway through the MLS season. What do the Union need to do to prove they’re a top team in the league?
It’s Worse than Their Record Says
The Union has lost 2 games this year. That is the least of any team in the whole league. However, of their 8 draws, many should have been wins. Of their draws, the Union held a lead in 5 of them. The other 3 draws are against teams not in a playoff position. They are tied for first in the Eastern Conference but the only thing that is saving them is the elite defense.
The team just simply cannot score goals. Their 22 goals on the season are the 6th worse in the Eastern Conference. The lack of goal scoring is a problem. No lead feels safe and no deficit feels surmountable.
The issue isn’t solely on the strikers. However, Santos not being able to be on the field doesn’t help. Neither does the inconsistencies Burke has played with. Uhre and Carranza have been doing all they can but the main issue aren’t the forwards.
You cant score goals if you don’t have the ball. Playing with possession is not something the Union wants to do. However, losing possession 60/40 or 70/30 every game is a recipe for disaster. The team is just disconnected. The backline cant connect passes to the midfield, the midfield cant connect a pass to anyone. Add the strikers are rarely on the same page and the Union is the worst-best team in the league. Or the best-worst team?
The Road Trip won’t Be Easier
The Union now goes to Columbus. Already down Aaronson, McGlynn, Sullivan, and Craig, the empty bench will get thinner. Jose Martinez was shown a red card and will be suspended for the game. Now, Jim Curtin needs to find a way to make do with the absences. The 3 games against Chicago, Columbus, then DC United on Friday should have been 9 points. The teams currently sit 13th, 9th, and 14th respectively.
3 points are already dropped. The way the team showed on Wednesday, it would be hard to see anything more than a point from Columbus. A win, at home, against last-placed DC United is critical.
The Union should be a top team. However, too many times they don’t play like it. NYCFC has Castellanos. Columbus just spent 10 million on a premier league striker. LAFC just signed Gareth Bale. The Union’s elite defense and Andre Blake will only get them so far. They need to score goals and a lot of them.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation