The Philadelphia Union has had a rocky start to the 2023 MLS Season. While the current pattern is concerning, there is no reason to panic about the team’s current state. That is unless they don’t turn things around.

The Union lost 5 games in 2022 in MLS. They have already lost 2. They only gave up an MLS record 26 goals. 4 games in and they have already let in 5. The reasons to be concerned are there. However, there are more reasons to stay calm and not hit the panic button.

Luck Not on the Union’s Side

The first point from the Union’s 2 losses is luck wasn’t on their side. In the loss to Miami, two goals were scored on them that were really great shots. Nothing much that the defense or Andre Blake could do about it. The ball didn’t bounce their way that night.

Unfortunately for the Montreal game, the same could be said in a more frustrating way. Julian Carranza seeing red on a useless and reckless challenge helped no one. The absolute blunder that is MLS officiating left a sour taste in everybody’s mouth. I mean, they VAR’d the VAR. What even was that?

That being said, the two goals that were given up just can’t happen. With both Glesnes and Mbaizo going down way too easily in the box. However, missing Andre Blake is a lot more of a loss than he is being credited for. Blake likely tips the equalizing goal over the bar and clears out the game-winner against Montreal. This is no knock on Bendik but you can’t ask him to be Andre Blake at this point in his career.

Unfortunately for the Union, their trip home might not make life easier. The club’s long home unbeaten streak could be in jeopardy Saturday night against Orlando. MLS decided to play through a FIFA international break. So, the Union will be without many key players. These include Daniel Gazdag, Jose Martinez, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan to name a few. The Union is also without Andre Blake of course and now Julian Carranza for his suspension. Jim Curtin noted he will likely only have 4-5 field subs available.

Why We Shouldn’t Panic

The main reason not to slam down the panic button is simple. We are 4 games into the MLS Season. Just because the Union brought back every major piece of their MLS Cup run, does not mean they were going to walk right back into the championship.

MLS teams get better every year. From last year to this year, the jump is quite noticeable. Teams like Atlanta, New England, and Seattle are back at the top after disappointing 2022 seasons. LAFC and Cincinnati are still very good teams. The Union did not get worse. The league got better.

The Union was never going to replicate their record-breaking 2022 season. I mean 72 goals and a +46 goal differential? No way. However, that does not mean the Union is doomed. They are just not going to walk into MLS Cup easily or be the first seed in the Eastern Conference by 6+ points.

With all that said, let us not forget the fact the Union is notorious for slow starts. There was a point last year when we wondered if the Union would break 50 goals scored.

Mikal Uhre is starting to wake up and the team is starting to get a better feel offensively. Hopefully, Andre Blake is back sooner than later and the Union can start stacking some wins.

The Number 1 Priority

The number 1 priority this season is to add to the trophy case. The priority right now is the CONCACAF Champions League. If the Union drops points in MLS but can bring home CCL, then all is forgiven. Seattle won it last year and missed the MLS playoffs. No one batted an eye because of how much continental success means.

After CCL, MLS comes. The Union was never going to replicate the results they did last year mainly because of the busy schedule this season. Trophies are on the line. CCL comes first with MLS after.

I would assume League’s Cup comes after in terms of importance. We will just have to wait and see how seriously Jim Curtin takes the midseason tournament. As for the US Open Cup, I am sorry. Jim practically threw it away last year and I see him doing the same this year. Of course, the Union has a far better “B” team than they did last year. So maybe the reserves don’t get bounced in the first game like last year.

The fact of the matter is there is no need to panic. The Union starts slow and they have a lot on their plate. If the club adds to the trophy case this year then we won’t care about the first 4 games of the MLS season. However, if this rocky start continues, then the panic button might get bigger. Especially when we see who may depart in the summer transfer window.


Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation

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