The Union start their 2023 MLS Cup playoff run tonight. However, many fans don’t seem fired up compared to recent years. This Union team seems to be missing something. What’s it going to take to get the fanbase fired back up?
The vibes around the team are in the dump. Between the poor run of form, the behind-the-scenes drama, and the recent sports heartbreak, it’s hard to blame the fans for not being dialed in. On top of that, the MLS’ new bogus playoff format isn’t helping.
Tonight is leg 1 of a best-of-3 series in the first round of the MLS playoffs. There is no aggregate score, just the best of 3 wins. No one really knows why MLS changed the format. Obviously, more games mean more revenue. Unfortunately, this playoff has the feeling of playoffs being here falling flat.
Unfortunately, this is just one of the many things working against the Union.
Union Vibes Are as Low as They Can Get
Saying fans aren’t dialed in for this playoff game isn’t an overreaction. Obviously, there are a good number of fans pumped for the playoffs to be here. As well as a number of fans ready to get to Subaru Park.
However, the Union is in a territory they have not been in for quite some time. For starters, tickets are not moving for game 1 at home. Now, the Union will likely still get enough in to claim a sell-out. However, the club didn’t even need to open standing room only.
The fact that makes this more concerning is this could very well be the Union’s last home game of the year. Due to their terrible run of form down the stretch, the Union is the fourth seed. So, unless some massive upsets happen, the Union isn’t coming home for a while. Of course, game 3 of the series would be back at Subaru Park, but no one wants this series to go 3 games.
Why is Interest So Low?
Besides the new playoff format, there are a few reasons the interest level is so low. Firstly, the Union’s opponent is a familiar one.
The Union is facing the New England Revolution in round one. An I-95 rival they face multiple times a year already. New England is also the team the Union played to wrap up the 2023 season. Therefore, the interest in seeing yet another edition of Union-Revs soccer is nonexistent.
Another factor of low interest is the team’s poor run of play. They have won just 2 of their last 10 games. This Union team just can’t seem to gain any momentum. The poor run of play has their MLS Cup hopes down in the mud. A fact that won’t drive fans to this playoff game.
Finally, the interest and vibes aren’t there because of the off-field drama surrounding the team and front office. Kai Wagner was very open and public with his contract dispute. As well as Alejandro Bedoya’s departure being made public. The sense within the Union’s core of team and fanbase right now is just out of sorts.
Now, if the Union gains some momentum and can make a run then all those issues take a backburner. However, as things stand right now, this Union team and fanbase just feel disconnected. Unfortunately, this is an issue that can leak into the offseason as the team appears to be headed toward a makeover.
For now, the Union has a playoff run to prep for. Let’s hope the team can light a fire back into the fanbase at home tonight in leg 1.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation