The Philadelphia Union has been a top team in MLS since their supporter’s shield-winning season in 2020. That was the year the Union’s core players came together, and more have come in since.
This means most current Union players are in unfamiliar territory: being a subpar team in MLS.

To keep in the spirits of the teams’ Alumni night last Saturday, it is easy to forget how rough the Union’s beginning years were in MLS. While fans have certainly had to endure their share of bad Union teams, many of the team’s current players did not have that experience.

Other than Jack Elliott, Ale Bedoya, and Andre Blake, the Union’s current players have known nothing but success. That is until now.

Heading into a summer that could be a shellshock to the shorthanded Union, the team is already behind the 8 ball. They are currently 8th in the Eastern Conference and cannot win a game at home.

As the summer transfer window and international games take crucial players, things could get uglier for the Union.

Is the Foreign Territory the Problem?

For many reasons, the Union has taken a fairly large step backward this year. Players are aging, ownership hasn’t invested in bringing in stars, and the overall talent of MLS players has exploded. However, one of the least discussed possibilities is that these Union players haven’t been in this situation before.

This era of Union soccer had been used to being a top team in MLS, never losing at home, and being a powerhouse. Now, not only are the players failing on the field, but they are also experiencing something they have not felt before—the pressure of playing for disappointed Philadelphia sports fans.

This core of players had gotten to multiple Eastern Conference finals and an MLS Cup appearance. Now, they are winless in six straight home games and sinking in the Conference standings. The pressure is mounting, and it will only get worse. This Union team is walking a fine line between staying at the top of the league and heading into a complete rebuild.

Will They Figure It Out?

This Union team is failing on multiple fronts. They usually go on a run late through the summer, but this Union team has not been in this situation before.

This team likely finds itself fighting for one of the last playoff spots.

The club may have to take this season on the chin and use it as a wake-up call. If they continue their current form, the vibes at Subaru Park will only continue to dwindle, and the pressure will rise.
Unfortunately, most current Union players have yet to experience it yet.

PHOTO: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation

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