Make no mistake about it: this is not the Union’s first rodeo at being a bad team.
However, falling from the heights they achieved over the years makes this sting more than in the past.

The writing is on the wall, with the Philadelphia Union winless in their last eight home games. At about the halfway point of the season, hope within the fanbase is at an all-time low. Union owners will have no one to blame but themselves.

The Union has not only fallen out of a playoff spot but sits just 2 points from the basement of the Eastern Conference. Factor in that Julian Carranza played his last game for the Union, and it may get uglier in 2024. At the end of the day, ownership has failed in the golden era of Union soccer.

Father Time Caught Up Quickly

There are many reasons the Union’s descent to mediocrity came so quickly. Of course, other MLS teams signing multiple million-dollar stars put the Union in the rearview mirror.

It appears the biggest reason has been the rapid decline of the Union’s former studs.

It is no secret that the Union has made no effort to improve over the last three seasons. Since the heartbreak of the 2022 MLS Cup, ownership has run it back until it strikes gold or sinks.

Unfortunately, we are in the latter.

Not only did MLS as a league get better and richer in talent, but the Union simultaneously hit an age of decline and regression. The norm of MLS and the Philadelphia Union are heading in opposite directions. It was only a matter of time before the Union would be left in the dust.

The biggest victim of Father Time has been Jacob Glesnes. The former MLS Defender of the Year just hasn’t had it this year. Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, and whatever goalkeeping tandem the Union has had to use hasn’t been up to par. The Union cannot keep the opposition from scoring. Unfortunately, without Julian Carranza, they now struggle to put the ball in the back of the net themselves.

No One to Blame but Ownership

Of course, Jim Curtin’s name is now being thrown around in “should he be fired” conversations. Ernst Tanner isn’t too far behind, either. However, at the end of the day, Jim Curtin can only coach the players he is given. Simultaneously, Tanner can only sign players with the budget he is given.

What more can Curtin do if the only bench piece he can turn to for a spark in the attack is Chris Donovan? Is Jim Curtin to blame for having to put out an aging defensive backline against young stars that other MLS teams spent $10+ million on? Curtin could certainly make some improvements in his coaching style. However, it is ownership that has failed him and the fans.

Ownership has been tone-deaf during the Union’s decline. As the Union gets worse, ticket prices and concessions go up. They are building a multi-million dollar sportsplex next to the stadium before taking care of their fans. Season ticket holders are sent emails saying, “Hey! You can buy a suite for a game for a small price of $4,000!” Jay Sugarman has made it clear that his only concern is maximizing profits.

Unfortunately for him, the fan experience will continue to wither away. As the team gets worse with an owner who does not care, the stadium will begin to clear out. All the progress the Union made from clawing their way from mediocre newcomers to continental giants will be undone. At the end of the day, ownership will have no one to blame but themselves.

Every Union fan hopes the team will turn it around, maybe riding a hot summer run into a postseason stretch.
However, many fans have already checked out, and for good reason. Ownership has given the fans little to hope for.

PHOTO: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation 

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