Union rebuild despite early loss

A lit-up Talen Energy Stadium against NYCFC, August 18, 2018 – Agustin Aliaga ’21

Torrential rains made for an ominous day. As the players walked in with their heads down, the scoreboard read NYRB 3–1 PHI. The impossible had happened. Nothing had gone our way. The players came back out, but the fans had little hope left.

A few minutes later, the ball touched the net: 3–2. Maybe there was a chance.

Subs and fouls, the game continued. Nothing happened. The rain continued to drench the players and the fans.

The ball spun out of control on the slick terrain: 3–3. The stadium was electric.

The whistle blew again, and my legs seemed to be as cramped as the players: 4–3. The noise deafened me. A lucky goal nonetheless, we were going to win for the first time.

That was the way the Philadelphia Union left their home in Chester last year: one of the greatest MLS Playoff victories of all time, amid late-October showers.

Now the Union look to do it all again. Last year was historic. They finished in third place, pulling off their first ever playoff victory. When an upsetting loss to the reigning champions sent them home, the Union rebounded with a strong off-season, selling players like Auston Trusty at high prices and acquiring a new asset in Matej Oravec, former Europa League starter.

While surprising losses of Fafa Picault and Haris Medujnanin stunned fans, contract extensions and key resignings strengthened the team not only for this season but also for the coming years of the ever-expanding MLS soccer. Because of all of this, the Union have the third-best odds to win the cup this year.

The Union took on its first opponent of the season in Dallas, perhaps the only club that employs more academy products than the Union themselves, losing 2–0. However, last season, the most successful in the club’s history, started similarly with two bad losses. From there, the Union rebounded strongly with many impressive wins.

The evidence suggests that the Union will have a top-four finish in the East and a successful playoff run.

The first impression of the season was certainly not a good one, but evidence suggests that the Union will have a top-four finish in the East and a successful playoff run.