With Season Over, Union Look to 2011

Despite up-and-down 2010, Union showed plenty of promise

The record will show that the Union closed their expansion season with a 3-1 loss at Columbus.

The record will show that the Union finished this inaugural season with a 2-12-1 road record and 8-15-7 overall mark.

But let the record also show that the Union made tremendous strides in year one despite a number of challenges, including putting a team together from scratch and playing eight of the first 10 games on the road while PPL Park was being completed.

Yes, the season ended with a disappointing loss. But the 2010 season will be remembered for so much more.

“It’s been a great experience, but we still have a young team and lots of things to improve,” Union Manager Peter Nowak said after season's final match. “Decisions of who will stay, who will go are still to come. The potential is there, but you have to be hungry for more.”

The results may not always have wound up in their favor, but it sure wasn’t for lack of effort. They played with a physical, attacking style that Nowak and Coach John Hackworth demanded.

From the first game at Seattle, the Union pushed forward with relentless energy, highlighted by forward Sebastien Le Toux. The ever-improving striker notched his 14th goal with a rocket in the 87th minute, further enhancing his bid for the Most Valuable Player award. 

Le Toux never stopped hustling despite being down three goals. The Union never stopped playing hard, even when things didn’t go their way on the road.

Their road wins May 29 at Houston -- a 3-2 come-from-behind victory -- and a 2-1 win Aug. 28 at New England are results to build on for next season. The schedule will surely be more balanced in 2011, but the Union will need to improve away from PPL Park in order to take the next step. 

Perhaps more than Sunday's loss, Philadelphia’s 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Oct. 16 will be etched in the players' minds until next season.

“We want to get some momentum going in the next year,” said goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who got the start against the Crew. “Obviously, winning at home in our last game for our fans was big for us.”

The Union's inaugural campaign has officially ended seven months after it began. Without the expansion label, the stakes will be even higher in 2011. 

And that'll make it even more exciting.