Room for improvement
This was not the way the Philadelphia Union intended on finishing the regular season.
A 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon at PPL sent the Union careening on a three-game losing streak to close the season with a 10-18-6 record. Unlike last season, the Union won’t be advancing to the MLS Cup playoffs.
The goal now is to work tirelessly in the offseason to get back their playoff swagger.
Philadelphia was soundly defeated by the playoff-bound Red Bulls for the third time this season and for the fifth time in seven career meetings.
All the Union could do in the locker room was ponder next season. There will be a plethora of decisions to be made by the technical staff.
For now, it’s about reflection.
“It was a frustrating season in a lot of ways, and we’re all competitive, so it was pretty tough at times,” said third-year forward Jack McInerney, who wound up leading the club with eight goals, including a franchise-best goal in four straight games. “No one likes to lose. We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities today and take advantage of anything. Things just didn’t go our way.
“I don’t think anyone in this locker room expected to finish the season this way. It happened and we have to move on, learn from it and get better next season.”
Defender Sheanon Williams missed the game with a left ankle injury.
Watching the way the season ended was anything but easy for the fiery defender.
“For me personally, I’d like to forget this game,” Williams told philadelphiaunion.com. “It was tough watching for sure. I’d like to forget this and the season because things didn’t go well a lot. In a lot of cases, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Now having said that, I can think of at least five games we could have won but didn’t win. I think we have to take those experiences and try and improve for next season.
“I think we’re going to improve in the offseason to get better and it’s going to be a different story next season. I’m looking forward to next season and getting back on track.”
Manager John Hackworth believed the club played well much of the game and could have gotten on track with a play here or there.
“We couldn’t catch a break,” Hackworth said. “We couldn’t finish our opportunities.”
Despite the loss, experience was gained – especially for the younger players. Scan the Union lineup and most of the lineup is young.
“I think anytime you play, you gain experience,” defender Ray Gaddis said. “I think anytime you play against a rival like New York, you’re going to learn a lot. We were outplayed in some ways today and we gave up some untimely goals. I think we will all look at film and train hard in the offseason to get better for next season.”
In the meantime, the players will have to draw on their experience. Losing the last three matches wasn’t the ideal way to finish.
The players know it. They understand.
“We made the playoffs a year ago, and this year, it was a crazy season with so much going on,” McInerney said. “It wasn’t all pretty. We did some good things. We have some frustrating things happen. I know we’re going to come back strong.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com