Regenerate, recharge and refocus the mindset of entire Union organization during MLS respite

Did the break in MLS play arrive at the perfect time for Union?

Celebration after goal vs. Vancouver

Photo Credit: 
Sideline Photos LLC

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan 

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It’s been a rough first half of Major League Soccer this season for the Philadelphia Union.

Contrary to what all of us within this organization work tirelessly each day to disprove, much of this season has been hard to sugarcoat.

Despite top notch goals scored by MLS All-Star caliber players, a 3-7-6 (15 points) record is where no one thought this club would be at this juncture.

The organization went out in the offseason and acquired considerable talent, creating a nucleus that generates more chances and – as of recent weeks, goals  – than arguably any Union team has in the five-year history of the franchise.

It’s hard to see through the smudged glass of missing crucial points, but this Union collective is starting to find a way to score goals on countless chances created. After starting out the first 11 games of the season with just 11 goals, the Union has scored 11 in its last five, winning two of those matches and drawing one. And with each game, the confidence garnered from having a solid outing is evident.

The competition in daily training gets fiercer…

The technical staff selects the best 18…

And you get moments like last Saturday's second half of soccer to hang your hat on that the best is yet to come in a season that’s far from over.

“We went through some growing pains but hopefully those are behind us,” said Union forward Andrew Wenger during a recent press conference. “There is a dependability there that we can score goals consistently because at one time or another it’s just a confidence thing whether we are giving up goals or offensively we’re not scoring goals but if we can just relax and trust in our abilities that will give us some confidence going into tough situations.”

Earlier Monday, MLSSoccer.com beat writer Dave Zeitlin posted:

A great stat that hopefully proves the Union is doing things right. Has every game been a sexy 90 minute affair?

Absolutely not.

But besides the Los Angeles match has there been a game that the Union didn’t have a chance to pull a point (or even three points) from? Look at the schedule and see for yourself.  

“We [as a team] were actually looking at it and for how bad we’ve played at times, some of our results and the way we’ve felt directly after certain games...we’re not that far out of it,” said Wenger.

Going forward…

While the team is on hiatus, the technical staff is constantly evaluating, scouting and taking players into consideration. For a second, imagine a hungry goalscoring presence that can come to the Union, and join a collective that have already scored 27 goals in 16 matches and add – at minimum – 10 of his own? Or a defender that alongside the current unit is a shutdown back and can secure a defensive front that historically in its five-year history has been among one of the best in MLS?

While the Union manager is confident that this current collective has the quality to get the job done, adding another piece to the puzzle to make imagination a reality would go a long way. Hackworth has already noted that they currently out scouting and scouring -- and internally some names have began to surface.

But it’s got to be the right fit.

For now, Union brass feel newly appointed manager Jim Curtin is able to take the ranks and lead a team that have seemingly found footing out of a tough goalscoring funk. Curtin works as the perfect person slide in because as Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz noted: He knows our culture, he knows what we’re trying to do. He knows our fanbase. He’s a Philly guy. And he’s got sharp teeth. So I imagine he’s going to put together a plan and this time [before MLS play resumes for the Union on June 28] gives him opportunity to do that.

Until then…

While all that happens behind the scenes, now it’s a matter of resting, regenerating and enjoying the spectacular that is the FIFA World Cup, an event that only comes once every four years. The team is on a week long respite, but the front office is working overtime to make sure that we bring you the best content and provide the greatest exposure during soccer’s greatest event. Our month long “Passport to Brazil” campaign will find our organization hitting the streets all month long to either host or be a part of 30 soccer-centric events in 30 days during the World Cup. On philadelphiaunion.com, our content plan is massive and tailor fit to bring you unique content about the World Cup through the eyes of Union members that have been a part of it all. In conjunction (and some welcomed assistance) from Philly Soccer Page, each day we’ll feature a player with either ties to the Greater Philadelphia region or to our organization that has been a part of a World Cup dating back to the first in 1930.

Additionally, we have plenty of other great written and video pieces in the works.

Stories like:

  • Mo Edu on the greatest World Cup goal never scored.
  • Mike Sorber on the field during the World Cup that changed the way we look soccer in America
  • The excitement, drama and dangers of hosting the World Cup in Brazil

That and more in addition to gearing you up for the fourth round U.S. Open Cup play against Harrisburg at PPL Park on June 17 (7 p.m., purchase tickets) and other exhibitions all before getting ready for the second and vital half of the Philadelphia Union. That kicks off on June 28 when the club travels to Foxborough, Mass. to take on the first place New England Revolution (7 p.m., The Comcast Network).

Because we all know going forward that more moments like this is exactly what our organization, our sponsors, constituents and most importantly, you our loyal supporters deserve to see:

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com