Not everything has gone the Union’s way in their inaugural season. Far from it, in fact. Some of the club’s misfortunes have been preventable, some just rotten luck.
The glass half full perspective – and the reality of the situation – is that the club has been mentally tested early on and has learned to deal with adversity as a result. There may be sense of frustration if you listen to the players, but not a hint of lethargy.
"We've had some tough bounces go against us this season,” said defender Cristian Arrieta. “Some weird things have happened. We have to learn from them and get three points as much as possible in the second half of the season. We have a lot of talent in here. I think good things are going to happen to us this season."
In the early stages of the season the Union’s biggest problem was allowing opponents to score first, with Sebastien Le Toux’s goal against D.C. United – the first goal in Union history – serving as the only exception to a rule that lasted seven matches.
Now, the club has the reverse problem. Philadelphia has scored first in their last four MLS matches, only to give up the subsequent goal on each occasion. Only against Toronto was the club able to manage all three points, when – you guessed it – Le Toux netted a game-winning PK.
"We have been scoring first a good bit, but haven't been able to hold the lead,” said veteran forward Alejandro Moreno. “We have to do a better job at that. We need three points and not one in these homes matches. We need the extra points, especially at home. This game Thursday against a very good Crew team is obviously huge."
Moreno is still searching for his first goal of the season, just about the only thing he hasn’t been doing for an expansion club that has benefitted greatly from his knowledge and experience. But even the most unselfish strikers want to score once in a while, and Moreno is understandably eager to get on the board as a member of the Union.
“I keep working and I keep doing my job,” he said. “One of these ones will fall at some point. I am not discouraged, I keep my head up because I know that I do other things for this team and the work that I put in will be rewarded.”
Another regular in the starting XI, goalkeeper Chris Seitz, is in search of a different first. Marko Perovic’s free kick from distance took a fluky bounce, preventing Seitz and Philadelphia's backline from registering the franchise’s first shutout in league play.
“I was thinking this ball was headed toward the middle but it took a big bounce,” Seitz said after the match. “I even think it hit the roof of the net. It just went straight up on me and I didn’t have enough time to react.
"Shutouts will be there for me eventually. I'm not too worried about it. There will be a clean sheet. I'm more concerned with winning as many games as possible."
The optimism throughout the Union locker room is evidence that the club has already adopted a mentality of expecting to win. That attitude will serve them well, but the club knows that only hard work will take them to where they ultimately want to be.
“It was a short turnaround (against New England) and it’s time for us to get back to work,” said Seitz. “We have a lot of games in the next couple weeks and hopefully we can put some good results together.”
Sitting in 6th place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points, Philadelphia face an uphill climb to the playoff to be sure. Luckily for the Union, there doesn't appear to be a player on the roster not up for the journey.
"We have a challenge ahead of us and we're excited about it," said central midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. "We have a
number of games at home coming up, and we're excited about it. We'll have our
home fans behind us. The schedule was tough and challenging in the first half.
It will be tough in the second half, but the schedule evens out a bit. I'm
excited to see how we match up."