It’s been a wild ride, and a successful one at that.
The Philadelphia Union progressed dramatically in 2011, securing the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth and finishing among the top eight teams in Major League Soccer.
On the field, the results were a significant improvement from 2010. Manager Peter Nowak’s young team transformed from an expansion side into a contender in the Eastern Conference.
The numbers tell a large part of the story.
20: Combined goals and assists for Sebastien Le Toux – 11 goals, nine assists. Only Dwayne De Rosario and Fredy Montero had better numbers in this department. De Rosario tallied 16 goals and 12 assists, while Montero bagged 12 and nine. Houston’s Brad Davis had four goals and 16 assists. Le Toux led the Union in goals, assists, shots, and shots on goal.
3,060: The number of regular season minutes played by Le Toux. The Union’s star striker played every single minute of every single game, the only field player to do so this year in MLS. Chivas USA’s Nick Labrocca was second to Le Toux, with 3,058 minutes played. New York’s Joel Lindpere, Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz and Columbus fullback Sebastian Miranda were the only other field players to eclipse 3,000 minutes. Le Toux also played a full 90 minutes in two playoff games, plus a U.S. Open Cup qualifying match. If you add up Le Toux’s time over those 37 games, he played 3,330 minutes in 2011. Danny Califf was second on the team with 2,970 minutes. Califf started and played 90 minutes in 33 of the team’s 34 games.
36: Goals allowed by the Union. Only LA allowed fewer goals this year (28). Philadelphia improved drastically in this department. In 2010, the Union conceded 49 goals, which was tied for second worst in the league. The team jumped more than 15 spots in this category in just one year.
8: Goal differential. The Union had the second best goal differential in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia tied Real Salt Lake for fourth best goal differential in MLS. This is also an incredible improvement from the team’s debut season. Philadelphia had a -14 goal differential in year one, which was tied with Chivas USA for second worst in the league. This season, the team’s differential was 22 goals better than 2010.
10: Shutouts. The Union blanked four of their first six opponents this season. Philadelphia kept just two clean sheets in 2010.
1: Regular season home losses, the second fewest in the league. The Galaxy were the only team to go unbeaten through 17 home games. Only Colorado and Houston were able to win in Chester, the latter victory coming during the postseason. Compare it to 2010, when the Union had just three losses at home. In two years of play, Philadelphia have just four losses in 32 league home games. 30 of those matches were played at PPL Park, two at Lincoln Financial Field.
48: Total points. Philadelphia’s total was good enough for eighth best in the league. Last season, the Union finished in 14th place, with just 31 points in 30 games. Philadelphia improved by 17 points this year.
407: Shots. This was one of the few negative statistics in 2011. Philly were fifth worst in the league in this category.
135: Shots on goal. This was another drop off for Philadelphia. Only last-place Vancouver had fewer shots on target. In 2010, the Union managed 142 shots on goal – a larger number despite playing four fewer regular season games. Last year, Philadelphia’s shot on goal percentage of 0.47 was the highest number in the league.
65: Saves. Faryd Mondragon and Zac MacMath turned aside 65 shots on goal this year.
104: Opponents' shots on goal. The Union defense was so well organized this year that most attacks were snuffed out early. Over the course of 34 games, opposing teams averaged a mere 3.05 shots on goal this season, an all-time league record.
18: Points taken on the road. Philadelphia managed just seven road points in 2010.
Note: Compiled statistics are based on 34 league games