Alejandro Bedoya is back, and he's hungry. Haris Medunjanin is back, and he wants silverware. Andre Blake: Ever-present, and he wants titles.
Philadelphia Union's veterans rep the city with pride, but what they really want is to bring the city championships. Ernst Tanner arrived last autumn with a plan to make that happen, and the Union's leaders have bought in. And don't forget: The person Tanner said looked hungry when he spoke to the press earlier this year? Jim Curtin. The Union coach has had the club that wear's his city -- his city -- on its chest on the cusp of a title three times. He's ready to bring one home.
Over the course of 90 minutes, anything can happen (just ask Seattle - they were knocking on the door of a ten game win streak last year before Fafa Picault danced away with three points), but veterans know that the real secret, the one so simple it's often overlooked, is consistency. Game after game, night after night, training session after grueling training session -- you have to bring it. When BJ Callaghan was selected to move on from the Union and join the US Men's National Team, he looked back at the squad he helped coach and pointed at the guys that could act like stars. They don't take days off, he said.
Jim Curtin likes to say that the table doesn't lie, but that's not entirely accurate. Last season, DC United set up camp in the district for the back third of the season and shot up the standings into the playoffs. The real deal is this: The table doesn't lie, but it is playful. It watched Orlando go on an early hot streak before revealing that the Purple Lions didn't quite have what it took to make the postseason in 2018. At times last season, the table counted out Seattle and Portland, and for a while it flirted with New England and Montreal.
It's only at the end of the year that the table tells the whole truth and nothing but: That some teams make the cut and others do not.
CJ Sapong knows it. Ilsinho knows it. Ray Gaddis and Warren Creavalle? Yeah, they know.
And they're ready for the table.
Time for you to get ready too, Philly.