It took two years for the Philadelphia Union to go from a dream to kicking off their first game in Major League Soccer. And it took just two months for their first season in the league to show definable trends negative and positive.
Starting the year 1-5-1, the inaugural season for the Union has gone the way many thought it would: badly. Traditionally, expansion clubs in MLS struggle out of the gate take a while to come together.
Four points at this stage in the season may not seem like much, but the team is certainly playing solid soccer. The movement is crisp and they are gelling much quicker than anyone could have expected. They have a solid scoring threat up top and the defense has generally been playing well together.
With the Union facing a bye week this weekend, we take a quick look back at the season so far for the league’s fledgling franchise.
At Seattle Sounders FC (March 25) - A daunting way to start out the season, the Union played surprisingly well for an expansion team on the road in a place like Seattle. Controlling the possession for extended periods, even when down a man, Philadelphia’s 2-0 loss didn’t do their play justice.
D.C. United (April 10) – An emotional and emphatic 3-2 win, this was by far the team’s best performance of the season. Visiting D.C. United were outplayed and outmatched in the Union’s first ever home game. This one could have easily been more lopsided.
At Toronto FC (April 15) - A short week sent the Union on the road to face Toronto FC at BMO Field, and they came away with a 2-1 loss. Playing well again, they were hindered by isolated mistakes and ultimately weren’t able to make up the difference playing down a man. Even in the loss, they bossed TFC for big portions of the match.
At New York Red Bulls (April 24) - Probably the Union’s worst showing of the season. The high-flying Red Bulls kept the Union on edge in this match and never really let them find their rhythm, earning a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena.
At Los Angeles Galaxy (May 1) - Thoroughly outplayed by the league’s top team in the first half of the match, the Union responded with a much better second half in a 3-1 loss. Despite being down a man for the third time this season, the visitors actually won the last 45 minutes and forced the Galaxy into surrendering one of only two goals allowed this season.
At Real Salt Lake (May 8) - Another misleading scoreline, as the Union played much better than a 3-0 margin would indicate. RSL showed their class on the three goals scored and deserved the win, but Peter Nowak’s team didn’t give them much in the match that was played largely in the midfield.
FC Dallas (May 15th) - Falling behind for the first time ever at home, the Union created chance after chance against Dallas in a 1-1 draw. If it weren’t for FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, the Union could have easily scored three or four goals. It was no. 1 overall pick in last year’s SuperDraft, Danny Mwanga, netting the game-tying goal in the last minute of stoppage time.