CHESTER, Pa. – A wasted season.
That’s how many of the Philadelphia Union players felt Saturday following a 2-1 season-ending loss to Sporting Kansas City that officially knocked them out of playoff contention.
And that’s what they plainly told reporters from the despondent home locker room at PPL Park as they tried to wrap their heads around how they went from near the top of the Eastern Conference standings to seventh place over the past couple of months.
“It feels like a waste,” Amobi Okugo told MLSsoccer.com. “Thirty-four games and you don’t have anything to play for anymore.”
“Pretty much the whole season gone,” Sheanon Williams added. “Wasted. There are no good feelings.”
While Saturday’s loss to SKC was a tough one, it paled in comparison to some other missed opportunities in what manager John Hackworth called a “season of what-ifs.”
Union defender Jeff Parke pointed to a 1-0 home loss to Houston on Sept. 14 as the one that “separated us from getting into the playoffs, basically.” Williams lamented the late stoppage-time goals the Union gave up in back-to-back draws with Dallas and Real Salt Lake, as well as the blown lead in last week’s loss at Montreal.
And Okugo thought picking up just five points in three games with lowly Toronto doomed them in the end.
“It is hard because we know there are goals that we scored that were legitimate, people admit they were legit, and that is six points right there,” Hackworth said. “We had two goals against us in some of the craziest injury-time ever. So maybe it is a season of what-ifs. We have to take responsibility for that. I do believe you kind of get those balances back and forth and it doesn’t feel like we got them this time, but I cannot think about that much because we have to move on.
“We have guys in the locker room that have bright futures and will be really good in this league and will put his club in a position that can challenge for a championship someday.”
While Hackworth was hopeful that his young core will lead the club to brighter days, it was hard for some of those players to see the silver lining after winning just two times in their last ten games to fall out of the playoff race.
“I can go back and circle a bunch of games we didn’t win and games we should have tied,” Williams said. “But what good does that do us? We’re still out.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.