The Philadelphia Phillies are currently on an 8-game losing streak, tied for the longest in the Charlie Manuel era. Chances are, any Phillies wins from here on out are going to be meager consolation wins. The Phillies are once again effectively also-rans with a trade deadline and a lot of tough decisions about to be made that will hopefully better the future. But while there is some hope to build for the future with the deadline, the Phillies are done contending this year.
Bummer. But this is America, and instead of waiting for Eagles season to kickoff in a month and a half or Flyers season to start in two months or the Sixers Greatest Tank Battle in three months, we want satisfaction now. So where can a depressed Philadelphia sports fan find satisfaction in rooting for a team trying to contend for the playoffs now?None other than Major League Soccer and the Philadelphia Union!
My aim with this guide is to provide you, the depressed Phillies fan, with a little bit of information about the Union's current position while also having a little bit of fun on the way.
Are the Philadelphia Union really contending for the playoffs?
Yes! They are! The Philadelphia Union are right in the thick of things. Five teams qualify for the playoffs and right now they are four points clear of 6th place and only two points behind first place Sporting Kansas City, although Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls are tied for second with one more point than the Union.
Does this mean everything is absolutely perfect with the Union?
Eh...the midfield has been a constant issue all season. The midfield is the most crucial aspect to a soccer team and this is an area where the Union have regrettably struggled. Often times, the midfield struggles linking up with the forwards and it creates an issue where goal scoring opportunities can be limited. In addition, the Union have found some absolutely fabulous ways to drop points this season, including losing on the last kick at home against F.C. Dallas. The beauty of some of the Union's losses this year have been enough to bring a tear to your eye. No, really. They have.
Just how awesome is Jack McInerney?
Amazingly orgasmically* awesome.
*Don't tell me that's not a word!
At 20-years old, he has gotten a call-up to Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. National Team roster. Granted, Klinsmann was fielding a B-level squad for the Gold Cup, but just getting the opportunity to train for the manager of the U.S. Men's National Team has to be a huge benefit. According to all reports, McInerney really impressed in training despite not getting any actual Gold Cup minutes.
Please tell me John Hackworth is more flexible than Charlie Manuel!
Well, Hackworth is certainly younger, but much like Charlie, John Hackworth likes to stick with his guys through thick and thin. Roger Torres, a creative midfielder who has become somewhat of a cause celebre among Union fans has seen little action this season. Making things worse, Torres has attributes that would help solve some of the Union's midfield woes this season. Torres has been with the Union in all four years of existence and for four years has magically managed to retain the face of a 7-year old. You just want to pinch those cheeks so hard....
Anyway, where was I going? Ah yes, Hackworth. Hackworth started out as the right-hand man to the dictatorial Piotr Nowak. And while Hackworth is much more player friendly than Nowak (and a lot less crazy with transfers!), he remains quite stubborn especially when it comes to line-up selection on game day.
Anything more you can tell me about the Philadelphia Union?
Sure! They have a bunch of other exciting players, including Conor Casey, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Sheanon Williams and his incredibly long throw-ins, returning club legend Sebastien Le Toux and his multitude of assists, Jeff Parke, Raymon Gaddis, Michael Farfan, and many others. Unfortunately, their goalkeeper Zac MacMath, taken in the first round of the 2011 Draft, has seen his share of struggles with ball-handling and consistently solid performances.
In addition, if you like sports on television and are sick of Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, and Gary "Sarge" Matthews, the Union's local commentating team are frequently rated as among the best in MLS. All Union regular season games are televised and can be seen on CSN and TCN, however the Union will get plenty of national exposure as well on NBCSN and ESPN2.
So come one, come all, depressed Phillies fans! The Phillies may be in an inescapable rut causing you to throw your old Tamagotchi pet against the wall, but the Union are dead in the middle of a playoff chase. If you are looking for some excitement in Philadelphia sports, Major League Soccer becomes more and more formidable by the day and the Union chasing a playoff spot is bound to be exciting. If you are looking for something competitive to hold you over before the Eagles start in September, it is either the Union, semi-pro sports, or the Phillies playing Delmon Young, who belongs in a semi-pro league.
My recommendation is the Union! (gives resounding thumbs up)