The Good: Zac MacMath
What more can Zac MacMath do to help this team? Last year there were questions of his mental toughness and his authority controlling his box, especially when having to come out and punch crosses out of the danger area. The 2014 MacMath seems a completely different player. He is confident and on more than one occasion against the Seattle Sounders came off of his line with a real purpose and rose to punch the ball clear of danger.
Sure, he hasn't been 100% perfect, the goal against Montreal could have been handled better, but he has more than made up for that mistake by saving all 3 penalty kicks the Union have handed their opposition this season. His shot stopping ability has always been a real strength, and nowhere is it as obvious than in the one-versus-one battle of penalties. The way he is playing now is making it impossible give Andre Blake a chance of claiming the starting job.
The Bad: Lack of Excuses
There really are no excuses that can be used to explain away the Union's lack of points. They took care of some real positions of weakness over the offseason in the midfield and center back, but now fail to play their best players - especially at center back.
The Union have dealt with very few injuries. Austin Berry's injury was the only major injury concern. He missed a game or two, but has mostly sat on the bench in favor of an out of position Aaron Wheeler in his role. Sheanon Williams also missed some time at the beginning of the season, but has been present more than he's missed. The other injuries have been limited to fringe and role players.
There hasn't been a Union player suspended yet and the Union haven't had to play down a man. On the flip side, twice the Union have had a man advantage to take advantage of and have failed to do so. Paired with the lack of any major injuries, John Hackworth has had nearly an entire squad to select from for his starting lineups.
Penalty kicks have been awarded to the opposition three to one this season, but while MacMath has denied every one of them, the Union took advantage of their lone shout. Also, the Union haven't had the bad luck of battling back from an own goal, but have gotten the benefit of an own goal for the good.
All in all, the Union have had a very fair chance at games and can't really claim any adversity that is out of their own control. Seattle was the perfect example. The benefit of a penalty kick save, an own goal, and the ability to sit on a lead late in the game, but yet the team comes home with nothing to show for it. Just plain and simply out played.
The Ugly: Insanity
The definition of insanity, as attributed to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Ten games into the 2014 season, the Union faithful have been handed insanity week in and week out. Even when the individuals on the field are changed, the same formation and strategy is trotted out. Players look good one week, but are missing from the starting lineup the next week (I'm thinking mainly in terms of Leo Fernandes), while players have horrendous, error filled weeks and they are still in a starting spot the next game (Wheeler).
It's been eight games since the Union won, but the approach has not changed. The lineup is still a 4-3-3, the players who were brought to Philadelphia to enhance their position are left on the sidelines, and there is no accountability for those on the field. The most frustrating part for me, a fan, is the copy and pasted excuses each week. "The tide will turn" and "we just need a little luck" and "the goals will start coming" find themselves into the post game and weekly press conferences of John Hackworth, and there seems to be a complete lack of urgency to figure out what is going wrong. A third of the season is over and the Union only have one win. They are on track for a three win season! I know it is a long season, but it may be almost time for full panic mode.