Ok, so while it's not exactly the middle of the season, I thought that we were close enough to the halfway point that we could start making predictions as to how the rest of the 2014 MLS campaign would play out.
Drum roll please.
Without further Edu (did you see what I did there?), here are the predictions of the second half of the Philadelphia Union's 2014 season.
JC Escobar - Vincent Nogueira will not play another game for the Union. He will be transferred back to Europe.
Eugene Rupinski - I'll predict that the Union will not make a big move during the transfer window. They may sign a journeyman defender, but since they're not going to sign a manager until the offseason they won't invest money into a player who may or may not fit the new manager's style of play. The ONLY thing I can see deviating from that is if they're able to get Carlos Valdes back. Then they don't look to sign anyone and will ride out this season and look toward 2015.
John Rossi - The Union won't hire a coach before the end of the season. Jim Curtin will finish out the year, no matter what.
Barry Evans - I predict that the Union will not win the US Open Cup, and be far out of the playoffs before unloading Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, and Amobi Okugo by the end of the year. The Edu loan was all to give him a chance at getting into the World Cup team - he'll go back to Europe to continue playing there. Noguiera will be sold soon, as he doesn't seem to fit in with Curtin's tactics, and could fetch a decent price by being an All-Star. Okugo is going to be moved out - just like players got ditched by being Nowak guys, Okugo is the "Hack guy" that will be gone. He has gone from Captain to being first midfielder pulled in substitutions - he won't like that, and deserves better.
Justin F. - I predict that despite the Union's playoff chances will probably be talked up a lot, they will once again fall short of qualifying for the playoffs.
Jared Young - The FO will make two signings (one offense one defense) in an effort to make the playoffs, which will not happen. They do get their guy and replace Curtain before the season is over. They can't risk having him sign with another team before the fall.
Frank Cobbina - The Union will hire Rene Meulensteen as their next coach.
We've all had a tough time dealing with the Union's rough first half of the season. I know that as fans we all had very high hopes, but as bad as things are now I can say there's really nowhere to go but up. Even if you look at the standings, the Union are a measly two points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in addition to being in the Semifinals of the US Open Cup!
How much better could it get? Ok, a lot better, but still! We've got the Eastern Conference right where we want them. There's no real reason we should be overly pessimistic about the Union. No we aren't competing for the Supporters Shield or even really in contention for the MLS Cup, but there's always a hope. If you look ahead to the remaining half of the season, the odds are leaning in the Union's favor.
I'll get into why in a longer form article hopefully sometime soon, but in the simplest form the Eastern Conference has four representatives in the CONCACAF Champions League (one of which being the pitiful Montreal Impact), and that means extra games and tired legs. Sporting Kansas City, DC United, and the New York Red Bulls are all in the playoffs currently and all have games in hand over the Union. Doesn't sound too great, but with an extra game(s) over Philadelphia plus the extra CCL games, we could be seeing some teams fall off the pace, especially those who lack depth (I'm looking at you New York).
So my prediction is a positive one. I do believe the Union have a serious shot at getting into the postseason in the face of a weak and flailing East and they have a serious shot at winning the US Open Cup. Will they do either? If I'm being greedy I'll say that I want both to happen, and if I'm not being greedy I will say that I believe the Union will win the US Open Cup only. In the face of their triumph, they will lose out on the playoffs in similar fashion as last year.
But hey at least we'll get our trophy right?
Please answer the poll below and give us extra thoughts in the comments!