The Philadelphia Union have begun the season in the least ideal way possible, 0 wins, 2 ties and 2 losses. The Union could arguably have two wins but for calls that did not go their way. We've seen two red cards and multiple yellow cards in four games with one foul earning extended punishment. We've seen penalties given and conceded and a lot of offside calls. Many fans feel as though the refs have been biased against the Union as the late penalty given against Real Salt Lake did not seem to be deserving of a PK, and the lack of calls in the home opener against Colorado Rapids did not do the Union any favors. But how can the Union find success with some officiating not going their way?
Don't Play Dirty
It shouldn't have to be that hard. If you don't give the referees anything to call, they won't call you. The two losses the Union had were the two games players saw straight red cards for dumb fouls. The Union need to be more dedicated to playing smart and not putting officials in a position to make calls that could change the result of the game.
Who is standing out?
This seems like kind of a silly question, as the Union have looked bad on the pitch in the first month of the 2015 campaign, but there have been some stand outs.
Youngster Eric Ayuk has only come on as a sub in both losses, but he played very well despite his limited playing time. He made a great effort and was exciting to watch while on the pitch. With some caps at Harrisburg City Islanders as well as playing time with the Union, Ayuk could be a very dangerous players in the league during the next couple months.
If you needed any proof that Cristian Maidana is a necessity to the Union lineup, the game against Chicago Fire is all the evidence needed. There was a lack of development and lack of chances that Madiana had been providing while healthy. Maidana only started one game, and in that game he got an assist to one of the next stand out player of weeks 1-4's goals
Young DP Fernando Aristeguieta is the only player on the Union who has scored this season and has looked great in every game he has played in. He's taking great shots and moving for passes. As the season progresses, he will blend in really well and learn how each member of the Union thinks and where they like to play the ball.
Who has been too quiet?
This also seems like a silly question, because almost everyone has been too quiet or lacking in some way, but there are some players who have stood out for lacking to stand out more than others.
Though keeping a clean sheet in the opener, Rais M'Bohli has conceded a goal in three of the four games this season. He has allowed more goals this year than he did in his first four games with the Union last year. M'Bohli is the highest paid goal keeper in the MLS but has conceded six goals in four games this season. Granted, he has had almost no help defensively as defenders have failed to stay organized or work as a unit.
You may be wondering, "Why is Steven Vitoria on this list? He hasn't done anything this year," and thats the point. He has not been the big defender the Union need to make big stops and command the back line. So far he has received two yellow cards in four games and has not been a real threat in the back. A part of the reason the Union have been conceding goals is because there is no leadership on the back line, with Ray Gaddis having the most MLS experience (three years) of all the currently healthy defenders.
Andrew Wenger/Sebastien Le Toux
It is clear that fans held Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux to high standards with a combined 18 goals and 11 assists between the two last season. The wings, however, have failed to be involved this season as they are both goalless and assistless through the first month of play. Both players need to find form this season in order for the Union to have success for the remainder of the season. With the departure of Danny Cruz on loan to FK Bodo/Glimt of the Norwegian Tippeligaen, there are not any experienced players that can play where Wenger and Le Toux currently start. But Aristeguieta will not be able to carry the team on his shoulders if he is able to score 18+ goals this season. Some of that burden needs to go to Wenger and Le Toux, and as of the first month of the season they have not stepped up.
Are the playoffs still a hope?
It would be foolish to write off the Union this early in the season. With three starting caliber players and one important player off the bench injured, the Union do not have the depth they would typically have for games. Cristian Maidana, Conor Casey, and Sheanon Williams should be back soon, and the return of CJ Sapong will boost the offense whether he starts or comes off the bench. Despite the rough start, there is still plenty of time for the Union to turn things around.