Maybe the 5-1 drubbing against the LA Galaxy wasn't quite as bad as the score seemed to indicate. But the loss brought the Philadelphia Union to a league worst -11 goal differential, and they are also the only team in MLS with less points than games played. But just how bad is this season so far? I guess that depends on what you thought of the Union in 2010. Back then, fans were just happy to have a team and the results didn't matter. Fast forward to the Union's sixth season and through 17 games they are at exactly the same point they were in 2010. And no season in the middle was as bad as this one. Not even 2012.
Here is a chart of the cumulative goal differential by season. The blue circle highlights where the team currently stands, right at the same point in 2010. During the Union's lone playoff run the team never had a negative goal differential. For the curious, the Union have had a positive goal differential just 33% of the time since they entered the league.
Here is a look at the cumulative points per game. Again the Union are at the exact same point as in 2010, and 2014 was only slightly better. The good news is that during both the 2014 and 2010 seasons the Union's overall points per game average increased as the season reached the end. However, ultimately the results were disappointing.
If the Union are to recover and make the playoffs they will need to go on a run unlike what they've been able to accomplish historically. The best increase in goal differential from this point in the season has been just 4 goals. That doesn't mean it can't happen. The best increase in goal differential over 17 games was 8, and that was last season. The Union will likely need a better run than that to make the playoffs.
The down side is that if the Union don't turn it on like last year or even earn the slight improvement they showed at the end of 2010, then they are easily headed for the worst season in history. Let's hope we see something similar to last season.