I am optimistic and excited. A part of me is scared to be this optimistic. Could it be true that the Union faithful actually have a decent team that will be competitive this season? I have to admit that while I was excited to see the departure of Nick Sakiewicz, that Earnie Stewart (who is a really nice guy, by the way) was still an unknown quantity to me. The team of last year was dismantled, with only a few core remaining, and we were going to be draft heavy. D.C. United went from being the worst team in MLS in 2013 to first in the Eastern Conference in 2014 - could the Union actually pull it off too? Could the Union re-build that quickly to become a contender? If any of you out there claim to have known that we would win two out of our first three games, I'm calling your bluff now. After the first game of the season, it seemed like it was going to be a very rough year. "Well, maybe the Union could squeak into the last spot of the playoffs", I optimistically thought.
All that changed after Sunday's home opener. Sure, the Union beat Columbus Crew SC, but to be fair Columbus looked like complete dookie. That had to be a fluke, right? Nope. The team came out this past Sunday looking aggressive and hungry. What a joy it is to be confident in our goalkeeper's abilities. How amazing it is to have a back line that can keep themselves organized and fierce. And what is the deal with having a midfield perform this well when three of it's best players are out with injurie? Is this what it feels like to have actual depth?
I'm still guarded about being truly optimistic for the season. We all know how much heartbreak there has been for us in the past. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to just give in to the joy and put 100% of yourself into this team this year.
The past two games have showed me a team that has put its heart out on the pitch. There's something about how they are playing this year that's just different. Even when we were up three goals, the team kept pushing for more. They didn't settle. That is what I want to see out of my team.
I think it's safe to say that the era of old for the Philadelphia Union is over. It's time to embrace it. We, as fans, are in this together. We need to show the passion to the players that they have been showing on the field. If we can match that, Talen Energy Stadium will once again become a fortress that opposing teams loathe to come to.
The times they are a'changing....