The Philadelphia Union are in first place in the Eastern Conference. Wherever you are reading this, why don't you take a moment and let that sink in.
I'll wait. It's worth it.
Feels pretty good doesn't it?
After what Union fans have been through, this little breath at the top is a welcome one. A year ago, the Union were off to a terrible start. Their goalkeeping situation was the laughing stock of the league. The play and front office missteps got so bad the Sons of Ben marched into a May game with a blue and gold coffin emblazoned with "We Deserve Better."
Those words might have been ringing in the ears of Jay Sugarman when he mercifully relieved Nick Sakiewicz of his duties as CEO prior to the end of the dreadful season. Sakiewicz was maligned by the fans for his corporate smarm and unwelcome meddling with the roster. That ugly chapter could now be closed. A blank page laid before Sugarman and the owners to start anew .
Enter Earnie Stewart.
Three time World Cup participant for the United States. Over one hundred national team caps. MLS Cup winner with D.C. United. Over one hundred career club goals as a midfielder, mostly in the Netherlands. After his career he spent nearly a decade as an executive in the Eredivisie.
All that experience.
When the Union inked Earnie Stewart as Sporting Director for the club they acquired a word that is overused yet underappreciated in sports: Leadership. Jim Curtin said it best after the latest win against NYCFC, "We've had a lot of positive changes in the organization and now you're seeing the results justify and give a belief to the players."
It starts at the top. It starts with Earnie.
Only the Chicago Fire shed more players in the offseason. The Union said goodbye to fifteen players including their best offensive weapon Cristian Maidana, and then proceeded to stock the roster with more attacking midfielders than there are trout in Ridley Creek State Park.
There is a youth movement afoot as well. Four rookies have seen minutes this season, including Keegan Rosenberry, who has started every game at right back.
Union fans barely finished wiping their tears.
Will it always feel this good? Of course not. There will be the bad runs. The odd bounces. The spate of injuries. Heck, there will be unrest this season. But at every turn will be decision making at the top with the knowledge and mindset to drive the organization in the right direction.
That's why we Union fans need to enjoy this moment, and more importantly enjoy the fact that leadership is in place to guide the Union to better days ahead. On a day when Pennsylvania and Delaware voters are faced with the impossible task of finding a complete leader, Union fans can rest assured that the coaches and players - and indeed the entire Union nation can all #FeelTheEarn.