The Philadelphia Union’s loss to D.C. United on Saturday extended the club’s winless streak to a dozen games, including the loss to Toronto FC in the 2016 MLS Playoffs. With the last win coming way back on August 27, the club has 8 losses, 4 draws, and a -13 goal differential over the 12 games. Hopes of a successful 2017 season have been replaced with the knives of disappointment and anger.
People are upset - and justifiably so. Organizationally, a club that made such strides in early 2016 has taken a few steps backward. There’s a lot of blame to go around, and the fans I’ve talked to are eagerly pointing fingers at everyone.
Jim Curtin is bearing the brunt of most of the anger. The pieces of the puzzle still haven’t come together under Curtin, and the fans are understandably upset. The calls for his job are only growing louder with each passing day, and it’s increasingly harder for those like myself who believe Curtin is a good coach to be able to keep that faith.
The heat has also been turned up on Earnie Stewart. While his moves leading into the 2016 season bought him a ton of political capital with the fans (acquiring Chris Pontius, taking a trio of pro-ready rookies in Keegan Rosenberry, Fabian Herbers, and Josh Yaro), that capital has been all but spent. These signings have been overshadowed lately by the signings that haven’t panned out as expected. Haris Medunjanin and Oguchi Onyewu have been decent but not outstanding and Derrick Jones is a bit of a revelation, but Giliano Wijnaldum is stuck at Bethlehem Steel FC (and looking like he belongs in USL) and million-dollar man Alejandro Bedoya is looking to be a bust of a signing.
A lot of the blame though should fall squarely on the players. This is a team that has quite frankly looked apathetic at times, and the blame for that lies at the feet of the captain. Alejandro Bedoya should be setting an example for the club through his play and his behavior, and to be fair there’s a lot of Bedoya in the locker room that we don’t see. But what we have seen from Bedoya in the locker room is far from exemplary. With Maurice Edu out indefinitely and Brian Carroll mentoring the next generation in Bethlehem, this is Bedoya’s team.
His play on the field hasn’t been exemplary either. In his 15 games in a Union kit (including the playoff game at Toronto), he has two goals and zero assists. Since he’s supposed to be the Union’s primary play-maker, this is problematic to say the least. To put that in perspective, here’s this tweet from Opta dated March 24.
Bedoya did not play well at the 8 and is not playing well at the 10, which begs the question “Where exactly will he play well?” The Union have been absolutely snake-bitten with their Designated Player signings, and Bedoya seems to quickly be joining the ranks of Freddy Adu and Rais M’Bolhi.
It’s not just on Bedoya though, just as it isn’t solely on Curtin or Stewart. The entire team needs to take ownership of this poor run of form. Winning solves all ills, and there’s a three-game home stand that could very easily rebuild that political capital with the fans. Should this slide continue however, it could make for a tumultuous year for everyone involved.