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Frustration rises as Union hit the road

Both players and fans are upset with the team’s poor start.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

On dollar-hot-dog night on a beautiful Friday, the Union could not build on a relatively promising performance against San Jose and looked to have taken 10 steps backward in a 2-0 loss to Orlando City SC. After seeing another disappointing home loss, the larger-than normal crowd, which gave the Union a vocal presence all night, showered the team with displeasure.

Despite rising frustration from the fanbase, people are still coming to see this underachieving team. However, attendance is clearly down. Through four games at Talen Energy Stadium, the average paid attendance, which does not reflect the true attendance, is 15,650. For comparison sake, the Union averaged 15,973 through their first four home games last year and, on the season, 16,812 in paid attendance.

From top to bottom Friday night, the Union looked like a disjointed mess.

“If we don’t play as a team, everybody can beat us. You saw today that the lines were too far: from the defense to the midfield [and] from the midfield to the offense. Everything was not right. Everything was how we spoke [of] this week,” opined a very clearly perturbed Haris Medunjanin post-game.

“It’s difficult when you don’t score. It’s difficult to win games.” Medunjanin added. “But, I think we went into the game too comfortable, because the last performance we thought everything was okay. But we didn’t the last game. Today was the game we [needed] to win.”

He’s right. Many people pointed to this opening stretch of four games out five at home, with only two of them against 2017 playoff teams, as crucial for the Union’s goal of making the playoffs. That task of a strong start should have been a much easier proposition considering the Union added David Accam and Borek Dočkal to form what should have been a potent attack. However, have the Union ever made anything easier for themselves?

The bleak reality is that the Union have scored three goals in their first five games, with two of them coming in the season opener.

“It’s a struggle right now for us to score.” Union Head Coach Jim Curtin added after the disappointing loss. “

The offense has looked like a collection of parts rather than a well-oiled machine. Accam, CJ Sapong and Fafa Picault have been unable to score, despite numerous chances to do so. The new number ten looks like all the old number tens before him: ineffective. The crosses are not connecting with anyone. The players may be different, but the tactics and quality of play still remain the same, stalled forever.

For all that was said about the need to start strong, the Union have only earned a paltry five points out of a possible 15. Now the Union must hit the road, where they have never had much success, for four out of their next five matches.

“We talked a lot about the importance of this game against a conference opponent. I didn’t get the job done. So I put my hand up and accept responsibility for the group,” Curtin told the press after the game. “I still know that we have a real strong team. We still play good soccer at home, but now it’s just a matter of finishing those chances.”

The Union need a win desperately to get some confidence back. The fans need a win to give them something to root for. The road to getting back on track for the Union will only get tougher from here.