Flying commercially next week? So are your favorite Philadelphia Union players…. 4 TIMES! Time is recovery, and the Union are choosing to spend extra time in busses and at the airport instead of resting.
The Union’s itinerary next week is a game Sunday night in Harrison, NJ (which is right next to the Newark airport) drive back to Philly after the game, fly to San Jose the next day, train in San Jose Tuesday for their game Wednesday. Game and then recovery overnight Wednesday before flying back to Philly Thursday, then two days later fly to Columbus on Saturday before their third away game in a week on Sunday. If that doesn’t sound exhausting to you, you’re probably an MLS team owner or Don Garber’s lawyer in the upcoming CBA negotiations.
On top of that terrible travel schedule, the Union have used, in the words of captain Alejandro Bedoya, exactly “O. Zero. None. Zilch.” of their allotted four chartered flight legs this season. Yes, most teams don’t use all of the allotted four, but the Union have a legitimate chance at winning the East and hosting several playoff games if they finish strong. Spending an extra couple hundred thousand to help boost the chances at an additional several million dollars in revenue from hosting playoff games seems like a logical choice.
A chartered travel schedule for this upcoming week could look like this instead.
Game Sunday, stay overnight in Newark for recovery. Fly out of Newark on a chartered flight to San Jose Monday morning. Train on Tuesday and play Wednesday. Spend Wednesday night recovering in San Jose before chartering a flight to Columbus Thursday, and then train two days there before playing Sunday. Heck you can even fly commercial back to Philly after that.
Now I will say I’m no expert in coordinating travel, but it’s easy to see that the second scenario seems a lot less stressful on the players, who are already dealing with three away games in eight days. Not using any chartered flights this regular season also does little to change the public’s perception of a penny hording Union ownership group.
The Union have responded to the criticism with a statement from Ernst Tanner basically saying they’re happy with the travel arrangements and they don’t need to charter a flight. CBO Tim McDermott also defended the ownership group by tweeting “Ownership has never denied the team going charter. If Ernst felt it was best then that’s what we’ll do”.
It’s obvious that Bedoya disagrees with that sentiment from his tweets, and I’m definitely going to side with the captain on this one. As amazing as Ernst has been, none of the teams he’s been in charge of in the past have had to travel like MLS teams do. If this decision was solely his, and he truly believes their current travel arrangements give them the best chance at winning, then I’d have to argue that that’s a mistake. My personal thought is that the team is trying to do what they’ve always tried to do, win with as little money spent as possible. If they come out of this with three positive results next week, then props to the players, who are trying to accomplish something incredibly difficult without the travel luxuries given to the other top teams like LAFC.
Time is paramount for recovery, and no matter how you put it, not chartering flights this next week decreases the amount of recovery time for the players. Not using any charter flights this entire regular season continues to propagate the belief that the current ownership group isn’t willing to spend anything extra to try and gain a competitive advantage. When a team has a chance to do something truly special you’d like to see the organization and ownership throw their full support behind them, unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.