Well, folks, there it is. The 2021 Philadelphia Union season comes to a close. It was a historic season, Champions League matches, the deepest playoff run in team history, and much more. And while we would have it some other way, no one can say it was a bad run.
The Union is a tough team, they’re a team that wants to win, for themselves and for the fans. You could see it through the first two playoff games, through the regular season.
Without the help that New York City got from the Union’s mini-outbreak, it’s not at all a stretch to say that they would have handled New York easily. The substitutes who stepped up on Sunday don’t deserve any blame, they played as well and better than expected. But Nathan Harriel and 35-year-old Aurelien Collin are not Kai Wagner and Jakob Glesnes. And when defensive errors cost you the game (I know that Mbaizo made the initial error, but I’m a firm believer that Glesnes/Elliott could have followed up on the tackle that Harriel missed) it’s frustrating to lose a game that you should have won.
However, there’s no point in yelling at the internet for things that were simply out of our hands. All the team and its fans can do is move on.
It’s time to stop complaining about Olivier Mbaizo missing that ball late game. It’s an error that will hurt him and the franchise, but it isn’t representative of the season that he had: standout as he looked to replace a club legend. It’s time to move on from what led to the team getting Covid; thanks to the outstanding reporting of Kevin Kinkhead, it sounds as if it was a series of unfortunate events. But like Mbaizo, what’s done is done.
I’m rarely a Posidelphian, but fans need to step away from the doom and gloom and be proud of what the team has created.
The Union has gotten better every year since Jim Curtin took over, and it looks as if he intends to see out his contract. Since 2014, the Union has gone from a 42 point team in the bottom half of the table to being genuine title contenders for the past two years. Even though they aren’t the brand name of Major League Soccer, teams now have to look at the Union on their calendar and circle the date.
The Union has made playoffs each of the last four years, and each year they end up a little deeper (we don’t talk about November 24, 2020.) It’s not a stretch to say that they reach their first MLS Cup Final next year and maybe return home with a trophy.
The future of the Union is still bright, the future of the academy is still bright, the future of Ernst Tanner continuing to pluck guys out of German towns with names that cannot possibly be real is still bright. Yes, this loss hurts, yes, the Union deserved to win, no, they didn’t. But now we continue on as everyone has to. We pick up the pieces and then come back stronger and better.
The Union is this close to being the team to beat in MLS. The team has the best goalkeeper in the league, even if you aren’t a homer. It’s got one of the best back lines, a strong midfield, and some good young players. All the team needs is a good attacker, and Ernst Tanner can certainly dig someone up from somewhere we’ve never heard of.
So put your ears to the dirt in hopes that you’ll hear that DP forward trotting onto the practice grounds this offseason. But until they come, we move forward. We’ll see each other in just 10 short weeks. Until then, DOOP.