With MLS, it can be a coin flip the type of game that you will get from week to week.
At its best, MLS is one of the more entertaining leagues in the world. While maybe not as technical as Spain’s La Liga or England’s Premier League, Major League Soccer can give you 90 minutes of entertaining football. Games tend to have fast-paced box-to-box action with frenetic intensity and usually has goals and late match drama.
The other side of the coin though is a 90-minute slog where the biggest struggle is keeping your eyelids open. Not much of note happens besides a rare opportunity that breaks your gaze away from your phone just in time to maybe capture the replay. Last night’s 0-0 draw against Inter Miami? Well, it certainly will not be fondly remembered, if remembered at all, nor described as frenetic or fun.
It was one of those MLS contests Wednesday night at Subaru Park, one that is best forgotten as soon as the clock strikes midnight, despite the fact that it was a match of importance for the Union. The club had not seen a three-point performance since April 9’s 1-0 victory over Columbus, that lone goal scored in the second minute via an Eloy Room own goal.
The Union let three points slip from their grasp in the four games prior, letting 10-man New York Red Bulls snatch a point on the road in a painful draw last weekend. Unlike their previous draws, the Union never even got in a position to give away a lead this time.
Against an Inter Miami side near the bottom of the table, one that has struggled to keep the ball out of the net all season, the stage was set for a performance to right the ship. This should have been the game where the Union regathered their footing and got back on track in preparation for two tough road opponents in Portland and New England to close the month … instead, it’s a 0-0 draw where they seemed unable to string together a cohesive attack.
“It’s not a good draw,” commented head coach Jim Curtin after the match. “A couple of guys missing tonight but we had enough quality.”
While yes Philadelphia was able to play stout defense, producing their first clean sheet since that victory over Columbus, they were shut out for the first time all season. Goals have been very hard to come by for the Union, only scoring 16 on the season so far.
While they have managed to score in every game beside tonight, it has been a massive struggle and usually the result of a standout play from Daniel Gazdag or Julian Carranza, who was unfortunately unavailable tonight due to league rules barring on-loan players playing against the team that loaned them out.
“It’s a struggle right now getting goals,” Curtin said. “As a leader and the coach I take responsibility for that.”
For all of the doom and gloom after an extremely boring draw that felt more like a loss… THE UNION ARE STILL IN FIRST PLACE IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE. They haven’t faltered enough to completely lose their footing in the standings, but that will not be enough. You cannot 1-1 your way to lifting the MLS Cup Trophy; just ask Nashville SC from last year.
Their record over the past month and a half may have been cause for celebration for a Union a few seasons ago, but this club has higher expectations now. This is not the same team that hopes to earn enough points to make it to the big dance and maybe win a game. The bar has been raised over the past two years. The goal is to be the last team on the pitch in December hoisting the trophy. While they are in first place in the East and in fourth overall, the performance on the pitch has still not been up to that championship standard, as Curtin alluded to after the match.
“It’s the most pissed off first-place team I’ve ever been around,” he said.
The players know that they can do better, Curtin does as well, and you’d better believe the fans who pour their hearts out every match in the River End do as well. The Union will have the opportunity to put this rough stretch behind them and make everyone forget about this forgettable performance when they travel to play Western Conference foe Portland on Sunday night.
The match kicks off at 10 p.m. eastern time.