Being a Philadelphia sports fan has been hard for the past few years. Especially, being a Philadelphia Union fan.
As a Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies fan it has been hard basically since the World Series in 08’, and perhaps even the 2010 Stanley Cup finals loss to hold your head up high. Even Eagles fans haven’t had the best of luck. That said you could be a Cincinnati Bengals fan like some of us, and even if you aren’t making playoffs every year, at least, you’re not losing in the first round every year.
That said as a Philly sports fan you tend to be conditioned in recent years for losing, conditioned to trust the process, or conditioned to let all of your aged stars slowly embezzle away your funds like the Phillies do, but at least for the Philadelphia Union it seems to be that all of a sudden the team is doing well. From almost worst, to basically first in one season, and they continue to play well even with many different players missing games left and right this season, the most recent being Ilsinho.
The thing is the midfield is eons better than they have been basically ever, and with a rotating cast of Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Roland Alberg, the aforementioned Ilsinho, and Chris Pontius starting, with Sebastian Le Toux and Eric Ayuk waiting in the wings, pardon the pun, the team has a strong midfield for once. And with the midfield propelling the ball forward to an in form C.J. Sapong things seem to have started gel in the midfield, and with Tranquillo Barnetta getting close to full strength things are starting to come up Union.
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Speaking of Tranquillo Barnetta he recently scored perhaps one of the greatest goals in Philadelphia Union history. Granted that is not a long history, and for the most part, the team has lacked the ability to score and win games. With Barnetta hitting form and being an amazing player to watch it seems likely that the team is about to hit its stride. They might even follow the steps of a team like D.C. United who went from worst to first in a similar fashion, using low-priced players to build a team and fight for points each week.
But more about that another time. Though Barnetta’s goal was quite amazing it is not the one that is the main focus. The first one, where C.J. Sapong scored off of a defensive miscue on a Rosenberry cross. While it was not the prettiest of goals, and much like Sapong’s earlier goals in the season, lacked a lot of skill, it perhaps is the most interesting thing to note about the Philadelphia Union’s season.
They have mojo. Last season they came in and looked terrible from the beginning and arguably that was how they looked for the whole season. This year things are going their way. Perhaps selling half the team to Houston was a good move. The team has looked good throughout the season. Don’t look now but they might actually be good, or at least not terrible.
A big part of this is luck. The best strikers in the world create their own luck, those who can’t create it just have to find it. The Philadelphia Union have found it. A few red cards are given here and there, a few penalties, though not converted, and some nice bounced. Sapong put himself in a good position to score the first goal of the night, Barnetta may have gotten a little help from the crossbar and other things on the pitch.
At the end of the season the Philadelphia Union may not be in the spot they are currently, but right now they are and it has been a rather fun experience to watch. They have a lot of momentum, they have mojo, and they have luck. If this can continue for much of the season we might see the Philadelphia Union back in the playoffs for the second time. In this case, they can be the best, or the second best team in Philadelphia this year. Maybe the Flyers can have something to say about that in their upcoming playoffs.