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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A summer peak: Why the Union's 3-0 win over New England is bad news

Before Roland Alberg, center, and company do too much celebrating,
a big summer win like Sunday's over New England has rarely been apropos
of anything for the Union. (For Digital First Media/Mike Reeves)
The Union are coming off arguably their best performance of the season, a 3-0 drubbing of New England at home Sunday. It was comfortable, it was steady on both ends, with a rock-solid defense and crucial bouts of finishing in the attacking third.

It’s also a harbinger of things to come, right? Not so fast.

Sunday represented what has become a yearly tradition – a June/July hammering of an opponent at home that raises the Union’s hopes of a mid-summer renaissance. Often, that result hasn’t elevated the Union much higher than the three points gleaned on the day. Let’s go year-by-year:

- In 2016, the Union pounded D.C. United, 3-0, on July 9 thanks to – as it was known until just a few weeks ago – Ilsinho’s only two goals. One of those tallies, along with a Roland Alberg marker, came from the penalty spot on a day where the D.C. was reduced to 10 men thanks to a Kofi Opare red. The result came on the heels of two straight losses and was offered as proof that an early-season surge wasn’t regressing to the mean. What followed was just three wins in three months as part of a 3-8-4 finish and a first-round playoff ouster.

- The 2015 Union were a thoroughly forgettable bunch. But out of the Gold Cup break that year on July 11, they thumped Portland, 3-0, when coach Caleb Porter packed only a pair of reserve outside backs for the trip – the legendary duo of Taylor Peay and Jeanderson, both in MLS debuts to forget. That was the alchemy that produced Andrew Wenger’s first (and only) goal of the season in his 20th (and somehow not final) appearance. Vincent Nogueira also scored twice in Brian Sylvestre’s fifth and final shutout with the club. And the momentum translated to … Three straight losses and a five-match winless streak.




- OK, it wasn’t a shutout. But the Union’s 3-1 win over the Red Bulls July 16, 2014 fostered hope that the Jim Curtin new-coach bump might be sustainable. Conor Casey chose wisely in drinking from the right grail to cap a streak of six goals in six games, while Fred (!!!) also checked in with his first and only goal of his 14th of 16 stints with the Union (and counting?). This result actually translated to consistent form for a while – followed by two road draws, the Union went on a five-match unbeaten streak and lost once in an 11-game streak (5-1-5). But the exhaustion of the U.S. Open Cup final run eventually took its toll.

- The 2013 summer surge arrived early, the Union running up 3-0 wins on either side of that summer’s break – June 5 against Columbus and June 23 against the Red Bulls. Casey scored three goals in that span, while Brian Carroll notched the opener against his former team. They parlayed the momentum into a three-game winless streak and a stop-start summer under John Hackworth before a five-game winless streak into September torpedoed playoff hopes.

- July 8, 2012 was all about revenge: A May 26 loss to previously winless Toronto cost Peter Nowak his job. So in defense of their old coach (sarcasm alert!) the Union trounced TFC, 3-0, at PPL Park. Gabriel Gomez, Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot got on the board as part of the Hackworth bump, a stretch of five wins in seven games … followed by an eight-game winless streak (0-4-4) that stretched from July to September.

- The Union were on fire by July 16, 2011, their eighth win of the season via a 3-0 pummeling of the Revs in Foxborough aided by Benny Feilhaber’s red card (it's almost like we shouldn't be that impressed with wins over the Revs any more, huh?). Carlos Ruiz and Carlos Valdes had scored by that point for the first-place Union, who were on to bigger and better things as a bona fide MLS Cup contender, right? Try an eight-game slide (0-3-5) after that win.

This paints a bleak picture. But there is one team for which Sunday’s result is excellent news: New England. The Union’s midseason victims have traditionally fared well. D.C. last year made the playoffs. Portland in 2015 won MLS Cup over Columbus, who the Union had beaten 3-0 on June 3. In 2014, the Red Bulls surmounted the beatdown at PPL Park to make the playoffs; the year before, it was but a blip on the radar on the way to the Supporters Shield. For counterpoint's sake, the Revs in 2011 and TFC in 2012 were biblically bad. The Union, meanwhile, have only made the playoffs twice in those six seasons.

It’s a tradition that the Union, with the big summer win in hand, would now like to do away with.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't the 2012 version be the 4-0 in late June against SKC who had a better season than TFC?

July 7, 2017 at 11:28 AM 

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