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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The path to the playoffs that still exists for the Union

Fafa Picault and the Union need to keep their eye
on the ball when it comes to getting results
away from home. (DFM/Mikey Reeves)
The complexity of the Philadelphia Union often leads to questions asked at cross purposes. The inquiry of if the Union will make the playoffs is a different query than if they can qualify for the postseason.

For a season that is so drastically divergent between home and away, it seems fitting that its overriding logic should endure such a clean fracture.

Now that the questions have been sorted, let’s attend to the answers?

Can the Union make the playoffs? Yes, Jim Curtin is correct in saying that a path exists. His team has been excellent at home, winning seven of eight and holding serve to maintain a place in a crowded playoff hunt, the latest installment a 3-1 controlling of Western Conference elite FC Dallas. In those eight games, the Union have conceded just four total goals, only two of which have come with 22 players on the field.

That hasn’t translated into road results, for reasons that beguile the Union. And should that trend change – or in the mind of Curtin and others, simply normalize, since the Union are probably more talented than a 1-7-3 away mark indicates – then they could make headway.

Now the next question, will the Union make the playoffs? That’s notably thornier. And it probably would require the Union in the final 12 games of the season nearly matching their win total from the first 22 games (seven). Not impossible, but I wouldn't advise running to Vegas to place bets on it.

But in the first week of August, the path to the playoffs exist, and it’s one in which the Union are endowed with the power to craft their journey.

Curtin mentioned the 12-game mini-season that awaited them starting Saturday. Here goes:

Six home games: Dallas (a win), Montreal, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Orlando City

Six away games: San Jose, Toronto, Minnesota, Red Bull, Atlanta, Chicago

That’s a daunting path, but not an impossible one. Let me explain.
First, the home games, where points almost cannot be dropped. And the team's logic here is sound. If the Union can roundly beat Dallas at home, then they should be able to play with anyone. If they win all six of their home games, which is the expectation of a playoff-caliber team in this league anyway, then they’re in the hunt.

It won’t be easy. But Montreal has just one road win. Atlanta (4-5-3) is hit or miss on the road. Chicago (2-5-4) is worse. Seattle (3-6-4), too, though with that game coming before the October international break, there’s less chance of the Sounders leaving their horses at home. And, again, to be brutally honest, they’re all teams that a team with playoff aspirations should beat at home.

Now the away games. Four of the six teams reside in the top five places in the Eastern Conference standings. Any points gleaned at those locales are a big-time bonus. Those four teams have a total of four home losses all season; Toronto and Chicago are unbeaten at home.

That magnifies the impact on the other two trips. San Jose is 7-1-4 at home and tenuously perched fifth in the West (pending Portland’s result Sunday). Eking out a point at Avaya Stadium would be an accomplishment. Then there’s Minnesota, whose six home losses tie the Galaxy for the most in MLS. And lest you write that off as early expansion jitters, they’ve gotten clubbed at TCF Bank Stadium, 3-0 by the Red Bulls and 4-0 by the Sounders, twice in three weeks (around a 4-0 win over D.C. because, y’know, MLS).

Three points there would seem almost a must-have.

If you add up the points – say 4-0-1 in the last five home games, 1-4-1 on the road – the Union end up 13-14-7 for 46 points. At 1.35 points per game, that’s ahead of where Columbus is in the sixth and final playoff spot at the moment.

It may not get the Union into the playoffs. But it’s an improvement over the 42 points that the Union needed to get in last year. And it gives them a chance, which is more than an 0-4-4 start augured.

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Blogger Sowmiya said...

Really Good blog post.provided a helpful information.I hope that you will post more updates like this.
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August 9, 2017 at 1:03 AM 

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