There’s no doubt that the Philadelphia Union is hot right now. 4 straight wins, 2 losses in 22 games and the lead in the Eastern Conference. What does the rest of the season hold and can they change the record books?
The season has been up and down for the Union. Despite only 2 losses, they put a lot of points in the tournament table. A few calls and balls go the wrong way and the team runs away with their 2nd Supporters Shield in 3 years. In other words, the team should be satisfied with its position in general.
According to the Supporters’ Shield standings, the Union lead LAFC by just 3 points and a game in hand. LA built a power plant on the West Coast. We also add Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. Don’t be surprised if the Union can’t capture them for the shield.
As for the Eastern Conference, things are more under their control. The Union are in first place, 1 point behind NYCFC with a game in hand. Sure, it’s scary that NYCFC have a game in hand, but they lost league-leading scorer Taty Castellanos. At least some regression is to be expected.
The biggest advantage for the Union is their historical defense. They allowed only 15 goals in 22 games. The record for fewest hits allowed in a season is 20 by Real Salt Lake in 2010. (The Union allowed just 20 in 2020. But that was a pandemic-shortened season.) Glesnes and Elliott are elite. Harriel and Mbaizo are switched off almost seamlessly. Andre Blake is the frontrunner for another GK of the year.
Union often does not score more than 1 goal in a game. With their defense, sometimes that’s all they need.
They also have the 3rd best goal difference. What is finally going right is the offense starting to score consistently. The trio of Gazdag, Carranza and Uhre is just starting to come together. Gazdag leads the team with 10 goals, Carranza is second with 7 goals, and Uhre is second with 6 goals.
The Union is chasing defensive records. Although the draw prevented them from progressing in the standings, they are still chasing history. The least number of losses in a season in MLS is 4.
What Can Go Wrong?
All teams must compete during a season. A lot can go wrong between now and the end of the season. The main concerns for the Union are in clear places. It’s a loss of players. Be it the injury or the transfer market.
The 2 biggest transfer concerns have to be Kai Wagner and Jose Martinez. Wagner has been rumored in Europe for several seasons now. He is the best left back in MLS and is near the top of the league with 11 assists.
El Brujo is the best defense 6 in the league. Despite his fiery tendencies and fouls, he is a great player. Other leagues are certainly on it.
Nothing is in the works for these two yet. But these things are moving fast. Losing one of the two will have a negative impact on the team’s style of play. Both play a big role not only in defense but also in attack.
Both of them will go abroad. Best case scenario, they wait until the winter to transfer and stay with the United in the playoffs.
What does the rest of the season include?
Union can rule the table at the end of the season. They have 12 games left in the season. 6 of them are at home. Only 4 of those games are against teams currently in the MLS playoffs.
These facts don’t mean much considering their 2 losses in the season against Toronto and Chicago in the bottom of the league standings.
However, if the Union go one game at a time and beat the teams they are better at, they are likely to challenge for the MLS record for fewest losses in a season.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd