Philadelphia Union must exorcise old demons to make playoffs

For the sake of the Philadelphia Union’s relevance in a city now crowded with highly competitive teams, they need to forget the past.

Philadelphia Union captain, Alejandro Bedoya.

Philadelphia Union supporters are expecting the other shoe to drop. They are expecting a dismal performance very soon. Fans can see Andrew Wenger dribbling the ball out-of-bounds while being defended by the ghost of Union past. They can see Rais M’Bolhi gifting an easy clearance to the opposition in a must-win late-season match.  We can all see it. We are waiting for this solid run of play to come crashing to Earth in typical Union fashion. Something “So Union” that it might redefine the very term. The guy in the hat speaks for all of us…

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This is rare territory for the boys in blue. In August, yes August, they have a chance to step on the throat of another Eastern Conference play-off wannabe, and put them in their rear-view mirror for the remainder of 2018. That’s the New England Revolution. Coach Brad Friedel’s club has only one road win this season and that was back in March. They are win-less in their previous seven, suffered a gut-wrenching loss at home to the Union two weeks ago, and most recently appeared out-of-sync, lifeless and mentally defeated in a loss to D.C. United. The Revolution are looking for someone to put them out of their misery, and the Union can oblige them Saturday night.

But is this a new day for the Union? Will their three-game win streak be for naught with a loss to New England, and then what looks like an impossible task in the nation’s capital this Wednesday? If the worst occurs, it will suck the steam right out of the River End.  If they come out victorious Saturday night, based on what I’ve seen from New England, you can put a fork in the Revolution. They will be done. There will be no excuses for anything less than a draw . That will leave only Columbus, Montreal and D.C. to contend with for the final three play-off seeds in the Eastern Conference.

Enough questions.  They will win Saturday. The ghosts of M’Bolhi and Wenger are fading away.

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The competence, at least of the team on the field, is higher than it’s been in a long while.  It would be tough to point out someone who will be in the 18 that you can count on to screw up. Fabinho won’t see the field until at least the D.C. match, as long as Gaddis and Rosenberry are healthy. David Accam, although his lack of goal-scoring has been atrocious, has actually been effective in his recent runs, putting much-needed pressure on the defense. Even Medunjanin’s “yips” have drastically diminished recently. No more careless passes to the opposition by Haris makes the Union a tough out.

Coach Jim Curtin has massaged his stubbornness from a 10 down to 5 or 6. He is actually trusting Cory Burke, and not having sweat-inducing nightmares because C.J. didn’t start at striker.  Makes you wonder if Earnie Stewart was the one really calling the shots. It will be interesting to see the line-up Coach Curtin puts out versus New England. Fafa is back from suspension and goes back to the left-wing and Cory Burke up top. Ilsinho has been tremendous. Does he start Sapong on the right-wing with Ilsinho as a sub, or vice versa? I think he will go with the former. A quick turnaround Wednesday on the road would be the perfect place to flip-flop them and start Ilsinho.

See?  It will all work out.  I’m saying it right now. The Union win Saturday and when they do, I’m guaranteeing a play-off appearance. *fingers crossed*

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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