The MLS’ branding around the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs has been the phrase ready or not. If that doesn’t encompass the feeling ahead of the eastern conference final for the Philadelphia Union, I don’t know what does. Philly could be without 11 players today due to health and safety protocols. With that said, this Union team has been on a playoff run that has been one for the history books. There’s no reason that this team can’t come together, play in front of 19,000 crazy fans, and find a way to win this game. Are the stars aligning for the Philadelphia Union to be a Doop’in great team that makes their first-ever MLS Cup Final?
Are the stars aligning?
Back in 2019 when the Union started to make a run to the playoffs, Jim Curtin asked his team in the locker room if they wanted to be a good team, or if they wanted to be f****** great. That team went on to make the playoffs, win the club’s first playoff match. They followed that year with a Supporters Shield win in 2020, and now they’re one win away from playing for an MLS Cup. This Union team continues to progress year-over-year and now it seems like the stars are aligning for this team to go out and be great, no matter who is playing.
This Union team is the best Union team ever constructed. It’s a bit annoying as there are still some glaring holes to what could make this team the best in the league; however, this Union team has the mindset of a champion. This has Philly raring to go in a conference final with a depleted team. The leadership, grit, and belief are still there that could prove that this is a team of destiny.
A team of desitny
This Philadelphia Union team is one that has defied odds in 2021. There’s no reason this Union side should have been able to play as well as they did in 2021 after losing two best XI players in 2020 in Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie. This Union side still was able to make the CCL Semifnainls and the eastern conference final in the same year. This team is legit; they’re mentally tough and structurally sound in defense. couple that with the ability to find ways to win games they would more traditionally lose.
In years past, the Union would be in close matches, and instead of finding ways to win they’d be picking the ball out of the back of their net after a heartbreaking late goal. Philly was a team that would lose in comical ways, before Jim Curtin and Ernst Tanner flipped how this team played. Philadelphia is a gritty city, they want their sports teams to reflect their blue-collar lifestyle. This means working hard and persevering. It wasn’t like that in the past, but now, that is exactly how this team operates. They fight to win by any means necessary!
Win by any means necessary
This Union team is not afraid to win by any means necessary. If that means playing good attractive possession-based soccer, a more pressing style to hit teams on the counter, or even mucking up a game to propel their side forward this team will do it. It’s clear that this team is one of the fittest in MLS, as they have players who will run ’till they die for 120+ minutes of a win or go home match. It’s produced a team that has embraced the unexpected and has inflicted chaos in matches that call for it.
The Union sees chaotic situations and runs towards them, especially on this playoff run. You have a 0-0 game in round one at the 120+3 minute? Here’s a banger of a goal from a centerback. You have a match that goes to PKs to make a conference final? Here’s a goalkeeper making saves and teenagers hitting icy pens. There’s something about this team and feeding into the chaos. They’ll do this against NYCFC with a depleted roster in the eastern conference final. This team is all parts frustrating and fun at the same time while using chaos energy to make a run. More important than using chaos energy, this team believes in believe.
Believing in Believe
The Union doesn’t have a big-name star player who is carrying them toward a championship. Instead, they have a team mentality that is doing that through something all Philly fans should appreciate; that underdog spirit. The Union believes in believe. They are a team that lives into the positive side of things, they control what they can control, and look to influence the game accordingly. As this Philly team goes into their biggest match in club history, they are ready to have their Nick Foles taking the Eagles to the Super Bowl moment. The stars are aligning for this team even as they utilize the next-man-up mentality.
It doesn’t matter who is on the field today for the Union. There could be 11 players out because of health and safety protocols, and it does not matter. This Union team will feed off their ruckus crowd and find a way to win today. They’ve come this far, overcame odds and naysayers, and are one game away from playing for an MLS Cup! The stars are aligning for this team. They play to win by any mean’s necessary. Philly believes in believe. The Union is in their “hungry dogs run faster” moment. It’s time for them to
Oh, hey, hey, hey; one last thing. And, I want everyone’s eyes on me when I say this. Look at me:
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union via Twitter