Union Wins Fourth in a Row; Are They the Team to Beat in MLS?

The Philadelphia Union is the top team in MLS’ eastern conference through five weeks of play. They drew their first match and now have won their fourth in a row. This Union team is on a historically great run to start 2022, but they aren’t stealing the spotlight. Could this be something that makes Philadelphia a team to beat this year in MLS?

Fourth in a row
CHESTER, PA – DECEMBER 05: A Philadelphia Union Fan holds up a “Believe” sign during the first half of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs match between New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union on December 5, 2021, at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Union Wins Fourth in a Row

The Union dominated Charlotte this past weekend winning 2-0 in a game that was never in doubt. In the five games the Union has played in 2022, Philly’s scored nine goals and only conceded two. In their last three matches, they’ve won 2-0. Daniel Gazdag has scored four goals in the last four games en route to the Union winning its fourth in a row. Philly is tied on points with western conference golden boys LAFC and only sits behind them because of goal difference.

The Union seems to have it all together this season. This is the best start the team has ever had, with the cherry on top being winning fourth in a row. It doesn’t look like the Union will falter much. Leon Flach mentioned that this team is looking to “win everything” this season. This team is damn good, and as the season goes on they’ll need to keep this level of play if they want to be respected as the team to beat in MLS, or at least to be noticed by national media.

Little national respect

You’d think after winning your fourth in a row would make the national media swoon. However, that’s not the case for Philly in MLS. They are one of the top two teams, but all of the focus is on the western conference team LAFC. They have had a similar start to the Union’s, but have scored more goals; mainly because they need many to secure a win. The Union is the top team in MLS’ power rankings, but there’s no mention of them in their promotion of the rankings. The same happened in MLS’ promotion of the standings after week five. While this could seem frustrating to Union fans, it could actually be the best thing for the team itself!

The Union knows how good they are this year, and they know that other teams will respect that in how they play against them. The national media respect and talk about the team is not what the Union is after. If anything, seeing that they’re only getting two minutes on the MLS Extratime podcast could motivate them to play even better. If Jim Curtin is doing anything about this, he’s using the lack of talk about the Union as a motivator. Don’t let the lack of Union talk by the MLS accounts get you down, this team is good, and is showing why they are a team to beat!

Three points clear while not playing their best

The Union just won their fourth in a row, and are three points clear of any other team in the east. They are doing this all while not playing their best soccer. Head Coach Jim Curtin continues to preach that this Union team has not had a great game yet in their five played, barring their effort at NYCFC. This team is still figuring out who they are on the pitch while getting points and a lead in the standings that could be crucial later on in the season. Looking ahead, this team has the opportunity to find and play their best while building on their early-season success!

As the season continues, the Union has major opportunities to take more points from other teams in the seat in April. Philly ends April at home vs 5th-place Columbus, at 7th-place Toronto, and vs 13th-place Montreal. The Union has an opportunity to keep pushing far past winning their fourth in a row on this stretch. They’ll need all the points they can get ahead of a May slate of games that sees Philly go on the road four times out of six matches played. The marque matchup in that group of games is on May 7th when Philly travels to Los Angeles to take on LAFC!

On a collision course with LAFC?

There has been little talk about the Union’s start but boatloads of talk about LAFC. Both are the top-tier in MLS in 2022, which is why they’re two of the last three (Chicago is looking like the second coming of Nashville with all their draws) teams to remain undefeated. The two sides meet up in early May. Could it be a very early season preview of MLS Cup 2022? It will be week 10 at that point, and the match will surely be the MLS match of the week that week. Could we be talking about two undefeated teams still by that point, or will one or both have dropped all three points in a match by that time? We have five weeks to wait and see!

While winning their fourth in a row will be a big accomplishment for Philly, they’re hoping to make it a fifth this weekend as they welcome Columbus Crew. It can be easy to look ahead and forget about the match at hand, but the Union doesn’t function that way. As their players have said, they take things day by day and are focused on winning everything. This makes them a team to beat in MLS!

This Union team is focused on Columbus, not national media attention, and matches that are weeks away. Now our focus should be there as well.

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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

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