The Philadelphia Union is just three days away from playing in the rematch they’ve wanted since they fell in the eastern conference final last season. They take on NYCFC in the 2022 eastern conference final at Subaru Park on Sunday night. Philadelphia is favored to get their revenge, a reason for that has to be the team’s strong ethos. Philly is getting recognition league-wide for their goalkeeping, defending, and coaching!
Blake, Glesnes, and Curtin win regular-season awards
Philadelphia has a trio that has won regular-season MLS awards over the past few weeks. Andre Blake won goalkeeper of the year. Jakob Glesnes won defender of the year (beating out his Union teammate Kai Wagner for that award), and Jim Curtin won coach of the year! All three are deserving of winning their awards.
2022 has been an amazing season for Philly. It was maybe the first time ever that all phases of the game were at an elite level. The goalkeeper keeps wins or draws from being losses, and the defense made things extremely frustrating for the opposition. Speaking of frustration, the midfield’s tenacity makes them the heartbeat of this side, and the attack has joined the party scoring 73 goals in the regular season!
This Union team is no joke; the accolades come when the team does well. Let’s look closer at those who won these awards.
Three-time goalkeeper of the year
Andre Blake made history in 2022. His ability to make outrageous saves makes him one of the best in MLS year in and year out. He won goalkeeper of the year in 2022 by being a brick wall for the Union. Blake is the first player to win MLS goalkeeper of the year three times (2016, 2020, 2022).
He is now mentioned among the all-time greats to play in MLS. The only thing missing to really put him on a proverbial Mount Rushmore of MLS goalkeepers is an MLS Cup. He and the Union ae fighting for that chance now. Blake will be ready to avenge the team that he was not a part of last year due to being out with Covid.
Defender of the year, and the runner up
Jakob Glesnes is the defender of the year! The center-back has shown his quality all season long. He is the only non-goalkeeper to have played every minute of every game in the 2022 regular season. While he might not always look like the best defender in MLS, his consistency, and ability to lead the team’s backline pushed him over the hump in 2022.
Glesnes beat out his teammate, left-back, Kai Wagner, in the voting for this award. Many thought Wagner would get the award this year as he was dominant defensively and also notched 15 assists, which was the second-highest assist total in the league! Glesnes won the award though for being the best defender, and the two will be vital to the Union’s hopes of making MLS Cup!
Two-time coach of the year
Jim Curtin narrowly won coach of the year in 2022! He beat out Montreal’s Wilfred Nancy by 0.10 of the overall vote! The margins were razor thin, but the player’s portion of the voters chose Curtin. It’s clear that Curtin is a player’s coach. He trusts his guys to get the job done and relies on all players on the roster to get the most out of each other.
Curtin had this Union team one point away from winning the supporters’ shield. It was LAFC’s to lose in July, but Philly pushed for it and made it so, so close. The ability to get the most out of his players, and create the style of soccer that Philly use makes this team one of the best in MLS. Add in the recently released salary numbers that show the Union as low-spenders means this is a low-risk team that is coached to achieve high-reward!
Time to make more history!
As these award winners prepare for the conference final against NYCFC, they know what’s at stake. They can get revenge against the same team that knocked them out in the same round of the playoffs in 2021. They also can avenge the 11 players who were out with Covid-19 at this time last season.
Only time will tell if this team can exorcise those demons, but they know that if they can play their brand of soccer, and stay together, then they have the chance to make even more history together and collect more accolades!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych