The Philadelphia Union is in the midst of a three-game winning streak in MLS play. Couple that with a CCL semifinal loss to LAFC, as well as a penalty-stricken defeat to Minnesota United in the US Open Cup, and the waters seem to be muddied a bit.
Crashing out of two cup competitions in the span of a week has many who follow the Union down on this team; however, there is a huge chance for Philly to show their fans just who they are over the next nine weeks!
The focus now shifts solely to MLS play for the next 12 matches before Leagues Cup kicks off; the possibility of a successful 2023 season could hang in the balance of this crucial stretch of games.
12 straight MLS games
Philly has been disjointed in the first part of this season. In the first two-and-a-half months of the Union’s 2023 campaign, they have played 18 matches across three competitions. The focus seemed to rightly sway towards making a Champions League run, which put a damper on the teams form in some league matches. A one-and-done in the US Open Cup saw the club falling short on their preseason goal to compete/progress in all of their competitions this year but could be a blessing in disguise.
Philly can now focus on a singular goal, focusing on MLS play. After their win against Colorado last weekend, Philadelphia now sit in 5th place in the east; they’re just a point off of 4th, two points off of 3rd, and they have a game in hand on many other teams in the east. The club has 12 uniteruppted league matches to focus on starting tonight and running through July 15th.
- vs DC United | May 17
- vs New England | May 20
- @ NYCFC | May 27
- vs Charlotte | May 31
- vs Montreal | June 3
- @ San Jose | June 10
- @ Orlando | June 21
- vs Miami | June 24
- @ Atlanta | July 2
- @ LA Galaxy | July 8
- @ Nashville | July 12
- vs NYCFC | July 15
Could this stretch of matches be the thing that sparks the Union into looking like they did for stretches of the 2022 season? Six matches at home, six on the road; 10 against conference opponents, two against teams out west. The opportunity that Philly has in front of them is one that they will need to show well in.
A chance to compete for the top of the east
The eastern conference in MLS has two current front runners. New England and Cincinnati both sit on 24 points. Below them is Nashville in 3rd (19 pts) and Atlanta in 4th (18 pts.) Philly sit in 5th with 17 points from 11 matches. teams sitting 6th-12th,Miami, Montreal, Columbus, DC, NYCFC, Orlando, and Charlotte, all have 15 points. Chicago sit just outside that group in 13th with 14 points. The drop off from there is a two point difference to bottom dwellers Red Bulls and TFC.
This conference is one that is going to be a tough fight; all the points matter now in league play, especially for a team that plays 10 of their next 12 games against conference opponents like Philly. The season has moved past it’s first-third, and things are beginning to take shape. The Union will now look to move up and compete for the top of the east.
Philly’s in a great position to compete for the top of the east now that they can focus on it solely. This is something the team has shown the ability to do in years past. With the quality they have, and a distinct focus on the league table, the Union has the chance to show that they are still one of the best teams in MLS.
The Union will show us who they are
The work is cut out for Jim Curtin and his men over the next two months of play. Get results in MLS, and show the league who they are. Falling short in CCL, but making the semi-finals of a continental competition is impressive, but still not what the club was looking to achieve. Crashing out of the US Open Cup in the Round of 32 is definitely a failure for the club. The focus has now turned solely to the league play, and they need this stretch to storm up the table to be seen as a top team this season.
There will be challenges along the way; injuries and international callups just to name a few, but this team seems poised and pissed off enough to storm up the eastern conference table over the next few months. Time will tell if that is true or not, and we’ll see the first of these 12 matches tonight as Philly kicks off their “rivalry week” against DC united!
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