Blogs > Union Tally

A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Union-Red Bulls: Lineups and prematch notes

UNION (4-2-3-1) 
Blake 
Rosenberry-Elliott-Marquez-Fabinho 
Medunjanin-Bedoya 
Pontius-Ilsinho-Epps 
Sapong
Bench: McCarthy, Gaddis, Yaro, Creavalle, Alberg, Simpson, Davies 

New York Red Bulls (3-1-3-3) 
Robles 
Zizzo-Perrinelle-Murrillo 
Felipe 
Lade- Davis-Etienne 
Keita-Veron-Muyl 
Bench: Meara, Long, Escobar, Duka, Adams, Wright-Phillips, Kljestan 

- It’s four changes this week for the Union as they travel to Red Bull Arena. Richie Marquez starts for the first time in MLS since April 29 thanks to Oguchi Onyewu’s suspension and a Josh Yaro knee injury that leaves him on the bench. Fabinho is in for Giliano Wijnaldum, who has started 12 of the last 13 MLS matches. Alejandro Bedoya returns from suspension, and Marcus Epps is in at the wing for Fafa Picault, who misses out with an illness.

- Beyond the changes, it’s more of the same for the Union. Ilsinho gets the nod at the No. 10 for the fifth time in seven games, preferred to Roland Alberg. It’s an attack-minded bench with Alberg, Jay Simpson and Charlie Davies included.

- The Red Bulls opt for rest for some of their top guys, but it’s still a daunting lineup three days in advance of the U.S. Open Cup final Wednesday with Sporting Kansas City. Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan start on the bench. But Felipe is out there, as are the likes of Sean Davis and Alex Muyl and the omnipresent Luis Robles, with Gonzalo Veron the danger man up top.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

A career year: Digging into CJ Sapong's successful 2017

This hasn't been the season the Union wanted.
But none of the blame goes to CJ Sapong. (AP)
In certain corners of Union Twitter, there persists a notion that blame for the team’s devolution to non-playoff status this season owes to a failure to address concerns at the striker position. Some would argue that the factor constraining the Union is the lack of a star up top; for further evidence, look at how the Union endeavored and failed to fill that hole via Jay Simpson last offseason.

That stance – that somehow CJ Sapong is the deficiency holding this team back – is completely ludicrous. And quietly, while Sapong has been chronically underestimated, he’s compiled one of the best seasons ever by a Union player.

It’s September and Sapong is tied with Jozy Altidore for the MLS lead in goals by an American player at 13. Sapong has played more games than Jozy Altidore, but has fired fewer shots in that time. I’d argue that Sapong is more central to the Union’s attack than Altidore is to Toronto’s, in part due to the absence of a central playmaker (of which TFC possesses two). Both have 10 goals from open play and three from the penalty spot, though Sapong is 3-for-3 on penalties while Altidore has missed a pair. Sapong has also drawn two penalties for others to take.

Sapong has five assists, a high number for the kind of target forward Sapong is usually typecast as. All five are primary assists. His assist and goal totals are both career highs.

There’s no disputing how monumental those achievements are given Sapong’s history. But where does he fall in Union history and in MLS this season?

Lucky No. 20

In eight MLS seasons, the Union have had 20 players account for more than 10 combined goals and assists in a season, a group that includes Haris Medunjanin (two goals and eight assists this season).

The cut for the elite seasons falls at 19, which culls the fraternity to five.

Sebastien Le Toux, 2010 14 goals, 11 assists (25)
Chris Pontius, 2016 12 goals, 6 assists, 3 PKs drawn (21)
Sebastien Le Toux, 2011 11 goals, 9 assists (20)
CJ Sapong, 2017 13 goals, 5 assists, 2 PKs drawn (20)
Sebastien Le Toux, 2014 12 goals, 7 assists (19)

(Note: Penalties drawn aren’t easily recovered, so they’re not included in Le Toux’s numbers. Chances are he would’ve taken those PKs anyway; in Pontius’ and Sapong’s case, the PKs were taken by others.)

That list is a long way of getting to a concise point: Sapong is having one of the most statistically productive seasons the club has ever had.

18 and over only please

Across MLS, Sapong is one of 14 players this season whose goals and assists sum to 18 or greater. It’s the kind of company an attacking player aspires to keep: Read more »

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Down the stretch they come: Seven goals for the Union's last seven games

The Union's 2017 season is likely lost. So why not give minutes
to young players like Keegan Rosenberry? (DFM/Mikey Reeves)
If you’re of the sort that trusts probability, the Union’s chances of making the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs are essentially nil. That means to salvage merit from a lost season, the sixth of eight in Union existence in which they’ve fallen at the manageable hurdle of playoff qualification, the goals must shift. (Even tanking for the sake of a draft pick is off the table, as you’ll recall.)

The remaining seven games of 2017 should be aimed at granular accomplishments. Time to take a page out of the Phillies’ book of perpetual rebuilding: The Union need to know who is worth keeping and who isn’t. The best way to glean that info is to let players take their lumps and, for better or worse, evaluate how they emerge on the other side.

Let’s consider seven objectives, which care little how many of the 21 points on offer the Union reap.

Play. Your. Kids. Josh Yaro has struggled this year. Keegan Rosenberry has been up and down. But the Union are better off knowing if their rookie successes were outliers or the norm. Given the peaks and valleys, Jim Curtin and the organization need to know where the mean for each player rests. Yaro won’t travel to Minnesota in observance of his red card. He should play the last six games. We know well what Ray Gaddis brings at right back, and it’s unlikely to differ in the next seven games from his previous 138. (Not a value judgement, just an observation on plasticity.) What Rosenberry brings requires space to be sussed out.

Two starts for Adam Najem. That’s at a minimum. I doubt Roland Alberg is in the Union’s plans beyond this season. I don’t know if Ilsinho is. I would hope the organization recognizes and will act on the glaring need for a No. 10. But ascertaining what it has Najem, in terms of starting potential or merely carving a positional niche, is vital.
Read more »

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Union's 2017 fade in two theories

Putting the shortcomings of the 2017 Union into context,
it's a complex task. (DFM/Mikey Reeves)
Often the conversation surrounding the Philadelphia Union, particularly among members of the media contingent striving to make sense of the how and why of another playoff-free season, devolves into a declaration of, ‘they’re just not good enough.’

The standings can tell you that, for sure, but that’s unsatisfactory for the scientific part of my brain. And particularly given the last week, where the Union have squandered four points in stoppage time to resolve the mystery of if there’s a last gasp of intrigue remaining, the questions seem more salient.

So if I may, I’ll offer two explanations, one qualitative, one quantitative.

The “too much effort” explanation

This issue reared its ugly head way back in April when Portland came to town: The talent gulf between the Union and most opponents is vast. In terms of pure talent to start the season, I would’ve pegged the Union between eight- and 10th-best in the Eastern Conference. After the summer shopping, and the Union’s lack thereof, drop them a spot or two.

When you’re always at a collective disadvantage, you’re always playing catchup. Since John Hackworth was in charge, the prevailing mantra has always been that the Union can play with anyone. And that’s true, though in a parity-driven league, every MLS team is designed to be able to compete with anyone.

But when you expound so much effort trying to work back to level talent terms, you get these coin-flip games. The Union spend so much energy trying to stay within a goal of Montreal two weeks ago, then a pin prick pops the balloon and the release is a 3-0 loss. They work so hard against San Jose, then the late penalty kick deflates them. The talent gulf deprives them of ever starting at a position of power, which magnifies mistakes and lumps pressure on a young core.

Manager Jim Curtin is correct in saying that the Toronto loss last week is one of the few times they’ve been outclassed. But the Union are so often edged by small margins in a system of discreet point yields that it’s unsustainable over the span of a season. It doesn’t matter that their performance in San Jose was objectively worthy of two points; they get one or three, and the late mistake decided that.

That entails an inescapable conclusion that Curtin now owns but that has been obvious since March.

“I think we do recognize that a difference maker is something we need to add and increase,” Curtin said Wednesday in his off-week press conference. “We have a good group that creates enough chances in most games. We have to finish chances and do a good job of preventing them at the end of games.”

That game of catchup in the squad – of important depth ballast without that big over-the-top player – is mirrored in the way the results happen.

“Just not good enough” in numbers
Read more »

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Union-Atlanta United: Lineups and prematch observations

UNION (4-2-3-1) 
Blake 
Rosenberry-Yaro-Elliott-Wijnaldum 
Bedoya-Medunjanin 
Picault-Alberg-Pontius 
Sapong 
Bench: McCarthy, Marquez, Gaddis, Creavalle, Epps, Ilsinho, Simpson

Atlanta (4-2-3-1) 
Guzan 
Walkes-Parkhurst-Gonzalez Pirez-Garza 
Larentowicz-McCann 
Villalba-Almiron-Asad 
Martinez 
Bench: Reynish, Mears, Kratz, Ambrose, Gressel, Vazquez, Peterson 

- It’s three changes on the backline for the Union today, with Jack Elliott the lone holdover. Josh Yaro is in for Oguchi Onyewu, which makes sense given the matchup and the Wednesday-Saturday turnaround. Keegan Rosenberry makes his first start since April 14. This is this most squad rotation I can recall from Jim Curtin, particularly at the back. Sticking with his preferred guys in the past hasn’t worked, so let’s see how this does.

- It’s the full complement for Atlanta in its first meeting with the Union, making only one change in central midfield with Chris McCann in central midfield. Other than that, the front four of Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad, Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba up top. Atlanta is coming off a tough 1-0 loss to D.C. Wednesday, so they could be hungry for a result with a glut of home games upcoming.

- The matchup at the back for the Union is logical, but will be testing. Yaro makes sense as the guy today for his speed. But increasingly, his positional awareness seems lacking. And he’ll be tested by a passel of MLS’s most dynamic attackers today from Atlanta. How Yaro prevents the backline from being torn and distorted by the motion of Almiron and Villalba is going to be vital in the Union’s quest to get a home result.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

What a difference a year makes: The perpetual slide of the Philadelphia Union

For John McCarthy and the Union, the last year hasn't been great. (AP)
On this weekend a year ago, the Philadelphia Union was flying high. They had just handled Sporting Kansas City, 2-0 at home. With a record of 11-9-7, their 40 points were situated third in the Eastern Conference, three points from leaders Toronto and soaring over the red line for playoff qualification.

The question had ceased to be if the Union would end a playoff drought or even if they would break the franchise record for points in a season; needing just eight points from seven games, the Union would certainly blast through the 48 points they tallied in 2011 with even mediocre form.

Then the roof caved in. Seven winless to end 2016. Ninety minutes being comprehensively outclassed in Toronto on a Wednesday night in a gone-before-you-knew-it playoff berth. Then eight winless to start 2017 at so great a disadvantage that now, officially, has been deemed insurmountable.

For all the oddities of the MLS calendar, the schedule makers offer the Union symmetry. Saturday’s visit from Atlanta United marks the 34th regular-season game since that night 364 days ago against SKC.

Through all the ups and downs, what has this 33-game snapshot of Union existence shown? In short, it’s not good.

In that 33-game stretch of regular season, starting with the Sept. 3 loss at Chicago, the Union are 8-17-8. That includes the 0-5-2 stretch to end 2016 and the 8-12-6 mark they’ve stumbled to this year.

That’s 32 points in 33 games. There’s no result the Union can achieve Saturday against Atlanta to avoid falling short of the franchise’s lowest tally for a season, set in 2012 at 36.

A win Saturday is required to avoid falling short of the season-low set in the expansion year, when the club played four fewer matches. A loss Saturday would equal the franchise record of 18 set in 2012, which remains in play for the Union this year. (N.B.: I’m comparing this stretch to full calendar seasons, from the Union and other clubs, via MLS' Fact and Record Book. Even I’m not that much of a masochist to parse each team’s worst 34-game stretch across seasons, even if the info was complete enough.)

The Union in the last 33 games have a points per game average of 0.97. The sub-1 realm is where the truly terrible MLS campaigns reside. How bad? Well, bad enough that no Union team has ever been there before – the 2012 team came closest at 1.06 over a calendar season – and the Union have had some atrocious seasons.
Read more »

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

After extended bench stint, Rosenberry is finding the positives

Keegan Rosenberry, left, seen against Portland's
Marco Farfan in a game in April, hasn't started
an MLS game in more than four months.
(DFM/Mikey Reeves)
CHESTER >> A season ago, Keegan Rosenberry never saw the bench for the Philadelphia Union, making MLS history in the process.

This season, he’s hardly seen the field, in a case of drastic extremes for the second-year pro.

Rosenberry finally return to action in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, his first MLS minutes since May 17. He hasn’t started in more than four months, dating to April 14.

The departure from how Rosenberry began his career is stark: He started each of his first 41 MLS games (including the Union’s playoff ouster in Toronto last fall), the first rookie to play every minute of a 34-game season. From those lofty heights, he’s logged a scant 72 minutes in four months, all in substitute appearances, the last a 16-minute cameo when left back Giliano Wijnaldum picked up an ankle knock. Rosenberry started two U.S. Open Cup matches in that span.

“It’s been fine,” Rosenberry said Tuesday. “For me, it’s just about trying to continue to train hard and stay focused and try to be motivated and help the team in whatever I can do to push the guys in front of me that are playing day in and day out.”

Rosenberry, who finished second in Rookie of the Year balloting, clearly hit a wall late last season. The logic went that a stint to rest and watch from the bench would be beneficial.

But fate has intervened in the plan for a short-term refresher. The Union were winless in Rosenberry’s last 14 starts, and his benching coincided with an uptick in form that rescued hope for 2017. Along the way, Ray Gaddis provided a valuable veteran presence, not relinquishing his spot.

So the MLS All-Star has watched and waited … and hoped to learn.

“It’s not easy,” said Rosenberry, repeating that phrase on several occasions. “It’s the last place you want to be and trying to learn about the game and trying to get better. At the same time, like I said about the frustration in training and not getting selected, it’s the same way when you’re watching the game: You try to use it to your advantage in any way you can. If that’s watching players on other teams in terms of matchups and what you might see, but at the same time, it’s a different perspective and you try to use that to your best benefit.”

Rosenberry was thrown into a difficult position Saturday and didn’t exactly impress. It was on his side of the field that Josh Yaro felled Shea Salinas in the 90th minute for a PK that denied the Union a badly needed three points.


Rosenberry is one of many players who could’ve done better on the sequence, and manager Jim Curtin acknowledges mitigating factors – like the switch of Gaddis from right to left back and the late addition of Marcus Epps for a tiring Chris Pontius on the wing.

“Keegan went into the game, had some decent moments,” Curtin said. “On the penalty kick, didn’t do great to help with Marcus, but again it was a bit of a chain reaction of events. … We had a breakdown on that side, but it was difficult.”

While he may not be polishing his skills in games, Rosenberry has been forced to burnish his mental approach. Beyond platitudes about being a better practice player, you could imagine the temptation to take selection for granted last year when Rosenberry was an automatic selection.
Read more »

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Monday, August 14, 2017

A silent summer: The Union's transfer inaction in context

For Union fans that forgot, this is what unveiling a new signing looks like,
via Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao, left, and forward Dom Dwyer. (AP)
The Philadelphia Union did precisely nothing in the summer transfer window, if you exclude cashing in an unfilled international spot for the equivalent of bus fare from Columbus, the team that could very well usurp them as this year’s sixth and final playoff qualifier. With Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Montreal at home, the Union would seem to be out of the playoff mix – 10th in the East in points-per-game with six of their final 10 games on the road and eight against teams in playoff position. It would take a near-miraculous reversal of fortune in the next two and a half months to change that.

Earnie Stewart spoke last week about the Union’s adherence to their internal plan for growth. Understandably, he follows an organizational compass divorced of outside influences, which is a sound process.

But I want to look at the Union’s summer (in)action in the relative terms of the Eastern Conference, juxtaposed against the teams with which they must vie for playoff positioning. New York City FC and Toronto stood pat, because y’know, they’re in first and second place in the conference. But every other team had fairly recognizable flaws that they repaired. (Standings placement is as of Aug. 6, prior to close of window):

3. Chicago – Christian Dean, Richard Sanchez
4. New York Red Bulls – Fidel Escobar, Muhamed Keita, Dilly Duka
5. Atlanta – Bobby Boswell
6. Columbus – Pedro Santos (DP), lots of allocation money for Krisztian Nemeth and Ethan Finlay
7. Orlando City – Dom Dwyer, Yoshi Yotun (DP), Dillon Powers
8. UNION
9. Montreal –
Shaun Francis, Deian Boldor, Samuel Piette
10. New England – Claude Dielna (DP), Krisztian Nemeth
11. D.C. United – Deshorn Brown, Bruno Miranda, Zoltan Stieber (paid down with TAM), Russel Canouse, Paul Arriola (young DP)

By my count, that’s four new designated players in the East and eight in MLS, if you count Carlos Vela to Los Angeles FC, this summer.
Read more »

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Union-Impact: Lineups and pre-game notes

UNION (4-2-3-1) 
McCarthy 
Gaddis-Elliott-Yaro-Wijnaldum 
Bedoya-Medunjanin 
Picault-Ilsinho-Pontius 
Sapong 
Bench: McGuire, Fabinho, Marquez, Creavalle, Alberg, Epps, Simpson 

Montreal (4-3-3) 
Bush 
Duvall-Cabrera-Ciman-Lovitz 
Dzemaili-Piette-Bernier 
Oduro-Mancosu-Piatti 
Bench: Crepeau, Fisher, Francis, Beland-Goyette, Coinere, Salazar, Jackson-Hamel 

- A 3-1 win over FC Dallas last week alleviates the impulse to change for Jim Curtin, who makes just one change in the side enforced by injury. Oguchi Onyewu’s groin injury flared up, so Josh Yaro steps in. Richie Marquez makes his return to the bench. As expected, John McCarthy starts his seventh straight game in net with Andre Blake out again.

- Besides that, it’s the same team that worked so well in attack. Ilsinho is back in the No. 10 spot, with Roland Alberg ready as the super sub role. No Keegan Rosenberry or Derrick Jones, who might be in line for time with Bethlehem in Sunday’s game.

- Montreal is set to hand a debut to Canadian international Samuel Piette in central midfield after signing him from Spanish minor league team Izarra this summer. He moves Hernan Bernardello and Marco Donadel out of the 18 altogether. It’ll be interesting to see how they change shape around them, with Ignacio Piatti’s tendency to drift in off the win and Blerim Dzemaili nominally farther back in the midfield three than his normal No. 10 role. It could come to look more like a 4-2-1-3, with Piette and Patrice Bernier anchoring a triangle with Dzemaili at the point.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

The path to the playoffs that still exists for the Union

Fafa Picault and the Union need to keep their eye
on the ball when it comes to getting results
away from home. (DFM/Mikey Reeves)
The complexity of the Philadelphia Union often leads to questions asked at cross purposes. The inquiry of if the Union will make the playoffs is a different query than if they can qualify for the postseason.

For a season that is so drastically divergent between home and away, it seems fitting that its overriding logic should endure such a clean fracture.

Now that the questions have been sorted, let’s attend to the answers?

Can the Union make the playoffs? Yes, Jim Curtin is correct in saying that a path exists. His team has been excellent at home, winning seven of eight and holding serve to maintain a place in a crowded playoff hunt, the latest installment a 3-1 controlling of Western Conference elite FC Dallas. In those eight games, the Union have conceded just four total goals, only two of which have come with 22 players on the field.

That hasn’t translated into road results, for reasons that beguile the Union. And should that trend change – or in the mind of Curtin and others, simply normalize, since the Union are probably more talented than a 1-7-3 away mark indicates – then they could make headway.

Now the next question, will the Union make the playoffs? That’s notably thornier. And it probably would require the Union in the final 12 games of the season nearly matching their win total from the first 22 games (seven). Not impossible, but I wouldn't advise running to Vegas to place bets on it.

But in the first week of August, the path to the playoffs exist, and it’s one in which the Union are endowed with the power to craft their journey.

Curtin mentioned the 12-game mini-season that awaited them starting Saturday. Here goes:

Six home games: Dallas (a win), Montreal, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Orlando City

Six away games: San Jose, Toronto, Minnesota, Red Bull, Atlanta, Chicago

That’s a daunting path, but not an impossible one. Let me explain. Read more »

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Union-FC Dallas: Lineups and prematch observations

UNION (4-2-3-1) 
McCarthy 
Gaddis-Onyewu-Elliott-Wijnaldum 
Bedoya-Medunjanin 
Picault-Ilsinho-Pontius 
Sapong 
Bench: McGuire, Rosenberry, Yaro, Creavalle, Alberg, Epps, Simpson

FC Dallas (4-2-3-1) 
Seitz 
Grana-Figueroa-Hedges-Hollingshead 
Ulloa-Cermeno 
Barrios-Diaz-Lamah 
Urruti 
Bench: Gonzalez, Cannon, Zimmerman, Hayes, Acosta, Akindele, Colman 


- Oguchi Onyewu surmounts a hamstring issue this week to get in the starting lineup. Still no changes out wide, with both Keegan Rosenberry and Fabinho still out in the cold. Rosenberry has not started an MLS game since April 14, making two substitute appearances since. Fabinho has quietly been on the sidelines in MLS since June 18, making one substitute appearance. With the foot speed of Roland Lamah and Michael Barrios on the wings, the speedier Josh Yaro might have been a better bet against a fleet-of-foot Dallas side, but Onyewu has been strong.

- The return of Fafa Picault from a hamstring strain and Ilsinho for Roland Alberg makes two changes for Jim Curtin from the side drubbed, 3-0, by New England last week.

- FC Dallas’ two big changes from a 4-0 beating at the hands of Vancouver last week are mandated by suspensions. Carlos Gruezo’s red card rules him out, while Atiba Harris is out due to yellow-card accumulation. The former absence is mitigated by dropping Victor Ulloa deeper with Carlos Cermeno. Kellyn Acosta is on the bench.

- Neither of the Gold Cup goalies is in play today. Jesse Gonzalez, who played in the Homegrown Game midweek, is on the bench in favor of former Union player Chris Seitz. Andre Blake is still out with that lacerated hand courtesy of Acosta’s cleat in the Gold Cup final.

- Dallas’ strengths in the attacking third drive straight at the fault lines of the Union’s shortcomings: Set piece and incisive winger runs. Matt Hedges is an extremely dangerous aerial threat on corner kicks whipped in by Mauro Diaz, and Dallas is annually one of the top teams in MLS in terms of set-piece goals. Lamah and Barrios are adept at slicing through the space between fullbacks and center backs. For Giliano Wijnaldum on the left, particularly with his penchant for getting forward and leaving a wide space open between he and the left center back, the Union need to be careful in how they limit their vulnerability.

- VAR is here. Your primer is here.

- Let’s put the stakes out there: The Union need a win today against a team they've never beaten. Lose and they risk falling nine points behind Columbus should the Crew win, in addition to being four games under .500. That’s a largely insurmountable deficit, especially if they don’t make the kinds of changes needed to break the inertia.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Taking the bull by the horns: The Union's Dallas drought, in context

Even six years on, this symbolism of FC Dallas' Marvin Chavez, left,
bounding over the Union's Gabriel Farfan remains salient for a club
that has never lost to the Union. (AP)
The Philadelphia Union have never beaten FC Dallas, which in the eighth year of the organization’s existence remains a statement of increasingly bemusing fact. That 0-5-4 record sounds like a lot of futility – perhaps not for the Union, who are also winless in 10 games against Real Salt Lake (0-7-3), including a 1-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium May 27.

So naturally I wondered, how unusual is that? And in answering that question, I had to naturally turn to the great resource that is the MLS Facts and Record Book. MLS has endured a ton of expansion in the last decade or so, with teams’ staggered entrances allowing all manner of dips and rises in form that would seem to allow opportunities to win. MLS’s enforced parity makes it hard to make blanked statements about organizations always being good or bad. (I realize the opening this leaves for a Union joke, but let’s move on. Or at least save it for later.)

If we exclude the recent bursts of expansion – i.e. New York City and Orlando City in 2015; Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC in 2017 – how many MLS franchises are without a win against another franchise all-time in MLS games?

Well, the Union are exemplary, and not in a good way. There are only three instances of a team having played more than three times without beating an opponent, and the Union own two of them.

The other is Chicago, which is 0-4-4 all-time against Portland since the Timbers’ elevation to MLS in 2011, including a 2-2 draw a month ago.

The only other two winless records in four or more meetings are the Union against FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. A fourth such string between San Jose and Montreal was alleviated in the 2017 opener, when in their sixth meeting the Quakes finally got the better of the Impact.

Even if you include the two 2015 expansion sides, winless spans are tremendously rare. In year three, Orlando City has beaten all but four MLS teams – Dallas, San Jose, Seattle and Vancouver. The Lions have only played Dallas and Vancouver twice, with their 2017 meetings looming this season. Four MLS teams have never beaten Orlando City: Colorado, Portland, Real Salt Lake and San Jose. (No, that overlap isn’t in error; San Jose and Orlando City have drawn all three meetings.)

New York City’s zeroes club is at three apiece – having never beaten Dallas, Kansas City and Real Salt Lake; having never lost to Colorado, Houston and San Jose. Three of those six teams still have to play NYCFC this season.

That leaves only the three bona fide streaks – Union-RSL, Union-Dallas and Chicago-Portland – on the list of protracted winless streaks, one of which can be evicted this weekend.

However, let me offer a modicum of solace to Union fans, something that next week’s opponent Montreal will never gain relief of. Forever and all time, let it be known that Montreal will never have a win against Chivas USA, posting an 0-2-1 record in three all-time meetings across the three seasons the Impact coexisted with the defunct side. At least the Union can, theoretically, improve their goose egg.

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