Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
Shut out…At home…To the Red Bulls.
Here we had it, a fitting capper to the flat RC Cola of a season that was 2012. Sure, going out with a win would have finished things with some pop (with the bonus of possibly costing Red Bulls their playoff bye), but it wouldn’t have felt honest.
No, the Union closed out with a match mercilessly mirroring their year. Thirty-four games of futility distilled and condensed into 90 minutes of pure, refined, and concentrated, pain.
Let’s relive it step by step for fun!
1. Pregame: Upon entering the park, we learn the PA is out. Can you think of more perfect manifestation of the team’s utter inability to communicate with its fans preseason?
(Side note: I kinda liked the anthem sans backing track and especially liked that I wasn’t “helpfully” remind what our tradition is.)
1a. Pregame: Le Toux crosses the pitch into the warm embrace of a yearning fan base calling for his return. No stretched explanation required on that one.
2. And we’re underway: An early penalty conceded sets the tone for the day. Fitting for a team that began the season 0-3-1 to finish 2-7-2 under Darth Nowak.
3. Later in the half: The U hand Henry the ball and a goal. Perfect form for a team that handed over point after point to the table all season long with goals given up in the waning moments.
(Side note: With apologies to my Arsenal-loving Uncle John and thanks to Google Translate: Fada beo Éirinn tú leithscéal lag ar feadh Francach!)
4. The second half begins: The Union show signs of life with a Hoppenot-infused forward tilt only to be brought back to reality by another Cooper goal. Yes, midseason, with Nowak gone, the team marched forward stringing together goals and wins, only to be soon reminded that they were, in fact, a mediocre squad throughout an enthusiasm-killing ,month-and-a-half long eight-game winless streak.
(Side note: Does Kenny Cooper look like Le Toux’s muscle-head twin, or what?) (Side-ier note: Booooooo Nowak)
5. The final whistle: On the day, few souls remain who hadn’t stayed home, left early, or been dragged to the Chester lock-up. On the year, attendance (actual, if not “paid”) certainly petered out as the summer wore on. On the day, no “Part of the Union” was there to play things out. On the year, the Founding Members that have shared my row from the beginning have opted to not renew.
Thus the day, and the season, passed into history.
Looking forward, I’ll quote Nick Arvin (via his character John Boggs): “I don’t think there’s an end to anything, really. We’re always just causing whatever happens next.”
All the tumult caused by the Front Office’s decisions this year will not have ended with the season’s close and it’s hard not to have the feeling there’s a bit more ugliness and fall out yet to “happen next.” But, after the storms pass, at last, the rebuilding can begin.
I can’t wait to be there.