Photo: Paul Rudderow
Everything has gone wrong for the Philadelphia Union this season. And I mean everything, from late-game collapses to baffling refereeing to off-the-field incidents to Rais Mbolhi generally.
I don’t need to tell you how bad it’s been.
Last weekend’s 3-0 pounding by Vancouver — featuring a start by the team’s fourth-string keeper and generally horrific play in every phase of the game — seemed like it must be the lowest point of the season. I mean, how much worse can you get than one win out of eleven matches?
Well, I wanted to find out. So I called in a few favors and got a chance to take a look in a crystal ball — yeah, I have a crystal ball guy — to see what the rest of the Union’s season will bring.
As it turns out, we’re not even close to rock bottom.
May 17: Due to a series of freak injuries, the Union are forced to start Rais Mbolhi at centerback. D.C. United score three goals in the first ten minutes before Mbolhi earns a red card. He flips off the Sons of Ben as he leaves the pitch.
May 25: Following the team’s sixth straight loss, this one to New York Red Bulls, Jim Curtin is fired as Union manager. In a surprise move, Nick Sakiewicz assumes the managerial duties. “I have no say in who gets hired as the manager,” he states. “If you believe that I do, you’re not informed with the right facts.” At the press conference, Jay Sugarman announces that a sporting director will be hired “within the next three months.”
June 3: Brian Sylvestre decides to take a job at the nearest nuclear power plant. Fifth-string keeper Trey Mitchell is named man of the match as the Union fall to Columbus 3-0.
June 6: The Union pick up their second win of the season, toppling NYCFC at PPL Park. The Union inexplicably finish the season with seven points out of nine against the expansion side.
June 24: As Fernando Aristeguieta tries to break through the Seattle Sounders defense, Chad Marshall disembowels him with a katana. Referee Armando Villarreal motions for Aristeguieta to play on as the Venezuelan bleeds out on the pitch.
June 27: Trailing 1-0 in the final minutes, Andrew Wenger beats Montreal’s entire defense, including the keeper. His tap-in from the six-yard line flies into the Delaware River.
July 1: Mbolhi is finally transferred to Turkish side Konyaspor in exchange for a bag of potatoes. “We expect those potatoes to start at left back this week,” proclaims a jubilant Chris Albright.
July 11: Fans at PPL Park are excited to see Jimmy McLaughlin make his season debut on the wing. McLaughlin lasts one minute against Portland before tearing every muscle in his leg simultaneously. Doctors say that they’ve never seen anything quite like it.
July 26: After a summer of building tension (for reasons no one can quite decipher) Norway and Finland declare war on each other — though, in true Scandinavian fashion, Nerf guns are used rather than real ones. Seizing his chance, ex-Union man Freddy Adu captures Danny Cruz and, via an arcane clause in the MLS Roster Rules, claims his roster spot on the 2015 Union. Adu plays in three matches, posting 0 goals, 0 assists, and 46 photos on Instagram of his 2011 call-up to the national team.
August 17: With the Union’s losing streak up to nine straight games, many criticize Sakiewicz’s team selection and tactical planning. “I have no say in the team selection or the tactical planning,” Sakiewicz claims to anyone who will listen. “If you believe that I do, you’re not informed with the right facts.”
August 18: At a press conference announcing the shock signing of ex-QPR keeper Robert Green, Jay Sugarman announces that a sporting director will be hired “within the next three months.”
August 19: Thanks to a bit of identity theft, the Union realize that they’ve accidentally signed the wrong Robert Green — this one a 45-year-old schoolteacher from Camden, N.J. He starts in goal against Montreal nonetheless.
August 29: Visibly fed up with the entire club, Vincent Nogueira does not appear for the second half of the match against New England. He is never seen again, though a rowboat carrying a lone figure is seen crossing the Delaware River near the end of the match.
September 12: Worried that everyone had forgotten his existence, Fabinho makes the most of a rare start, scoring a hat trick against Columbus. The Union lose 7-3, but Fabinho starts every game the rest of the way at striker.
October 25: In the season finale, keeper Oka Nikolov costs the Union a point when, in a haunting echo of last year’s Chicago game, his 89th minute throw lands directly at the feet of Amobi Okugo. Okugo slots home the game winner and pointedly declines to celebrate. “I have no say in our transfer policy,” Sakiewicz says after the match. “If you believe that I do, you’re not informed with the right facts.”
November 1: The season mercifully over, Jay Sugarman has finally had enough. Sakiewicz is fired and PSP’s own Dan Walsh is installed as the club’s sporting director. In December, reporters spot Sakiewicz attempting to hitchhike to Los Angeles, mumbling something about “LAFC.”
(See, maybe there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel after all!)