Photo: Earl Gardner
In May 2015 — just under two years ago — the Union were off to a poor start. It’s been a theme of franchise history, as you all know.
Fearing what might lie ahead, I consulted with my crystal ball guy and wrote a column about the rest of the season. It was called “What else could go wrong?”
Looking back, some of what I wrote was eerily prescient (Vincent Nogueira leaving, Nick Sakiewicz being fired, Fabinho scoring a hat trick). Some of it was… not (Fernando Aristigueta being killed on the pitch, Jim Curtin being fired).
And some of it tempted fate. For example, here is an actual sentence that I wrote: “I mean, how much worse can you get than one win out of eleven matches?”
Well, we’re there now, I guess. So I called up my crystal ball guy to take a quick peek at what’s yet to come in the 2017 campaign. (I also put a note in my calendar to write the third version of this column in March 2019, as I am apparently fated to do every 23 months until the end of recorded time.)
How far are we from rock bottom? Folks, we aren’t even close.
May 6: After the Union lose their seventh consecutive game, Jim Curtin preaches patience at the post-game press conference. “Just to reflect back on the game, obviously it’s a difficult result. Guys continue to work hard. I still think we have a great team.”
May 10: Fabinho signs a seven-year contract extension.
May 13: Sebastien Le Toux scores a brace to lead D.C. United to victory, declining to celebrate after each one. Rumors fly that the team is cursed without Le Toux, with just 14 points earned in just 23 games since his August 2016 trade to Colorado. Through a spokesman, Satan declines to comment.
June 3: Driven insane by another poor match, the Union beat writers engage in a full-on brawl outside Yankee Stadium. The group’s live-tweeting of the melee leads to the entire press corps spending the night in a Bronx jail.
June 18: The Union finally snap the 22-match winless skid. New York Red Bulls are forced to field a reserve side after food poisoning strikes just before the match, and the Union earn a nail-biting 1-0 victory. As fans celebrate, the team quietly releases a statement denying that Chris Albright had been seen near the Red Bulls’ pre-game meal with a comically large bottle of laxatives.
June 24: Vincent Nogueira attends his first match at Talen Energy Stadium in over a year. No one recognizes him because, like most people in the River End, Nogueira wears a brown paper bag over his head.
July 1: Not seen since March, Fafa Picault comes off the bench to play 17 minutes for Bethlehem Steel B. “I didn’t even know we had a Bethlehem Steel B,” Picault says post-match. “I’m just glad I was able to feel the sweet touch of the sun upon my face again.”
July 10: A ghostly figure with sharp facial features, speaking French, is seen briefly in the Union’s training complex. Terrified, Haris Medunjanin hops in a rented hot air balloon and is never seen again.
July 19: The Union fall even deeper into the Eastern Conference basement following a 4-1 drubbing by tenth-place Montreal. With just 8 points through 19 games, Jim Curtin preaches patience at the post-game press conference. “Just to reflect back on the game, obviously it’s a difficult result. Guys continue to work hard. I still think we have a great team.”
July 26: The Union announce the surprise signing of striker Vincent Adultman. Though little is known about the mysterious Adultman, Wikipedia alleges that the Tuvalu native scored 32 times last season for Gibraltar First Division side Manchester 62. In his first Union appearance, however, it becomes apparent to everyone that Adultman is, in fact, three ten-year-old boys sitting on each other’s shoulders. Adultman makes five appearances in total for the Union before school is back in session.
July 29: A wormhole pops up in the middle of Gillette Stadium and pulls Chris Pontius into another dimension. Undeterred, Jim Curtin names him in the starting XI for the next match. “He’s a guy I’ve got total confidence in, no matter what dimension he’s in.”
August 9: Sensing an opportunity to get back into MLS, ex-Union man Freddy Adu kidnaps Aaron Jones and assumes his identity. “I’m Aaron Jones,” Adu tells a scrum of confused reporters after training. “I was born in Great Yarmouth, England, I went to Clemson, and I’m 5’9″.” The plan works because no one — not even Jim Curtin — knows what Aaron Jones looks like. Before the U.S. Marshals chase him into Maryland, Adu makes four appearances at right back, posting 0 goals, 0 assists, and 8 positive Tweets about the 2016 movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Highly recommend you guys check out the ultimate version of BvS that just got released. 1000 times better than theatrical one. 3 hours long!
— Freddy Adu (@FreddyAdu) July 2, 2016
August 26: With great fanfare, the Union marketing team announces that Cirque du Soleil will perform during the match. “We expect them to be able to float around, over, and above the action on the pitch, thrilling our loyal fans,” announced a team spokesman. However, this backfires when Jeff Larentowicz fires a shot off a dangling trapeze artist and into Andre Blake’s goal.
September 1: Fafa Picault gets 14 minutes for the Union U-10s.
September 9: The Union fall to expansion side Minnesota United. Now on pace to be the worst side in MLS history, Jim Curtin preaches patience at the post-game press conference. “Just to reflect back on the game, obviously it’s a difficult result. Guys continue to work hard. I still think we have a great team.”
October 1: Jay Sugarman announces completion of the Union Sun Rocket. “It was either spend $100 million on this, or on competent players,” he proclaims. “I think we made the right choice.” The rocket blows up on the launchpad, sending debris down upon an empty River End.
October 24: Two days after the season ends, Jay Sugarman announces that he has sold the team to… The Philly Soccer Page! “PSP earned so much money through their Patreon that they were able to take the team off my hands,” Sugarman says before hopping in a helicopter back to New York. In a statement, the team announces that Adam Cann has been appointed as the new manager “just as soon as he finishes grad school.”
Hey, I had to include something that was totally unrealistic.