Commentary / Union

Revisiting the Four Agreements

In April of 2017, following a limp and lifeless start to the Union’s season and a disconnect between the team’s stated ambitions and then-present state, the team at PSP went searching for a way to engage the Union’s front office in deeper communication. Scouring the Self-Help section of our local Barnes and Noble, we called upon a book entitled, “The Four Agreements.” Made famous in recent years by Tom Brady, this book enabled us to share our perspective on how to achieve positive outcomes with the Union front office in a productive manner.

Read April’s post here

As with any strong relationship, ongoing communication is key. Therefore it’s worth revisiting these agreements again, in light of a maddeningly quiet off-season made suddenly loud.

Agreement #1: Be impeccable with your word

“The Union must be clear in their vision, as well as their successes and failures in pursuit of that vision.”

The Union have been unwaveringly clear in their vision of a club grown from bottom, one committed to rigid uniformity on all levels. They continue to see the fruits of that particular labor, and spent most of the last few months planting even more seeds.

They have also been unwavering in moving past players who no longer serve this end.

The team missed a chance to deepen their relationship with fans this off-season. By their silence, or their ever-maddening pandering between fleeting and few moments of honest conversations, the Union spoke volumes by saying very little. That silence translated into anger in a fan base who asks for honesty above all.

Agreement #2: Don’t take anything personally

“The Union must invest more in the tangible elements of on-field success: Better players.”

If Leroy Jethro Gibbs, lead character on the 5th most watched television show of 2017, NCIS, has taught us anything, it’s that his Rule #39 is real: “There is no such thing as coincidence.”

The Union must have had a plan. Signing Homegrown players Matt Real and Mark McKenzie on Thursday was the first domino. The second was their stunning move for attacking talent David Accam. The third was filling Terminal C in Philadelphia International Airport Sunday afternoon with enough fans to properly greet Accam upon his arrival (as well as make a respectable Instagram Live video) and subtly tease their 2018/19 Home kit in the process.

No one unzips their hoodie JUST THAT FAR in real life..!

When Head Coach Jim Curtin left enough bread crumbs about the team’s ongoing search for a #10 (also on Friday), Union fans had legitimate hope (keeping with the domino metaphor) for a full-on off-season Rube Goldberg Machine: Announcing the signing in the new kit (perhaps coming this week )would certainly do it.

Agreement #3: Don’t make assumptions

“The Union must not assume that their geographic proximity or cache of cultural value is substantial enough for fans to remain engaged through a product that is currently substandard.”

Readers of this publication may be familiar with another regional coming-and-going from the weekend: the city’s local football team won it’s semifinal match (in regular time, no less) against a favored guest to reach the cup (bowl) final.

If there was ever any truth to the narrative that the Union had an opportunity to capture fans while the city’s major four sports were lagging, this victory has all but assured “that train has sailed.” Thus, the Boys in Blue have a steeper hill to climb than the one they started climbing last year or the year before.

Agreement #4: Always do your best

“The Union must not only play smart, assertive soccer, they must also play for their team and their teammates like the badge is important to them.”

Their 6-1 thrashing of Orlando City SC to end the 2017 season notwithstanding, whether or not the franchise addressed this request wasn’t always obvious for Union fans. (If you’re interested in a page with those match highlights, several spelling errors, and a transcript of the “Tommy and Announcer” narration during the video, the internet has that!)

The team’s move for Accam should make the Union more assertive. Their investment in the Academy ought to create more players for whom the team is bigger than a paycheck. These are steps in the right direction, but are also clearly requests that can never be satisfied. They will be judged game-by-game and season-by-season.

For now, at least, it seems as though the Union are attempting to make things right.

Agreement #5: Be skeptical, but learn to listen (the book’s author later came up with a fifth!)

“The Union must do more to embrace the fact that their fans have strong opinions, many of which are informed and in the team’s best interest.”

The team had another of their regular fan council summits this month. Though the topics were peripheral, at best, this was (and always is) a nice gesture. The gameday experience continues to get better, and the jokes about puppies and tacos are certainly valid when the soccer is bad… but is there a person out there who doesn’t like puppies and tacos? Think of how magical they’re going to be when the soccer is good!

Again, honesty is the best policy. Union fans will understand a long-term vision so long as that vision matches the team’s reality. When that wasn’t the case last season, there was nearly a mutiny.

So long as the the team play’s the kids and goes all-out to fill deficient gaps, the rumblings will subside. When the results start to come because of it, the best in-game experience in the best sports city in America will only get better.

Summary

Suddenly and unexpectedly optimistic, Union fans are now truly waiting for the last domino to fall. After the team’s splash on Friday, that domino seems to somehow and inexplicably be within reach. That’s a good thing, because that last domino represents the most integral piece in the Union’s offseason and a coherent Starting XI in 2018.

14 Comments

  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Vision.
    Philosophy.
    Plan.
    .

    • Hmmm… I believe I’ve heard that somewhere before…

    • What is this Process that thou speaketh about?

    • Accam’s letter to fans on Twitter must have gotten you excited.

      He talks about the team’s culture and philosophy.

      He loves the accademy which makes sense coming from Right to Dream.

      Hopefully he brings Yaro to the next level and he and Bedoya continue their relationship from before.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        I thought that was an interesting letter, particularly the part about team culture. I’m not sure if that was meant as a dig to the Fire or a kudos to the Union (or both), but that he took the time to write meant something.

  2. John Harris says:

    My two cents… The ownership violated the agreement with the fans to treat the fans fairly. The fans appropriately called the violation. The ownership still needs to show the fans that it is invested (beyond spending league money on a good acquisition). The relationship had become toxic because of the ownership side. What is ownership willing to do?

  3. Suddenly and unexpectedly optimistic…Still wait and see here. Still the same old patterns from the Union. Still waiting for things to come to fruition. Still waiting for true commitment from ownership. Still waiting…

  4. To me, the last domino is not the #10. That’s a hugely important piece, but not the last. There are still other holes to fill, but, more importantly, the coach must play the right players.
    .
    This means rotation, young players merging in, adjustment both in game and out to the opponent, etc. I know they seem crazy for this team, but THAT is the last domino that must fall.

  5. If the Union do things right, the Eagles doing well can be good for them. Of all the other local teams to be doing well, the Eagles are probably best. Only 3 Union games (2 at home) overlap the Eagles, and the Eagles would still outdraw the Union even if the Union are the better team.
    .
    But the real lucky break came in the coincidence of the teams competing on February 4 and March 3. Depending on the result of the gridiron game, the Union can (and should) market their home opener as a chance to continue to rub it in on New England or a chance to avenge a loss and restore the city’s name. In either case, good marketing can get a full house on March 3 and a win like they had last year against New England might induce people to come back for more games.

  6. Larry GUENGERICH says:

    Very well said

  7. Is Edu still alive? Put him in the #10 slot and with the current #6 & #8 they would be a defensive marvel’ They all have some offensive skills. It might be interesting to see just how many.

  8. Regarding Agreement #3: I love the Union. I’ve been a season ticket holder since the beginning, plan my schedule around the games, travel with them (went to my honeymoon in Disney in 2015 they week they played Orlando), etc. like all the other true fans. But I also like the Sixers, and Eagles, and Phillies and Flyers. And when I see the Eagles going to the Super Bowl, and the Sixers’ young talent finally coming to light and winning, it is really hard to get excited (this early) about a Union team that has constantly let me down. Every year my personal home opener build-up begins later and later because every year I trust them less and less that they will actually come through for me. Meanwhile, the other teams are rapidly improving, and with that they draw more and more attention from the Union. It’s unfortunate, but maybe – just maybe – David Accam can bring some of that back, but it is gonna be REALLY hard to compete with a Lombardi trophy and a playoff basketball 2 years removed from a 10-win season. But here we go!

  9. Quakershiker says:

    Three years ago, at the end of the season, EAGLES management fired the coach. They hired a new coach to change the attitude and direction of the team. Now they are heading to the Supper Bowl. Many players have helped to get them to the big game but it is the COACH that makes it happen.
    It starts at the top. WE NEED A GOOD COACH!

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