We The People Podcast –– Ep. 6

Opinion, Show

John and Jason return from the depths of despair –– otherwise known as their respective dorm rooms –– for Episode 6 of the show. Check out the latest installment of We The People Podcast.

In the last episode of We The People Podcast, John and Jason were both Freshman in college, Dandelion was still considered a color by Crayola, and the Philadelphia Union were mired in the longest, active winless streak in Major League Soccer.

Now Sophomores, the budding duo of (less than stellar) podcasters have risen from the ashes and have recorded an episode, during what can only be described as a period of profuse speculation about the revamped Union.

While UnionFanTV and We The People Podcast generally try to steer clear from Alex Jones-esque conspiracy theories, we must warn all of our listeners: this episode happens to be chock full of ’em.

Has Jim Curtin performed pre-match sacrificial rituals? Does Yard’s Brewing Company’s Sons of Ben inspired Rowdy Pale Ale contain some sort of magical elixir? Are former Union players tied up in a Power Training Complex closet?

Tune into Episode 6 of We The People Podcast, as John and Jason dive in, head first like a Fabrice-Jean Picault header.

New episodes of We The People Podcast are posted to iTunes and SoundCloud every Friday evening during the duration of the Major League Soccer season.

 

Why I Have Changed Sides in the Curtin Debate, and Why I Still Have My Doubts

Opinion

Joe Lister is a contributor for UnionFanTV and formerly part of the #CurtinOut contingent. Although Joe has been swayed, he still has his doubts, which he voices in his very first OP piece for the site.

If you asked me three weeks ago what I thought of the Philadelphia Union, I probably would have groaned. I also might have slammed my head against the nearest hard surface. But I definitely would have said I wanted Jim Curtin fired.

Now, I would say that while I still have my doubts, Curtin can stay, at least for now.

I used to be #CurtinOut. I disagreed with nearly everything he did. From not playing two strikers up top to not starting Herbers and Rosenberry, I generally disagreed with his tactics and decisions.

Now, with the Union on a historic six game point streak, while I still disagree with Curtin in most areas, I am ready to let him do his job.

The Union is playing like a team now. They have managed to put the ball past other defenses, while no one can put it past our own. With just a few lineup changes, Curtin has turned this team around, going from bottom of the league, to seemingly destined for the playoffs.

However, there is one thing that I still hold against Curtin: our “New Number 10” as many are now proclaiming Ilson Jr. to be. Personally, I consider him to be the weak link in our lineup.

Sure, his ball control and skill moves may be jaw dropping, but it is nearly everything else that makes me dislike the Brazilian’s play.

When I watch Ilson play, I cannot help but to notice one thing: he plays with his head down; he almost never looks up. Often he dismisses players like Sapong or Picault, who are open next to him, with a clear path to goal.

Outside of ball control, he has little else. Ilson cannot finish, overlooks passes, and he sure cannot run. Yes, he scored against the Dynamo. My response to that? That is one goal in 11 games. Also, the keeper was on the other side of the net on that play. All Ilson had to do was tap it in, which he did.

I hope that when Alberg has successfully recovered, Curtin will start him over Ilson, while trying to improve on the Brazilian’s game at the same time.

Currently, I am satisfied with the state of affairs in Chester. Whenever the Union win, I am happy. But as with every situation, there is room for improvement. Ilson is a player, who I believe needs improvement.

Curtin is no different. He still could make some other lineup changes. Right now, at least, I am content on continuing to watch us win and climb the table.

Chris Pontius is Having a Party

Opinion, Player News

Come one, come all. Chris Pontius is having a party, and you, the fans, are invited to materialize from the rock you have been hiding under to revel in the recent on field splendor.

Take caution, however. That beam of light –– better known as Hope –– is quite blinding. But fear not, a certain Frenchman is no longer around to chide you for jumping ship so soon.

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Things are finally beginning to take shape for the Philadelphia Union.

A bevy of positive results and magnificent displays are hardly an enigma. While there are a number of forces behind the Union’s newfound success, fortunateness is not one of them.

Union gaffer, Jim Curtin, has endured plenty of criticisms over the past few months, but his decision to move Chris Pontius, or Party Boy as he is known by fans in jest, to the right flank warrants a universal pat on the back.

Shifting Pontius to the other side of the park has made all the difference.

Early on, many fans whom I spoke to, noted the 30-year-old’s “slow start” to the new campaign. They questioned where the goals were and when they would come.

Contrary to a rather copious 2016 season –– in which Pontius managed to bag 14 goals in all competitions –– the MLS veteran has never really been considered an adept finisher, or goalscoring midfielder.

His 2016 campaign was a bit of an anomaly, but one that was certainly embraced by everyone associated with the Philadelphia Union. Mirroring that level of production was always going to be a tall-task for Pontius, but yet, he has managed to do so.

Only, the fruits of Pontius’s labor have come through him taking up a different role: that of provider.

Through their first six matches, the Union scored a measly 5 goals, with Pontius assisting on a lone Jay Simpson header in the home opener against Toronto Football Club.

Facing mounting pressure, Curtin was forced to return to the drawing board.

On April 22, when the Union welcomed the Montreal Impact to Talen Energy Stadium, Chris Pontius found himself lined up on the right, as opposed to the side closer to the dugouts.

Curtin’s decision to ship Pontius to the right has since opened the floodgates. The Union have scored 12 goals in their last 5 matches, with Pontius having a hand –– or rather a foot –– in goals scored in the last five contests. 5 assists in his last 5 matches, to be exact.

And after a pair of assists on Wednesday night versus Houston Dynamo, Pontius has tied his career high in assists (6) through just eleven matches. Only Toronto’s Víctor Vázquez has more (7).

Fans asking about goals need not look very far; they are right in front of all of us. Rather, fans should be asking how many more? 

Party Boy is having his way on the pitch once again, and it is time more fans take notice.

U in Review –– Matchday 11: Dynamo versus Union

News, Post-Match, U in Review

Chester, PA ––

Union hinder red-hot Houston Dynamo, find themselves go from cellar dweller, to mover and shaker in Major League Soccer.

Philadelphia Union’s ascent up the Eastern Conference and Major League Soccer table continued Wednesday night, when they welcomed early Supporters’ Shield challenger, Houston Dynamo (6W 4L 1D), to Talen Energy Stadium.

After a dismal start to the season, which saw Jim Curtin’s side accrue just 4 points through their first 8 matches, Union (3W 4L 4D) have started to turn things around. They are surging as of late –– unbeaten in five –– showing no visible signs of slowing down after doing-away with visiting Dynamo 2-0.

Union’s quick turnaround in form can be credited to the recent lineup tinkering by Curtin, coupled with several, staunch defensive performances by a veteran laden backline.

Curtin elected to stick with the same XI who thrashed D.C. United 4-0 away from home last weekend. He proved that he is, in fact, a believer in the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Dynamo also entered the match in fine form –– second in points and points per game in the league –– yet, they remained winless on the road through their first ten matches.

Looking to end their road woes in Chester and keep pace atop the Western Conference, Dynamo went toe-to-toe with Union from the start, but ultimately were hard done by a poor first half and failure to capitalize on their several, meaningful scoring chances.

Union keeper, Andre Blake, had a relatively comfortable night between the sticks. Blake faced 11 shots –– only 4 of which were on target –– that hardly troubled the Jamaican international.

Union, on the other hand, were more efficient on the night.

Although they had less of the ball and logged less shots than Dynamo, Union were able to make the most of the scoring opportunities presented to them. They ultimately put away two of their four chances on the night, which was enough to see off the visitors.

Fabrice-Jean Picault was on the receiving end of a Chris Pontius delivery early in the contest (Watch).

Picault went bar down with a header in the 17th minute for his second goal in the campaign, and the first “DOOP in the Ole Onion Bag,” as Union color commentator, Tommy Smyth, would say.

Union did not waver after their impressive start to the match.

Ilsinho doubled Union’s lead in the 38th minute, after the Brazilian calmly slotted home a ball from well inside Dynamo’s own eighteen (Watch).

By the final whistle, Union were out-dueled, out-possessed and out-shot, but they were the ones on top. Dedicated defending and smart substitutions bolstered Union’s clamp on the game, despite the numbers in the boxscore.


An impressive result sees Union extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Curtin’s recently rejuvenated side has now gone more than 300 minutes –– 363 to be exact –– without conceding a goal.

Union are home again Saturday, when they welcome Colorado Rapids to Talen Energy Stadium.