Why Union fans are frustrated: It's not (all) about the losing

Why Union fans are frustrated: It's not (all) about the losing

We haven't had a ton about the Union here on the Level in the last two weeks. Partly because the team had a bye last week and partly because my friend and fellow contributor Dave Zeitlin had a baby last week (congrats, Dave!).

There is another reason, however, and it's related to the one word that describes the Philadelphia Union this season, especially since the middle of July:

Boring.

The Union -- who travel to Sporting Kansas City tonight (8 p.m. / NBC Sports Network) -- are boring.

There, I said it.

Along with (and largely because of) the boring play, there is also a lot of losing -- or at least not winning. Since the rainy 3-1 win over Chivas USA on July 12, the Union have taken just nine of a possible 27 points in nine league games.

They don't score goals. They don't pass well -- especially in the final third. They have no flash, no style and no "wow" factor. In the team's last game -- a 1-0 loss at home to Houston -- the official boxscore credited the Union with 10 attempts on goal and one shot on target.

Having watched the entire game, both of those numbers seem generous.

Listen (read in Andy Reid voice), there is no realistic, sane, logical Union fan who expected the team to win an MLS Cup this year. In fact, if you had asked me whether the Union would have even a mathematical chance at a playoff spot with five games to go, I would've told you that sounded about right -- and acceptable.

But what soccer fans want, more than almost anything -- often even more than winning -- is to be wowed. They want to "oohh and ahh," jump out of their seats and be entertained.

This is why you'll hear most Union fans pining for names like Kleberson or Roger Torres. We have no idea how those guys have been playing in training sessions. Clearly, they haven't been very impressive, considering Kleberson has played 25 total minutes since May and Torres has logged 37 minutes the ENTIRE SEASON. I have no idea if those two guys can help the Union win, and neither do you. John Hackworth clearly doesn't think so.

But we pine for them because they are shiny red Ferraris on a roster full of beige Honda Accords.

In the little we have seen them, we know these two -- more than any of their teammates -- have individual skills and "imagination" (one of my favorite soccer buzz words). They may not play defense. They may not pass when they should. They may not stay in the right positions. Hell, they might kick puppies behind closed doors at practice (if that turns out to be true, remember where you heard it first). Hackworth may be totally justified and correct in leaving them on the bench.

When Peter Nowak was in charge, fans begged for a consistent starting lineup (not knowing that Nowak chose his starting XI by whoever gave him life in Candy Crush). With Hackworth, people are tired of the losing, sure. But mostly, they've had enough of Keon Daniel (decent, but dull), enough of Michael Farfan (totally lost), and enough of Danny Cruz (incredible effort, very few ball skills). Lately, some of us (read: me) have had enough of Jack McInerney (bad body language, out of sorts).

(Don't say you've had enough of Brian Carroll. Defensive midfielders are supposed to be boring. He's had a solid year, but has no help in the middle).

It's likely we'll see a whole lot of the same in the final five games. And again, it might be justified from a coaching standpoint. Kleberson will likely not be here next year and Torres should demand to be anywhere but here, so it doesn't make much sense to start playing them now.

Whether the Union sneak into the back end of the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference (possible) or miss out entirely (more likely), the 2013 season -- at least on paper -- will end somewhere close to where most fans likely expected it to.

But if the Union want to compete in 2014 -- and if they want to sell the season tickets they're desperately trying to push this fall -- they need to move for an electric yellow sports car or two, and leave the plain white minivans on the bench.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

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NBC Sports Philadelphia Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
Company: NBC Sports Philadelphia
# of hours / week: 10 – 20 hours

Deadline: November 20

Basic Function

This position will work closely with the Vice President of Sales in generating revenue through commercial advertisements and sponsorship sales. The intern will gain first-hand sales experience through working with Sales Assistants and AEs on pitches, sales-calls and recapping material.

Duties and Responsibilities

• Assist Account Executive on preparation of Sales Presentations
• Cultivate new account leads for local sales
• Track sponsorships in specified programs
• Assist as point of contact with sponsors on game night set up and pre-game hospitality elements.
• Assist with collection of all proof of performance materials.
• Perform Competitive Network Analysis
• Update Customer database
• Other various projects as assigned

Requirements

1. Good oral and written communication skills.
2. Knowledge of sports.
3. Ability to work non-traditional hours, weekends & holidays
4. Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
5. Must be 19 years of age or older
6. Must be a student in pursuit of an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Juris Doctor degree
7. Must have unrestricted authorization to work in the US
8. Must have sophomore standing or above
9. Must have a 3.0 GPA

Interested students should apply here and specify they're interested in the ad/sales internship.

About NBC internships

Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

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AP photo

Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

There's never any love lost between NFC East rivals so this Monday's much-anticipated contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins is sure to bring plenty of chatter to go along with some exciting football.

Philly's reputation often precedes it and there was some new fuel added to that fire on Wednesday when Washington running back Chris Thompson said some inflammatory -- or complimentary, depending how you look at it -- things about our city's thoughtful fans.

Thompson was a guest on ESPN 980 this morning and said he's anxious to play the Eagles in Philly because they're one of the best teams in the NFL. But also for other reasons.

From the Washington Post:

“Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I’ve ever experienced, too,” he said, “so I’m excited about that as well.”

Host Bram Weinstein then asked for any favorite tales, and Thompson obliged.

“You see a lot of the players pregame when we run out of the tunnel, guys just go pray or whatever in the end zone,” Thompson said. “And [two years ago] I went and prayed in the end zone, and one of the [fans] told me, he was like ‘God’s not gonna help you today.’ And I was like oh, shoot. I heard it while I was praying. I was like dang, all right, that’s a little harsh.”

Harsh. But fair!

On a serious note, Thompson also said he's not planning on bringing his family to Philly for the game.

“I heard that’s the one stadium you keep your family from going to,” Thompson told Weintstein. “My family will be here this week, and they were like ‘I want to come to the Philly game.’ I said absolutely not, you’re gonna have to wait until Dallas comes around. Because my step dad, he’s a big guy. And if he starts fighting, It’ll be real bad out there. I was told that right away my rookie year: keep your family away.”

Now, I can't say I disagree entirely. But not just with Eagles games in Philly. NFL games in general are most certainly not a family friendly environment. Every other week there's a video of an incident from Carolina or San Francisco or any other stadium around the country of fans acting in ways that are incredibly unfriendly to a family environment.

I took my now wife to her first Eagles game three seasons ago. We sat in the club level where I joked (kinda) that she wouldn't see any of the infamous rowdy behavior. That was before one of the largest brawls I've ever seen broke out with guys tumbling down row after row. And that was Eagles-fan-on-Eagles-fan violence.