Fans Boo as Union Make Playoffs for Just Second Time in Team History

The Union ended the season on a seven-game winless streak. But the team still made the playoffs!

The Philadelphia Union have made the playoffs!

Hey, a sports team in this town making the postseason is a big deal nowadays. The Phillies haven’t made it since 2011, the Sixers 2012, and the Eagles 2013. The Flyers were the only team to make the playoffs last year. Plus the Union haven’t exactly been a playoff stalwart, either: This season is only the second time the franchise has made it to the postseason in its seven-year history.

So when the Union walked off the field yesterday, playoff berth in hand, what did the fans do? The only thing they could: They booed them.

There’s a good reason, though. Yes, the Union finished sixth in the eastern conference and were the last team in MLS to sneak into the playoffs. But the team only advanced to the postseason on goal differential over New England. And they’re going into the postseason on a terrible losing streak; they haven’t won since August 27th. They’re 0-5-2 in their last seven games, including a 2-0 loss yesterday to the New York Red Bulls (one of five soccer teams worldwide named after the energy drink).

Yesterday wasn’t even the first time the fans booed Union players as they walked off the field! In their previous game — a 2-0 loss to Orlando City — fans stayed to boo them as well. The Union may only be seven seasons old, but they’ve very quickly become a classic Philadelphia sports team. This is comforting, at least. Only the forgiving playoff format of Major League Soccer — 12 of 20 clubs make the postseason — has them in the playoffs.

So do they have any shot in the playoffs? The Union will play Toronto FC on the road on Wednesday in an elimination game; the winner moves on to the two-legged conference semifinals, while the loser goes home. The lone upside for the Union is Toronto was one of the teams it tied during its seven-game winless streak to end the season. In that game, the Union led 1-0 after an Alejandro Beyoda in the 25th minute, but allowed a second-half equalizer.

The Union finished the season 11-14-9, the fifth losing record in seven seasons for the club. It made the playoffs on the stretch of an eight-game unbeaten streak from April to June. Since then, the team hasn’t been so hot. But, hey, once the playoffs happen anything is possible — especially when you just need to win one elimination game to make it into the final eight.

“It’s exciting, and I think even with the result tonight, you can tell with the excitement of the fans. It’s hard to talk about the form we are in,” Keegan Rosenberry, a rookie who played every minute this season, said after yesterday’s loss. “Overall we are pleased with the run we had over the course of the season but there is always room to improve.”

Wednesday’s game is at 7:30 on ESPN2.