The Union crushed Miami 4-1 on Saturday night in Chester and, as expected, some doofuses showed up to see Lionel Messi even though he was in Argentina and not Delco:

That’s a sidebar takeaway, because the Union are starting to look like the Union again. Despite crashing out of the Champions League and U.S. Open Cup in the span of seven days in early May, they’ve now won eight of their last 12 league games, drawn three times, and only lost once. Of the 36 available points in that stretch, they claimed 27 points to climb the table to third place on points per game, navigating portions of the recent schedule with players out on international duty.

As it stands, they’re on a 1.79 PPG run for the entire season, but if you divide the campaign into pre-Champions League and post-Champions League blocks, it looks like this:

  • during CCL, February 25th to May 2nd: three wins, two draws, four losses = 11 out of 27 points, 0.81 PPG
  • after CCL exit, May 3rd to June 24th: seven wins, two draws, one loss = 23 out of 30 points, 2.3 PPG

That’s a 1.49 point per game increase in the post-Champions League portion of the calendar, which is incredible. They turned the corner hard and started ripping off wins right around the same time the Phillies began to figure it out.

For some context, Cincinnati currently leads Major League Soccer with a 2.23 PPG, New England is second with a 1.89, and then the Union are third at 1.79. LAFC is just behind with a 1.78, so while the margins are slim, the fact of the matter is that no other Champions League team is doing better in league play than the Union.

The question is whether or not they can sustain this form.

When they finished in a tie for 1st place last season, Philly had 19 wins, 5 losses, and 10 draws. That was good enough for a 1.97 number. New England won it the year prior with a 2.15 PPG, and the Union claimed the Supporters Shield in 2020 with a 2.04 number over the course of 23 games in the COVID-shortened season.

So the sweet spot looks to be somewhere between 1.97 and 2.2. It’s only a recent phenomenon that MLS teams are winning the Shield with PPG numbers above 2.00 flat, and if the Union can cross that threshold, it will be an incredible accomplishment when you consider how they started in the spring, having to play CCL games at the same time, making those long, midweek flights to Mexico and El Salvador.

The thing is that the Union have a pretty tough schedule from here on out. They have to play Nashville both at home and on the road, New England on the road, and Cincy at home. That’s five of the remaining 15 games against the very top of the East. There’s a home/revenge game against LAFC in there as well with trips to Atlanta and Columbus coming up.

It’s not going to be easy, but the Union are starting to look like the team that tore it up last year, so buckle up for the second half of the season.