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March 22, 2016

Don't look now, but the Philadelphia Union may actually be pretty good this season

Soccer Union
032216_union_KK Kevin Kinkead/for PhillyVoice

Through three games, the Union are already 20 percent of the way to equaling last year’s team’s full-season win total.

If the playoffs began today, the Union would have a first-round bye.

It’s probably pointless to mention after three games, but consider this – the 2015 version of this team didn't scrape together two wins until May 17th.

That squad started 1-7-3 and pretty much played its way out of the postseason by mid-summer. Already, this 2016 team is 20 percent of the way to equaling the 34-game win total of last year's team.

For most Union fans, it probably felt like the Twilight Zone at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Here was a team with an identifiable style that looked assertive at home. They appeared to have a thought-out game plan. The bounces of the ball went their way and they probably would have won by four goals had they not missed two penalty kicks and blown some other scoring chances.

It was a game that contained some great storylines, just in the first half alone.

Here are 10 more things to consider:

1. Sebastien Le Toux missed the first penalty kick of his Union career. He's now 13 for 14 on penalties in a Union shirt.

2. Last year, the Union went one for two on penalty kicks over the course of 34 games. This year they are zero for two over the course of three games. They went 7/7 in 2014 and 0/0 in 2013. The penalty stats for this team over the course of six seasons are beyond bizarre.

3. The Union are now 8-5-4 all-time against the Revs.

4. Philly still has not scored a hat trick since Le Toux bagged one in the franchise's home debut on 4/10/10 at Lincoln Financial Field. There has never been a hat trick in a MLS game at Talen Energy Stadium over the course of six full seasons.

5. The last time a Union team started this well was in 2013. That team began with a 3-2-2 mark and set a franchise record with 12 wins. They barely missed the playoffs after going through an atrocious goal scoring drought in the fall.

6. Even in a 3-0 win, New England held more of the possession in this game. Lee Nguyen lead all field players with 88 touches.

7. The Union hadn't won back to back games in 10 months. The last time it happened was last May, when the club pulled off consecutive clean sheets against D.C. United and New York. They went on to lose three of the next four.


9. Ilsinho set a Union record when he performed two “elasticos” in one game. I can’t remember if any other Union player has even attempted one, but Mike Farfan might tried the move in 2012.

10. C.J. Sapong told us after the game that he “could have had four” goals. I don't disagree.

It's March 21st and the Philadelphia Union is tied for first place in the eastern conference. A sitting American president is in Cuba with his family and the Phillies have finally moved on from Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Bob Dylan would say the times are changin’.