Finding consistency on the offensive and defensive ends is one of the main things stopping the Union from being mentioned among the best in MLS. For now, the Union are just a good, young team.
The club suffered another setback last Saturday despite tying a season-high with three goals. Instead, the Union lost that one, 5-3, in Montreal. They had been coming off a 1-0 shutout over the Chicago Fire.
Manager John Hackworth thinks his team is on the right track, even if the outcomes don't always show it.
"We put a lot into our preparation," said Hackworth. "I think we've been extremely consistent with our play. Sometimes the scores don't reflect that, but I'm proud of the way we're playing and we just have to keep getting better each week. In this league, with the amount of parody that we have, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. And that's the biggest challenge."
The Union (5-5-3) sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but their minus-5 goal differential ranks 14th out of the 19 MLS clubs.
McInerney, glimmer of hope
Searching for a bright spot?
Then look at Jack McInerney, who netted his ninth goal last Saturday. He's tied for the MLS lead in that department.
Hackworth has been coaching McInerney since his days with Team USA's under-17 team. He's happy to see McInerney maturing before his eyes.
"We've been lucky enough to have a young and talented goal scorer on our club," he said. "I think he's developed before our eyes and it's really exciting. I'm proud of him and I'm happy to see the positive steps that he's taken on a weekly basis."
McInerney's name is already being passed around as a forward for Team USA.
"I definitely think that he has to be in the conversation," Hackworth said. "I'm cautious in putting to much praise on young players because I know that sometimes that can be negative in their development. I certainly hope he continues to rise and, if he does, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be considered for Team USA."
The Union will head to Canada Saturday to face Toronto FC (1-7-4) at 6 p.m. The match will be aired on The Comcast Network.
Hackworth: 'We hate New York'
The New York Yankees and Manchester City combined forces to make the MLS' 20th team, New York City FC. They will begin league play next season.
Union manager John Hackworth weighed in on the implications.
"I'm personally excited because it's great for our league and It's good for Philadelphia because we hate New York," he said. "It's just adding another rival to our list and they're a very close proximity away, and it's going to further grow the sport.
"When you look over in London, there's multiple teams that are right around the corner from each other and those rivalries feel like neighborhoods and different cultures. That really creates a buzz around the sport and I think that same feeling is possible here."