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What to make of Philadelphia’s Kai Wagner conundrum



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

Typically, when you write an op-ed, it reads almost like an essay. It’s almost like when you have to prove your argument in history class back in high school. This isn’t that type of op-ed, because I really don’t have a point to sell you viewers. Instead, I want to air some thoughts that I’m currently battling with as a fan of the Philadelphia Union.

Normally, after a playoff victory you’re supposed to feel happy. That is pretty obvious. Your team just won, they are moving on to the next round and are another step closer to the championship. You get at least another game to watch your favorite team before the offseason. With this recent 1-0 win over New England to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it almost feels hard to get excited. No that’s not because it was a close game or that the Union didn’t have the most inspiring performance on the pitch. There’s just this weird air around the team — a team that already carried some questionable vibes heading into the playoffs — that now lingers around the team after game one.

Kai Wagner was handed a three-game suspension yesterday for violating the league’s on-field anti-discrimination policy, using a racial slur on the field in the Union’s first game against New England. It was reported a few days later that Wagner had allegedly directed a racial slur towards Revs striker Bobby Wood during a heated exchange. That is no longer alleged, it is a fact. Wagner admitted to this offense immediately to the league and in an apology on his Instagram. Because of his immediate cooperation, the league handed him a lighter sentence of three games. Yes, if you’ve done your math, that means Wagner could potentially be available should Philadelphia make it to the MLS Cup final.

There is no guarantee that Philadelphia will make it to the final, especially given that they play Cincinnati in the next round just to get to the conference final. However, it’s the principle that there still is a door open for him to play, and possibly contribute for Philadelphia in a final that can make fans a bit uneasy. It causes a shadow over what should be a huge time for Philadelphia fans, and it easily could have been avoided if the league just did the right thing and suspended him for the playoffs. It’s just a situation that really stinks.

I’d like to hear from my fellow Philadelphia fans their thoughts on this entire situation. How are you feeling ahead of this tilt against Cincinnati coming up and has any of your excitement for the postseason died down a bit?

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