Whenever Jim Curtin speaks into the microphone after home games, he starts by thanking the fans.
It's a wonder sometimes that he does, because the fans' chief interaction with him is booing his name when he's announced during the starting lineup.
Curtin was booed again before Saturday's win over New York City FC. This followed a few days of Union fans stating just as loudly on social media that they weren't convinced by the Union's recent run of good form.
The cynicism is well-earned, to be sure. Just because the Union are in fifth place in the East doesn't mean they can actually win the team's first trophy, and that includes next month's U.S. Open Cup final. They go to Houston as underdogs.
It doesn't even mean the Union can get up to fourth place, because closing the six-point gap to the Columbus Crew requires a three-game swing of results.
But those barriers haven't stopped the Union from playing a style of soccer that's genuinely entertaining.
Ilsinho's dazzling solo goal Saturday night was high-profile evidence of that. Watch the buildup to his run, though, for proof of how the team as a whole thinks.
Even better was a passing sequence a few moments later that drew hearty applause from the knowledgeable fans in attendance.
"We're going to be brave, and we're going to go for it," Curtin said afterward, words that no Union coach dared utter for many years. "I don't want to have a group, the fans don't want to have a group, and the players don't respond well to sitting and putting 10 guys around the ball and letting New York City come and dictate things on our home field."
There are risks in playing such a style, of course, especially when the anchor of your defense is a 20-year-old in his first season in MLS. But when Auston Trusty and 22-year-old backup Jack Elliott can shut down an all-time great scorer in David Villa, it means they're doing something right.
And when their teammates can out-shoot and out-possess New York's vast array of attacking talent, that's a good sign too.
"We can do something different, something important," Ilsinho said, a few minutes after playing so well that New York's Ronald Matarrita whacked him twice in the span of a minute in second-half stoppage time.
(For which Matarrita should get a multi-game suspension on top of his red card, by the way.)
There's still a burden of proof to reach. Lose the Open Cup final and a first-round playoff game, and all the progress made won't mean much.
But if the Union keep playing good soccer, they'll surely improve their odds of getting better results.