Before just about every game, Union winger Fafa Picault gets a fresh trim from a barber based on Broad Street near Snyder Avenue.
Though Picault doesn’t have too much hair to worry about, he faithfully documents each trip to the chair with a video on Instagram and the hashtag “#consistencyiskey.”
While the motto might be based in superstition, it has far more value than that for the Union. Consistency is one of the hardest virtues to achieve in MLS, a league defined by parity, short-term contracts, and perennial changes in roster rules and the playoff format. And it has eluded the Union for almost their entire history.
This year, they have finally found it. Their win at San Jose on Wednesday continued a streak of having not lost twice in a row since the first two games of the season.
“At the end of the day, it’s just us not wanting to lose,” Picault said. “We know we’re up against a lot of good teams and difficult conditions, so once we do go down in a game we kind of just regroup, talk it out, and get ready for a fight.”
Union manager Jim Curtin said the team’s consistency this season is “the thing I’m most happy about." He said the team has “a little bit of a swagger that maybe we’ve never had before," and it has been shown in comeback wins like Wednesday’s.
“The mindset is … a we-don’t-give-a-you-know-what mentality," Curtin said, stopping himself before saying something stronger than you-know-what. “No matter what gets thrown at them — injuries, missing guys, a bad first-half performance — we play the same way and we try to stick to the things that put us in the situation to have successes here.”
It also helps to have talent, of course, and the Union have the best they’ve ever had. Jamiro Monteiro again exemplified that Wednesday, and not just in setting up Kacper Przybylko’s game-winning goal. Across the rest of the field, he had 48 touches, 3 successful dribbles past opponents, and 2 tackles, and completed 32 of 34 passes.
So did Marco Fabián, even though there were stretches when he wasn’t in sync with the rest of the attack. He recorded 50 touches, 2 shots, 2 chances created, and 2 interceptions, and completed 28 of 34 passes.
“Talent tends to make coaches look good,” Curtin quipped.
(Appropriately for soccer, he works under a one-name nickname: A.J. The Barber.)
“He’s become more than just a barber, he’s also a friend," Picault said. “It’s a nice relationship we built.”