Curtin Call

Curtin Call | A Match to Build On


Philadelphia Union emerged from their first Major League Soccer contest of 2024 with a 2-2 draw at home against Chicago Fire. After the match, which finished with a 93rd minute equalizer from Daniel Gazdag in stoppage time, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, recapping the home-opening action.

Second half surge

Thanks to a determined second half effort from the entire team, Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag both found the back of the net for two Union goals. 

“A first half that saw two teams cancel each other out. A little bit of sloppy play on a cold night, not a ton of chance creation in the first half. Second half started and I thought that we looked like ourselves again and kept them pinned in and did a good job of creating chances; we showed a lot of character to get back in the game,” Curtin said.

“Obviously, we're never happy with a tie at home but at the same time, it’s early in the year still things to build on.”

Even though the team didn’t collect all three points, they did prevent a loss in their home fortress at Subaru Park, all the while showing flashes of how impactful the team’s chemistry and resolve is in early season back-and-forth contests like Saturday’s. 

“As the second half went, I think you create your own luck by how hard you work,” Curtin said. 

“I think we came out, scored the goal really early in the second half, it gets disallowed, but we still show that we were gonna play on the front foot and be proactive. I think that's when we're at our best.”

Strong performance from Sullivan

In his second consecutive match starting in the midfield, Quinn Sullivan’s performance was an impressive one, controlling the right side in tandem with right back Nate Harriel. 

Sullivan’s strong showing prompted Curtin to alter his original game plan -- he opted to send Bedoya in on the left side for Jack McGlynn due to Sullivan’s success, which included his first assist of the season to Mikael Uhre in the 55th minute. 

“Actually, we wanted to bring Ale into the game earlier and throw Quinn up top, but the right side was being dominated so much that we didn't want to tweak it,” Curtin said. 

Sullivan and Harriel have honed their Homegrown connection, and it’s added another layer to the team’s offense that's formerly been centered on the three Designated Players up front. 

“I thought Quinn and Nathan, the understanding between the two, the chance creation on that side, was really really, really dangerous,” Curtin said. 

“I would still say with Quinny, he’s a teenager. He created a ton, I thought was probably one of our best players tonight. But now in those certain moments too, the difference between slowing down at the end to make the final pass, or hit the final shot, and getting when to dribble versus when to pass getting those little things right. He's still going to work on and improve, but overall, he was excellent tonight, and Nathan as well. That's a good little partnership that we have and we didn't want to mess with it, so we didn't make a change on that side.”

Semmle’s debut

Oliver Semmle held Chicago Fire to a draw in his first MLS appearance, playing in place of Andre Blake who was out due to an adductor injury. Although two goals did get past him, Curtin had positive words to share about the 25-year-old MLS rookie's performance, citing his 96th minute save that kept the game knotted.

“Oliver wasn't involved a ton and those sometimes are the hardest nights for goalkeepers because all of a sudden now there's only a chance or two in the second half,” Curtin said.

“He did make the big save on Barlow on the mini breakaway, so I thought he did a good job. It wasn't a night where he had to face 15-20 shots and make saves. He was solid, and I think he'll get confidence now, from the game.”

As for Tuesday’s Concacaf Champions Cup match against Deportivo Saprissa, Curtin did not have an update about which keeper would start in net.

“I'm hopeful, but we'll see. It'll be up to [Andre Blake]. He knows his body best,” Curtin said.