Curtin Call | Important Three points

#NSHvPHI | Curtin

The Union emerged victorious from a contentious match in Music City, defeating Nashville SC 2-0. The win marks the close of their exhaustive away stretch, and they’ll return to Subaru Park to take on rival NYCFC on Saturday night. Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media after the win before heading back to Philadelphia with three points in tow, recapping the win.

An important three points

The Eastern Conference, as it has been as of late, remains very congested, with most top teams separated by just a point. That’s why Curtin believes results like the one the Union claimed on Wednesday night are so important at this part of the season.

“Was it the beautiful game? No. It was ugly. But guess what? An ugly three points in the month of July does not get remembered at the end of the year at all. So, a big night for us, and a big three points to stop that two game losing skid on the road,” Curtin said. 

Before the contest, Curtin spoke with his team, previewing what it would take to divert from the squad’s recent two losses and turn to beat a Nashville SC team that sits high at the top of the East, not to mention in their home arena known for drawing a raucous crowd. 

“The last thing I said in the locker room to them was ‘this group's at their best when they play like they have nothing to lose, and let's play like we have nothing to lose for 90 minutes,’” Curtin said. 

“When we work that hard and do things like blocking shots, blocking crosses, having good contact on our clearances, we become very hard to play against. When you play that hard with that intensity, good things happen, I believe that you make your own luck in those situations.”

A gritty grind

Curtin admitted his nerves heading into Wednesday’s match, which was played again without their natural starting XI due to goalkeeper Andre Blake and defender Damion Lowe’s absences. 

After the win, he expressed pride for his team, who stepped up in the face of a formidable foe, who now only sits one spot above them.

“Anytime you come and play a Nashville team with Gary Smith, they’ve very organized, they're very physical, and you almost have to stand up to them. You're gonna get punched in the face by them, but you have to punch back,” Curtin said. 

“I thought that overall tonight that the guys, while were missing a lot of key pieces, a lot of guys had big performances.”

Curtin pinpointed a long list of players outside of the star goal scorers and typical starters whose gritty push toward securing the win did not go unnoticed.

“I thought Jesus Bueno was excellent. Still running in 100 and whatever it was, 23rd minute or however many minutes we played tonight. Quinn Sullivan gave us big minutes at the start of the game and gave us energy,” Curtin said. 

“Never like to sub the defenders, but we had to tonight because of cramping and Kai just being in his first game back. Little things like Matt stepping in and Mbaizo stepping in and doing a good job to close the game out was really important tonight.”

Bouncing back

In his postgame presser, Curtin was asked to reflect on the club’s rising success over recent years. Had they lost against Nashville, it would’ve been the first time they lost three consecutive games in six years. Curtin spoke to that stat, further emphasizing the character of his current squad and how the saw them rally together to win one on the road. 

“This group surprises you know when you kind of least expect it and when their backs are against the wall. Again that's when we give our best performances. I think our consistency comes from us knowing that we need each other, we can't do it individual,” said Curtin.

“I think we were a little too individual against Atlanta, we were a little too individual against LA Galaxy. Tonight we were together, and when you're together and are hard to play against, you know, good things happen.”

It's no easy feat to shake two losses during a demanding midseason slate on the road, but the Union capitalized on the opportunity presented to them.

"Of course, we got a little lucky, we had some breaks for sure. But you need that. In the other games, everything went wrong. I think if you work hard, those breaks start to even out and I think our group through the last several years, doesn't get beat in consecutive games too often. I'm glad we guarded against that third loss and we can keep that streak going because that is not easy in this league."

Sage Hurley - @SageHurl