Curtin Call | Missed Opportunity


The Philadelphia Union fell to Atlanta United FC 2-0 on the road in a Sunday matinee at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media after the loss, recapping the game before heading home to Philadelphia without any points.

A Missed Opportunity

After the game, Curtin described the loss as a 'missed opportunity', citing the absence of Atlanta’s top striker Giorgos Giakoumakis. He was subbed out early in the first half due to a no-contact injury, removing a lethal scoring threat from the home team’s lineup. 

“That presents an advantage for us and one where we didn't take advantage of it. You have to give credit to Atlanta, I thought they had a little more intensity and urgency, whatever word you'd like to use. But they beat us to a lot of 50-50 balls, they won a lot of tackles, and we weren't sharp enough on the day. So, not a good enough performance from our group and now we have to bounce back against LA,” Curtin said.

Behind the formation

Both the Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United began the game with tactical formations that strayed from their typical strategy, causing a turbulent start to the contest. Curtin gave insight to both he and Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda’s early arrangements.

Yeah, I think it's funny, because I think we both maybe over thought it and both adjusted to each other. Atlanta has played out of a four-man backline I think all 20 games this year, and they changed to go against our diamond,” Curtin said.

“We thought their outside backs in Gutman and Lennon were their real advantage when they get forward, and then we put two sixes in there to take care of Almada. But both coaches changed formations and that's why I think the first 15 minutes was a little chaotic on both sides.”

The first goal of the game, scored by Atlanta’s Thiago Almada, occurred in those opening minutes, setting the Union behind early.

“The little silly goal that we give away where we just get our feet tangled up with an intelligent striker who goes down, leads to a restart a free kick with Almada, which is dangerous. He's a special player and he killed us,” said Curtin.

“I think both coaches out of respect for each other's teams maybe changed a little bit, almost maybe too much at the start, and then the game kind of settled down a little bit. We went back to our diamond and had a few chances in the second half. Overall, we weren't sharp enough to take points today and Atlanta deserved the three points.”

Defending Almada

Almada, MLS’s 2022 Newcomer of the Year and 2022 FIFA World Cup Champion, tested the Union’s defense, as expected. The group played without consistent starter Kai Wagner, who is recovering from a tweaked hamstring and did not travel to Georgia with the team. Head Coach Jim Curtin detailed how Almada’s strengths created a challenge for Philadelphia's defense throughout the final whistle.

“Look, when Almada gets on the ball, he's a handful, and it's not a one person job to try to stop him and take him away. When he gets ahead of steam and he's running at the backline, he can beat you in a lot of different ways. He can drop off, he can shoot, if you step to him, he can slip a ball through like he did today that led to a goal on the assist,” Curtin said.

“So again, he's a special player, and you have to be at your max on the road, and we weren't sharp enough today. We were okay. And that's not good enough when you go on the road against a quality team like Atlanta.”

Philadelphia Union continues its three-game road trip next weekend with the cross-country trip to Los Angeles for a showdown against the Galaxy. Kick off from California is set for Saturday, July 8th at 10:30 p.m. ET with coverage on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

Sage Hurley - @SageHurl

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