Curtin Call

Curtin Call | Opening Leg Shutout


Philadelphia Union held visiting Pachuca to a scoreless draw on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions Cup Round of 16 slate, starting the series on a positive note by preventing away goals for the Mexican side through 90 minutes. After the match, Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media, recapping the result.

Overcoming adversity

Disciplinary bookings for Jack Elliott and Damion Lowe plus an injury to Julian Carranza left Philadelphia Union without three starting-caliber players on Tuesday night, and it caused some position shifting throughout Curtin’s lineup. The most significant change was on defense – Nate Harriel played center back alongside Jakob Glesnes, moving from his typical right back.

Curtin cited the 22-year-old Homegrown as one who showed up big when called upon, despite the unfamiliarity with his role. 

“We're a defense first team – I think everybody knows and understands that. I think the job Nathan Harriel did to play a little bit out of position, out of his comfort zone, and do a great job shutting down some really high quality attackers keeping a clean sheet was really important,”
Curtin said. 

Without Carranza, Curtin also adjusted positioning within his midfield and forward groups. After the match, he provided insight into his formation and personnel decisions, and why it was successful. 

“We played with two 10s today, with Quinn and Danny there. The thinking was, with how good Pachuca is at attacking down their left hand side, having Quinn out there to give a little extra pressure, almost play it like an eight/winger. They came at us for sure, but that was the thought process.”

Important Shutout

In Andre Blake’s first game back from injury, he recorded a clean sheet, making xx saves on the night. 

“Shutouts are important in this building, we don't like to concede, I think that's always the goal,” Curtin said. 

Tuesday’s performance is one Curtin says they’ll focus on building upon for not only the contest to come, but against other tough opponents as the season continues on. 

“I think it was a really great exercise for our guys. I think we showed that we can keep a clean sheet against a strong opponent where we've been leaking a lot of goals. Stayed a little more compact – they had some chances don't get me wrong. I'm not naive. I understand they could have scored some goals too. But overall, something to build on early in the season,” Curitn said. 

They have one week and one MLS match before facing Pacucha again, and this time, it’ll be in Mexico on their home pitch at Estadio Hidalgo next Tuesday.

“They probably have a little more fitness than us at this stage, 10 games in for them, us just getting started. So some good positives to take away. Not conceding at home is very, very valuable as we learned with the Atlas series last year. Now if we are able to score a goal there, which we're probably going to need to do, it means they have to score too so that's a good thing.”

The experience

Tuesday’s match Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan’s fifth straight start for the Union in 2024. They are also the only two players who have been listed in the first XI in every match since the season began. 

The pair of Homegrowns have been racking up the minutes, and Curtin said a game like the one they played against Pachuca at Subaru Park provides is on another tier in terms of experience for them.

“For them to play in this game is incredibly valuable, I can't replicate that in training. There's no way to do it with the intensity. We have great players on our own team, but now when it's a real game of consequence and they’re playing against top, top players and you don't have breaks when the ball goes out of bounds, you can’t switch off for a second because the intensity is such that you get punished because there's so many good players on the field,” Curtin said.

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