Philadelphia Union kicked off the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a dominant 3-1 win against New England Revolution in the first of their best-out-of-three series. After the victory in front of a loud Subaru Park crowd, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, recapping the win.
Curtin shared an unfavorable announcement; Jakob Glesnes is expected to undergo surgery for his lingering sports hernia injury. Last year’s 2022 MLS Defender of the Year is a fixture of Philadelphia’s defense and Curtin wasn’t shy to describe the challenge the team will face without him on the pitch.
“I’ll break the news, unfortunately it’s gotten to the point where Jakob has to have a surgery and as of right now that will happen on Tuesday. To our fans, he’s played through one of the more painful injuries you can have in this sport because the kicking and everything that goes along with playing the center back position. He’s played through as much pain as he possibly can. You can tell when a player comes in and we have that final talk where surgery is probably the smartest thing to do at this stage,” Curtin said.
“He gives everything for the badge and left everything he could on the field this year but unfortunately the pain has gotten to a point where it’s not tolerable and no one is tougher than Jakob. He’s about as tough as it gets, he’s a true viking and he wants to be out there but sometimes your body tells you and you have to listen. He wants to get back to MLS Cup and be with the guys but he has to do that now basically as a coach with me on the sideline.”
Despite the disappointing news, Philadelphia Union’s win was a momentous one, recharging a squad that hadn’t earned a win since the first week of October.
“Overall a big playoff win. Proud of the players. Again, thank you to the fans – I think they were they were amazing and pushed us through the night. It's one more win now over the next two games against a strong New England team,” Curtin said.
The 3-1 result was far from similar to their recent Decision Day loss against New England on the road, with the team’s play reminiscent of the intensity the group brought during their historic 2022 playoff run.
“At halftime, we just talked about more of the same – play like it's 0-0, play with the same intensity of the playoffs. It was a good reminder that we're still a good team. We can beat anybody. Don't forget about us. We're a tough out when this group plays in elimination games.”
Continuity in the postseason
Roster consistency has been hard to find this season for the Philadelphia Union between international duty, injuries, and suspensions, but on Saturday, Curtin had his entire roster with the exception of Glesnes and summer signing Tai Baribo to choose from on Saturday night when sending out his preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation.
“That part means they weren't all on the field together. So that part's challenging but you know when you get them going, the familiarity, the relationships, it can be fun to watch – but weren't perfect by any stretch tonight at all.”
Saturday’s win was a glimpse into the team’s capabilities when they’re at full throttle, and with 10 days before their next game at Gillette Stadium, it’s likely the roster will be healthy and rested for their next test in the postseason.