Curtin Call

Curtin Call | Still unbeaten 

Curtin-MIN-033024

Philadelphia Union returned to Subaru Park in style, recording their first home win and clean sheet of the regular season in front of a packed afternoon crowd. With goals from Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza, the Union defeated what was the top team in the Western Conference 2-0, sending Minnesota United packing with their first loss of the year. 

After the match, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, recapping the team’s second straight victory.

A special day at Subaru Park

Last weekend’s win against Portland on the road set the stage for a special day at Subaru Park, where the team battled in full-team fashion to claim three points.

Though satisfied with the result, Curtin reflected on how important their recent win was in building momentum and encouraging competition.

“I thought that it was a deserved win, and really, the important one was the Portland one. The guys that contributed in that one gives confidence for everybody for the group. Now the guys that were away with the national team, recognize they better perform well too because there's other guys that are here, putting pressure on them,” Curtin said. 

“Accountability, pressure, and multiple players playing good in each position is the best thing for any team. I'm going to have hard decisions – that's my job and our staff's job to pick who we think are the right guys for each game. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. But I think today, everybody raised their level because of what happened in Portland. That was a big win, and now hopefully we can get on a run.”

Set-piece success

As of the final whistle, Philadelphia Union became one of four unbeaten teams across the entire league, and it’s in part due to their set-piece success. It starts with Kai Wagner taking corners, and on Saturday against Minnesota, the Union utilized their height, hops, and hustle to capitalize on them, with Daniel Gazdag connecting on one to put it in the back of the net for the lead. 

“Kai usually hits hard, curled balls, and he had a couple that were just flat and made it a jumping contest because we had a significant height advantage on the set pieces today. So, we caught them off guard I think on the first one that was whipped in low,” Curtin said. 

“There's enough traffic in the front that it gets through fortunately for us, and Dani does a great job beating his man to the back post. Good design there, but you have to have variation, otherwise, teams try to take away the strengths and weaknesses, and certainly Kai on our restarts is something that is really dangerous for us.”

Adding Alejandro

In the 66th minute, team captain Alejandro Bedoya subbed into the match, replacing forward Mikael Uhre. With his addition, Curtin and his staff opted to change to a 4-4-2 flat formation, adding Bedoya to center midfield with José Martinez, instead of the right side. Quinn Sullivan stayed there instead of joining Gazdag and Uhre up front.

Even though it was atypical positioning for the 36-year-old, Bedoya’s presence was felt near-immediately.

“He takes information, calms us down, draws fouls, wins balls, gets an assist. He's a winner. He's what this club is, really and he’s if I could make the perfect player for what we're about as a club – a guy who's humble, hungry, wants to win everything. He's a special person and a special player. ” Curtin said. 

“Yes, he has embraced the new role, but I don't want to talk about him like he can't be a 90 minute starter because he still is that and can dominate games like you saw against Portland. The turf there did get him a little bit with some soreness for sure, but today was a great performance again from Ale.”

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