Curtin Call | Total Team Effort

#PHIvNYC | Jim Curtin

The Philadelphia Union defeated New York City FC 2-1 on Saturday night, earning their eighth win at Subaru Park this season. After the match, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, recapping the team’s success.

Total team effort

As a result of Saturday night’s final score, the Philadelphia Union moved up in the Eastern Conference standings, bumping to third behind only Cincinnati and New England. The win secured their spot at the top before they enter a month-long stretch without regular season play – the team doesn’t have another league match until their match against Dallas FC on August 20th due to the inaugural Leagues Cup beginning this weekend. 

“The last thing I said walking out of the locker room was ‘let's have one of our best performances of the season going into this break,’” Curtin said. “I thought that the guys were very hard to play against again, which I'm really proud of.”

The squad saw frequent rotation on Saturday night, combating the absence of Julián Carranza due to his Wednesday night red card and the first half loss of Alejandro Bedoya, who exited the game due to lingering quadriceps discomfort. Curtin utilized his team’s depth in the face of a 90-degree day in which again, he was without his best 11. Similar to the team’s win against Nashville, the strategy unfolded in his favor. 

“Third game of the week, had a little bit of rotation. I thought we had some really big performances from guys – obviously difficult to lose Ale obviously be shorthanded with Julian with the red card. But again, this group is such a strong cohesive unit that the next guy always steps up,” Curtin said. 

During his press conference, Curtin named a list of players who came off the bench, vitalizing the team with fresh legs and determination. He cited midfielder Jesús Bueno subbed in for Bedoya in the 27th minute plus Leon Flach and Chris Donovan, who entered late in the second half for Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan. 

“When we’re maybe counted out the most, they really rise to the occasion. So really proud of the group to get through a really busy tough stretch, we now have a little bit of a pause before we start the league's Cup, which will be taken very seriously.”

Second Goal Energy 

When Donovan entered the match in the 75th minute on Saturday, he swiftly made an impact, using his full tank of energy to discourage New York’s dwindling effort with his unrelenting press. By the 81st minute, he was leading the charge on offense as well. Donovan recovered a missed pass and created a game-securing play that would mark his first ever MLS goal. It all transpired in front of a roaring home crowd, making the moment that much sweeter for the Drexel graduate kid from Paoli, Pennsylvania. 

The second goal was huge. Always is. I thought it was a night where they obviously have a lot of the ball, we had to chase a lot. We kept it for some long stretches too and made them work on a hot night. You could tell every guy on the field was dead and exhausted. This is the way it is in July on the East Coast.    So, you’ve got to play through these tough games. It was a battle of fitness. I think a lot of subs were obviously used for both teams. Overall, to get that second goal gives you a little bit of cushion,” Curtin said. 

Curtin frequently repeats the sentiment that the harder you work, the more you get rewarded in the game of soccer, and that rang true for Donovan, who’s entered Union matches off the bench nine times this season.

Blake is back

Saturday’s match marked starting goalkeeper and team captain Andre Blake’s first game back with the team since he left for Concacaf Gold Cup play with the Jamaican National Team in early june. His presence was felt when he deterred two New York City FC shots, preventing them from any chance at defeating the home team. 

“Andre is pretty good. He's pretty good. I think you guys know that. He's the goalkeeper of the year. He should be another one that's going to the All Star game, but I won't get into that,” Curtin said, reflecting on his return. 

“He's a great goalkeeper. He did great with Jamaica. Obviously, we get [Blake and defender Damion Lowe] back, and it's pretty seamless. He jumps in the goal and makes big saves when we need it. I thought tonight we did a good job as a team really limiting New York City a ton of possession for them,” Curtin said.

New York held possession for half the game, but the Union defense held them to just three shots on goal on the night, making Blake’s first day back on the job a little easier. 

"They're a striker away from being great. Andre made some big saves tonight, obviously. Overall now, you know, they're a team that gave us some problems, and Andre made some big saves for sure against them.”

Sage Hurley - @SageHurl