With the impending inception of a 3-game week, Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke about his plan of attack for the remaining six games of the season and the playoff level competition he’s expecting to face in the final stretch. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Boys are Back in Town
In the first of the three-game road trip this past weekend, the Boys in Blue were able to grab a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati to continue their push for the MLS Cup Playoffs. Curtin attributed the success to group effort and a high-level mentality.
“I’m really proud of the all hands-on deck mentality of everybody,” Curtin explained. “Guys asked to play out of position, and young guys playing big minutes.”
Moving into the final games of the season, accumulating points down the stretch will be no easy task, and Saturday’s game against Montreal is no exception.
“We’ll have our hands full. It’s always a difficult place to go and play,” Curtina said. “The 1pm kickoff makes it tricky as well. It’s a tough task heading up to Montreal but as we push towards the playoffs, every game feels like a playoff game. Our players have responded with a great playoff mentality and that’s going to need to be the same as we go on the road for two games now.”
A handful of players such as Jamiro Monteiro and Alvis Powell are already back with the squad and training in Chester after returning from international duty. Curtin expects that majority of the men will be back prior to the Montreal game, but he knows his squad is prepared to fill the holes if not.
“It’ll be a challenge, but either way we have enough players to put on a good performance against a strong Montreal team,” He said in reference to his confidence is roster depth. “The good thing is everybody is fit for the 90 minutes right now, so that’s what’s important.”
The 2021 edition of the Union has seen the squad racking up minutes with matches in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League plus International Call-Ups. As a result, Curtin and his staff are having to manage the amount of minutes across the squad. Curtin explained the tole that a packed schedule has taken on players in the MLS this season.
“These guys get off planes and have fatigue in their legs and then all of a sudden you lose a player to a long-term injury.” Curtin explained of his returning players. “The load that the players have had to do this year is a lot, what we’re asking them to do is a lot.”
Preventing injuries, specifically from the returning players, is one of the major things that Curtin wants to avoid heading into the tail end of the season.
“Everybody wants the best players on the field in the MLS at the end of the season when the games matter the most. We’re in danger now with guys coming back off this window of maybe risking injury, which is something we want to try and avoid.”
Every Point Matters
This week’s busy schedule features teams in different but challenging spots in the conference tables. CF Montreal and Minnesota United are both fighting to stay above the playoff line while the Union are fighting for a chance to host another playoff match at Subaru Park. It has officially become the time when every single point matters. At the end of the week, the Union return to Subaru Park to face Nashville, who boasts the least amount of losses in the league.
“Every team now is going to have to grind and make tough decisions as to what games to maximize points and prioritize in terms of freshness of the group. You can’t afford to drop points.”
Despite the fact that the squad has gone 4-0-1, the rankings are still deadlocked, and every game will share equal importance.
“We’re not going to be scared of anybody and well respect every opponent but were going to try and take as many points as possible in these final six.”
Philadelphia Union faces off against CF Montreal on Saturday, October 16th. Kick off from Montreal is set for 1 p.m. ET and will be shown on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.