Philadelphia Union look to stay hot as they go for their fifth straight win when they return home for Kids Night at Subaru Park against the Houston Dynamo. The Union face a tough matchup on Saturday night as Fafa Picault makes his return to Chester paired alongside Mexican National Teamstar Hector Herrera. Head Coach Jim Curtin talked about the match up as they look to extend their lead atop the Eastern Conference and stay on this stellar run. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Going for History
Over the past few seasons one of the foundational building blocks of the Boys in Blue has been a strong defense. 2022 has been no exception with MLS All-Stars in Kai Wagner and Andre Blake getting the attention alongside a strong center back duo in Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes. That combination has the Union on pace to record one of the best seasons defensively in MLS history.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how the players have bonded together to prevent goals and be difficult to play against,” Curtin said Thursday. “We’re going to continue to push to try to break the record of 27 goals conceded in a 34 game season.
Through 22 matches this season, the Union have only let up a staggering 15 goals, six fewer than the second closest club
“I’m really happy and I’m most proud of how we defend. Teams don’t like to play us with what we these guys are doing as a team defensively.”
Back at the Fortress
Philly is the only remaining team in the league that remains undefeated at home, with an outstanding record of 6-0-5 in front of the Union faithful this season. Curtin mentioned how the atmosphere that the Philly faithful creates, especially late in games, has really propelled the team this season.
“The last several years we’ve been a hard team to play at home. I think a lot of credit has to go to our fans for us being unbeaten there this year. They give us an energy, a belief, and a passion that we’re never out of a game. We play to the final whistle, you’ve seen a lot of late game heroics from this group because of the crowd pushing us on and you feel that in the building.
The Union have almost as many clean sheets as goals conceded this season at home, with only six goals allowed and five shutouts throughout their 11 home games so far this year
“It’s a special feeling when you come into Subaru Park, it’s a feeling that other teams don’t like, and our players have a real confidence here,” Curtin said. “We continue to be relentless at home, we don’t wanna be beat, we wanna keep that streak going.”
For the second straight weekend the Union will be down a member of the midfield that will require Curtin and his technical staff to make some adjustments in the gameplan. Last weekend at Orlando City SC, the Boys in Blue were without captain Alejandro Bedoya due to yellow card accumulation and this weekend they’ll be missing Jose Martinez for the exact same reason. As a result the Union’s midfield depth is really being put to the test.
“With this group, no matter who’s on the field, [we] find ways to step up. It’s an opportunity for guys to show that they can help and contribute,” Curtin said. “I think we’ve stepped up all season long and I think we need that to continue.
Homegrown Jack McGlynn has been in the Starting XI the last matches and has received high praise from the head coach.
“I thought last game Jack McGlynn came in and played in a midfield spot and did a great job for us. Obviously we all talk about with the ball how good he is, but I thought he was really good defensively as well.
McGlynn wouldn’t be left alone to fill the spot left by Martinez with Leon Flach another possibility to drop back either alongside the homegrown like they did against New England.