Philadelphia Union returned to its winning ways courtesy of a 3-0 rout of Toronto FC on Wednesday night. Head Coach Jim Curtin gave an update ahead of the club’s Sunday tilt against New England Revolution so don’t miss out out on our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Shipping up to New England
The Union travel to Massachusetts on Sunday evening to face the Revolution, who have an eight-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. Curtin praised Revolution Head Coach Bruce Arena, who Curtin compared to the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick for the team’s quick turnaround after taking over in 2019.
“Bruce is a winner,” Curtin said. “He’s done an incredible job and it’s amazing how fast he did it. He overhauled an entire roster and turned it around in under a year’s time.
The Union won four of six matches against the Revolution in the 2020 season. In the teams’ one meeting this season, each side scored in the last 10 minutes of the match for a 1-1 draw
The Revolution will play without attacking midfielder and club captain Carles Gil, who Curtin said is his pick to win the Most Valuable Player award this season. Gil leads the league in assists (15), key passes (75), and successful dribbles (55)
“He’s the best player in the league,” Curtin said. “He’s been so dangerous. The chances he’s created for his team have been incredible… he’s a special player. He works so tirelessly on both sides of the ball.”
Reflecting on Toronto
After two draws and a loss in the team’s three previous matches, Wednesday’s 3-0 win provided a boost ahead of Sunday’s game against New England and Thursday’s Concacaf Champions League game against Club America.
“We were ourselves,” Curtin said of his team’s performance against Toronto. “We looked like the Philadelphia Union at its very best, which means winning the transitions, winning the restarts, winning the defending duels in the box.
The team’s finishing also improved. After scoring one goal on 2.9 expected goals in the 1-1 draw against Chicago, the Union scored three goals on 2.9 expected goals against Toronto
“The group gained confidence against Toronto,” Curtin said. “If we play that way, there’s not too many teams that can beat us.”
It took a team effort to beat Toronto, but Curtin singled out Daniel Gazdag, Sergio Santos, and Jose Martinez for their improvement in recent weeks.
Gazdag secured his third assist of the season and scored his first goal when he slammed a penalty into the back of the net in the 33rd minute of the match. Santos won the penalty with his speed and movement in the box, and he scored a goal of his own three minutes after Gazdag’s
“If [Sergio] plays like the way he played against Toronto, he’s the best striker in the league if he can put those performances together,” Curtin said. “He’s running in behind, he’s being disruptive defensively, finishing off plays, drawing penalty kicks for our team. His talent is so high. Sergio is an incredible striker.
Curtin praised Martinez for his ability to pick his spots defensively. He has not picked up a yellow card in his past three games and played a beautiful pass to assist Santos’s goal
“Jose has quietly been excellent and disciplined,” Curtin said. “Great player, and he’s kind of the heart and soul of our team. He’s a guy that our players follow his example in terms of the intensity with which he plays the game.”