Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Bound for Atlanta


Philadelphia Union will take on Atlanta United on Sunday afternoon for another Eastern Conference battle down south. On Friday after training, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, previewing the match to come.

Mounting momentum

Curtin’s crew enters the weekend with momentum after defeating Portland Timbers, Minnesota United, and Nashville SC for a three-game win streak. In their most recent match, goals from Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza helped the team overcome a one-goal deficit to win 2-1 on the road in Music City. Philadelphia is now the only unbeaten team in the entire league, and their sights are set on finishing their strenuous opening stretch of the season strong before heading into their bye week. 

“Now, we have a really strong Atlanta team ahead that has a lot of talented players. It’s an incredible atmosphere down in Atlanta, one where they're very good on the astroturf and can really hurt you with their great attack, so we'll have to be very organized and compact,” Curtin said.

“We recognize that we also are good on the counter attacking and can be tough to play against defensively, so trying to limit their key guys will certainly be a goal of ours. We look to conclude these five out of our first seven games on the road and in really difficult places strongly, and then go into a nice, much deserved bye week for the group.”

Injury updates

Goalkeeper Andre Blake and forward Mikael Uhre both missed the match against Nashville last weekend due to injury, but they trained in full this week and are on track to make their returns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. Left back Kai Wagner left mid-match with a knock against Nashville, but Curtin confirmed he’s on the mend and trending positively as well.

“They've had a good week. Kai came back a little slower than Mikael but he's was back training, when we returned, I'm sure he's in a little bit of pain and soreness, but nothing that'll prevent him from playing and contributing, hopefully in a big way against Atlanta," Curtin said.

"Kai fully trained today and now has a little soreness, but he's fine."

Adjusting to the atmosphere

Atlanta United plays at the home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, using astroturf as their playing surface, and they are one of just six teams in the league that do so.

Curtin addressed the extent of their opponents home field advantage, the challenges it brings about, and how his group will approach the pitch come game time. 

“It's a perfect building, minus the turf. Obviously, as a purist, you prefer grass, but obviously the crowd, there’s 40-50,000 people there and it gets loud and it gets loud, quick. We'll have to be at our max to get a result,” Curtin said. 

“They know how to utilize the spacing on that field, the turf, the different things that come with it. They water it before so it's still fast turf as well. So there's little details that make it a real home field advantage for them and they've been really successful in that building. We have to be smart, brave for sure, but not overly confident because they have some real good attacking talent.”

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