Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media about the confidence he has in the players going into tomorrow’s game and what calculated risks he will take to earn a come-front-behind win. Get the full scoop in this week’s Pressing Points.
The Union will play the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League Semifinal Wednesday night at Subaru Park against Club America at 9:00 p.m. ET. While the team boasts a strong record at home, they will have to cover the 2‐0 deficit in order to advance into the next round. In August, Club America fended off a number of Union chances, including a late penalty shout from Cory Burke, to earn the lead going into this second leg.
“With our fans at home and a strong record here, the key becomes not conceding,” Curtin said.
Balance will be key for the Union as they look to remain defensively sound when facing the notoriously strong front line of Club America, without sacrificing the aggressive approach needed to nab at least two goals.
“You still want to keep a zero, so you can’t just throw everybody forward, but at 2‐0 you have to take some calculated risk,” Curtin explained.
Many of these risks will be in game changes, such as formation and mid-game substitutions. The coach only has so many ways for a coach to influence the match once it kicks off, and Curtin knows he and his staff will need to get them all right.
“This is a unique scenario that calls for us to be aggressive and fluid,” he admitted.
Confidence is the Key
Coming off of a 12‐day break could be considered a disadvantage, but Curtin saw the squad’s confidence grow as they put their heads down and did the work necessary to compete on Wednesday.
Holding midfielder Jose Martinez explained the group’s focus as they ready for a huge 90 minutes.
“We are unified and committed to ourselves, the team and the fans, Martinez said. “That’s where we get our confidence from.”
Curtin added that the team’s recent rough patch has made the locker room stronger, and that they are ready to raise the bar across the board. A positive result on Wednesday could become a catalyst for a strong back end of the season.
“We’re fully healthy and had a strong week of training with our full squad which was nice, and the competition was good, we have confidence going into this game,” he said.
A Healthy Squad
For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Union roster is almost entirely healthy. Coupled with seven players returning from international duty confident and ready to play, Curtin and Martinez believe there is another gear for the group to hit.
“A lot of it will come down to the way those seven players perform,” the head coach argued. “They are key players for us, but I think they all came back with a little more confidence and a little more intensity.”
“It will take a perfect performance to come out with a win but in soccer and in sport anything is possible,” the coach concluded. And Curtin should know: He galvanized a two-goal comeback in the 2019 playoffs against New York Red Bulls, a result that kicked off the Union’s best run of form in club history.
Philadelphia and Club America kick off at 9:00 p.m. ET Wednesday night on FS1 in the second leg of the 2021 ScotiaBank Concacaf Champions League semi-finals as they look to earn a spot in the championship match.