Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media on Friday afternoon ahead of the team's Saturday night showdown against Montreal at Subaru Park.
A crucial rematch
The Union squad is entering Saturday's match coming off of a 1-0 win against Charlotte that extended its streak without a loss to an impressive eight games.
On Friday, Curtin emphasized the importance of maintaining the team’s momentum with a win against Montreal in the third and final game of this week's busy stretch.
“Now, it's really important to follow it up with another strong performance against Montreal, a team that's in in decent form, has put together a good run of games, and is one that earlier in the season, we let some points slip away in their building,” Curtin.
The last time the Boys in Blue faced Montreal was at Stade Olympique in Canada on March 18. Montreal won that game 3-2, with two opposing goals from Romell Quioto, and one from Chinonso Offor.
“We'll have to make up for it now, in front of our crowd at Subaru park where we know it'll be a full house and the fans will be behind us,” Curtin said.
Saturday's rematch is also Pride Night presented by Subaru. Find out more details here.
Better when we’re busy
Curtin and his staff have decisions to make regarding his starting lineup due to the stress of a three-game week. But, unsurprisingly, he isn’t shaken by it. On Friday, he explained to the media that although this week was one that first appeared daunting when MLS schedules were released, he's has great confidence in his team to push through.
“When the schedule came out, we saw how busy the month of May would be. And it does make you nervous, for sure. But this group always steps up in the harder moments,” Curtin said.
As for injuries and load management, fans can anticipate new faces in the starting xi, as Curtin hinted to a potential change in the typical lineup.
He also provided an update on defender Damien Lowe, who has recently faced knee discomfort. He said Lowe had fluid drained from his knee, and on Friday, he trained in full.
“He feels okay, we’re weighing still to be smart and maybe use him as a reserve. That's one thing we're discussing, or as a starter from the beginning," Curtin said.
"We'll have some fresh legs out there for sure. We just think it makes sense now on the two days rest. But still, that core group of guys will get pushed, and we'll need to go to our bench probably earlier than we usually do."
El Brujo is here to stay
Saturday will be defensive midfielder José Martínez’s first game since his contract extension was announced, and on Friday, Curtin had the opportunity to sing his praises when asked about the news.
“I think it's a position that flies under the radar. You have to do it for a lot of years to start to get the accolades and have people recognize just how important you are to a group. Not dissimilar to Diego Chara who had to do it for a lot of years before we all kind of said, ‘You know what that guy brings it every season and is a top player in our league.’ So José, similar ball winning ability, does a really good job passing and starting our attacks,” Curtin said.
2023 is Martinez’s fourth in Philadelphia, and he’s proved his value both as an integral part in the team’s defense and it’s character. His new deal is guaranteed through 2025, with a team option year for 2026.
“He has personality. That needs to be said. You can't have a complete locker room that is dead serious all the time. I'll just say, he has his fun. He does things with a smile on his face and his energy is contagious. So that's something that's important, too,” Curtin said.
“Great player, great, great kid. Gets better and better each year. Has fun on the field, has fun off the field, which I like. And again, has been an amazing player for the Philadelphia Union. So, to lock him up here, especially I think he's one of the fan favorites, and he's a big part of why we've had success and have won some games over the last several years.”
Philadelphia Union takes on CF Montreal tomorrow night with kick off set for 7:30PM ET and fans able to watch for free on MLS Season Pass.