Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Dueling Defensive Mids


Before hitting the road for the second west coast trip of the month, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Coach spoke with media virtually about the club’s current run of form and making the most of their trip to Portland on national television. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.

Bouncing Back

Despite sitting atop the Eastern Conference for the ninth week of 2022, Curtin said that the squad is hungry to put on a show after their scoreless draw in front of the Union fans at Subaru Park.

“A night where we keep a clean sheet which was a positive because we haven’t done that in awhile but we just didn’t get it done,” Curtin said on Friday afternoon.

The Union were without two key starters in the contest with both Jose Martinez and Julian Carranza against Inter Miami CF but Curtin remained optimistic that there are still plenty of highlights to come from this year’s squad especially given the results against some of the top clubs in the league.

“The message is that if we get everyone going good then you have to wonder if there is any other team better than us,” Curtin said. “We have already seen a lot of the top teams already and we have played with them all in a  pretty even to maybe even better than some of them. We are in a good spot but we know that we can do better and I apologize to the fans for not getting it done Wednesday but I know we will get a good response as we go on the road.”

Points in Portland

While six points separate the two sides that will face off on FS1 on Sunday night, Curtin said that there are some similarities between the two sides but knows that the Timbers are a dangerous team especially on the offensive end.

“They are another team that isn’t happy with their Wednesday night match but if you go back another week they scored seven goals at home against Kansas City. We know that we have a very dynamic, explosive team that can hurt you so we have to be at the top of our game to bring back points to Philly.”

The seven goal outburst had the Timbers riding a wave of momentum that didn’t carry over in the midweek with a loss to the San Jose Earthquakes via a 3-2 road loss. Overall the Western Conference powers have won just three games in league play with six matches ending in a draw.

“Like a lot of other teams this year, they have had some really, really, great games but also find themselves in some other games. I think that is natural at this point in the season but now when you find out who are the top teams and for me Portland is still a top team,” Curtin said. “Giovanni Savarese is a top coach and he finds ways to win in this league each and every year which is very difficult. Certainly the 7-2 game it speaks to the quality and talent that they have.”

Brujo vs. Chara

Ever since Jose “El Brujo” Martinez made his debut for the Union in 2020 against LAFC, Curtin has been comparing his No. 6 to Portland’s stalwart veteran. Sunday night will see the two players face off on the pitch for the first time as Chara missed last season’s 3-0 Union win at Subaru Park recovering from a hamstring injury.

 “I have compared Jose to [Diego] Chara in the past and I have the most respect for what Chara does because sometimes the defensive minded players it takes longer for the public to recognize their greatness,” Curtin said. “For me I think Diego Chara is the greatest No. 6 we have ever had in our league. He is the face of the Timbers, is a winner, will smile but also will kill you on the field because he is a different player when he crosses the white lines. I think he is a great role model for what Jose can be with his potential to be one of the best No. 6 in this league’s history. He has so much ability to win balls, to play forward so there are a lot of similarities. Often times 6’s don’t cross paths in the run of play or there would be a yellow card certainly on both of them during the game. They are two players that play the toughest job in soccer which is to take away the other team’s top attackers. It is a really hard job, a thankless job but one that they both embrace. Jose is working to be that type of guy for sure.”