Following a strong win at home to open his team's 2023 campaign, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin told the media that fans should recognize the power the exert on a match and how it drives the players. He also recognized the defensive work of his front line and talked about managing the roster with three matches coming up in eight days.

 Crazy Numbers At Home

"If you look back at our last 20 games in Subaru Park," Curtin noted, "We haven't been beaten."

"And perhaps more importantly, we've scored 57 goals and only have 10 goals against. Yes, the players deserve a lot of credit, but the fans play a big role in that goals scored and goals against, I can tell you that as a fact."

The Union head man was particularly impressed by the turnout and continuous noise at Subaru Park on a chilly evening, and he said it helped his team work their way into the match against a talented opponent.

"Obviously it was freezing cold but that didn't prevent anybody from coming to the game," Curtin said. "I thought the atmosphere and the crowd was really special.

"The first 15 minutes it took us a little while to figure out Columbus and their formation. They really moved the ball quickly side-to-side and they never really penetrated us and we didn't concede a lot of chances, which I was happy with. The guys made some good on-the-field adjustments in the run of play and at halftime, and we did a better job of getting pressure to them."

Discussing Julian Carranza's first goal, Curtin got technical and gave some insight into how he asks his team to think about counterattacks.

"It's what we do in training every day," he explained. "We want good pressure to the ball initially and I think you saw that from Leon [Flach]. You see Jose [Martinez]'s ability to go into duels with players of any caliber and always seems to bounce out of them.

"There was an instance there where for a split second I thought Zelarayan was going to turn and run at our back line. Jose not only wins the ball but then connects a nice no-look pass to Daniel [Gazdag]. We call that the green zone, the area in front of the center backs but behind the No. 6 because he's out of position. And once Daniel gets in that spot, you can see players come to life and we created a 4v3.

"Some will say it's not pretty, some will say it's not attractive. It has become efficient, and you put the right players on the ball in front of goal often enough and they'll make plays. And that was certainly a very good example of the Union's style of play."

Presser | Curtin before the club's first road match of 2023

Fight From The Front

"I think him and Julian really set the tone and set that front line," Curtin told the media when asked about Mikael Uhre's defensive work.

"We talked at halftime about giving us even more back pressure so when we do clear balls they're in a good position to pick up second balls and start our attack," Curtin continued, though he added that he still places a high priority on Uhre getting on the scoreboard.

"One thing I'll talk with Mikael about is getting more touches in the run of play; we want to see that number go up."

Julian Carranza's first goals of the season came off his defensive work, and Curtin talked about why that's so important for his men up front. 

"When center backs clear a ball, he's right there getting a piece of them," the head coach said of Carranza. "He's a guy you don't want to play against. When you watch his workrate from the game – I believe the game tells the truth all the time, it's the fairest game in the world – and the harder he works, he gets better looks at goal because of that defending and how quickly he works in transition."

Carranza has what might be called a positive nastiness in the box, and Curtin loves it. "He was pissed at me for taking him out of a 4-1 game in the 93rd minute because he wants to score again, and that's what true strikers are all about. And he does it in a team way."

Next For the U | Roadtrip to Inter Miami CF

Tough Choices You Love To Have

"We have a plan in place now, and we will really trust our roster," Curtin said of the club's upcoming spate of games. After facing Miami on Saturday, the Union travel to El Salvador for the first leg of their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 matchup with Alianza. Then it's back to work next Saturday at home against Chicago Fire FC. The Miami match is available free on the Apple TV app, and the Chicago game is on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app. 

"We just played today in two even teams, 11v11," Curtin said. "And you can tell guys are really fighting for their spot both in the starting group and also in the 20 man roster." 

That competition for spots will lead to some tough decisions for the head coach, but as he talked through the club's travel plans it became clear everybody will need to be ready to play in March.

"We'll go directly to El Salvador [after Miami]," he explained. "It'll be a very hostile environment there in Champions League, the kind of games you want to play in. But we'll certainly use the full squad in that game, and then also looking forward to going again against Chicago and going again against Alianza."

The Union face off with Inter Miami CF at 7:30 p.m. ET on March 4 live from Miami. Fans can catch the match free on the Apple TV app. The match will also be available on 97.5 FM's website and app, with Dave Leno calling all the action.

On Sale Now!

On Sale Now!

Every match matters! In 2023, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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