Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Full Strength Roster


With one more match before the start of the 2023 Leagues Cup, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke about the importance of getting a victory on Saturday night against NYCFC which sees the return of many key pieces for the Boys in Blue.

Follow It Up

Curtin started off his Friday press conference reflecting on the club’s 2-0 road shutout over Nashville SC on Wednesday night. Led by MLS Player of the Matchday Daniel Gazdag and his two goals from the penalty spot, the Union racked up an important clean sheet that has them right in the midst of a battle at the top of the Eastern Conference.

“A big win for us but it doesn’t mean much though if we don’t follow it up now with the end of tough stretch that we’ve had in terms of the amount of games we’ve play recently,” Curtin said.

While New York City FC sits near the bottom of the table, they are just three points out for yet another playoff spot. The Cityzens are on quite the run of form as they enter Subaru Park in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten streak dating back to the start of June.

“Cushing does a great job with them and they are organized and tough to play against. I thought their last game was a really strong performance so while they have guys coming off of injury, guys coming back from the Gold Cup similar to us, I wouldn’t expect them to change much because they did so well. We played them about a month and a half ago and had a good performance at their place and they’ll be looking to return the favor here. Never easy against them, a lot of dynamic wide players to deal with that can dribble at you 1v1 and can win a game by themselves. We really have to be sound defensively to keep the zero and trust that our quality can open them up.”

A win on Saturday against NYCFC would see the Union enter the break with 40 points with 11 matches to go, a total that will surely generate quite the boost of momentum.

Decisions, Decisions

With the Boys in Blue about to play their third match in eight days, Curtin announced that there will be more rotation to the squad for Saturday’s match against their Eastern Conference rival.

“We know that we’ll have a team on the field that can’t pace themselves because we have to play at our maximum from minute one,” Curtin said from the press conference room inside Subaru Park. “We have a deep bench and used all five subs last game and we’ll probably use that again so everyone will be called upon to try and get a result against a good New York team.”

Homegrown Quinn Sullivan got the start on Wednesday in the Music City and will once more start atop the Union lineup. Curtin said it was a pre-planned move, decided well before Julian Carranza was sent off late in the match. The 19-year-old has the ability to fit in many areas of the pitch but Curtin said he was really impressed with how Sullivan mixed up his runs when put at the top of the Union’s 4-4-2 diamond.

Curtin also announced that both Andre Blake and Damion Lowe are back with the group as well with Blake taking part in training fully on Friday. The duo helped Jamaica to the Semifinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup where they fell on Wednesday to Mexico. While Blake will be back in net for sure, Curtin said that Lowe returned with “little bit of sickness” but hopes to have the defender available for Saturday’s contest.

Role Grows for Bueno

While Curtin also announced that MLS All-Star midfielder Jose Martinez is back from his own illness that caused him to miss the match at Nashville SC, the absence presented an opportunity for Jesus Bueno. The Venezuelan turned in quite the performance with nearly as many passes into the final third as Daniel Gazdag, plus two won tackles and two interceptions.

“That was clearly his best game us against Nashville,” Curtin said of the 24-year-old. “The amount of balls he won, playing forward and dealing with Mukhtar, who is probably the MVP of our league. Jesus did an incredible job for us.”

Last season Bueno started 14 matches with Union II where he scored six goals and added two assists that set the groundwork for an offseason that saw him return to the team in top fitness.

“Jesus came in really fit this offseason and he learned a new culture, new system and style of play and he’s a great professional. He is a guy that works so hard in training everyday and is a true professional, he gets rewarded with more minutes. The belief and trust in the staff from Ernst, myself and the staff is only growing and growing so he’s a guy that is right there for being in our starting lineup and he’s earned that.”

Philadelphia Union is back in action tomorrow night with kick off from Subaru Park set for 7:30PM ET only on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

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Every match matters! In 2024, 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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