With busy stretch of matches on the horizon, Philadelphia Union Head Coach has his attention fully set on this weekend's matchup against Chicago Fire FC on Sunday evening at Subaru Park. Here are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Chicago once again
For the third time in 85 days, the Union again play the Fire with the Boys in Blue will be looking for yet another strong result against the club. The Union are looking to extend their unbeaten form against the Fire in 2021 after picking up a 2-0 shutout win in early May followed by a 3-3 draw in June. As the Union return to Subaru Park, they are looking to continue their strong run of form that has seen the Union win five straight against the Fire with 14 goals scored.
Despite the success against the Fire, Curtin said you cannot overlook a side based on their results alone.
“We faced it last week with Inter Miami where a team is with their backs against the wall and needing a result and they put a lot into the game. We didn’t play our best but we did squeeze a point out of it. At this stage everyone is going to fight for every point, they still are a very dangerous opponent and they’ve been unlucky when you look at the data and their expected goals versus what they’ve scored. They’re creating a lot of dangerous chances but just haven’t finished them off and teams like that are always on the verge of breaking out and you want to be the team that avoids that and doesn’t let them get started on a run.”
Subaru Park Advantage
After playing just once at home during July, Philadelphia Union returns to Subaru Park with an extremely busy schedule that features seven matches in 28 days. While the road ahead is congested, more than half of the matches will be in front of the Union faithful which Curtin says will provided a lift for the squad as they look to rise up the Eastern Conference table.
“The road is tough and it’s gotten a lot harder this year as more and more fans have been allowed into the stadium which is natural,” Curtin said. “The fans make it harder on the road team and give life to the home team. In Subaru Park it is the same for us. Teams don’t like coming here and when the building is full and the crowd gets behind us we can put pressure on teams. Having seven out of nine at home is an important stretch for us and we need to take as many points as possible. When you look at our last 20 games at home, we’ve been a tough team to beat and we need to keep that as the standard. You need to get 10 plus wins at home during the season to guarantee a playoff spot and that is what this team wants to do. We want to win our home games, get into the playoffs and win in the playoff.”
Burke’s Chicago Success
While the Union sport a 10-5-6 advantage in the all-time series against the Fire, forward Cory Burke has played a key role when the two sides have faced off the past few seasons. The Reggae Boyz forward has scored six times against the Chicago side which ranks third in club history for goals against a single team behind legend Sebastien Le Toux’s eight against New England and seven against D.C. United.
“He’s a handful for center backs to deal with and he is a good match up against Chicago so he’ll play a key role in the game whether that is as a starter or off the bench. He’s a great target, finishes off plays and runs in behind so overall he helps on both sides of the ball. His area of expertise is scoring goals and that is what he does well against Chicago so he’ll be a key player for us.”
The Union’s match against the Fire comes perfectly in line with Burke’s return from Concacaf Gold Cup play after Jamaican was eliminated by the United States on Sunday.