Before the club returns home from Florida, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media to provide team updates. Check out our Pressing Points presented by Founders Brewing Co.
The first question that everyone wanted to know was the status of Jose “El Brujo” Martinez following his early exit from the streamed friendly against Chicago Fire FC. Luckily for Union fans the injury wasn’t as bad as it seemed on Saturday.
“We just got the MRI back and there is no fracture or break in the ankle area which is the positive news,” Curtin said. “When it happened live, as a coach you expect and fear the worse but fortunately for us it looks like it will be about a one-to-two week recovery for Jose.”
Curtin said that the timeline will be close for the No. 6 to make the Starting XI given the prognosis but it’s made more difficult given the lack of minutes in preseason.
“The reality is Jose has worked back from the knee injury and has only managed to play 30 minutes in first preseason game against Orlando and only 15 against Chicago and now a little bit of a setback. It will be very tight for that Saprissa match and obviously we are a better team when Jose is on the field but we have to have in place a plan if he is going to be absent for that game.”
Forwards on the mend
Brujo wasn’t the only name on the injury list announced by Curtin ahead of the club’s third preseason friendly Wednesday against Orlando City SC. The Union will be without four attacking pieces.
“Kacper will miss the game tomorrow due to back spasms, Cory Burke will remain out as well,” Curtin said. “Kacper is day-to-day and Cory still has a groin injury and has not trained with us at all yet. Sergio Santos is still 3-4 weeks away. Ilsinho will miss tomorrow due to a calf and that will be a couple of weeks as well.”
Curtin said the lineup tomorrow will feature a very different look for fans as the club currently has 15 field players available. Curtin said that both Jack Elliott and Alejandro Bedoya will cover the Union’s defensive line while homegrowns will be called upon to lead the attack.
Opportunities Arise for Depth
With only 15 players available the third preseason match of the season will see homegrowns in the Starting XI getting much more match minutes than previously expected.
“We have had a lot of young guys that have gotten minutes in the preseason and have done well,” Curtin said. “Injuries are part of the game and the preseason is an opportunity for everyone but in the absence of the veterans or experienced guys this is certainly an opportunity for others to step up.”
One of those players could be homegrown forward Jack de Vries who has gotten the start in both preseason friendlies so far. Curtin said he loves the 18-year-old’s quick left-footed shot and improvement has happened on the defensive side of the ball but there are still things to work for as the Union look for their first goal of the preseason.
“Still some movement things that he can do better and getting in sync with Kacper up top or combining more with Anthony where he finds moments when to run in behind versus when to come off the back line and get the ball,” Curtin said. “The talent in and around the 18 Jack has, the movement and 75-80 yards to get that final 18-yards is where we are working hard to improve. He’s put in the time working defensively so we are happy there but now piecing it together and something we hope to see tomorrow.”
Another piece of depth that has come into camp is veteran Aurelien Collin. With the retirement of Ray Gaddis, Collin is with the club in preseason to not only help mentor the young homegrowns but play major minutes should the club need it.
“Collin knows what the club is about and certainly understands the principles and style we want to play,” Curtin said. “I have to say that I’ve been incredibly impressed for a guy that jumped straight into preseason with us, he’s raised his level and done really good with his minutes. Aurelien has done everything we’ve asked of him so far in preseason and I’m really happy with where he’s at.”
Before Philadelphia Union heads back home from sunny Clearwater, Florida, the Boys in Blue will face off against Orlando City SC one more time as they'll square off on Wednesday, March 24th. Kick off from the closed-door scrimmage is set for 12:30 p.m. ET and Union fans can follow the action with our live blog.