Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Maintaining Momentum


Philadelphia Union are scheduled for an Eastern Conference showdown against Nashville SC on Saturday night in Music City. A day before the team made the trip down south, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, previewing the action.

Keeper Chronicles

Philadelphia’s starting net protector Andre Blake was pulled from last weekend’s match in the 74th minute due to potential injury, and his teammate, Oliver Semmle stepped up in his place, helping to maintain Blake’s shutout through the final whistle.

On Thursday, Curtin provided an update on both this weekend’s keeper plan and Blake’s injury.

“Andre was on the field today. He's in the final stages of clearing concussion protocol,” Curtin said. “Obviously, head injuries are something we take very seriously at the Philadelphia Union and in the league, but he has progressed and felt better each day. Good enough to be out on the field today, but still now the final test is what goes on with the medical staff, and if he passes that today, he'll be good for the game. If he doesn't, there will be a little bit of a setback, and then we'll lean on Oliver.”

If Blake is unable to play, Semmle will be called upon again, and favorably for the Union, the MLS rookie has already compiled five matches worth of experience since the season’s start.

New tactics

In last weekend’s game against Minnesota, Curtin and his staff made the call to change their formation to a flat 4-4-2 more than halfway through the game, inserting Alejandro Bedoya into the center midfield mix. Flexibility like that hasn’t always been common for the Philadelphia Union, but their ability to adjust has been an added strength so far this season. 

“Changing formations in game is not something I love to do, but sometimes out of necessity with the personnel and the way the game is going, it's something that comes up. We've become a little more flexible, I still have certain principles and things I believe in with the personnel that we have, but it is good in-game to be able to adapt, adjust, get a good shout from one of your assistant coaches, and it just grows the trust that we all have in each other.

After the team’s last match, which finished in a 2-0 shutout win, Curtin shared with the media that the change of formation came about through suggestions from his assistant coaches, and this week, he followed up on that, emphasizing the importance of growing and developing his staff alongside his players. 

“It's good that we all push each other in different ways. You have to be open and willing to learn and listen and adjust in this game, otherwise, you die, and that is really the nature of pro sports. So I think everyone can get better – young players, old players, young coaches, old coaches, but if you're not willing to listen and always constantly be trying to learn and get better through substitutions through formations through training sessions, you're not going to last very long in this business.”


Philadelphia Union is one of three unbeaten teams despite a physically taxing Concacaf Champions Cup campaign then national team call-ups that saw eight players miss a match to represent their countries. The team’s depth has been key to their success so far, and it has created productive competition amongst Curtin’s squad.

“We have a group that everybody wants to play minutes and I always want players that want to start every game. 1-11 are always going to be very happy with me and the rest of the staff right, but in a lot of ways guys 12 through 28 are the most important players on the team because you need those guys to be training at their max to make the starters sharper,” Curtin said. 

“You need those guys to be prepared for if there's an injury or there's a late game substitution or even an in-game one. They need to be ready when they're called upon.”

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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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