Philadelphia Union is back on the road, this time heading to Ohio for a Saturday night showdown against 4th ranked Columbus Crew. Shortly before boarding the team’s flight on Friday, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, previewing the match.
Turning ties into wins
Curtin kicked off his pregame presser reflecting on the team’s four consecutive ties including Wednesday's 1-1 draw at home against FC Dallas leading up to this weekend’s match.
“We've had a run now where it's a lot of ties, the guys are frustrated. They want to turn those ties into wins, obviously. Looking back and having hindsight, some of the ties were what you'd call good ties, some were ties that you let yourself down a bit. But our reality is we're a difficult team to beat, which is a good thing.”
The team now has a chance to make up for lost ground, as a win on Saturday would create a six point swing above Columbus, who presently sits just one point below them on the table.
“Now we have to regroup and quickly go on the road to a Columbus team that is at the very top of our league in terms of goals scored. They like to play wide open, they really attack and they're very, very good with the ball. Obviously Wilfried Nancy is a great coach and they're going in a good way right now.”
Who’s in, who’s out
Curtin’s squad has faced quite a few injuries over the last several weeks, missing notable starters namely Julián Carranza, José Martinez, Jakob Glesnes, and Leon Flach in recent matchups.
Favorably for the Union, Carranza has cleared concussion protocol after citing dizziness following a first minute collision in the team’s match against FC Cincinnati last weekend. On Friday, he practiced with the team in full, preparing for potential minutes during this weekend’s game.
“We'll have to be smart now and see what's best, from the start or off the bench for him. In some ways, we always want him to play and obviously we missed him against Dallas. But he did get some built in rest there as we go through this final stretch of games,” Curtin said.
“We want to have him finish the season on a high note and with goals. So that's very encouraging.”
As for Glesnes and Martinez, Curtin said the pair is less likely to reappear on the starting xi against Columbus.
In other injury news, after weeks of treatment for a sports hernia including a trip to Germany for a second opinion, Leon Flach is back stateside with the team, though not yet fully taking part in training.
The schedule to come
Saturday’s matchup is the start of a two weeks-long stretch of games against high-caliber opponents gunning for points within a crowded top half of the board. The Union, with 50 points, currently hold a one point advantage over their three of their next four opponents in Columbus, Atlanta, and New England, with Nashville still close by with 45.
“Everyone sees how tight it is. The thing that I've stressed to our guys is that we sit with the fourth most points in the league, though sometimes it doesn't feel like that. But now we control our own destiny.”
“You see the teams in and around us – Columbus, Atlanta, New England and we kind of control who we keep below us if we’re able to get ties and push them down.”