Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Next up: New York City


Philadelphia Union is set to face New York City FC on Wednesday, hosting their foes from down the road at Subaru Park in a midweek matchup. After their final training session before their rivals come to town, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, previewing what’s ahead.

Overcoming adversity

The past month hasn’t unfolded as intended for Curtin and his squad and on Thursday, the team’s leader was quick to admit the recent stretch has been a difficult one. Despite the unfavorable results as of late, he ensured his team is focused on returning to their winning ways in the matches ahead.

“It’s our first losing streak here in Subaru Park for several years and it's hard for everybody. But we also recognize the only people that can get us out of this area are the coaches and the players,” Curtin said.

“I think the fans have done an amazing job in recent weeks, pushing us really hard after we've kind of dug a hole for ourselves. It's not through lack of effort, it's not through lack of chance creation. We've had goals called back, we've had things go against us, but we need to eliminate mistakes and create our own luck.”

Nullifying New York

It all starts Wednesday against New York City -- a team that sits at fifth in the Eastern Conference under the leadership of Head Coach Nick Cushing.

"They're a team that's coming in in good form after a big win. They’ve had a busy schedule just like us, and we know with our group, it's about getting back to basics, finding a way to get a result, and then like I said, putting good performances back to back,” Curtin said.

“We've done some good things in our recent games, but haven't played a collective 90 minutes and certainly have things we need to clean up on the defensive side of the ball.”

Comes down to defense

The Union have scored 21 goals so far in the Major League Soccer season with Inter Miami the only team in the Eastern Conference that has tallied more so far in 2024. While the team’s chance creation has been strong, their defense hasn’t been as impenetrable as it's been in recent years, and Curtin dove into the numbers he and his staff have been discussing as of late.

“We've analyzed, we've taken every piece of data you possibly could imagine to look at what we can improve, what we can fix, from our shape, our compactness, tightness of lines, blocking shots, protecting the red zone a little bit better. No matter how you shake it, we've given up 30 goals this year in 15 games, which for us…You guys have heard me sit up here for six consecutive years and said we are built to play compact to not concede take pride in our defending,” Curtin said.

“Everyone would agree in the world 30 goals in 15 is not us and our players would say the same thing. So that certainly is the first thing. This year eight goals have come from outside the box. I think it's even more if you go into [Concacaf Champions Cup]. Contrast that with 2022, we gave up zero. So there is a difference there, that's a huge discrepancy. Part of that's our guys taking the last step, getting into deflection, getting a block, getting a big save in a certain moment to bail you out when maybe you're not at your sharpest defensively. So, all those things are factors and we have to tighten that up.”

Another factor is connection on the field, and that’s an area that Curtin is confident will improve as the season moves forward.

“Certain areas can improved – the relationships of the partners on the field like center back to outside back, center back to center back, center backs to the guys in front of them at the six, there's a lot of things that can certainly improve. And I think it will over time because like I said, we still have great players in that locker room and players that are more than capable of getting out of this tough spell,” Curtin said.

“It's a tough three game spell, we've lost three games. Perspective wise, we're a .500 team right now. So it's not completely like the sky is falling. We don't want to get too low or too high during the course of a season.”

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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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