Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Old Rival, New Faces

#PHIvNYC | Jim Curtin

The Philadelphia Union emerged from the opening round of the inaugural Leagues Cup tournament at the top of their group after handily defeating both Club Tijuana and Queretaro F.C. at Subaru Park. Now, it’s win-or-go-home for the Boys in Blue – the team is set to play Eastern Conference foe D.C. United in Chester on Thursday night at 8 p.m. which will be broadcast for free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

After their first pair of games, the team earned an eight day rest – a rare occurrence for the squad this season. It’s just the third time the team has seen more than a full week between matches, but though they aren’t in quick-turn game prep mode as they’ve been during their hectic start to summer, there’s been no shortage of action for the club.

Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media on Wednesday, previewing the team’s upcoming matchup and providing updates on recent team announcements.

Tai time

Major League Soccer’s Secondary Transfer Window closes on August 2nd; Curtin and Sporting Director Ernst Tanner have been hard at work, ensuring the deadline didn’t pass without a Union roster move. On Wednesday, the club announced that they have signed forward Tai Baribo from Wolfsberger AC of the Austrian Bundesliga to a two-and-a-half-year contract.

“He's a player that we've been monitoring for some time. We’re fortunate to sign him – a lot of European interest came in for Tai and we were able to beat out some really big clubs,” said Curtin.

“He's a great kid, humble. He was in the locker room today meeting the guys, did some testing, the typical first couple days.”

Baribo won’t be able to join the team for Leagues Cup, but Curtin expressed his commitment to making the 25-year-old Israeli’s transition as smooth as possible.

“I said to them, it's our job now to make him feel comfortable, to get him up to speed with a new league, new culture, new club, how we play, all these things,” Curtin said.

“Because no matter if you're, you know, Lionel Messi, this is a new unique league and here's different things that come along with it.”

Rivalry Renews

D.C. United began their push toward earning the first-ever Leagues Cup trophy with a loss against Liga MX side Pumas and a win against Montreál C.F.. The last time the pair met was in May during MLS Rivalry Week, but the match finished in a scoreless draw.

On Wednesday, Curtin shared his expectations for the rematch, pinpointing forward Christian Benteke, the team’s 32-year-old designated player from

Kinshasa, Congo DR as their opponents strongest threat.

“We look forward to a very challenging match against DC United, a team that's coached very well by Wayne Rooney. It starts with their striker, their main target Benteke, doing a good job on him trying to limit his chances,” Curtin said.

A win against D.C. means moving on in the tournament and earning another opportunity to host, which Curtin says is an advantage that isn’t lost on the team.

“Now we're into the knockout phase of a competition. At home, we have a really strong record and our players tend to get the most out of themselves in these types of high pressure games,” Curtin said.

“So it's a big opportunity for us, we know that if we continue to win, we'll get the play and Subaru Park which we see as a big advantage and we need to take advantage of that tomorrow.”

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On Sale Now!

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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