With just one more match left in May before a multi-week break, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin talked to the media on Thursday about the club's upcoming road match at the New England Revolution. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Resilient on the Road
Sunday’s win in Portland was a huge one for the Boys in Blue as it not only secured three points to push them back in first place in the Eastern Conference but also snap a run of five straight draws. The win was a special one for Curtin as the club notched another impressive road performance.
“Nobody goes there and has an easy time, ever,” Curtin said. We were fairly comfortable in that game.”
The win was just another sign that playing at Subaru Park isn’t the club’s only strength as they have taken a result in all but one of their matches away from the Union faithful. 2022 has seen the Union take huge strides in places once thought cursed for the squad.
“If you step back and look at the road wins against really good teams, really hard hard places to go,” Curtin said. “To win at Yankee Stadium against where we had so much difficulties in our history in Philadelphia. To win there is brutal. They just don’t lose there. Montreal has been one of the best teams in the league too so that win looks even bigger than it did at that time.”
Harriel’s Takes Another Step Forward
At the backbone of the Union’s philosophy is a strong defense and 2022 has been another example of the club taking their play to another level. Through 13 matches in league play, the Union have only allowed nine goals to lead the league in fewest goals against. While the defense remains nearly identical, homegrown Nathan Harriel is playing as anything other than a newcomer. The right back has started in 11 of his 12 appearances for the Union and put on an impressive performance last weekend in a hostile environment.
“I think defenders that like to defend are kind of a dying breed in this world of soccer right now and Nathan likes to defend,” Curtin said. “He likes to go 1 vs 1 versus top guys. He does a good job with this 1 vs 1 duels.”
Even if he has to improve on his offensive performance which Curtin said continues to improve each and every game. Harriel has also benefited in his transition to MLS starter with the defensive anchors alongside him on the back line as well.
“We want to be a good defensive team and Nathan has certainly stepped in, with the help of Jakob next to him, and Ale in front and Jose in front. They made his job as easy as possible.”
Premier League Meets Medford Messi
Nearly 30 minutes before Curtin sat down for his press conference, Leeds United announced the transfer of former Union homegrown Brenden Aaronson.
At the age of 11 Aaronson joined the Union Academy and joined the first team of the Philadelphia Union ahead of the 2019 season where he’s help the club lift its first silverware before departing for Red Bull Salzburg in 2020.
“In all ways a really special day, monumental day, not only for the Aaronson family but for the Union,” Curtin said. “For the Academy, for the work that goes on there. And obviously the dollars behind there too are impressive.”
Curtin is happy that the Union gave Aaronson the best chances for the future after the deal with Red Bull Salzburg: “A deal that was in the best interest of the player, I think Ernst and the Union put that at the forefront and with that intelligence and having some foresight you see the next move can be a bigger one for you” and that it now pays off with Aaronson’s chance to play in the Premier League.