Playoff soccer returns to Subaru Park next Thursday, as Philadelphia Union awaits the winner of the first round playoff matchup between FC CIncinnati and the New York Red Bulls. The regular season Eastern Conference champions have broken many incredible records this season, but are nowhere near satisfied, as they make their playoff push for the MLS Cup. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
With a 4-0 win over Toronto FC on Decision Day 2022, the Union officially clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, granting them home field advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Daniel Gazdag finished the game with his second hat trick of the year to bring his final goal tally for the season to 22. Even with missing two of their starters in captain Alejandro Bedoya Bedoya and Kai Wagner, Jim Curtin and his staff were still able to get the job done.
“Just to reflect back on Toronto, I thought it was a great way to conclude what’s been our best regular season in the club’s history, and I thought it was a complete performance from the guys, obviously missing Kai and Ale, but others stepped up in the game, I thought it was a great game from Matt Real, and I thought Jack McGlynn did a great job stepping in for us as well,” Curtin said.
With the regular season now over, the Union have been named as one of the favorites to take home the MLS Cup. Coach Curtin shared his thoughts earlier today on what it means to be one of the favorites
“You just play the next game, you have to, that’s gotta be our mentality. We’ve had a good season and we recognize we can beat anybody, but we also respect the fact that anybody can beat us,” Curtin said. “You have to have a real respect for the game, and it’s the part of the year where everything gets magnified and becomes difficult. It’s nice to be called a favorite, but that doesn’t really mean anything because the games are played on the field.”
Presser | Curtin on the end of the regular season
Record After Record
With their clean sheet on Sunday, the Union officially solidified having one of the best defenses in MLS history, by breaking the record for least number of goals given up in a 34 game season. With only 26 goals allowed, the Union broke the previous record of 27 goals allowed that stood for 5 years with Sporting KC. Andre Blake also played a big part into the record as he recorded 15 clean sheets throughout the season, second most behind Tony Meola’s 16 shutouts in the 2000 season. The Boys in Blue had a slow start to the season this year, but had a tremendous turnaround into the second half.
“Early in the year we established ourselves as a strong defensive team, but were struggling to finish plays off and create chances, and then at the midsummer mark we really hit our stride in the attacking part of the field, and we started to hit the back of the net. I think we were a little bit more decisive in our transitions, we got balls into the areas of the field that lead to assists and easy plays, but overall, a group that caught fire in the Summer and stayed hot through the rest of the regular season.
The Union also boasted the second best goal differential in MLS history, outscoring opponents 72-26 throughout the year to finish at +46, just two goals behind the 2019 LAFC team. Being undefeated at home as well, the Union outscored their opponents 49-9 at Subaru Park, the best home goal differential in MLS history.
“Overall, a great conclusion to our season, a huge thank you to our fans who have made our stadium the toughest place in this league to come and play. We’re grateful for them and hopefully we can go on a run in the playoffs,” Coach Curtin said.