PressingPoints-SOC-Sept10

After picking up nine points in a very impressive week on a busy schedule, the Philadelphia Union return home to Subaru Park this Saturday Night to take on Orlando City SC. With only four games remaining, the Boys in Blue look to stay hot as they close in on clinching the Eastern Conference, giving them a Concacaf Champions League berth and playoff home field advantage until the MLS Cup. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.

Lock Down The Fortress

Only one Major League Soccer team this season has yet to see a defeat in front of their home crowd and it’s the Union. After opening the season with five draws in the first eight home matches, the Boys in Blue have reeled off seven-straight victories at Subaru Park and are a key reason not only to the push for the top of the conference but the Supporters Shield. With Saturday nights’ match against Orlando City the penultimate home match of the regular season, Curtin said the squad continue that run of form to make the MLS Cup Playoffs run through Subaru Park.

“We recognize that we are playing really well at home and we want to try and stay undefeated there,” Curtin said on Thursday afternoon. “We need our crowd to be as lively and as crazy as its been throughout the entire summer because we want to finish unbeaten at home this year.”

The unbeaten streak dates back to last regular season, with the Boys in Blue having not dropped a regular season match in front of the Union faithful in the last 20 matches. With such a strong run of form, Curtin admitted that he’s run into some issues with the pep talks but squad has responded time and time again because they know what lies in front of them.

“The shield is obviously a goal of ours but goal No. 1 because they go hand-in-hand is to win the Eastern Conference because it means the East have to go through Subaru Park. We know how important that is so we don’t want to slip up or have any letdowns and that is what we are guarding against,” Curtin said. “I’ve gone to the well quite a bit with our players in guarding against the letdown by saying this is going to be the toughest game and the players have responded every time. They see that No. 1 seed and Champions League berth as our next goal and box to check so I think it’s built in. They know the importance of homefield advantage and I think they love playing in Subaru Park and that should be enough incentive to play in front of your fans. If we are able to have LAFC slip up and have the [MLS Cup] Final come through Subaru Park, that would be incredible.”

Orlando Brings Momentum

Philadelphia Union isn’t the only team coming into Subaru Park on Saturday night with momentum as Orlando City SC enters off lifting their first trophy in their MLS era via a 3-0 win over the Sacramento Republic in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Curtin was asked early in his press conference what result he had hoped for and quickly responded that he was rooting for the final to go the full distance but knows that it will see the team preparing for another difficult challenge.

“Anytime you play in a final and it’s midweek like it often is in the Open Cup, you’re going to have a situation where you’re going to get a team that is really happy or really upset,” Curtin said. “They will have the emotional side but will have some fatigue in their legs and if you look ahead they have a big midweek game against Atlanta and then another game right away against Toronto both of which are at home. We have to look at all the possibilities but we do know that at most of the positions they are two-players at least deep with players that have a lot of quality. We’ll prepare for their best group which played [Wednesday] night but we could expect some changes.”

Changes might be necessary for Orlando City as they sit just outside the Top 4 spots in the East which would guarantee a home playoff match. With two games in hand against NYCFC and New York Red Bulls, Orlando is only four points out from that goal courtesy of four-straight league wins.

“We are talking to our players, at home to just be ourselves and regardless of who Orlando puts on the field, they are going to go for all the points and trying to impress their coach,” Curtin said. “They are fighting for a home game as well so there is real motivation for these points."

King Julian

When the Union announced the acquisition of Julian Carranza on loan from Inter Miami CF just before Christmas, many wondered how the forward would fit in. During his two seasons with the Florida side, Carranza had only scored three goals with his highlights being that he notched the first goal at Inter Miami’s new stadium. Carranza made an instant impression with the Union staff in the preseason needing just three minutes to score in an exhibition against FC Cincinnati.

““We weren’t going to let Julian get away once we had him in here from the preseason and he’s an example of a player that has a lot of great years ahead of him and big future in front of him because he’s so young,” Curtin said. “Julian has been excellent for us and I think the goal he sets up against Red Bull is a perfect example of the kind of player he is and his growth in this group. It involves a defensive action and then an offensive action in less than two seconds because he wins the ball, goes to Mikael and its laid back to him and he plays a through ball to Daniel one touch. Two incredible actions in a matter of seconds and it winds up in the back of the net that kills out the game.”

The Argentinian hasn’t stopped scoring with 14 goals and nine assists in just over 1,900 minutes for the Boys in Blue but it’s the other side of the ball that has impressed his manager most.

“Everyone talks about the goal at LAFC was incredible, the goal at D.C. with the curler to the back post and we can talk about all the goals he’s scored and that is amazing but where he’s really grown and taken a step forward is his ability to work hard defensively and the assists he brings which get others into the game and the fight that he has on the field. It really fights our city and our system and style of play."

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