Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Queen City Bound


Philadelphia Union is still unbeaten on the road, and they’ll look to extend that streak on Saturday against Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium. Before the team embarked on their trip south, Head Coach Jim Curtin met with the media, previewing the contest to come.

Overcoming Charlotte

Charlotte FC’s defense has been one of the best in the East so far in 2024 – they’ve conceded just 13 goals, which is the third lowest total in the conference. They’ve totaled six clean sheets so far this season, and Curtin attributes their recent success in good part to their new leader at the helm.

“It's not a group that has the big household names along that backline, but they are really, really good at what they do. They're hard to play through, they're getting clean sheets which is hard to do in our league, and it speaks to the coaching,” Curtin said.

Englishman Dean Smith joined Charlotte FC as the coach in the offseason, and he helped lead them to new heights with a similar squad to the one that finished ninth in the East in the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

“When you watch the film, you can see clearly what they're trying to do. Yes, the personnel changes, but their principles stay the same in every game that they play, and that for me is the consistency that as a coach you're really appreciative of when you see it,” Curtin said.

“So again, credit to them, they have confidence, they have belief right now that they're not going to concede goals.”

Breaking down the defense

When detailing his scouting report of the opponent ahead, Curtin admitted their a hard team to get ready for because they ‘can beat teams a lot of different ways.’ The challenge ahead is clear, and he shared what his conversations with his teams have been in meetings and on the pitch this week during their preparations.

“I think collectively now from their forwards, to their midfield, to their back four, when they are behind the ball, they are really hard to break down and they can defend very narrow and defend the box as well as any team in our league right now,” Curtin said.

“And that's been the messaging to our group. If you don't hit them in a transition, once they're set up, it's really hard to break them down. So you have to have a little bit of patience because if you force things centrally where they have a lot of bodies, and they turn you over, they can hit you pretty quickly on the break as well.”

Getting a first win in Charlotte

Should the Philadelphia Union claim a win in at Bank of America Stadium, it’ll be the first three points they’ve earned in that venue. Charlotte FC is one of Major League Soccer’s newest team’s but in the Union’s first two visits, they’ve lost, and that stat isn’t lost on Curtin and his staff.

In 2022, no one really beat us that whole season, but we got smacked by them. Good humbling, I think 4-0 zero and [Former Charlotte Forward] Mr. [Daniel] Rios, the Union-killer got us pretty good on that day. So, yes, that is in my mind. We stole a point last time we were out there on the turf. The reality is astroturf does make it different,” Curtin said.

Charlotte FC is one of six teams in the league that play on turf for match days as they share the venue with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The Union’s most recent opponent, New England Revolution, have a similar playing surface, so they had a chance to get accustomed to it in game action, but on Thursday, they continued to get used to the change during training at the WSFS Bank Sportsplex in Chester.

“We trained our restarts today on the turf just to get used to that offensively and defensively, so there is a little change there. But you give credit to their crowd, they have a great crowd, great atmosphere, it's tough to play down there. This year, they have a really strong product on the field. Yes, we've only played them a few times in that building, not a lot of great memories, for sure.”

On Sale Now!

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!

Stay in the Know
Stay in the Know


The Boys in Blue, delivered to your inbox. Tickets, deals, giveaways, and more.