Pressing Points

Pressing Points | Regroup and Recover ahead of Road Match at Kansas City


Philadelphia Union has a Western Conference regular season match on Saturday on the road against Sporting Kansas City before resuming Concacaf Champions Cup play at home against Pachucha on Saturday to start the Round of 16. Before getting on the team flight to the midwest, Curtin met with the media, previewing the matchup.

Long time, no see

It’s been five years since Philadelphia played SKC on the road, and this time, they’ll face off in their opponent's home opener. Anticipating a raucous environment at Children's Mercy Park, Curtin made clear the challenge ahead, especially amidst such a strenuous schedule to start the season.

“Going to Kansas City is always very, very difficult. Peter Hermes does an incredible job with his group, being tough to play against having gone to the stadium in quite some time. And to have to go there in a home opener is a real challenge.

“We'll regroup or recover as quickly as possible. Put a group on the field that will go there to try to get a point or three. And we know the task will be tough. We'll have to be almost perfect on the day to get that done.”

A gift and a curse

Philadelphia Union played Tuesday, they’ll play on the road Saturday, then again at home on Tuesday – it’s no secret there has been very little down time for this group in the past month. During his press conference, Curtin recognized both the weight Champions Cup play holds for the club as a whole, and the toll it can take in a team’s early regular season success.

“The Champions League is a gift  and a curse, guys. It is a great competition to play in, and it's a great test for your club and your team against these opponents. But, it also makes the beginning of the schedule brutal, and let's be honest, the history of the league will tell you points, unfortunately, are tougher to come by when you're playing on a Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday kind of cadence,” Curtin said. 

Their most recent CCC matchup on Tuesday against Saprissa went 120 minutes, and Curtin admits had the match unfolded how it did, with two extra time halves and a red card violation dealt to Jack Elliot, the game plan for Saturday’s match against Kansas City would not be the same as it stands now. 

“If we went 90 minutes, I think the plan would have been a little different for this weekend – but we have full focus on Kansas City right now,” Curtin said. 

“Will there be some guys that may be played 45 minutes? Some guys that play 60? Some guys that play 90? Absolutely.” 

Though he didn’t share his personnel decisions for the match, he made did express how the team will go about the match ahead. 

“It's a tough place to go play no matter what, and we're going to have to play at our max to get points there just like it always is when you go to Kansas City. Incredible crowd, incredible atmosphere, a great coach, a great leader and great player. So in their home opener, it's very important to navigate the first half and not find yourself in a hole. In certain moments now, can we be smart on the counter attack? Can we go and transition and try to hurt them? Because every team in this league has strengths and weaknesses. Anybody can beat anybody as you see week in and week out. We're going to give maximum effort on Saturday and then recover as quickly as possible for Tuesday.”

Injury updates

When asked about the status of Andre Blake, who’s now missed two consecutive matches due to an adductor injury, Curtin said he could be close to a return, but he’s still unsure which keeper would start in net on Saturday. 

“He’s improving quickly. It'll be close for the weekend, and I think worst case, hopefully, he's back by Tuesday. That's the hope. But it'll be close for this one. I'm going to go have a meeting with him right now after this,” Curtin said. 

Philadelphia Union have started the season healthy, with midfielder Leon Flach being one of the exceptions after injuring his pectoral muscle during preseason. Curtin said he caught up with the German, who just turned 23 this week, via text, and expects him to return to Philly soon. 

“We gave him some time to be with his family he's obviously working hard to maintain fitness. You can still do things physically to keep your fitness at a high level even with the injury to the pec muscle,” Curtin said. 

“He'll be back with the group here very shortly and everything is on pace for a return, before the crazy summer starts where we'll be missing seven or eight guys with national team duty.”

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