With a busy slate of matches on the horizon, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke about the importance of Sunday’s game against the Columbus Crew and the confidence he has in the depth of his squad. Here are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Rising to The Occasion
Sunday afternoon will see Philadelphia Union face off against defending the defending MLS Cup Champions in front of the Union faithful at Subaru Park. The Crew might be below the playoff line but are coming in with confidence after defending Cruz Azul in the Campeones Cup Wednesday night. Coming off claiming their first international trophy, Curtin said that he expects a difficult challenge from the defending champs with the match worth more than just three points.
“We said it with Red Bull and we’ll say it again with Columbus, these are great teams that are now fighting for every point,” Curtin said. “There’s not many games left and one of the hardest things to do is play your best in a big pressure game against a good opponent that has a little bit of desperation to get three points. It will be a real challenge and they will put in a lot for the game but the challenge is can we use that against them.”
With Sunday’s match being the final home match at Subaru Park for nearly three weeks, Curtin said that they truly must get points to not only maintain their footing in the table but improve their chances in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Currently the Boys in Blue sit in a four-way tie for fourth place in the East which stretches all the way to the playoff line.
“We want to take as many points as possible. The end goal is to host a playoff game, not just get in. Every point is going to matter down the stretch and every player is going to have a role; the message is to be ready.”
Filling Key Absences
Prior to last week’s game, Curtin spoke about the importance of capitalizing on these matches before players depart for World Cup qualifiers. That will be tested as the club will be without midfielder Jose Martinez due to yellow card accumulation on Sunday. Curtin also noted that starting right back Olivier Mbaizo has been excused from the club to return to Cameroon following the passing of his father.
When asked about the adjustments that will need to be made defensively, Curtin emphasized his confidence in the abilities of others to step up in Mbaizo’s absence.
“We have lots of depth in that position and a good balance of experience and youth.”
With players like veteran and Jamaican starter Alvas Powell and Nathan Harriel able to file into the back line, Curtin stressed his confidence in the squad’s ability to fill the in his absence against the defending MLS Cup Champs.