Philadelphia Union begins its quest for the Audi MLS Cup with another showdown against rival New York Red Bulls. Ahead of the Round One battle presented by Independence Blue Cross on Saturday afternoon Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media about the effort the squad put in to get to this point and the key components to making an impact this playoff run. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
From the start of the regular season, Curtin’s goal for the squad to host a postseason match in Subaru Park. The reward for securing the second seed of the East sees streaking Red Bull squad that will be no easy contest for the Union as recent history has shown. In fact 12 of the Union and Red Bulls contests have been decided by just a single goal.
“The games between us are always very highly contested. We’re talking very close games, one or at the most two goal games, they’re very tight.” Curtin explained. “We worked very hard to get a home game, we have more confidence here, we have a crowd that cheers us on.” He said in reference to his goal of securing second place and the home game that came with it.
While Union fans love to reflect back on the 2019 postseason victory that saw the Union overcome a 3-1 first half deficit to win in extra time by a 4-3 margin. Two years later the core of both squads Curtin said that the two squads are very similar, so every aspect of every play will count, and there’s definitely no room for mistakes.
“There’s not much separating the two teams. It can come down to something like restarts. We’re for example number one in scoring on restarts on the attack, but conversely, they’re number one in defending off restarts.”
Prepped and Ready to Play
A strong defense has been at the core of the 2021 Union, boasting 12 clean sheets from Andre Blake and a strong back line anchored with the center back pairing of Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes.
Curtin praised his back line telling the media “Good center back play and good goalkeeping is a recipe for success in MLS.”
On the other side of the pitch, Daniel Gazdag has proven that’s he’s an offensive threat, scoring two goals while away on international duty for Hungary in their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Those goals just highlight the growth that Curtin has seen from the midfielder who joined the club midway through the season.
“Daniel has four goals and five assists this year and that’s only in 1300 minutes. If you quantify that over a season you’re looking at pretty close to double digit goals and double-digit assists, which isn’t easy to do in this league.”
Gazdag and the other nine international players are currently in the United States with the exception of Olivier Mbaizo who is currently in transit. Curtin did point out that the whole squad is fully healthy and ready to play in Saturday’s game, including super sub Ilsinho.
The Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs kick off on Saturday, November 20, with the Philadelphia Union against New York Red Bulls presented by Independence Blue Cross. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 2:30 p.m. ET with the match available locally on PHL17 as well as on Univision, TUDN and MLSSoccer.com.