For the second time of the regular season it will be the Philadelphia Union crossing paths with CF Montreal. The Boys in Blue are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they host the Canadian side on Saturday afternoon. Ahead of the match Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media about the game and the club’s now very busy May. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Following the match to Toronto FC, Curtin was adamant that Toronto FC’s Jayden Nelson should have been sent off following his tackle on Kai Wagner in the first half last weekend. On Wednesday, Nelson was given a one-game suspension by the league’s discipline committee for the very same play.
“I told the referees, saw them at halftime, in a very nice way I said that he is going to get suspended because that was a red card,” Curtin said on Thursday afternoon. “The league called me and confirmed that and told me it was a blown call on all levels. The whole VAR process failed. And I think we all knew that when we saw it live. You hope that they learn from it, improve from it, just like players when they make mistakes they hope they get better.”
Curtin says he and the team must now look past the play and turn their energy to restarting a new winning streak.
“That’s something we have to move on from and again have a good response against Montreal.”
In March the Union went to Montreal and got their first win of the season there. Now the team from Canada looks to pay revenge when the two sides meet on Saturday at Subaru Park. With new tactics and a good momentum, it will be a different game compared to the one the two had not so long ago
“In the build up it almost looks like a back four where they shift guys in the higher positions and their wingers will really be up against your back line,” Curtin said of Montreal. Defensively it looks like a back five so they have some real fluidity with their group. They have a good understanding of trying to keep the ball. It is no secret whether they are up a goal, down a goal, they try to make offer goal kicks and pass the ball through you.”
It's just not their tactics that have clicked into another gear but its been led by the play of Djordje Mihailovic. Curtin labeled the midfielder as a “special player” in their roster with the 23-year-old leading the team with four goals and three assists in just seven matches.
“He is a great player, great technique, great on the ball, you know, can finish plays off in the box. And there is a real premium in the game of Soccer for midfielders that can get you goals.”
Busy Stretch on the Horizon
Right before the press conference the draw for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 32 matches was conducted. The nearly 30-minute draw made the Union faithful and technical staff wait until the end before seeing the club was headed on the road to Orlando City SC.
With Orlando as the opponent, Curtin called the draw as “worst case scenario” in his view given the travel it now has the team planning for.
“If you look at the calendar, we’re just booking flights now and probably going to have to go straight from LA directly to Orlando”.
The Union will then have another tight turnaround with a rivalry contest against New York Red Bulls at Subaru Park four days after the Open Cup contest. With so many games in a short time, Curtin said it will allow for more chances to the players not in the Starting XI. Even more importantly, it could see the club’s homegrown prospects being called up on to play important contests.
“Others have really performed well which is making it hard,” Curtin said when asked about the lack of playing time for the homegrowns in 2022. “You see how busy it gets and some challenges on the road we will have so you’ll certainly see guys getting their chances to start for sure.”
But first there will be the match on Saturday against Montreal CF. Against a dangerous opponent that will arrive with a lot of confidence after three wins in a row. On the other side the Union is back in front of their fans in Subaru Park.