With six games played and 16 points in the bag, first placed Philadelphia Union takes on Toronto FC on Saturday night. With road wins already against CF Montreal and New York City FC, Head Jim Curtin spoke with the media on Thursday about the upcoming conference foe. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Rise to the Top
Saturday night could see a very special occurrence in the history of the Philadelphia Union with the club sitting at a .500 winning percentage since its founding. Curtin was quick to point out that the winning ways of the club recently has certainly helped overcome some of the poorer seasons typically found when a club joins the league.
“Over the last three seasons we have the most points in the league and I don’t think a lot of people would point to that and recognize that cause we have done it maybe in a quiet, more disciplined and humble way.” Curtin said on the team’s success.
Curtin spoke about the unique vision of Philadelphia Union owner Jay Sugarman which has paid off with the team’s current run of success that has emphasize a complete team culture. “You seeing us doing a good job with our young players and our Academy developing young kids,” Curtin said. “Union II doing a great job developing young players when the moment is right selling them. When a lot of teams decided to buy just maybe big names, Jay had a vision along with Richie Graham and then Mr. Leibovitch coming on board where we are going to do it in a different way. We trust our youth and now you are starting to see that plan coming to vision and the results were fall.”
With a 2020 Supporters’ Shield and a run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Final and Concacaf Champions League Semifinals, the long-term vision of the club has paid off but there is much more the club still yearns to achieve.
New look Toronto
After speaking about the successful way of the Union, Curtin was quick to point out the danger of being too confident.
“We are in a good spot right now but like I always say a second you get comfortable in this game, in Soccer, in pro sports in general you get yourself humbled pretty quick”.
The upcoming opponent Toronto FC could be a team that can humble the Union. The team from Canada is different from the typical version with Head Coach Bob Bradley calling upon a mix of young players coupled with stars as they figure out his preferred system
“You see a lot of Bob’s ideas and it is actually giving young guys an opportunity. The way that they play, they are very dangerous, they are really uncomfortable and good on the ball.”
While the ever-dangerous Alejandro Pozuelo and veteran Michael Bradley still dominate the midfield for the Reds, gone is Jozy Altidore who has been replaced by Jesus Jimenez atop the Toronto FC attack. The 28-year-old has been lethal for the club with three goals scored on just four shots on target.
The trip to Toronto will be the third away trip this season for the Boys in Blue with the club already with six points collected with wins at Montreal and NYC.
“So far it has been a good start on the road with the two wins in places where we haven't done well in the past. Especially in Montreal and NYCFC in the Yankee Stadium where nobody likes to go and nobody does well.”
The Union coach mentioned that it is still early in the season and that it is too early to speak after two away games about the success on the road.
“This will be a real new challenge, different type of team. I think as you see us getting six, eight, ten games in that’s when you can recognize what teams are about”.
Curtin did note that forward Sergio Santos will be available for the trip to Canada. The forward has always enjoyed success against the Reds with six goals scored against Toronto FC.