Coming off a 1-1 draw at home against Chicago, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media to preview Wednesday’s home game against Toronto FC. Here are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
Looking at Toronto
Toronto FC comes into the midweek contest having not lost since its 7-1 defeat to D.C. United on July 3. The come into Philly on the back of a win against Chicago and a draw against Nashville SC.
Curtin said that being back in Canada after beginning the year in Florida has helped the team. The Union Head Coach complimented Toronto’s personnel and said the Union’s keys to success including needing to dictate the match tempo, win the transition battle, and finish chances in order to win
“They’ve been in really good form in recent weeks,” Curtin said. “They’re back around their families now, they’re getting real home games, so obviously they’ve had an improvement and gotten stronger.
2020 Landon Donovan MVP Award winner Alejandro Pozuelo’s status for the contest has him question for Wednesday’s game due to an injury he picked up in warm-ups before Toronto’s 1-1 draw against Nashville.
Winger Yeferson Soteldo has a goal and an assist in his team’s last two matches. Curtin said that he will have to pay special attention to the playmaker on Toronto’s left wing.
“It’s a midweek game, so both teams are on very short rest,” Curtin said. “There will be fatigue in both teams’ legs for sure, and at home, the onus is on us to try to play the Philadelphia Union way.”
Finishing off chances
In reaction to the draw with Chicago, Curtin spoke about the areas where the team can improve. Finishing is the main area, as the team created 2.9 expected goals.
“We created enough chances on Sunday night against Chicago, but now it becomes about executing and finishing off those chances,” Curtin said. “I have a strong belief in this group that once the [ball] does go in, the floodgates will open for us.”
Curtin also credited Chicago’s defense and goalkeeper for holding the Union to one goal on Sunday. He also said the team needs to work on how it starts games so it can take control on the field and on the scoreboard.
Curtin referenced the empty feeling he spoke of during Sunday’s post-game press conference.
“At home, we want to always take three points,” Curtin said. “Anytime we don’t take three points at Subaru Park, that’s the emptiness that I talk about.”
New and Returning Faces
The Union announced the signing of Venezuelan midfielder Jesus Bueno last Thursday. The 22-year-old scored nine goals with three assists in 75 appearances for Deportivo Lara, where he served as the team captain.
Bueno has not yet joined the team because he still has to obtain a Visa, but Curtin looks forward to him joining the squad.
“He’s a good young player that can help change the team,” Curtin said. “Hopefully the [Visa] process gets taken care of quickly and we can begin to work with Jesus.”
After Andre Blake, Cory Burke, and Alvas Powell returned to the squad for the Chicago game, Curtin looks forward to Sergio Santos’ return from suspension. Santos had a hattrick in the last meeting between the Union and Toronto, which the Union won 5-0 at home.
“Sergio gives us a ton of speed in behind, which is his strength and it helps us in transition,” Curtin said. “I think he would’ve helped us tremendously [against Chicago], but now he’ll get his opportunity and I know he’ll come through for us and help us in the attacking part of the field.”