With seven points in the bag Philadelphia Union make the short trip north as they face off against defending MLS Cup Champions New York City FC. Ahead of the showdown at Yankee Stadium, Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media on Thursday about the early season matchup that will have soccer fans eyes locked on the matchup. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.
No Revenge Needed
When the Union take to the pitch against NYCFC on Saturday afternoon it will have been 104 days since the two sides squared off in the Eastern Conference Final. While the Union put up a gritty performance that showed the heart of its young squad, it was NYC that won the contest and eventually MLS Cup. It is a new season, a new year and different circumstances but Curtin made sure to avoid any bulletin board material ahead of the showdown.
“New York City FC is the deserving Champion but they didn´t get us at our very best,” Curtin said on the last time the two faced off. “The team for me is one of the best teams in the league. They are very tough to play against, very organized and Castellano and Morales are two players that are very hard to play against.”
While the Union have played just three matches, NYC will be playing its third match in a week thanks to hard fought matches in league play and Concacaf Champions League that has the hosts through to the semifinals just like the Union last year.
One player that has shined through the Union’s first three matches has been the man with just one name that echos throughout Philly. Brujo. Before speaking about the upcoming opponent New York City FC, Curtin spoke about the game against the clean sheet win San Jose Earthquake and pointed out the importance of Martinez.
“[He] has started the year very, very, well,” Curtin said. “He is improving and simplifying things in winning balls and playing through the lines has been excellent this year. There can be beauty in the games where we don´t even notice him being on the field. This is a good thing.”
Martinez leads the team in touches with 178 and will be a key piece when the Union take to the pitch on the road in such a unique environment.
Unique New York
A trip to Yankee Stadium won’t be easy for the Union and has proven difficult in the past with the club still in search of its first win on the surface. Curtin spoke about the unique circumstances in the stadium and the challenges it can bring for a team that doesn’t play regularly there.
“The spacing is different,” Curtin said. “The distances you have to cover are certainly different, the fact that it almost feels on an angle just where the seats are is a little bit unorthodox. The fans are very far away from you which is different too. So it is a unique environment no question about that.”
To prepare for weekend clash, the Union transformed the Power Training Complex fields as close as possible to the dimensions of Yankee Stadium to mimic the compact set up.
Philadelphia Union looks for revenge against NYCFC on Saturday, March 19th. Kick off is set for 1 p.m. ET with coverage on 6abc and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.