Jim Curtin was glad to be back in Philly after his side's early season road trip, and he expects a strong response from his team after two scoreless matches on their travels.
Give the fans a response
"The good thing is we've been around each other long enough and known each other long enough that I don't have to say as much; I don't have to throw things or break anything," Jim Curtin told the media on Thursday. "They know when it's good and they know when it needs to be better."
"If you go through the last 4-5 years, after losses, we usually have a pretty darn good response and haven't been beaten 3 times in a row in a really, really long time," he continued.
Curtin's belief in his team doesn't come irrespective of opponent. He knows former Union players like Kacper Przybylko and Fabian Herbers will want to win in Philly, and he's preparing for the dangerous Xherdan Shaqiri and Kei Kamara.
"Obviously it starts with Shaqiri and doing a good job limiting him and where he touches the ball," Curtin said. "[Kei Kamara]'s a guy that when he gets service in the box he's as dangerous as any goalscorer that our league has had."
The Union coach also called out Przybylko's movement and noted that the Fire showed well against New York City FC to open their 2023 campaign.
Presser | Curtin ahead of Saturday's match against the Fire
Everyone plays a part
"You'll definitely see more integration as the schedule gets busier," Curtin explained when asked about his lineup choices. He stuck with the same lineup he rolled out against Columbus because they played so well to open the season.
"A lot of players are pushing to displace guys, and over the course of a season that sorts itself out. Some guys will perform and shock us and soe will maybe have a difficult season."
Curtin was very impressed with the players that debuted as starters against El Salvador. "The reserves going out and performing like they did, it makes everyone feel part of it," he assured. "So that was a powerful performance and a powerful result for the guys. I think long-term it makes us stronger and the staff has complete trust to put any group of players out there and know we can get a result."
Next For the U | Union host Chicago Fire on Saturday night
Deep in defense
When asked about his defense, the Union head man was particularly positive. He called out Damion Lowe's aggressive performance against Alianza and noted that Brandan Craig and Matt Real are ready to step in when needed,
"I like the aggressiveness of how Damion wins balls in the air," Curtin said. "You can picture if we're up a goal or two and they're just pumping balls into the box, I like the idea of having Damion, Jack, and Jakob out there just because that's a pretty tough group to break down."
He also pointed out that Kai Wagner's versatility makes him harder to rest, but Matt Real will be the guy when that time comes. "We would be totally comfortable going to Matt," he asserted. "And that would be the natural selection there. Kai just gives us so much on the set pieces too so it's a little tougher to make a decision there."
Curtin and the Union take on Chicago Fire FC at 7:30 p.m. ET at Subaru Park. Catch the match live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app.