The Boys in Blue head down to Charlotte for the first time ever this weekend, as they attempt to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference. With a win or draw over Charlotte FC on Saturday, the Union would officially regain their title as regular season Eastern Conference champions, and the road to the MLS Cup in the East would run through Subaru Park. These are our Founders Brewing Co. Pressing Points.

Back From Break

With the September international break now officially over, the Union look to continue their incredible 2022 campaign with even more accolades. Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, Brandan Craig, and Quinn Sullivan all return from playing for the US U-20 team, while Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Daniel Gazdag and Andre Blake come back from their international duties across the world.

“Everybody came back healthy and confident from international break, so all of those guys are good and ready to go,” Coach Curtin said today. “We had a good energy and buzz to practice today to get everyone back in and on the same page as we make a final push down in Charlotte.

Sitting five points ahead of Montreal for the Eastern Conference, and currently tied with LAFC in the Supporters’ Shield race, Jim Curtin and his squad still have a lot to play for with just two games left.

“Once the opening whistle blows, I hope our guys are ready to do the things that have made us a strong team this season… We checked the first box of making the playoffs, and we’ve secured a home game already, but we want to take that number one seed, and secure the fact that the eastern conference will run through Subaru Park, where we’ve been pretty good this year.”

Presser | Curtin ahead of the trip to Charlotte

Challenges in Charlotte

In their first ever meeting that took place at Subaru Park earlier in the year, the Union won 2-0 in a very tough, back and forth match. Now, with a hurricane possibly in the forecast for the game on Saturday, the conditions and the turf in Charlotte will just add to the difficulties that come with playing against the new expansion team.

“Again, a couple of unique circumstances [on Saturday], obviously the weather will be a big one, you have a turf field, you have different things like football lines and the different elements that come into that, so overall, it’s up to us now to go down there and play against a very organized and well coached Charlotte team that is fighting to get above that playoff line.

Since their first meeting back in April, Charlotte FC have turned things around and fired their head coach. Christian Lattanzio has now taken reign over the newest MLS expansion club with hopes of reaching the playoffs in their inaugural season. Jim Curtin had a lot of praise for how the interim manager has run things down in Charlotte

“The way that they play is very organized and very stable, so I think their coach deserves a lot of credit for that. They're difficult to break down and they’re hard to play against, and they like to have the ball. They really are comfortable on the ball, no matter who’s in or who’s out, or what changes they make in their lineup. They still like to possess the ball and they’re very good at it, and they were good at it here in Subaru Park and they gave us a really difficult match here."

Next For the U | Saturday in Charlotte