Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin looks back at his club’s first 2020 preseason match and sees how much potential his team has once more members of the roster are available.
“We are thin right now and it was the perfect storm of events with several players away sorting out visas, two away with the [U.S.] National Team and a couple of injuries that we picked up in Kai Wagner and Andrew Wooten,” Curtin told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie are preparing for the United States Men’s National Team showdown with Costa Rica on Saturday in Los Angeles, and Jack Elliott, Jamiro Monteiro and Matej Oravec missed Wednesday’s match against Atlanta as they worked on green cards and visas.
Those absences were expected, but Wagner and Wooten were late scratches. The left back took a knock in training and was held out for precautionary reasons – though Curtin expects him to return to the starting XI Saturday against the Fire. As for Wooten, he picked up a quad strain and will have tests to determine the severity soon. Curtin said the 30 year-old would be out for a couple of weeks.
With all the missing pieces, Saturday’s match against Chicago allows new homegrowns Cole Turner and Jack de Vries to show how quickly they can catch up to the MLS game pace. Facing off against Atlanta United’s full-stacked lineup, Curtin said his young charges received a big test right out of the gate.
“The only way that young players learn are in games and Cole Turner and Jack de Vries both agreed that they had not experienced something quite like that in terms of the speed of play,” Curtin said. “Until you go through it, you won’t know what its like so that was their first time going through something like that and I think they’ll be better against Chicago because of it.”
Curtin admitted that while he’d prefer more established pieces around the two rookies during their first taste of MLS, he was happy to let the duo dive into the deep end in Florida. After all, the preseason is all about growth and preparation.