Prior to tomorrow evening’s match against FC Cincinnati, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media about the second match up between these two clubs in as many weeks. Here are a few of the key takeaways from the presser.
Brujo to stay with Union
By many in the soccer world it is seen as the top honor to get to play for your country. José Martínez was a first time call up to the Venezuelan national team this year, an opportunity he was very much looking forward to. After much back and forth with the Venezuelan national team, MLS, the Union, and Brujo, it was decided that he will join the Venezuela National and instead will stick with the Union. While Brujo was naturally disappointed by the result it comes with an understanding that the decision was made with his health a top priority. Having Martinez also plays a crucial role for the Union as they currently sit in fourth place in the standings, but only three points off of the top of the table. With a top-heavy Eastern conference every night out is critical and with only eight games remaining there are limited opportunities to pick up points. Though this season has been marked by no fans in the stadium, the East’s top four teams have still seen a noticeable home field advantage with only one loss at home between them.
Who’s in who’s out
The Union will continue to be without the defensive presence of Ray Gaddis when they face off against Cincinnati on Wednesday. He is coming along strong and still doing all the little things as a leader in the locker room that help to motivate the squad. In better news Kai Wagner will be available after receiving treatment to deal with the tightness he was feeling coming off of injury. Along with Kai, Jack Elliot’s return will provide a real asset to the team down the stretch and could see a return to the starting line up with the Union playing three matches in the next eight days. Lastly, Curtin pointed out that he plans on keeping Brenden Aaronson in the starting. While the homegrown did not have his best performance against Toronto on the weekend, Curtin has full faith in his young player to rebound. Brenden has had a phenomenal season with incredible highs, playing with a maturity well above his years. Brenden is held to an extremely high standard despite being just 19 years old. You can expect him to have a big bounce back effort after a tough Toronto game, like the top players often do.
Corey Burke’s Return
Though Curtin did not want to explicitly confirm or deny anything regarding Corey Burke’s VISA situation, with four words he provided a lot of optimism. “He is in transit.” Union fans can breathe a sigh of relief as Burke may be in Philadelphia as early as tonight. Corey has been stuck in Jamaica dealing with VISA issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a story line all season. The team is eager to get him back on the pitch to help the team finish out a tough final stretch to the season and a major boost heading into the playoffs.
You can watch the Union take on FC Cincinnati Wednesday night starting with the Crozer Health Pregame Show at 7 p.m. on PhiladelphiaUnion.com and on PHL17 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.