After arriving in Orlando ahead of the MLS is Back Tournament, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media about the team’s new lifestyle inside the MLS bubble and dove into the preparations he and the squad are making for the opening match against New York City FC on Thursday, July 9th at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
Thank You Fans
During Curtin’s opening statement he took time to recognize the fans that cheered the squad on as they departed Subaru Park on Thursday afternoon.
“I want to thank all the fans and the Sons of Ben that came out yesterday to see us off from Chester,” Curtin said. “From all the players and the staff, we say thank you. It was really a great way to start our journey to Orlando. We are here now to make Philadelphia proud.”
With no fans able to attend the tournament matches to ensure the safety of the players, coaches, and referees during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Curtin reflected on the team’s form in front of their beloved crowd over the past four years, where the Union have “been one of the best teams, statistically, at home”.
“We do well in Subaru Park and we get points in Subaru Park which is a testament to how important our fans are to our club. We play for our fans and they are lifeblood of our team, and it will be difficult to play away from them. It will be strange to play in a stadium without fans, and there is no easy way to get around that - but we want to make the fans proud.”
Cleared To Train
With the Union now in Florida, Curtin mentioned that the mindset and mentality of everyone as shifted to soccer. Having only been in Orlando for 24 hours, Curtin noted that the Union have been tested twice and been cleared to begin training on Friday night. When asked about the concerns of the virus affecting the team, the head coach said the team trusts the league to adapt and keep everyone healthy.
The mindset and the mentality of everyone has really shifted and it feels like the start of a competition now. The good news is that all of our players and staff are clear to start training. We’ve been tested twice already and those tests have come back in a good way.
“Yesterday we got through just over 75 minutes of inter-squad game where the intensity was good and there were some good performances from the guys and the conditions in Philly were similar to what we have now in Orlando. Good preparation and now it’s time to focus on New York City FC.”
“All of the precautions that the league has put in place, we’re going to follow,” Curtin said. “Could they have predicted that things would rise to where we are today where there were almost 60,000 cases in the United States? No one could have predicted that. There are still uncertainties in the unknown but what I do know that as you walk around this bubble every precaution is being taken. From the meals to the testing to the sanitation with hand sanitizers in the hallways; I haven’t laid eyes on another team. The only people that I’ve seen are from the Philadelphia Union and we’ve been here for nearly 24 hours now. They will do their best but there is no coaching manual or blueprint on how to handle this. You saw what happened with FC Dallas and hopefully that is a one-off issue and it doesn’t grow from there but if it does then the league will be able adjust and adapt to it and we’ll go from there.”
Be sure to stay tuned to PhiladelphiaUnion.com for updates as the club trains and prepares for the MLS is Back Tournament.