With Major League Soccer Award season in full stretch, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with the media for his weekly press availability. With the club’s first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match a week away, here are a few takeaways from the media chat.
Advantage or disadvantage
Winning the first trophy in club history via the 2020 Supporters’ Shield brought a few items to the Union. They secured a berth in next year’s Concacaf Champions League, are the top overall season in the postseason meaning they’ll be at Subaru Park for the rest of the postseason to name a few. However that means the club when they take to the pitch on Tuesday, November 24th, it will be a 16-day layoff.
“After playing three games a week for the majority of the year to have this little bit of a break is good because you get all the bumps and bruises healed up but you have to find that right balance of rest but not lose our sharpness,” Curtin said. “It’s a bit of a complicated situation because it feels like a bye but it’s not quite a bye. We can play one of three teams and all three are tough and different opponents that present a lot of different challenges with their groups.
Curtin said that to keep the team’s game fitness high they will conduct an inter-squad scrimmage Wednesday in training with the starters expected to be pushed for at least 60 minutes as the coaching staff looks to keep the Boys in Blue in a rhythm.
“Whoever we play is going to be coming off of a win which always builds confidence and will have more sharpness with those 90 minutes under their belt. It is a tricky situation for us.”
International Duty brings challenges for postseason
Getting the call to represent your country is a honor that most athletes dream of however it brings complications with the added layed of the COVID-19 pandemic. With playoffs set to kick this weekend, Curtin said the club is optimistic that both Jamiro Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo can be available for selection.
“The hope is to have them back as soon as possible and I wish I could give you that exact date but we’re optimistic and hope that they can partake in our first playoff game because those are the most important games of the season.”
Monteiro was expected to start for the Cape Verde National team as he departed Subaru Park moments after lifting the Supporters’ Shield and Curtin was glad that the matches allowed for the playmaking midfielder to keep his match fitness and sharpness.
“Olivier it was a little different because while he had a really good season for us, we didn’t expect him to go and start and do that job that he did,” Curtin said candidly. “It really speaks to his growth and his improvement to play for such a strong national team in Cameroon who are at the top of their group. There is a lot of eyes on those games and he did a great job and I’m really happy for him.
The Union kick off their play in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup on Tuesday, November 24th against the lowest remaining seed from the Eastern Conference Play-In games. Kick off from Subaru Park is set for 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.