Ahead of Philadelphia Union's first friendly of the 2023 preseason schedule, Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke with media on Friday afternoon to discuss the first full week of training in Clearwater, Florida. Curtin said he expects to use the friendly against 2022 Western Conference Finalist Austin FC as an opportunity to give as many players the chance to return to competitive action as possible as the team prepares for a grueling 2023 slate that sees the Union not only in a 34-game regular season but additional matches via entries to the Concacaf Champions League, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Leagues Cup.
“After a very strong week of training back in Philadelphia, it's good to be here in Florida again now with a good stretch of games with really good opponents,” Curtin said on Friday. “This week we've treated like a normal work week with a little extra built in fitness and a little tougher workload. We play an opponent [Saturday] in Austin that we aren't familiar with in terms of playing against them. I'm very familiar with Josh Wolff and the great job that he's done there. A really strong franchise, really strong team and a team that likes to build and play the right way and build out of the back. It'll be a good test for us to try to disrupt that as best we can tomorrow in the exercise.”
Curtin did confirm that Saturday's friendly will feature two 45-minute halves with the Union looking to make the most of every minute including their trio of homegrowns that were called in this week for the U.S. Under-20 National Team Camp.
“We will have pretty much everybody healthy and available for selection for that game. Thank you to U.S. soccer for working with us, we will have our three U-20 guys that will be available for us to play for 45 minutes, Curtin Said. “We'll push guys for the first 45 minutes, the exercise will be to have them empty their tank and for lack of a better way to put it get a chance to compete against someone other than themselves which they've done a good job of so far. Happy with where the group is as you guys know, pretty much the majority of the starting group returns and we've added a piece or two that that I think will help us. And we really look forward to tomorrow's exercise.”
Fans can follow all the action from the Union's friendly against Austin FC starting at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday with PhiladelphiaUnion.com's live blog.