Switching Things Up
Last week against New York City FC, Head Coach Jim Curtin changed up his lineup for the first time this season. Alejandro Bedoya played at the eight spot, while Roland Alberg made his first start of 2017 in Bedoya's CAM position. Jack Elliott also made his first MLS start, replacing Oguchi Onyewu. With Ignacio Piatti and the rest of Montreal Impact looming, Curtin said the Union are experimenting with players in different positions to get the team ready for Saturday's match.
"We're experimenting with a couple of different things," Curtin said. "With Piatti and Oduro coming, we experimented with a bunch of different things today, just to take a look at different things as you have a long week of training. We have some extra time, so we wanted to have an inter-squad and see what teams would look like, and we had some good answers to some questions, which was positive."
Possession is Key
This season, the Union have out-possessed teams more often than not. The team sports a 50.3 possession percentage on the season, which ranks 10th in the league. Against DC United at the beginning of April, the Union had possession for 57 percent of the game, the team's highest mark so far this season. Curtin said the Union are doing fine with possession in the middle third, and now the point of emphasis is possession in the final third and using that possession to create scoring chances and goals.
"Overall, it's fair to say we've had good possession of the ball, but it's been in the middle third of the field," Curtin said. "It's not where the other team feels we're a threat or they're on their heels. We haven't had too many instances where we're making defenders backpedal and making them scramble. The only way you get a goal in this league is having that first ball be one that connects and one that connects forward. We've worked on that a great deal."
Keep Looking Forward
Throughout the week and leading up to the match against Montreal, Curtin has said the mood in the locker room and within the organization hasn't changed. There's still belief in the squad and belief in the team. Curtin said the mood in the locker room has gotten down at times, but everyone on the team knows it just takes one win to get confidence up and get the team out of its slump. Leading up to Montreal, Curtin said the team has brought energy, passion and hard work to training, and if the team does so against Montreal, it will have a good chance at earning a win.
"At a minimum, we have to bring that energy and passion," Curtin said. "We have a good team coming in Montreal, and we have to find a way to get that positive result. Our veterans are all good leaders, and they've done a good job of keeping everyone positive. You see the guys in the weight room, getting after it together. It's a group that deserves three points because I've seen how hard they've worked, and now we have to go out on the field and fight for it."