Swansea as a tune up match
With several starting players called up to the Gold Cup, the Union will use Saturday's match against Swansea as a way for younger players to make an appearance on the field. Although it's not a regular MLS match, the game will be an opportunity for players who haven't gotten a lot of playing time to step up and battle against the English Premier League team. Head Coach Jim Curtin said with younger guys earning playing time, it's still important to work on pressure to the ball and sliding together as a team.
“You’ll see a lot of guys get used," Curtin said. "I think it’s a good opportunity to keep some guys going and keep them in the positive form that they’re in, not have too long of a break and layoff because Montreal does come quick on Wednesday. So a balance of that, also rewarding some younger guys that have done really well with the Steel to get the opportunity to play in front of our fans in our stadium with our jersey on for the first time for some of them. It will be special; you’ll see a lot of guys play for sure. EPL brings out the best out of our players. Swansea will be a high level, very talented group. We can use it as a good tool to get better, and a good tool to prepare for Montreal.”
What depth means to the team
Depth continues to be a popular subject for the Union. Curtin has expressed several times that depth does not mean being at the top of the league, but to continue improving and not to get confused with it meaning you're the best team in MLS. The depth creates a lot of competition for positions, which in turn brings out the best in every player. Curtin said the roster is the strongest in terms of no drop offs and players being able to adapt to new plays.
“I believe this is the best roster we’ve ever had," Curtin said. "There’s also the counter to that, which is that every other team has gotten a lot better too in the past. Depth makes you strong when you have to go to your bench, when you have to have an injury or substitutions. But in terms of the top end of our roster, we’re pretty similar to where we were last year. By top I mean, the Bedoya’s, the Haris’s, those type of players that are the top that you consider your go to guys. Depth is so important, it’s very critical and you’re always looking to add to the top end of the roster as well.”
Jones and Trusty
The Union can add another accomplishment to their belt with Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty being named to the 2017 MLS Homegrown Game roster. In his press conference, Curtin expressed the honor for them to be selected. Last year when Keegan Rosenberry and Andre Blake were called into the All-Star Game, Curtin said it was an incredible feeling to have the Union's crest appear on the screen. Jones and Trusty will have that opportunity this year in the Homegrown Game, and to be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments as players is a great achievement.
“It means a heck of a lot for these two guys that were homegrown’s that came up through our academy," Curtin said. "It’s special to have them now get recognized for their actions on the field in MLS and in USL. In the case of Auston, also with the youth national team, and to represent the Philadelphia Union badge is special. It’s only going to grow our club. Again, we want to be known as a club that’s at the top of youth development and now to have Derrick, who’s had an excellent season, and to have Auston be rewarded now for all the hard work he’s done with Bethlehem, with our first team, with the U-20 national team, to be going away and playing a big game is going to be special. It’s great. It shows that we’re a club that’s at the forefront for youth development in the United States. I’m really happy for the two of them and the opportunity that they have, they’ve earned it.”