Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media on Wednesday during his weekly press conference. With the club coming off a road win in Montreal, we give you three takeaways from Coach Curtin’s press conference as the Union head into the weekend with a matchup against Real Salt Lake.
Coach Curtin praises one of his Homegrowns
Coach Curtin had an impressive MLS career, appearing in 172 MLS matches over the course of a nine-year career. Most of the games played came at the center back position. For Coach Curtin, he knows what a center back should be doing and this past weekend, the Union had two teenagers as their center back pairing. The two put in 90 minutes of work and earned a clean sheet on the road.
When asked about the performance of Mark McKenzie, Coach Curtin didn’t hesitate in giving his analysis.
“Everyone takes notice when a guy plays as well as Mark McKenzie did. He does it quietly, it’s not flashy. He’s not on the ball a ton, he’s not dribbling out of the back a ton. He’s a no-nonsense center back where I win the ball and I give it to the special players,” Curtin said. “There’s something to that, it’s a fine art to be honest. The ones (center backs) you don’t notice on the field are the ones doing their job.”
Team Play is the Best Play
Philadelphia scored their first goal in Saturday’s match right before the whistle blew for halftime. The buildup to the goal is what caught the attention of most, as the Union completed a 35 pass sequence to keep Montreal on their toes and move forward on the pitch. This set up was a beautiful sight for Coach Curtin and when asked about it he broke down the importance of his club making the simple plays that ultimately pay dividends.
“Good observation first off all to pick that out. That was a very good sequence and we showed it today in film. This is what it can look like, we’re capable of doing that,” Curtin said. Nobody in that sequence of 35 passes before we connected our goal did anything hard, did anything complicated, did anything outside the box we asked them to do. It was as simple as good first touch and get it to the next guy. Everyone was committed to moving for each other.”
Choices on the Backline
As the Union wrapped up their stretch of three matches in nine days, Coach Curtin chose to mix up the lineup with squad rotation, particularly on the backline. Coach Curtin was asked if he had thought about the possibility of keeping McKenzie in the Starting XI due to his performance in Montreal. Coach Curtin was quick to answer if the thought had crossed his mind, but also shared his mindset on his roster options.
“Of course. There’s a big thought of that, Guys get opportunities when they step on the field, and are called upon. Just like Cory (Burke) stepped up, just like Fafa (Picault) had a good performance for us. That gets the coaching staff’s eye,” Curtin said. “We still have to look at match ups, we have to look at the opponent’s number nine and their tendencies on the field. Is it a day for Jack who brings a little more size and more passing? Is it a day for Mark who maybe has a little more athleticism? There are things you weigh with each player. They both have really good traits and characteristics.”