Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Vancouver Whitecaps. Here are some key points from the press conference.
Haris is a no-go
The Union staff and Union fans have been anxiously awaiting word on Haris Medunjanin’s suspension following the Bosnian’s angry response to Ale Bedoya’s red card against Atlanta two weeks ago. Medunjanin was issued his own red card for yelling at referee Sorin Stoica, and Jim Curtin announced that the club now knows how many additional games they will be missing their midfield rock.
“Just recently got word from the league that Haris [Medunjanin] will miss two more games, so three games in total,” the Union coach said. “There was an appeal from the players’ union that wasn’t upheld. I don’t agree with it, but we have to live with it.”
Curtin feels that the club’s depth will make the loss of their deep distributor easier to handle. “Listen, Warren Creavalle has done a good job for us in the minutes that he’s played. We’ll have Ale [Bedoya] back, we’ll have Warren out there, I know he’ll do a good job. He’s been doing really well in training, so no real secret there.”
Whitecaps white hot
The Union’s opponents this weekend come in on a six match unbeaten streak. Most recently, they popped five off on Orlando City SC in Jason Kreis’ last match in charge of that club. The key to the Whitecaps’ success has been their attacking foursome of Cristian Techera, Jordy Reyna, Kei Kamara, and Alphonso Davies.
The latter, still only 17 years of age, turned Orlando City into a collection of purple rags last weekend, creating card after card and forcing Kreis to pull right back Will Johnson before halftime.
“He’s a young kid that’s been in the league for a while now, and has played in a bunch of games,” Curtin said of Davies. “The thing that jumps off the page when you watch him play is just how powerful and explosive he is with the ball. When he opens up his legs, no defender can stop him.”
For the Union, preventing Davies from collecting the ball with room to run will be essential to preventing Vancouver’s scary attack from galloping down the pitch and putting Philly’s defense under pressure.
“The key is denying [Davies] the ball, denying [Vancouver’s] ability to get out on the run and counterattack,” Curtin explained. “That starts with being good with the ball yourself, not losing it in bad spots, but also not letting [Davies] turn and get a head of steam and start running. Because you’ve seen, whether it’s in the preseason tournament when he goes 70-80 yards with the ball at his feet and scores goals, he’s a handful.”
Bands for Bahr
Former US Men’s National Team player and Philly local Walter Bahr passed away at the age of 91 this week. The Union will wear black armbands with “WB” printed in white to honor Bahr’s extensive contributions to American soccer, and to Philadelphia area soccer specifically.
“Take soccer out of it, just as a man, teaching young players to grow up not only on the field but off the field is something that very few people have that skill, to touch that many people and that many lives,” Curtin said.
“When nobody has a bad thing to say about you, that usually means you’ve had a good run.
While I didn’t get to meet him personally, the people that I hold close to me in the soccer world and community, that have affected my life a lot, spoke highly of him. He had a great life.”
The Union face Vancouver Whitecaps at 5pm ET at Talen Energy Stadium, with a ceremony to induct Sebastien Le Toux into the Union’s Ring of Honor scheduled for halftime.