After his team drew 2-2 with Orlando City to end a stretch of three matches in eight days, Union head coach Jim Curtin said he was still proud of all the work his players put in to get into a playoff position heading into the final stretch of the season.
Late exchange of goals
Fafa Picault put Philly up 2-1 in the 88th minute, but Scott Sutter evened the scoreline in extra time. Curtin sought to take a step back when considering the final result. “Overall, keeping some perspective, 40 points on September 1st, in a good position to make the playoffs,” he said. “I thought we dominated the game, especially in the second half. It just wasn't our night in terms of finishing. Obviously, you lose two of your key attacking players to injury, which made us have to sub, which was difficult. But overall, again, taking the positive, a point on the road is always good in this league.”
Those attackers were Borek Dockal and Ilsinho. The former left with an ankle injury in the first half after Cristian Higuita caught him from behind. The full extent of the injury is unknown, but Dockal walked off under his own power. Ilsinho’s injury appeared to be another hamstring tweak, and the Brazilian will be evaluated over the coming weeks.
Orlando’s strange shape and the Union’s fitness
With Sacha Kljestan returning from injury and Yoshi Yotun and Higuita back from suspension, Orlando head coach James O’Connor simply threw his best eleven players onto the field to see what stuck.
“They found a way to put their best eleven guys on the field,” Curtin observed, “Not necessarily in any shape, but it gave us problems early on; I thought we adjusted well.”
Those adjustments were aided by a level of fitness that allowed Philly to push on after going a goal down early. “We assess things, we talk to the players, we looked at the physical data for the week, and we put that group out there again,” Curtin said after starting the same team that defeated DC United midweek. “We have a very fit team. The players deserve a lot of credit. To play the way they did tonight on such short rest and dominate a game, create a lot of chances.”
Looking good on the field and in the standings
“We really want to host a home playoff game,” Curtin stated emphatically. “I think our fans deserve that. That's something that we have our eyes on.” To do so, Philly will need to catch Columbus Crew, who they face on September 29 after the US Open Cup final in Houston.
“A lot of games still to play, but overall couldn't be happier with the way our guys have performed in some pretty tough conditions, especially on the road this year. They've really improved that,” Curtin said.
The Union’s next match is on Saturday, September 15th when they welcome Montreal Impact to Talen Energy Stadium.