QUICK HITS: "As confident as we could possibly be going into a final," presented by Xfinity

After his team rocked Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, Jim Curtin emphasized that Jay Simpson was just the sharpest edge of a complete team effort against the Western Conference leaders.

What it means to be a true team

“What I explained in the pre-game talk was that any 11 guys that are together, fighting for each other with belief, attacking and defending as one, can beat any group of talented players,” Curtin told the media. “You could go through every man: Olivier Mbaizo to Jay Simpson, to the game [Auston] Trusty had, I feel bad even naming a few because there were so many really strong performances. It shows that our group is together, it shows that we're confident.”

The Union head coach admitted that while the plan for the three matches leading up to next Wednesday’s Open Cup final didn’t go exactly right, he and his staff never wavered from what they laid out before the week began. “We had a plan in place, we stuck with it,” Curtin said. “But it's my first time going through it and I'd argue not many managers have had to navigate that part of things. Players deserve all the credit in the world for the result today, and again, could not be more proud of the total team performance. Player 1-30 in this group has had a good strong season and that's the sign of a good team.

Sun shines on Simpson even in the rain

“I'm not surprised he scored,” Curtin began. “He's a great player. He scores all the time in training. He has been increasingly sharp in the past two weeks.”

Indeed, Jay Simpson’s play in practice translated directly to the gameday pitch as he lashed in two goals to lead the Union to a big victory. “He's done a great job in terms of being a true professional,” Curtin continued, “A lot of things haven't gone his way, from scoring in his debut to coughing up blood and bruising a lung, to then CJ stepping in and scoring 16 goals that season. So then you fast forward to this season and then Cory gets a chance and Cory gets hot… how quickly everyone went to celebrate with him shows what we're about.”

The voice of a leader

Curtin singled out Ale Bedoya for praise when asked about why the Union have been able to hold onto late leads that may have escaped in the past. “As a head coach, you need a voice in the locker room,” Curtin explained. “Ale's been that for us this year.”

“It's so powerful,” the coach argued. “Over the course of 34 games, when my messages are the same over and over, they can get a little bit tiresome if somebody's not carrying that out and executing in the locker room.”

“He makes two plays tonight that set up both goals. And does it in a very selfless way and is more happy for the guys that score. It speaks a lot to his character. It speaks to the season he's had. On the field, I think he's been best XI, but what you guys don't get to see is off the field, how incredible he has been in terms of growing as a leader, putting his arm around the young guys and giving some of the guys a kick to motivate them as well when that's needed.”

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