As his team prepared to embark on a flight to Houston to face the Dynamo in the 2018 US Open Cup final, Jim Curtin told the media that his team has shown him he can call any name in the final and feel comfortable with the effort he’ll get on the field.
It takes a whole roster
“You could go from John McCarthy in the back to Jay Simpson up top and every guy in between in the middle there,” Curtin began. “I could go through each one and the amount of effort they put in, their willingness to do anything for the three points; and it was a big three points for our team.”
Curtin added that he was happy for Jay Simpson, who scored two big goals against Sporting Kansas City, and that he feels his roster is a competitive advantages other managers can’t call on. “You look at your stable of players and I have no problem calling on almost any of them at this stage of the year,” the Union coach said. “And I think not a lot of coaches have that luxury. Credit to the whole team, the entire technical staff, everybody deserves a lot of credit. We sit on 46 points which is something to be proud of, but there's still 4 games out there, 12 points to chase, and obviously, most important now, a tough Houston Dynamo opponent that's as dangerous as any team in our league on the counterattack.”
Houston can counter
The Dynamo play a transition-focused style of soccer that Curtin said could give the Union problems, so he wants his team to dominate proceedings from the outset.
“It'll be important for us to dictate and control the tempo of the game and not let it get into a wide open match,” he explained. “We're not built for that. That's their strength. It'll be a challenge to go on the road for a final, but actually I think this run of games, the next one's coming at you right away, is a good thing for our group. They're in a good rhythm, they're confident right now, and we're excited to get on the plane to Houston.”
Addressing the strange circumstance that Philly’s two lead-in games to the final were against the previous two teams they faced in USOC championship matches, Curtin said he learned a lot from his Catholic school upbringing, but had left superstition behind.
“I went to 16 years of Catholic school but I have my own thinking now, and I'm not a big superstitious guy or anything like that,” he chuckled. “It's definitely unique in that you see the last two results and who they're against. Once the whistle blows it's 90 minutes. You're either going to win or you're going to lose.”
Who will be ready to go
Andre Blake and Ray Gaddis missed Sunday’s match due to sickness and injury respectively, but the Union head man said both key players will be ready for Wednesday’s final.
“He’ll be fine,” Curtin said of Blake, “Andre’s Andre. He’s the most special goalkeeper in our league. He’ll be fine.”
“Just had a good conversation with him,” Curtin divulged when asked about Gaddis. “Ankle responded well. He's already talking about the matchup that he has on the field so he'll be ready to go.”
The Union coach added that he’s not worried about Auston Trusty’s fitness after the center back played three games in the past week, and that Ilsinho continues rounding into form after his last hamstring injury.
The Union and Dynamo face off in the 2018 US Open Cup final on Wednesday, September 26th at 8PM EST on ESPN2.