“I'm sure the first question will be, I have to be the dumbest coach in America that I don't start him every game,” Jim Curtin said at the start of his press conference.
The ‘him’ was Ilsinho, the ageless Brazilian who had just dismantled New York Red Bulls over 30 minutes of eye-popping second-half action. After Red Bulls scored with their only two shots on goal in the first half, Curtin turned to Ilsinho to change the game. And he did.
“I'll be honest,” the head coach continued. “When we’re down 2-0 and you look up in the crowd, it was a full house, and I felt like we let them down.
“We finally got a full house here, and it was loud, and everyone was waiting to explode, and you go down 2-0 its a real gut punch.”
The crowd at Talen Energy Stadium was rocking from the outset, but Curtin remembered that the strong support the Union had in their matches against Seattle and Portland didn’t get to see his team come away with three points. He revealed that the team wanted to capitalize on the full house to show fans they can be gamechangers without ever setting foot on the pitch.
“In a lot of ways, fans maybe don't recognize how much of an influence they do have on the points,” Curtin said. “They really pushed our guys on today.
“Certainly, a special atmosphere, even all the Red Bull guys said it felt like a playoff game. The intensity of the crowd, the intensity of what was going on, on the field, was special.”
Overall, Curtin and the players believed that Ilsinho and an ability to make changes on the fly was the difference in the game.
“We talked about the blind switch, but we were just playing too much on the left side,” captain Ale Bedoya said of the group’s thoughts at halftime. His message to Ilsinho was that when the Brazilian came on he should immediately go on the attack.
Ilsinho did just that. And he said that a big part of his success on the day was the way the team as a whole changed how they played in the second half.
“We had to change a lot of things,” Ilsinho admitted. “They pushed us, Jim [Curtin] said things to us and then we just changed the attitude and went on and played the second half.”
Now the Union ready for a US Open Cup showdown against DC United on June 12 before they play the second half of the MLS season, starting with a trip to New England Revolution on June 26 on PHL17.