Countdown to kick: Saturday’s 'friendly' is anything but

One week. Just 7 more days until Philadelphia Union gets the ball rolling in its 2020 Major League Soccer season. While attention is rightfully turned toward the regular season, the Boys in Blue have one final preseason contest that will serve as a dress rehearsal for the season opener according to Head Coach Jim Curtin and one that fans will want to tune in to when it’s streamed live this evening at 5 p.m. on The match is open to the public but will be ticketed at the gate. 

Curtin and the staff are coming off a setback against FC Dallas last time out in Clearwater, Florida, but neither side showed the true tactics with points on the line on February 29th. In the 3-2 loss, it was the second half lineup that produced goals with Ilsinho bagging a brace with assists from Michee Ngalina and El Brujo. Today against D.C. United, the match is being treated like anything but just another friendly.

“The thinking [for the changes against Dallas] was to keep the guys fresh so they could push for the full 90 against D.C. We’re treating the match as a dress rehearsal for FC Dallas and will probably sub in a way where you won’t see eight changes or anything like that. We plan on treating it like typical MLS game so try and limit it to three subs but we will try to push guys for the full 90 minutes.”

This approach is quite different from what the Union have done in the past where the team has pushed hard in the run up to the preseason finale before letting players get time off to focus and rest before the opening week of the gauntlet begins.

“We’ve experimented in the past and pushed on the Wednesday game leading into the final preseason game on Saturday and we like how that works in past years but we tweaked it this year to push for 90. Part of it was our game against Dallas got moved to 10:30 because it was very hot but this will be an evening kickoff against D.C. replicating the start that we will have against Dallas and it gets us on that one week schedule were we go Saturday game then another Saturday game.”

That means at 5 p.m. you’ll not be seeing just another friendly. You will want to tune into and see how the squad looks one final time before the results count for real.

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