Despite coming up short in the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament there were many positives that came from Philadelphia Union as the team continued to show to the rest of the league that the Union are one of the top teams. That was echoed by Head Coach Jim Curtin as well as Jack Elliott and Andre Blake in their postgame availability as they spoke to the press. Check out our UNIBET Pressing Points below.
While the match didn’t end how Curtin had planned it he did point out that the success of this strange tournament has the team going into whatever comes next for the 2020 MLS season with momentum.
“I think we will take a lot of momentum from the competition into the regular season that will be getting started soon,” Curtin said. “I won’t allow [the loss] to take away from the strides and the growth that the team has made during this competition. We challenged them to take a step to the next level of teams in this league. I think we did that.”
Curtin said after the loss he didn’t say much to the group in the locker room but he congratulated each player for the work that they all put in during the competition stating that the league and other teams took note of how the Union played.
Once was enough
Entering the Timbers match the Boys in Blue had yet to trail at all in Orlando but a set piece goal in the 13th minute ended that streak and allowed Portland to settle into their preferred defensive stance something Curtin and the players knew would be difficult to break down.
“When you give up a goal early on a set piece you are chasing right away,” Curtin said. It was always going to be hard once they got a lead. The first time in the all six games of this competition that we were down. So we had to try and find ways to break them down and we just were not sharp enough on the night. They defend very well and are comfortable just sitting back without the ball. We still had four or five really good looks on goal that on different night in this competition we have scored. The name of the game is putting the ball into the back of the net and we came up short tonight.”
Defender Jack Elliott echoed the sentiment but was proud of the effort the squad put in til the end.
“We conceded off two corners and that was the killer,” Elliott said. “They did a good job of playing deep and in a way that is difficult for us to play and score against, so credit to them for that. It was two set pieces that undid us and I think we had the chances after that to score and we didn’t. In the end we did fight until the end and it just didn’t go our way by the final whistle.”
For the first in over a month the Union players, coaching staff and even content collectors will be returning home to their friends in family in Philadelphia. While the team won’t be returning with hardware Curtin said the future is bright for the rest of the year.
“I know our fans are itching to have us play a home game,” Curtin said. “We have done all of this not having played a home yet this year. I am proud of the group for everything that they did on the field I think we showed a lot of growth and improvement. I think we have a lot of good things that we do defensively. I think that we improved as the tournament went in the attack but we still need to tune something things up and continue to improve as we look forward to the rest of the year.”
Goalkeeper Andre Blake was asked how he’d stay sharp with an unknown future ahead but the Jamaican international said he’d treat it like the original quarantine with finding different ways to stay sharp as a professional.
“It has been a long time that we have been here,” Blake said. “I definitely miss the family but we have been here long enough that we want to be going home with something. It is what it is and life is more than just soccer. We are going to have to learn from it, put it behind us and get to reunite with our families. Have a little down time and be ready to go again.”