Ahead of the Philadelphia Union’s matchup with Toronto FC on Saturday, Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke to the media about the match against a very challenging Toronto team. This is a match that could hold a lot of weight for the end of season table.
Tough challenge ahead against strong Toronto team
Although Toronto FC won’t be playing a typical home game in Hartford this weekend, Curtin emphasized the importance of not taking this team lightly. In a league that typically sees long-term parity, Toronto has made a name as an elite team in the MLS. Led by Alejandro Pozuelo, a serious league MVP candidate, and Jozy Altidore, still one of the league’s top strikers, Toronto poses a threat to any team in the league. However, there is real confidence in this squad especially after a big win against a talented Inter Miami CF team. The Union were organized defensively and really controlled the transition game when looking at the goals scored. In a game where Higuain’s debut claimed the headlines, the Union stole the show and are hoping to continue that output this weekend.
Flexibility becoming a strength
In the Union’s win against Miami we saw some changes to the starting lineup that really flexed the versatility muscles of this group. With captain Alejandro Bedoya out after picking up a yellow card against Cincinnati, Brenden Aaronson moved from his natural No. 10 role on the right side of the Union’s midfield diamont. There were minor growing pains as Aaronson felt he left Olivier Mbaizo alone on the island one on one, but nonetheless he had another great performance. Aaronson floated over to the left side on the attack and found the back of the net. On the defensive end Curtin went Mbaizo to the right back position with Kai Wagner’s return from. With Jack Elliott coming back there will be a wealth of talent in the center back positions the way Mark McKenzie and Jakob Glesnes have been playing. The team will look to solidify their starting center back duo before the start of the playoffs, but it is a good problem to have heading into the home stretch of the season. This team is evolving towards flexibility and proving that their versatility and depth are one of their biggest strengths going forward.
Ready for tough road ahead
Though the Union’s sights are set only on Saturday’s match right now, the team is aware of the tough road ahead to close the season. The Union will suit up against Toronto later in the month plus two additional contests New England for four regular season matches plus another trip to Supporters Cup leading Columbus. With only four points separating the top four teams in the Eastern Conference and some tough match ups ahead the Union are ready to step up when it matters most. This is a special group that will fight for each other for the full 90 minutes with Curtin mentioning that this is a team that shares a mentality of “if one goes, we all go.” The squad has shown mental toughness at all stages of the MLS restart, and has brought a playoff level of grittiness to games early on. With the tight table at the top the team recognizes the importance of every goal. They have been very disciplined in the red zone, and never take their foot off the gas allowing for easy goals at the end of games.
Tune in to watch this Saturday at 7:30 pm ET as the Union take on Toronto FC and look to take sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.