Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke honestly with the media following his team’s 2-0 win against Chicago Fire Saturday night and hinted at what it means to be atop the table while looking ahead towards the playoffs.
“We’ve never been in this position as a club and we have to continue to be brave and improve,” said Curtin post-match Saturday of the team’s run atop the table continues.
So far in the 10 year history of the club, there’s never been a consistent run of positive play, hence the best start in club history and the multiple week first place run that still marches on. But it’s not all fun and games being top of the table.
“It’s harder to play at the top because everyone wants to beat you,” said Curtin. “We talk about it all the time. We’re not sneaking up on anybody. Our players play with confidence but we can still improve too.”
It’s the awareness combined with the humility Curtin often expresses that have helped Philadelphia remain where they are in the table. “We don’t want to peak in July,” said Curtin.
Prior to Saturday night’s win, Philadelphia were embarrassed at Real Salt Lake where they failed to score while allowing four goals – worst loss of the season and according to Curtin “was a disaster.” But they rose to the occasion Saturday night and responded well.
“You need these types of wins. And you need a clean sheet to be honest,” said Curtin. “It’s a big three points in a lot of ways.”
One way those three were crucial? A two-match road stretch awaits the club. One of those road battles is against Wayne Rooney and D.C. United.
Another way those three were big? The slate of games for the month of August tallies to five. The best way to enter such a demanding and important month while chasing a home playoff match is to gain momentum beforehand. A home win and clean sheet can do that.
One other way Saturday’s win was important? Marco Fabian displayed just what he can bring to the team: game-changing plays. Curtin spoke at length post-match about the team’s desire to have Fabian play in transition where he can run at back lines causing chaos and panic for opposing defenders. Fabian can also release a wicked shot which he showcased to perfection Saturday night in the 11th minute.
Curtin now needs to avoid a rough patch in the coming weeks. Four out of a possible six points in the next two road matches should be the target. Ideally, a win at Montreal Impact could set them up nicely for that monstrous rivalry match at D.C. once the calendar flips to August.
But like always, Curtin and his staff will take it one day at a time.
“Every point is going to matter down the stretch here and we have a target on our backs now,” said Curtin. “I think this team still has a lot to give and a lot to work on.”
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports