During the Philadelphia Union’s 2-0 loss at Columbus Crew SC, the New England Revolution miraculously defeated first-place NYCFC which clinched a 7th-seed for New England and opened the door for Philadelphia to battle for first place this Saturday against NYCFC at home. Instead, they lost 2-0 and will now need to scrape and claw for the 2 seed.
“It’s an opportunity missed,” said Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin Sunday night. “I know this group and I know they’ll respond well in our final game against NYCFC.”
The long-awaited home clash against perennial Eastern Conference elites NYCFC this Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium was at one point being hyped as the most thrilling on the slate this season for Philadelphia. It still may carry that heavyweight feel to it, but overall the stakes are less grand.
Had Philadelphia fared better in Harrison, NJ at NYRB and managed to get out of Columbus with a point, the match-up with NYCFC would’ve decided first place in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s disappointing, but it can be a good wake up call for us as we prepare for the playoffs,” said Curtin.
A wake-up call is most definitely needed. With just two wins over their last five matches, Philadelphia has left a lot on the table and fans have taken note. Many are concerned this team will limp their way into the playoffs as opposed to being on the positive end of a season-ending momentum swing. Through the last five matches, Philadelphia has won just two (three of those matches were away over a short eight-day span.)
Sure the three-match road trip in eight days does nobody any favors, especially a late-season trip like Philadelphia just endured. But ultimately at this stage of the season, points are crucial. It’s important for any club, whether fine-tuning yourself for the playoffs or finishing out a post-season-less season on a strong note, you always want to end the season positively.
Philadelphia is now staring down the barrel at what could be a very negative finish to their best season in franchise history. Can they pick themselves up one final time this year? Can they avoid two-straight losses yet again?
Curtin believes so. And the evidence so far this season is on his side.
Philadelphia hasn’t lost back-to-back matches since the opening two of the campaign. The resiliency and determination needed to consistently bounce back after all of their losses following those first two have been a very respectable accomplishment. Saturday night is another chance to show just how resilient this group can be.
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports