The Philadelphia Union is in the midst of a four-game winning streak and has won 10 of their last 13 matches dating back to the start of July. Philly has broken many longstanding MLS records in that time, and they are right in the thick of a race for the 2022 Supporters’ Shield. After their most recent win at New York Red Bulls, Union coach Jim Curtin gave a lengthy quote on what winning the Supporter’s Shield would mean for his team.
Curtin eyes Supporters’ Shield run for Union
This Union team has been making history in the back half of the 2022 season, and now seems poised to make a run at the Supporters’ Shield. Everyone thought it was LAFC’s in the summer months, but Philly has applied the pressure and now sees themselves tied on points at 60 with LAFC. Curtin was asked about his team’s statement they’re trying to make, and what it would mean to win the Shield this season. Curtin gave a long answer.
“It would be amazing! We’re gonna go for it; We’re gonna give everything for it. We’re not gonna sacrifice points, we’re not gonna rest, we’re not gonna change what we’re about. Certainly, some guys will play more minutes than others, and everybody that steps on the field will be called upon to do their job.”Union head coach, Jim Curtin, on a Supporters’ Shield run
Curtin stressed early on in this quote that the team is gonna go for it. They’re in a position where they can do this, and keep the pressure solely on LAFC. With only four games left for Philly, their mentality is to win all four, and if the Shield should come as a prize because of that, so be it. While Curtin showed the Union’s mentality, he did also mention what else would need to happen to win the Shield.
Being toe-to-toe with LAFC
While we have seen the Union go on an extraordinary run through the summer of 2022, they still cannot win the Shield outright by just beating the teams in front of them. They’ll need LAFC to slip up. The top team in the west has already started a slide allowing Philly into the conversation for the Shield, losing three of their last four matches. Curtin knows that LA will need to slip up more if Philly is to be the top team in all of MLS.
“But, look, LAFC is an incredible team. We know their roster; how deep they are, the talent they have. They have a tough schedule the rest of the way, which helps us a little bit. We have a tough couple games coming up too, but ya know, we’re in that point of the year where there’s only, we have four games left, so we’re gonna go for all 12 points, and then from there, whatever happens, happens ya know.”Union head coach, Jim Curtin, on a Supporters’ Shield run
Curtin alludes to LAFC’s talent, and their difficult schedule to end the season. LA has to travel to Dallas this Saturday, head on the road again to Minnesota on Tuesday (Sept. 13), host Houston on Sept. 18th, go to Portland on Oct. 2nd, and then end the season at home vs Nashville on Oct. 9th. All of those teams are current western conference playoff sides. If LAFC slips up in some of these matches, and Philly gets 12 out of 12 possible points, Philly might just win the Shield.
LAFC’s game in hand comes into play next week
Looking at the remaining schedules for both sides, LAFC does have a huge game in hand. This extra match will be played next Tuesday and will be the determining factor if the two teams battling it out will go down to the final weeks or if one will pull ahead in the race. Curtin mentioned this as he went on in his quote.
“We need LA, obviously to slip up with the game in hand that they have. We’ll become, I’ll say, big cheerleaders of some of the teams we usually don’t cheer for. So yeah, we’ll see how it goes man; we’ll make a run at it, and I still couldn’t be more proud of this group regardless of what happens.”Union head coach, Jim Curtin, on a Supporters’ Shield run
Curtin talks about LAFC slipping up some more, and that Philly fans will become fans of other teams for 90-minute stretches down the final stretch of the 2022 MLS season. This weekend, all of Philadelphia will be pulling for Dallas… which is not gonna make for some conflicted feelings at all, right? As the season comes down to the wire, Philly truly has a chance to win the Supporters Shield.
Down to the wire; can Philly win the Shield?
To end his long quote about the stretch run of the 2022 MLS season, Curtin showed how this team views its end-of-season goals. The Shield is a part of those goals, but it’s not what will mark success or failure for this team.
We want to win the eastern conference, that means home games at Subaru Park where we’ve been unbeaten this year. so that’s a real goal of ours. The Supporters’ Shield, we’ll see what happens. Decision Day’s gonna be wild, I think you can tell that already. Yeah, it’s gonna be down to the wire.”Union head coach, Jim Curtin, on a Supporters’ Shield run
This season the goals set out by Curtin have been, first and foremost, to win the east. With four matches to play, they have an eight-point lead on the teams below them. Another goal has been to stay unbeaten at home, which they are, and have two more matches at home in the regular season to keep that streak alive. The third and final goal is to win Supporter’s Shield, and that goal is a no-pressure goal. Curtin said if it happens it happens, and that it will likely come down to the final day of the season.
Will we see the Union hoist a Supporters’ Shield on October 9th? We’ll watch the final five weeks with anticipation, and Curtin’s Union team will keep on grinding to achieve their goals!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych