The Union secured the top seed in the east and had to face off against a battle-tested bogey team in FC Cincinnati. Philly prevailed in a fashion of soccer that is their brand: defense first, and a team goal from someone you might not expect. After the match, Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin praised his team’s gritty efforts to get to their 2nd conference final in as many years.
Curtin praises Philly’s urgency and intensity while keeping calm
Curtin was lively in his post-match press conference. He was giving praise to the opponent, saying Cincinnati gave Philly their toughest test of the season at their home stadium. He was right. This match stood on the edge of a knife. It came down to who could find a gritty breakthrough, and who could defend best.
The money the team to come out and do that was Philly, but Cincy is essentially Philly-lite. Curtin spoke to that saying that Cincinnati will be very good for years to come, but he stated how this team was up for the urgency and intensity, while also keeping calm in each moment!
Philly’s players won their individual battles on the night, and while the game continued to stay scoreless into the last half hour, they didn’t panic and found a way to get the team goal that would push them to the eastern conference final. As Curtin went on talking about the match, he spoke on players that shined, gave an update on his captain’s injury, and talked about this being a learning experience.
Flach, El Brujo, and McGlynn shined
Curtin answered question’s regarding three of his midfielders who had a great night.
Jim Curtin spoke to the effort of Leon Flach. Flach always makes the Union so comfortable in the middle of the field. Jim mentioned Leon’s work rate and doing so many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. For him to get his first goal of the season in a playoff match was something Curtin said was incredible. He joked about Leon’s struggles in finishing drills, and how the coaches and Flach’s teammates get on him in training. Of course, Flach was a main point of conversation, but so too was the effort of Jack McGlynn.
McGlynn started yet again for injured captain Alejandro Bedoya. Curtin applauded his performance for clam the team down when on the ball. As Jim does whenever he talks about Jack, he applauded his maturity for being a young player and his ability in attacking buildups. Jack McGlynn might yet be called upon again in an eastern conference final, as he was last year, but the players around him trust him completely, including a certain tenacious number six.
Jim said that the matchup that decided this game was Martinez vs Acosta. Jim mentioned that Jose “El Brujo” Martinez had trouble with Acosta in the regular season, but in this playoff match, he was able to shut down one of, if not the most, dangerous player on the pitch. Jose shows tenacity in every match, Curtin backed his guy saying that he got every challenge right in this match and that he’ll need to be on that level in the conference final and hopefully MLS Cup!
Update on Bedoya
In talking about Jack McGlynn, Curtin mentioned his injured captain Alejandro Bedoya. Curtin spoke about not having Bedoya’s leadership on the pitch as being something that the team greatly missed. However, he said that having Andre Blake as a second captain (more like a co-captain) makes things a whole lot easier to manage in a game like this.
While saying all of this Curtin mentioned, that it will be hard not to have Ale available for the eastern conference final. He missed last year’s conference final due to Covid, so it looks like Philly’s captain will be a part of the team on Oct. 30th.
We will see if this means that Bedoya will start his first game since Sept. 10th, the day of the conference final. However, just having Bedoya on the bench will be a great addition to this Philly team. His leadership even for a portion of the game could turn a tied game into a win!
Good, but not a great performance to learn from
As Curtin went on in his presser, he spoke about the team’s performance. The Union’s attack was not clicking the way it had been for most of the season. Jim mentioned this as being something that could have been better especially at the end of the match. When Cincy threw numbers forward, Philly had space for counterattacks, and just missed getting a second goal on a few chances.
When it came to his team’s shape and substitutions, Curtin lauded his defense. Of course, he gave the biggest praise to his goalkeeper Andre Blake, saying he was the best player on the pitch and made sure the Union won. He also said center backs Elliot and Glesnes did a good job of stopping Cincy’s lethal strikers. As for his sub’s Curtin brought on Burke for Uhre and Real for McGlynn. This helped Philly after their goal to become a defend and counter side.
He kept hammering home the point that defense wins championships. He talked about the Union’s ability to be a collective unit, and that when you look at champions in MLS that they are one collective group that fights for each other. His words on a true team speak to what his Union side is in 2022!
“This is a true team… We have to have each other’s backs; if we don’t, we lose!”Jim Curtin
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych