Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin sounded confident in his team, despite a 0-0 draw against the Colorado Rapids this past Saturday. He said he felt like the club had plenty of opportunities against Colorado, and that the club worked on sharpness in front of goal this week during practice. He went on to say "It's been a very good week of training. Our plan is to go to Salt Lake and get points on the road." He also said that while they respect Real Salt Lake, they also feel like they can go and get points on the road. He also noted that RSL was likely to line up in a 4-3-3 on Saturday in stead of the 4-4-2 diamond formation they've played for years, saying that it would be different from the match against the Rapids where "for a lot of the game there were 10 guys behind the ball." "The counter will come up a lot against Salt Lake." he went on to say.
For a guy who made a career on the defensive side of the ball, Jim Curtin seems to relish the opportunities the Philadelphia Union's offense presents. He started off praising Venezuelan forward Fernando Aristeguieta, saying "I know what I'm going to get with him. He's a guy that's going to score a ton of goals in this league." He went on later to say that "All of our guys can easily flow from two or three guys up there. The flexibility of our group gives us a lot of options." He also talked about Zach Pfeffer and watching the maturation process he's undergone. He said that he's told Zach his goal should to be in the eighteen, and that "he deserved to be on the field in Week 1."
Then came the injury news. The good news is that Danny Cruz is just about 100% and will be available for selection this weekend. The bad news is that CJ Sapong fractured a bone in his cheek. While the timetable for a fractured cheek depends on the severity of the injury, a quick Google search shows to expect 2-3 weeks for the bruising and swelling to go down. Personally I'd expect to see Cristian Maidana in place of Sapong in Salt Lake on Saturday. Curtin said to expect Sapong to miss time and that to expect a more detailed timeline sometime this afternoon.
When asked why he used the lineup he did, he said he "decided to play that group in Week 1 because that was the group that was playing the best" and noted that it wasn't just in training, but across the entirety of the preseason. He did note that Maidana was looking as sharp as ever this week, which backs up my hunch that he'll be in the starting XI this weekend.
Curtin also went on to say that the club would be sending three players to Harrisburg to play in some friendlies. He did not mention which players he was going to send, however he did say that he was sending them there so that he could evaluate them in game situations.
Watch the entire press conference below!