With a tough three-game road trip on the horizon, Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin fielded questions from media on Wednesday afternoon. The Union will take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
From Piatti and Drogba to Valeri and Adi
While most clubs aren't eager to face Ignacio Piatti and Diego Valeri in consecutive weeks, Curtin does see some convenience in playing them in quick succession.
"In some ways, the preparation is very similar to Montreal. If you think of a Piatti vs. a Valeri; a Drogba vs. an Adi; similar skillsets, similar dangers that they present to teams where they can break you down by themselves," Curtin said.
Questions in midfield
Warren Creavalle turned in one of his best games of the season on Saturday night, but some knee tendinitis may prevent him from building on that performance. If he can't go, the immortal Brian Carroll is ready to jump back into the lineup.
"I think it's time where we would say we're comfortable throwing him in as a starter," Curtin said of Carroll, who's missed the past few weeks with a torn plantar fascia. "Important player to be getting back at an important time of the year. Again, Brian has had a quiet, great season for this club."
Did you really expect Curtin to change up his team now? He's been an outspoken critic of squad rotation all season, and he assured us yesterday that his opinion hasn't changed.
"We're not resting guys, we're not preparing for Toronto, anything like that," said Curtin when asked about his plans for Saturday's game. "It is full tilt to go after all three points in our last five games."
While there have been points this season where Curtin may have overworked his squad, the Union will have ample time to rest during and after their away run. They don't have any mid-week games on the docket for the rest of the regular season, and they'll get two weeks of rest after they return from the road.
While the Union's matchup with the Timbers won't be contested on grass, Curtin called Portland's turf "as close to a real, natural surface as you can get." Curtin did have some criticism for another venue, though.
"The one good thing about Portland too: There's no football lines. I couldn't believe turning on the [New England Revolution] game this past weekend, I thought those were in the past but they still exist, which is disappointing."
On Saturday, Maurice Edu appeared in his second professional match since returning from an injury that's kept him out for nearly a year. Not only did Mo get a good run out, but he managed to go 90 minutes after being yanked in the first half the week prior.
"Mo talked his way into 90 and he showed well. I think it was an important step in his mind to show that he can go through a 90-minute exercise," Curtin said on Wednesday. "I'm getting antsy, and I want him to be a part of our 18 as quickly as possible."
Keep the faith
Starting striker CJ Sapong has only scored twice in league play since May 17th, but Curtin doesn't seem too worried about his leading man.
"We have to get him service, we know that," Curtin said.
While Sapong hasn't been scoring, his coach still values his energy at the forward position.
"He gets fouled a lot, doesn't get a lot of calls. Part of it is the way he plays and the style he plays is physical, and he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. Guy works hard as anybody. I know our fans are behind him, they believe in him as well."
"Though I must go, endure not yet / A breach, but an expansion"
The 2016 MLS Expansion Draft is officially a go, as MLS announced changes to the mechanism on Tuesday. Instead of each team selecting ten players, Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC will only be able to take five players each. Additionally, existing teams can only lose one player in the draft. But as Curtin expresses, having to give up even one player for free is still painful (shoutout Justin Mapp).
"As a coach, you hate the expansion draft," Curtin said. "You already start to think about protecting the 11 guys and how hard that can be and challenging. The discussion's always ongoing, and I'm sure they'll change from now up until that protection time."