Following the best performance of the season from the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, there was a lot to be positive about.
The offense scored four times, the back line held up under pressure and fans in the stands finally had reason to celebrate. Head coach Jim Curtin said as much in his post-game press conference.
“Overall, I thought a very strong performance from the group,” he said. “We talked a lot about if we did not back up a good performance in Montreal with another one it would be meaningless.”
But he also touched on a familiar theme this season when he said the Union “Probably should have scored four or five goals in the first half.”
The boys in blue finished the night with 19 shots on goal, 10 on goal. With so many chances, they simply need to execute at a more efficient rate against stingier defenses in the coming weeks.
While Borek Dockal had his best performance of the season, second-year winger Marcus Epps also put in possibly his best game in a Union uniform on Saturday, which included a brace that was taken away by a late offside call. Both Dockal and Epps were named to the MLS Team of the Week on Monday.
“It’s always 0-0, even when you’re up,” Epps said after the game. “You just try to attack it like it’s 0-0 and just try to help the team get the goal back.”
For the recent run of good form to continue, they’ll need to build on this momentum and the positive vibes in the locker room its created. The pressure shown on RSL was remarkable, but it is critical now to focus on the little things to have greater success against better competition.
Finishing, accuracy and defensive awareness are vital to break into the top-tier of the league, where the Union’s next two opponents on the road, New York Red Bulls this Saturday and Atlanta United a week later, are. In between the two tough road contests is a midweek home game against Chicago Fire on May 30.
“A lot of times this season we’ve had some good chances but didn’t convert on which cost us games and points, so if anything we just need to be a little bit better offensively,” captain Alejandro Bedoya said after the match. “Today I was proud of the team and the intensity, the way we pressed, how Salt Lake really didn’t have many chances in the first half and how Blake made some great saves that he’s been making all year. Overall, it was a good effort by the team and I’m happy about it.”
Hopefully the form the team is in following what Curtin called a “satisfying three points” continues this weekend in New York.