It’s no surprise that fans and players alike weren’t too pleased with the Union’s performance in Sunday night’s 2-1 win over Houston Dynamo at home.
“We weren’t good enough with the ball, we turned it over in bad spots, guys weren’t sharp … We weren’t clean with our passing,” head coach Jim Curtin said after Sunday night’s 2-1 win over the Dynamo at home.
Defender Jack Elliot, who made the MLS Team of the Week and scored the game winner held some of the same sentiments in his statements after the game.
“Sometimes you have to win ugly, and that’s exactly what today was,” he said.
Coach Curtin also expressed some worries that by having to lose some to win some, i.e. dominating D.C. last week then narrowly winning this week, the Union will continue to maintain the reputation of a run-of-the-mill MLS squad;
“I don’t want it to be a situation where we need to have a bad game in order to show a response and be ourselves again. We want more consistency … It’s not one thing, you can’t just say it’s how we’re attacking, how we’re defending, how we’re doing on set pieces, it’s collectively as a group,” he said. “I don’t want us to be a middle of the road, average team. I want us to take a step up and actually get some respect in this league because the players deserve that … [The team] put too much work into this year to let things get away from us. Again, I’m saying this off a win and a two game, good, winning streak we’ve got going, but again we want to push into the upper echelon of teams.”
The Union will have a chance to put two previous 4-0 road losses against Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact and the struggles against Houston further in the rearview in Bridgeview, Ill. when they face the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The Union beat the fire in their last meeting at home 3-1 in late May.
The Fire fell 3-2 on Wednesday night to the Portland Timbers and had Alexander Katai sent off in the 30th minute so they return home to host the Union on short rest with Katai suspended. Former Union forward CJ Sapong scored in stoppage time in the match to reach double digits in goal for the second time in his career and the first time since he led the Union with 16 goals in 2017.
“(Chicago is) a team that — I’m a believer in expected goals — that has created a lot of chances this year and has been a little bit unlucky and has a good team and can break you down,” Curtin said at his weekly presser on Wednesday.
The Union have absolutely shown that they have more than what it takes, in terms of talent and depth, to take the league head on. However games like the one Sunday and the aforementioned 4-0 road losses need to be few and far between in order to boost the Eastern Conference leaders into the conversation among the best teams in MLS approaching the postseason.