Despite 3-0 home win, Philadelphia Union say they "could play better"

CHESTER, Pa. – Considering the Union picked up a rare three-goal win to move into an early first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference, you might think that head coach Jim Curtin would be thrilled with the result.

You might also think that C.J. Sapong would be ecstatic with the two goals he scored to aid in Philly’s 3-0 rout of the New England Revolution on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium – his first brace since Sept. 21, 2013.

You would be wrong – in both cases.

Despite the lopsided final score, both Curtin and Sapong felt the upstart Union left a lot on the table in their home opener.

“I’m always extra critical,” Sapong said. “I could have had four today.”

He probably has a point considering the Union missed two penalty kicks – neither of which Sapong took, even though he drew one of them – and couldn’t beat Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth on a few other point-blank opportunities.

Curtin made sure to tell his team as much after the initial excitement died down from a victory that pushed the team above .500 for the first time since the 2013 season.

“I just talked to the guys – in some ways obviously it’s great to get a shutout at home,” Curtin said. “I still wasn’t happy with the performance. I think we could play better. I think we can be cleaner with our passes because I’ve seen it in training.

“We wanted to show today to our fans and to the rest of the league what we already know in our group: that we’re different this year.”

On that front, Curtin felt it was important that the team “squash” any apprehension in the stadium that the Union might blow a lead – a running theme over the last two difficult seasons – and seal the win early after going up 2-0 on two Sapong goals and then going up a man when Revs defender Je-Vaughn Watson was sent off with a straight red card.

They didn’t quite do that with Curtin saying the “finishing was poor” as the Union didn’t score their third goal until stoppage time. The Philly head coach even critiqued Sapong, who scored his first two goals of the season after a nine-goal campaign in 2015.

“It’s a bit of a relief any time a striker gets his first one,” Curtin said. “It’s good for his confidence. I still think defensively he could do more. He agrees. … We want more from C.J.”

The same can be said for everyone else on the roster.

“I’m happy,” said Curtin, whose team’s second win didn’t come until the 12th game last season. “But I know this group has more to give.