After his team's 2-0 victory over Charlotte FC at Subaru Park on Saturday, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin highlighted his team's fourth-minute opener as another cause for optimism amid their red-hot start to the 2022 season.
"If you could draw up a Philadelphia Union goal, that would be the one that excites me the most," Curtin said at his post-match press conference. "That's perfect for me."
The player who scored that goal, Julian Carranza, has been a key figure in helping his side emerge as an early Supporters' Shield frontrunner with a 4W-0L-1D record. Saturday's strike opened Carranza's Union account, and the 21-year-old Argentine has also logged two assists through his first four matches.
GOAL: Julián Carranza, Philadelphia Union - 4th minute
Carranza's raw talent is what led Philadelphia to acquire him during the offseason on loan from Inter Miami CF, with Curtin saying the Young Designated Player's fast start with the Union is evidence of his high ceiling.
"I said it at the beginning of the year, I don't like to compare players in-league, but his ability and what he should try to aspire to be is [Taty] Castellanos from New York City," Curtin said of Carranza. "He has that in him. They're similar body types, they're similar in the way they move in the box, they're similar in the way they can hold the ball up. He's that good. And I'm talking about a Golden Boot winner. So that's as high of praise I can give. He is really special.
"Really happy with him. He's a good kid, he works hard and people forget how young he is and how much talent and potential is there."
Should Carranza continue to emerge as a productive force, it would add to a Philadelphia striker unit that is already among the deepest in the league with Santos, Cory Burke and highly-touted Danish Designated Player Mikael Uhre – the latter another offseason arrival – also competing for minutes.
"It's great, it's a great thing to have," Curtin said. "We have four great strikers so whatever the pairing is, if you can have guys run at a backline for 60 minutes at their very, very maximum, you can tire out a backline and then bring two fresh guys where there's no drop-off, you have guys that can hurt the opponent in a different way.
"But when they come in fresh with 30 minutes to go, you'll see like tonight you'll get some breakaways and you'll get some really good actions to goal. That could be a real weapon if we keep all four healthy. This is the first time we've had that luxury."
While that type of depth is welcomed, Curtin will face the enviable challenge of having to decide how and when to deploy each of those options.
"That'll change week to week," Curtin said. "It'll be form-based, it'll be opponent. Is it a team that's going to sit deep where we need a little creativity and hold-up play or is it a team that's going to press us high and we'll be able to counter them? So we'll get those pairings right. I don't think we have it perfect just yet, but they'll certainly all get opportunities to start, no question about it."