Message received: LAFC hear Kacper Przybylko's comments loud and clear

Kacper Przybylko celebrates - Philadelphia Union

CHESTER, Pa. — Philadelphia Union striker Kacper Przybylko has had many memorable moments on the field in a standout season.

But it’s his comments after a win over Atlanta United a couple weeks ago that resonate ahead of a meeting with Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US and DAZN in Canada) at Talen Energy Stadium.

“LAFC, I wish you a lot of luck,” the 26-year-old striker said after scoring the winner and assisting on another goal in a 3-1 victory August 31. “This is our house, this is our stadium, we have great supporters and we’re waiting for you guys.”

That wait is almost over, but by virtue of being idle in Week 27, the Union have dropped to second place in the standings behind NYCFC after the win over Atlanta put them into first for the 15th week this season. 

LAFC’s players, who have been training in Chester all week, received the message loud and clear, but have been California cool talking about it. 

“If that’s what he thinks then that’s cool man," said former Union defender Jordan Harvey. “I just feel like what we do is focus on ourselves and we really try to focus on our game plan, our style of play and that’s what we’ve done from the beginning and it’s something I’m proud of.” 

Union coach Jim Curtin, who played for Bob Bradley with the Chicago Fire, said he had hoped Przybylko’s comments would’ve been forgotten by now.

“Look, Kacper was excited after a really good win against Atlanta,” Curtin said. “I’m never going to get upset with a player for being confident, but at the same time let’s not mistake anything, we certainly respect LAFC and what they’re about. I’ve talked enough about them in our own locker room through this whole season and what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve done that my players are quite sick of hearing it to be honest.”

Curtin has also repeatedly heaped praise on LAFC in press conferences while also noting the importance of beating the top teams in the league to prove the Union’s intent to be more than just an early exit playoff team this season. 

Union left back Kai Wagner, who along with Przybylko has shown sporting director Ernst Tanner’s ability to strengthen the roster by plucking players from the lower divisions in his native Germany, said the focus Saturday is to play their game. It’s not about worrying so much about LAFC’s record or that they’ve now clinched the Western Conference with a goal differential of plus-44.

“Kacper said it right, we just have to think about ourselves and just play our game and we have a chance to win against them,” Wagner said. 

The Union are 10-2-3 this season at Talen Energy Stadium, where they've outscored opponents 34-16. Przybylko has scored seven of his team-leading 13 goals in front of the home fans. LAFC have taken notice.

“Kacper said they’re looking forward to the game so we would expect that,” Bradley said. “The win that they had against Atlanta shows that they’re a top team in the East competing to get that bye so all these games are important. Certainly Atlanta and NYCFC are right there with them, but Philadelphia has played very well throughout the season — a good mix of players, some veteran leadership, some younger guys that have played well so we know it’ll be a very good test for us.”