Philadelphia Union dominate NYCFC, hungry for more: "We're capable of playing even better"


Another match, another win for the Philadelphia Union.

The MLS Cup 2022 runners-up found themselves off to a bit of a slow start in the 2023 campaign, capturing just seven of a possible 21 points through their first seven MLS matches (2W-4L-1D).

But the Union have reversed that trend in the seven matches following: since a 1-0 loss at FC Cincinnati on April 8, they're unbeaten, winning five and drawing twice. That includes Saturday night's 3-1 win over NYCFC at Citi Field on Matchday 15 in a battle of Northeast opponents.

Perhaps, Jim Curtin feels, a clear message has been sent to those that doubted the Union's ability to carry on their positive momentum from last season.

"We got beat by LAFC in the [Concacaf] Champions League [semifinals], I think there was a moment where everybody thought the sky was falling and we were in trouble," Philly's head coach said after the match. "But we do our talking on the field, and I'll continue to let my players continue to talk really well."

If there's a Union player whose play has been doing a great deal of talking lately, it's Julian Carranza, who erased a 1-0 NYCFC lead with a pair of goals in first-half stoppage time. The Argentinian striker now has four goals and two assists in his last five matches.

That said, Curtin, who's made no secret about Carranza's potential to make a move overseas, continued to challenge his No. 9 to raise his level of play, noting that the "best strikers become greedy and killers" while comparing him to a very familiar name to NYCFC fans: Taty Castellanos.

"Great game from Julian. I thought his best game of the season in all phases," Curtin said. "I don't know how long I'll get to work with him, because I think he's that good, but I'm going to keep trying to push him as hard as I can."

Despite Philadelphia's strong run of form — and the fact they host back-to-back home matches at Subaru Park starting with Wednesday's contest against Charlotte FC (7:00 p.m. ET | MLS Season Pass) — Curtin struck the tone of a coach looking to keep his players grounded.

"It's never easy in this league. The table kind of means nothing... any team can beat us at any moment," Curtin said. "So, again, it's tricky. We have to be up for the task of recovery, resting now, and getting ready for [Charlotte]...

"We're playing good soccer, and we know we're capable of playing even better."