The Philadelphia Union will face Inter Miami CF five days sooner than originally planned on Tuesday night in a reorganized Group A encounter (10:30 pm ET | TUDN, Twitter, TSN). And Jim Curtin hopes that's one game before the obviously talented newcomers get rolling.
While the Union picked up their first three points of the 2020 season with a 1-0 group opening victory over New York City FC, their manager believes its only a matter of time before expansion side Miami shakes off the shackles and secures their own first victory in MLS history.
Curtin even thinks things might have been different for Miami in Wednesday's tournament opener if not for the scary looking injury that caused Andres Reyes to leave the match on a stretcher. Reyes made a brief trip to the hospital, but later returned to the team hotel and eventually back to team training.
"When you watch the game live there, and even when you watch it on tape, they played some really good soccer," Curtin said of the match, which Miami dropped 2-1 to Orlando City on Nani's winner deep into second half stoppage time. "You can almost pinpoint when Reyes went out with the injury, maybe the one thing people don’t recognize, is when you see one of your teammates go off on a stretcher, that has a big effect on a team. And the game certainly changed after that."
Curtin also expects former Seattle Sounders center back Roman Torres to be available after missing Miami's opener, and that he may see Rodolfo Pizarro in Diego Alonso's starting XI after the Mexico international entered in the 58th minute last Wednesday.
"Overall it’s a really strong roster and one I think is going to do very well in this league," Curtin said.
Philadelphia will face Miami with the challenge of receiving one less night of sleep between matches and resetting their body clocks from their 9 am kickoff time last Thursday to the nightcap of this Tuesday's Group A itinerary. They're also still getting their backline to full fitness, with Kai Wagner having made his first start of 2020 — and completing 90 minutes — at left back Thursday after missing Philadelphia's first two matches earlier this year with a calf issue.
"You can not imagine how we all felt after the game," Wagner said of the Thursday-morning win. "I was lucky I did not cramp — I normally never get cramp. But I was dead."
With a game under his belt, Wagner could return to more of the two-way threat he was for most of his first season with the Union in 2019. He didn't show as much ambition Thursday, when Alejandro Bedoya's 63rd-minute goal proved the difference.
"You’ll see him in a more advanced role adding to our attack for sure," Curtin said of Wagner. "Part of that is just New York City was good on the day, too. And then the scoreline when it’s 1-0, they start to put us under a little bit, and get us back a little deeper than we’d like to be."