“It really helped”: Traveling supporters power Philadelphia Union over Red Bulls

0903 PHI sider

New York is … navy blue and gold?

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin, after his team’s 2-0 win Saturday night at the New York Red Bulls, opened his postgame press conference by thanking the club’s traveling supporters.

He felt they arguably had an outsized impact on the 16,247 announced crowd at Red Bull Arena – with a comment that might raise eyebrows in and around Harrison, New Jersey. The DOOPers, whose Subaru Park home is a short drive down I-95, are unbeaten in nine straight matches against the Red Bulls across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

“I don't think I've ever seen it in an MLS game that I've been a part of where our supporters that came outnumbered their supporters' section,” said Curtin, who played in MLS from 2001-08 and has led the Union’s first team since 2014.

“So a big thank you to them. It really helped. A special moment at the end of the game for our guys to go over and thank them for coming.”

Supporters' Shield race

Curtin’s comments come as his team, perhaps briefly, takes a lead in the Supporters’ Shield chase. With two more games played, a Week 29 road victory vaulted Philadelphia over LAFC to 60 points through 30 matches. The Black & Gold, currently on 57 points, will cap the matchweek Sunday night when hosting Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+).

Philadelphia, Shield winners in 2020, can reach a maximum of 72 points through Decision Day on Oct. 9. That’d equal the second-most single-season points in league history, a mark LAFC set in 2019 when winning the Shield themselves.

“We're going for it,” Curtin stated. “We're going to give everything for it. We're not going to sacrifice points, we're not going to rest, we're not going to change what we're about.”

Dominant Daniel Gazdag

The Union, who set a new club record for single-season wins (17), got goals Saturday from forward Mikael Uhre and midfielder Daniel Gazdag. The latter player, a Hungarian international, drew some Landon Donovan MLS MVP praise and sits third in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race (18g/8a).

“He probably has a chip on his shoulder and wants to win a big award at the end of the year,” Curtin said. “So at a minimum, I hope he gets Best XI. I mean, he can't do any more. The kid scores every week, works so hard defensively.”

Looking forward, Philadelphia have two more home contests (Sept. 10 vs. Orlando City SC and Oct. 9 vs. Toronto FC) and two more road tilts (Sept. 17 at Atlanta United and Oct. 1 at Charlotte FC). The September international break will provide some pause, a more manageable run-in than they’ve weathered this summer.

But with four straight wins and a league-high +42 goal differential, it may take something special to slow down Philadelphia.

“We’re going to go for all [12] points and then from there, whatever happens [it] happens,” Curtin said. “We need LAFC obviously to slip up with the game in hand that they have. We'll become obviously big cheerleaders of some of the MLS teams we usually don't cheer for. We'll see how it goes, man, and we'll make a run at it.”