Philadelphia Union send message in playoff opener: "Don't forget about us"


In 2023, the Philadelphia Union may not have looked quite like the same juggernaut side that took MLS by storm in 2022.

But following Saturday's comprehensive 3-1 victory over the New England Revolution to open his team's Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs campaign, head coach Jim Curtin had a simple message for anyone who might think Philly aren't a force to be reckoned with.

"It's a good reminder we're still a good team," Curtin said after their Round One Best-of-3 opener at Subaru Park. "We can beat anybody. Don't forget about us.

"Overall, we're a tough out. When this group plays in elimination games, whether it's \[Concacaf\] Champions League, whether it's Leagues Cup, whether it's playoffs – we don't fold and just lose. We're a team that's tough to play against. So this format, it suits us."

It was a performance reminiscent of Philadelphia's dominant campaign last year, when they racked up a gaudy +46 goal-differential in the regular season before losing an instant-classic MLS Cup at LAFC on penalty kicks.

Playing a Revs side that finished level with them on points this season (55), the Union were all over the visitors in the first half, taking an ultimately insurmountable 3-0 lead via strikes from Dániel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre and Nathan Harriel. If anything, Curtin said he felt his side left a fair amount on the table, potentially foreshadowing even better form for Game 2 at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 8.

"Could it have been six or seven [to] zero? I would have been happier with that," Curtin said. "It could have been a lot easier, could've avoided some yellow cards at the end there. But overall a win is a win at this point, and it's a big win.

"We had a good performance, but we still have things we can improve on. But overall, again, don't forget about this group. We can still beat some teams, that's for sure."

The three-goal outburst was a welcome sight for Philadelphia after winning just two of their last nine stretch-run matches. As Curtin pointed out, though, they ground out six draws over that period, showcasing a hard-to-beat nature that tends to pay dividends come playoff time.

"We don't get beat either, though," Curtin said. "So that's the one thing, we'll still, even on the road, we'll take pride in that. Not a lot of teams have beaten us over the last 15. Of course we want more wins and we know that, and I think the fans feel the same way. But I think the fact that we don't concede a lot, the fact that we can push teams to the limit and keep a clean sheet, that might be all it takes in this next game and you go to PKs and you win it.

"So, the win is big. Any time you win, it brings confidence to the group. I wish we had that six, seven-goal breakout to set the tone in this first game, I think that would have been good for everybody. But 3-1 keeps us nice and humble and hungry for the next one. So, it's a group that is capable of that breakout and can beat anybody, so we like that part of things. But overall it's good to win. It feels really, really good. It's a big playoff win."