For the most part, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin was pleased with his team's 4-1 win over a shorthanded D.C. United side on Saturday night. But to give a sense of where the team's collective mindset is, Curtin noted, "I'm still going to be critical, because I think we still left some goals on the table."
"I could see three or four more opportunities there that we could hit the back of the net," Curtin noted in his post-match press conference. "So, overall, it's great we got the three points. We took some risks, and we kind of let things fly."
As good as the Union offense looked Saturday, Curtin assessed that the team's defensive mindset is what's been a particularly successful run in a successful season. The Union got their second straight win and third result since the restart, and their only loss this regular season came in the season opener back on Feb. 29.
"When this team is defending as well as we have been for the past several games, the goals are going to come," he said. "They're gonna come in bunches and they're gonna come in waves. We have some great attacking pieces but I can tell you, our defense and our work that our forwards do defensively is what leads to the attack and what leads to a scoring goal so really proud of them for that as well.
"It's no secret: With our group, we like to play forward as fast as possible through the lines,” he added. “You could see guys tonight finding some really good pockets, and turning and playing the next ball forward. There was always movement ahead of the ball, and that's when we're at our best. And then, actually, when we did turn the ball over, our counter press was good tonight. So it’s a lot of good things to build on. Except for maybe the last 15 minutes, where we naturally took our foot off the gas at 4-1.”
“Overall, I think you're seeing a group that has checked a lot of boxes defensively now. I think we’ve grown as a group defensively. And now, the next level, and the next layer to our group, is getting all of our attacking plays right.”
Philadelphia-D.C. United highlights
Curtin noted that the Union’s next match, against Columbus Crew SC this coming Wednesday, will be a big test for the team. It will certainly shape the Eastern Conference race; the Union’s win combined with the Crew’s derby draw against Cincinnati on Saturday leaves Philadephia just one point behind second-place Columbus and three points behind first-place Toronto.
“I like how we play,” Curtin said of his team. “I like how we compete. I like that we're not even happy in the locker room after a 4-1 win, so that's the sign of a good team. It’s a confident group right now. We're a fun group to watch for fans ... because we do punch above our weight a bit. But, you know, we'll keep going. I'll do the cliche: One game at a time."