MLS Coach of he Year Welcomes NYCFC

By Anonymous (not verified), October 24, 2022

Jim Curtin PHI

A measure of revenge is already on the Philadelphia Union’s mind, knowing New York City FC await during an Oct. 30 Eastern Conference Final at Subaru Park (8 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US, TSN 2, TVA Sports in Canada).

The matchup, a repeat of last year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs showdown at the same stage, emerged after the defending champions upset CF Montréal3-1, Sunday afternoon as the 2022 postseason field gets narrowed down to four clubs.

“They were a deserving champion last year, for sure, but I also think that they didn't get our best punch with 11 guys out and six starters. I think everybody can agree with that, so we get to rematch,” Curtin told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman during a halftime interview of Austin FC's 2-1 Western Conference Semifinal win over FC Dallas on Sunday evening.

“They're an incredible team, incredible opponent. We've had two really tough games against them so far [this year], so we expect an incredible match, high-intensity match as always with a big rival like New York.”

So ahead of kickoff here, Taylor Twellman put in a video call to the union coach,

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As Curtin noted, Philadelphia were without nearly a dozen players due to the league’s health and safety protocols. They nearly pulled off a heroic result, only losing 2-1 on Talles Magno’s 88th-minute goal at Subaru Park. After advancing, NYCFC beat the Portland Timbers on penalty kicks to lift MLS Cup 2021 silverware.

Now holding the East’s No. 1 seed, Philadelphia should mostly be at full strength when the Cityzens come to town. And they shook off any playoff rust in their own Round One game, a 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati.

“I think it's good that Cincinnati pushed us as hard as they did,” Curtin said. “Chris Albright and Pat Noonan have done an incredible job there.

“We needed to grind out a 1-0 win because if you look at our last 10 games at home, I think we outscored our opponents 42-6 which doesn't happen in the playoffs. So this was a great test for us. It sets us up well for a really tough opponent in New York City.”

Should Philadelphia get past NYCFC, Curtin likes their chances in potentially the club’s first-ever MLS Cup Final. There’s no underdog thread in this year’s postseason push, and that’s taken some adjusting.

“Teams come after us a little bit more,” Curtin said. “We've had success, so it is a unique situation where we are probably the favorite. Maybe the only team left that we wouldn't be the favorite would be at LAFC, which could potentially be a great final. But it has been different for our guys.”

In navigating those challenges, Philadelphia posted a league-low 26 goals against and saw three players hit double-digit goals. They’ll need all that and then some vs. NYCFC to keep marching on.

“They're a true team in the sense that they know they all have to be good and consistent on the day for us to have a chance,” Curtin said.