Philadelphia Union boss Jim Curtin has praised his players for overcoming the hype around Atlanta United on Saturday to produce their "best performance of the season".
The Five Stripes headed to Subaru Park on a run of seven wins from their last eight games, shooting up into the Eastern Conference playoff places as a result. Predictably, all the focus was on the visitors going into the match.
But a Kacper Przybylko goal was enough to hand the Union all three points against Gonzalo Pineda's men. In reality, a 1-0 win was the least Philadelphia deserved, forcing eight saves from Brad Guzan and completely nullifying the considerable threats of Ezequiel Barco, Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno.
Speaking to reporters after the match (via MLSsoccer.com), Curtin praised his players for pulling out their best performance of the season, despite all the focus being on the form and quality of their opponents.
“I thought overall our best performance of the season,” Curtin said. “In some ways, maybe the players were a little extra motivated just reading all the headlines this week about how good Atlanta is and certainly they are an incredible team. Very good attacking players, but we think we have a good team too. They probably got sick and tired of hearing me pump up Atlanta, too, and talking about how dangerous all their players are on the field.
“But full credit goes to my guys for stepping on the field [and] being very intense, very physical for the entirety of the 90 minutes. To hold a team like that, with their kind of quality, to almost no real dangerous attempts at goal is something to be very proud of and speaks to our group.”
The Union's win on Saturday pulls them back up into fourth in the East, two points and four places above Atlanta who have slipped below the playoff line. However, with just nine points separating NYCFC in third from the New York Red Bulls in 11th, the race to make the postseason looks set to go down to the wire.
“Again, we haven't accomplished anything yet,” Curtin added. “But these three points go a long way. You guys know how tight the table is and if you can put together a three-game win streak in this league your fortune changes very, very quickly.”
Next up for the Union is a trip to the Red Bulls on Wednesday before they host reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew next weekend.