Major League Soccer

Jim Curtin urges caution ahead of FC Cincinnati clash

Lizzy Becherano
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin is cautious ahead of Saturday's match
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin is cautious ahead of Saturday's match / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin will not be underestimating FC Cincinnati ahead of their match on Saturday, admitting his side face a “tough task” as the Orange and Blue is desperate for a win at home.

The Union are unbeaten in their last four matches and sit a comfortable third place on the Eastern Conference table as the MLS playoffs approach. FC Cincinnati, on the other hand, have won only once in 12 matches at their home stadium and could face elimination from the postseason should they fail to beat Philly. 

Despite the numbers, Curtin is taking nothing for granted as he enters the match without seven vital players. The Union has six players currently away on international duty, most notably 2020 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, who is with Jamaica for the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers. 

Left back Kai Wagner will also miss the match due to a red card suspension. 

“We have a tough task (against) players that are going to be wanting to win for their home fans,” Curtin said midweek. “That’s always tough in our league on the road. Especially now, when we’re going in there without six or seven starters.

"That’s going to be very difficult. They have a little, maybe, less pressure now, too, because playoffs are quite a long shot for them. So they can play a little bit more free. We’re fighting for every point.”

Curtin went on to praise Blake after he saved a striking penalty kick during the team’s 3-0 victory over the Columbus Crew. 

“I don’t want to over-exaggerate or say too much, but that save he makes on the PK, if that goes 2-1 there, it can be a season-changing type of game,” he added. “Big players in the biggest moments need to make plays like that. And Andre was incredible.”

The Union have seven regular-season games remaining before the MLS Cup begins, and while they hold a comfortable spot right now, the margins are tight enough so it can all change with one result.