Preseason / Press Conference / Union

Curtin confident as preseason comes to a close

Photo: Paul Rudderow

On a slushy February afternoon, the Philadelphia Union hosted a brief video conference for media members to ask questions of Head Coach Jim Curtin in advance of Wednesday’s preseason finale against the New England Revolution.  Perhaps the most welcome news for Union fans is that will stream the team’s Valentine’s Day preseason finale against the New England Revolution at 1 p.m. 

Major themes covered were player fitness, as the Union readies to start the season with three games in eight days, the status of players returning from injury and layoff, depth at striker, and the continued use of the 3-5-2 formation, in addition to the Union’s standard 4-4-2 narrow diamond.
In terms of player fitness, Curtin said that, among the expected starters, “there is a group of five or six who are ready” for a full ninety minutes.  Although tomorrow’s preseason match is “not a complete dress rehearsal,” the coach explained that some players will play a full 90 minutes, while others will only play 45 or 60 minutes. Regardless, expect fewer players to feature tomorrow than in previous preseason matches.
Concerning the defense, Curtin stressed the luxury of having three quality center backs in Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, and Damian Lowe, stating all three would be used in the first three games, allowing it is possible that all three start in a 3-5-2 formation instead of the standard 4-4-2. He indicated that Lowe and Glesnes would each play 45 minutes, while Jack Elliott would play “a little longer” than just a half. When asked whether Glesnes is back at 100% following November’s sports hernia surgery, Curtin said that Glesnes has made great strides, but “that final five or ten percent” is always the most challenging part in getting back to full fitness. Whether that means Lowe starts instead of Glesnes in one or more of the first three games remains to be seen.
In the midfield, Leon Flach will miss the start of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. While that certainly is a defensive concern, Curtin indicated that the team has enough depth on the left of the diamond, with Jesus Bueno available to share time with Jack McGlynn. Interestingly, there was no mention of Sanders Ngabo, who some at PSP have been tipped to be a player to watch (see this coming Friday’s Roundtable discussion).
Up top, Curtin said that Mikael Uhre has made great strides catching up after missing about three weeks of the preseason while working on obtaining his green card. While Tai Baribo and Chris Donovan are expected to back up Uhre and Julian Carranza respectively, the coach said Markus Anderson has shown positive signs during preseason, and is “pushing to be a starter.”
Finally, while the narrow diamond 4-4-2 ostensibly remains the Union’s favored formation, Curtin said the formation will be a “week by week consideration.” In addition to injuries to players and fixture congestion, another obvious consideration as the season progresses is player absences for international duty.
 The season kicks off one week from today with a February 20 Concacaf Champions League match at Deportiva Saprissa, with the return leg one week later on February 27, sandwiching a February 24 home opener at Subaru Park against the Chicago Fire. 


  1. thanks for the report Chris……..i am partial to a classical formation of many great teams, a 4-3-3 Curtin has the players suitable for this i hope he considers it.

    • Thanks Santo.

      I got the impression that the team will be sticking with the 4–4-2 or the 3-5-2. Reading between the lines, the 3-5-2 will likely feature if there are depth issues in defensive midfield. With the Union’s high press requiring a lot of running even from its forwards, I just don’t see the 4-3-3 being used too often.

  2. Peanut Gallery says:

    Thank you for the article. Minor detail: “Perhaps the most welcome news for Union fans is that will stream *Wednesday*’s preseason finale against the New England Revolution at 1 p.m.”

  3. paulcontinuim22 says:

    After last year, Curtin hasn’t earned any goodwill. Don’t tell us; SHOW US.

    • All he’s done is been a pure class representative of the club and community while leading a low spending franchise to the most points in the league for 5 years running. What a clown.

    • No, Curtin has earned plenty of goodwill. Under him the Union have consistently finished near the top of the table despite having a smaller payroll than many other teams.
      On the other hand, you with your constant complaints about the same things over and over again are the one who hasn’t earned any goodwill. STOP REPEATING YOURSELF OVER AND OVER AGAIN OR ELSE GO ROOT FOR MIAMI WHERE YOU’LL BE HAPPIER THAT THEY SPEND THE MONEY YOU WANT THEM TO.

    • As a Union Fan, we have to be willing to concede that, unlike some other franchises, the Union will never be “100% in” on winning the cup or the shield.
      They have been very honest that they have dual goals of being a winning franchise and developing players to sell.
      In my heart I want them to pick up a DP striker from a team in a top league who is being relegated, or game-changing studs they could bring on at 70min each game, but my head says they never will.
      We need to be at peace with that, root for another team, or plan on being regularly disappointed.

      • paulcontinuum22 says:

        Wbev, last year proved they aren’t all-in. You just cracked the code. The goal of any sports team SHOULD BE to win the last game of their season. I wonder how much longer fans will accept their team not being anything above mediocre.
        Like any similar franchise, maybe fans staying away will finally get them to change.
        But they won’t.

      • Paul, the goal of any professional sports team is to turn a PROFIT.

    • I’m convinced this is actually Chris Albright trying to get Philly fans to turn on Curtain so he can convince him to come to Cincy like half their roster and front office did

      • i have spoken to Chris, one time at the park i asked him if he wanted to sign Balotelli and he said no, since than i always thought he was wise and football smart. A DP striker does not answer success, you will have to complement that player with other players to serve him the ball.

    • Bless your heart Paul, you do try. *Pats Paul on the head.

    • @Paulcontinuim22 – the purpose of the presser was to give some updates on where the team stood the day before the final preseason match, and a week before the season.


      And the purpose of your comment had what to do with the press conference? Jim didn’t ask for patience, didn’t say they were going to win it all.


      So what does your comment relate to? No games have been played yet. Jim didn’t say he has earned unfettered goodwill.

      You just trotted out the same as last year, without actually reading the post, it appears,


      I’ll engage in the comments, if the comments relate in some way to what was discussed in the original post.


      Mere rants, unsupported by fact or reason, will be ignored.

  4. Actually, It’s not the first three games, it’s the first five.
    They play five games in 15 days.
    Were they to advance past Saprissa — touch wood — the pace would continue. It would be nine games in 26 days.

    • I understand… Curtin limited his answers in the presser to the final preseason game, the Deportiva games, and the home opener, so that is what I went with.

  5. Understandably, the news Curtin did not say was that seven of his deep reserves from phase two of preseason practice would travel with Union II to Bradenton the same night and start against Colorado Rapids 2. Marked with asterisks below. Two others had been with him during phase one.
    GK Andrew Rick
    LB Francis Westfield
    LCB Olwethu Makhanya*
    RCB Neil Pierre*
    RB Jamir Berdecio*
    DM Kyle Tucker
    LM CJ Olney*
    RM Nick Parioano*
    AM/S David Vazquez*
    S/AM Cavan Sullivan
    S Sal Olivas
    Only three of the above have not spent time with the first team this season, Sal Olivas, Kyle Tucker, and Cavan Sullivan.

  6. paulcontinuum22 says:

    “It’s a whole bunch of Football Manager-esque signings by sporting director Ernst Tanner. And banking on homegrowns to level up.” MLS’s brutal preview of the U’s season.

    • Go home Paul. This isn’t the site for you.

    • To be fair, Tanner could build a top MLS defense out of anything -Legos, a breakfast buffet, a local Rotary Club chapter… “Football Manager-esqu” signings are alright.

      I’m honestly not surprised they haven’t hit the market. No one went out. They needed to settle the books on Wagner and Bedoya and the market for MLS players overall seemed really slow. Gotta wait ’til the summer.

  7. Gotta love a good preseason verbal brawl. Ought to be an exciting year!

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