Sports

Jim Curtin gives ‘full credit’ to his players as Philadelphia Union book MLS Cup spot

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has praised his players for their ability to ‘grind and fight’ their way through the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Union enjoyed another stellar regular season, finishing top of the Eastern Conference and boasting the best offensive and defensive records in the league. Curtin’s side finished level on 67 points with LAFC, but lost the Supporters’ Shield on games won – Major League Soccer‘s primary tiebreaker.

Philadelphia have enjoyed a strong Playoffs run so far, too, first beating FC Cincinnati 1-0 before coming from behind to see off NYCFC 3-1 in Sunday’s Western Conference Final, booking their place at MLS Cup against LAFC.

Whether it was riding late pressure or having to come from behind in the second half, the Union have had to face plenty of adversity during these Playoffs and for all their quality across the pitch, it’s that mental fortitude that impresses Curtin so much.

“We have players who are willing to grind and fight,” Curtin said of his team following Sunday’s win. “We’re not fun to play against. You can call it what you want: attractive, entertaining, you can hate it, you can call it too physical, whatever you want, we don’t really care. We know the opponent does not like playing against us and it wears them down. Full credit to our players.”

The Union are now heading into uncharted territory. In their 12 previous seasons, a place at MLS Cup has eluded them, with their most heart-breaking failures coming in 2020, when they crashed out in the Conference Semi-Finals after winning the Supporters’ Shield, and last year, when they lost to Sunday’s opponents at the same stage.

But Curtin has full belief his side can compete against LAFC on Saturday, despite placing the Black and Gold among the best in MLS history.

“Finals are hard to get to,” he said. “It’s not easy in a 28-team league, the quality of this league. We’re going to go on the road and play an LAFC team who are as good as any in our league’s history. We have a chance, we can play with anybody.”

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