CHESTER, Pa– Jim Curtin and the rest of the Philadelphia Union coaching staff have been imploring Richie Marquez to stay up longer on set pieces over the last few weeks.
The advice paid off in stoppage time of the Philadelphia Union’s 1-0 win over D.C. United on Friday as the 23-year-old finished Sebastien Le Toux’s cross into the left side of the net.
The sequence started on a free kick in the attacking third. The initial set piece was cleared by the visitors before Joshua Yaro kept the ball alive near midfield and played a splendid ball over to Le Toux, who sent the game-winning assist from right to left into the box.
“The coaches were hawking at me that when you go up for corner kicks or free throws, don’t leave the box right away,” Marquez said. “My first mentality as a defender is to go back and protect my goal. The ball came in from Seba and I just judged it and was able to get my foot on it.”
“On the goal obviously, Richie stays up and commits to staying in the box,” Curtin said. “Starts with a good ball by Josh Yaro, who was excellent on the night, good ball on the ground to Seba. Seba knows what he’s doing before the ball comes to him. Just takes a touch and finds the back post.”
Marquez’s game-winner was the first strike of his three-year career.
“It’s a good feeling,” Marquez said. “I’m a defender. I don’t get to score often so know I now what forwards feel like. It feels good.”
The Union center back also left the pitch at Talen Energy Stadium excited because the home side recorded its third clean sheet of the season and first since the last home win on April 23 against New York City FC.
“I think the shutout was more important for the defenders and the whole team because it’s been a while since we had one so being able to keep a zero at home especially is a good sign,” Marquez said.
The win created plenty of momentum for the Union as they embark on a two-game road trip next week to play Orlando City and the Colorado Rapids. The team’s four-game stretch over 12 days concludes on June 1 versus Columbus at home.
A fourth consecutive draw, and third in a row at home, would’ve left the Union feeling a sour taste in their mouths before Wednesday’s trip to the Citrus Bowl.
“These games are coming up quick,” Marquez said. “It’s going to be Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday. I think it just boosts our confidence and gets us that much more together as a unit and we’re going to be strong from every position. I can tell the guys right now are excited and eager to get ready to train again. That’s the mentality we have.”
Andre Blake’s status for those three contests is still up in the air. Both the player and his head coach did not give a clear answer as to when the Jamaica international would join the Reggae Boyz in preparation for the Copa America Centenario.
“It’s still kinda pending,” Blake said. “Let’s see hopefully I can get a couple more games with the Union before I head off. But let’s see what happens there.”