HARRISON, NJ– The message from Philadelphia Union boss Jim Curtin was as clear and concise as it could get after the club’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
“It’s clear what we need to do,” Curtin said. “We need to win a soccer game at home against Orlando and New York.”
After Saturday’s results across the East, the Union sit in fifth place with 42 points and they could drop further if Montreal beats Orlando City on Sunday.
The good news, if there is any, from Saturday’s match is the Union finish up their regular-season slate at home on October 16 and 23. However, with everyone in the East jostling for position, the six points at Talen Energy Stadium aren’t guaranteed.
“There’s no easy points in our league,” Curtin said. “We need to win a game. It could’ve come tonight, but you see the results and teams are pushing in the Eastern Conference, but we still control our own destiny which is a good place to be in and we need to get a win.”
One of the unforeseen circumstances the Union faced on Saturday was using their first two substitutions on injured players.
Josh Yaro left the match on a stretcher after a collision with Andre Blake and Aurelien Collin in front of the Union net in the first half.
“He wasn’t real responsive on the stretcher when I went over to him,” Curtin said. “It’s going to be some form of a concussion. He is standing upright and walking around now. He was definitely out of it, that’s for sure. Losing him hurt, but safety first with head injuries. It’s critical to treat them the right way.”
Yaro’s absence hurt the Union on the second Red Bulls goal as Bradley Wright-Phillips raced around Ken Tribbett to blast a shot past Blake.
“Josh’s speed is evident,” Curtin said.”He’s a great center back. I still think Tribbett came in and did a good job. That’s a difficult situation to come into. We missed Josh no question about it with his speed against Wright-Phillips.”
The second injury-enduced change came in the 52nd minute, when Alejandro Bedoya left with a rib injury. That left Curtin with one attacking replacement to make as the club chased a late equalizer.
Tribbett is expected to fill in for Yaro next to Richie Marquez at center back, while the still recovering Maurice Edu could slide into the lineup for Bedoya if Curtin wants to shift away from a defensive midfield pairing of Warren Creavalle and Brian Carroll.
Regardless of who starts in the defensive spine in the next two weeks, the Union have to find a way to grind out results at home. The Union have won consecutive games just twice this season and have earned points from back-to-back matches on three occasions since the Copa America Centenario break.
If the Union can pull off a pair of victories at home, they should earn at least one home playoff game. But that thought is a distant one at the moment.