The inconsistent roller coaster of a season continues for the Union, but at the moment they seem to be climbing back up the tracks and are hoping to avoid yet another steep drop in the Eastern Conference standings. The Union (5-10-4) knocked off the Western Conference's best team, the Seattle Sounders (10-7-2), 1-0, back on June 24 before tying the Montreal Impact (5-7-3), 2-2, just three days later. The team also advanced to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals in dramatic fashion last week, playing with just 10 men for the entire second half while defeating D.C. United, 2-1, in a come-from-behind victory.
The Union have hovered right outside of playoff position for the majority of the season and currently sit just four points out of the sixth and final spot with four months of season left to play.
“I thought our group took a big step [against D.C. United],” said Philly manager Jim Curtin. “In a lot of ways, it’s the most proud I am since I’ve been the head coach because games like this bring groups together.”
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The team has now had over a week to prepare for their next opponent, the Portland Timbers (9-6-4), on Saturday. The Timbers are led by forward Fanendo Adi, who ranks sixth in the MLS in goals scored this season with eight. The Union, who rank last in the MLS in goals allowed this season with 32, will have to find a way to keep a man in front of him and limit his looks on offense.
But Curtin is aware of his team's recent upswing in quality of play. Despite injuries, the Union continue to push in the right direction.
"In our last 10 games, if you quickly look at it, we're 6-3-1," Curtin said. "While we haven't done it in a sexy way, 6-3-1 is 6-3-1. It's a positive thing in your last 10 games."
Saturday's match against the Timbers will air at 7 p.m. on 6-ABC.
Curtin comments on South Jersey's Lloyd:
Carli Lloyd is now the talk of the area for her hat trick performance in the USWNT's 5-2 win in the World Cup final on Sunday. The Delran native's three first-half goals were emphasized by a brilliant strike from the midfield over the outstreched arm of Japan keeperAyumi Kaihori. Curtin commented on Lloyd's sensational performance.
"Carli Lloyd had the game of a lifetime," said Curtin. "That’s the game you dream as a kid. Everything just clicks and goes right. She worked incredibly hard the whole tournament, but to get the goal in the final is always special."