The Philadelphia Union head into the final day of the 2022 regular season with their MLS Cup Playoffs spot long since secured, but with plenty left to play for.
Jim Curtin’s side host Toronto FC having come down from a five-game winning streak, taking just a single point from matches against Atlanta United and Charlotte FC without scoring a goal – and conceding four against the latter.
Should CF Montreal beat Inter Miami on Sunday, the Union would need a win themselves against TFC to secure top spot in the East, which would ensure home Playoffs matches right up until the MLS Cup final – in which only LAFC would be able to host over Philadelphia.
Furthermore, Curtin will be looking to gauge his team’s ability to bounce back from adversity, with quick solutions to problems required in the one-off knockout settings of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“I expect a good response from the group,” said the coach.
“Again, it’s been a very special season where a lot of new records have been met by this team and this great group of players and staff. And we want to send our fans home happy on the last day of the regular season and obviously clinch first place in our conference and know that the road to MLS Cup will go through Subaru Park, where we’ve been a really dangerous, strong team all season.”
Some supporters may have been a little unnerved by the nature of their thrashing at the hands of Charlotte FC last weekend.
But perhaps it’s better their six-game unbeaten run came to an end at this point, giving Curtin’s players a timely reminder of just how volatile and unpredictable MLS can be before the Playoffs begin.
“I do think in every loss you can learn from a loss, and it’s good to get a wake-up call like that and maybe take one on the chin and get soundly beaten as you go into now elimination games,” Curtin said.
“Because we recognize now and respect the game in a way that if we start with that kind of not being us, you can get punished quickly. And in the playoffs, it’s one bad game and you’re done. So I think to get that wake-up call can be a positive thing.”
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