Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has said his team are “on our way” as they look to build on their winning streak away at FC Cincinnati on Saturday.
The Union’s 6-0 thumping of Houston Dynamo at the weekend was their fifth successive victory and moved them three points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.
They have conceded 15 goals this season, six less than anybody else, and Curtin is over the moon with his team’s ability to keep the ball out of their own net while also reserving some praise for his attacking players.
“We’re on our way. We’re in a good run of form,” Curtin told reporters.
“Only one team through 20 games has ever given up as few goals as we have. That’s just a shut-down defense that’s incredible.
“And now you’re seeing us hitting the back of the net pretty consistently and pretty frequently.”
Philadelphia could well see their winning run extended to six games in Cincinnati as they face a team seriously out of form.
Pat Noonan’s side have not won in their last seven MLS matches, and although they remain level on points with the Eastern Conference playoffs, they are in dire need of a win to restart their assault on the postseason places.
Those elusive three points looked to be in the bag at the weekend against Inter Miami, until a 97th minute goal from Christopher McVey made it 4-4 in the dying seconds.
In contrast to the Union, only two teams have conceded more goals in the MLS this season than Cincinnati and that is something that the Orange and Blue simply have to fix if they harbor any hopes of making a serious run at the postseason.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Cincinnati – Brandon Vasquez
The forward’s goals in the 4-4 draw with Inter Miami were his 12th and 13th of the season and made him the joint-second top scorer in the league, one behind Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi. Can he net again here to level or even overtake the Argentinian striker?
Philadelphia Union – Daniel Gazdag
The Hungary international leads his team with 11 MLS goals from midfield this campaign while also adding three assists. Cincinnati will have to watch him closely if they want to keep him quiet.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– FC Cincinnati earned their second-ever point against the Union in MLS play with a 1-1 draw on June 16 in Philadelphia. The Union won five of the first six meetings (D1) with Cincinnati, including two of three in Cincinnati (D1).
– FC Cincinnati’s 4-4 draw with Inter Miami on Saturday was the second time this season Cincinnati have both scored and conceded at least four goals in a match (4-4 vs NYCFC on June 29). Cincinnati are the third team in MLS history to have two such games in a single year, joining NYCFC this year and Colorado in 1998.
– The Union’s 6-0 win over Houston on Saturday marked their fifth straight MLS win, equaling the club record set earlier this year. Philadelphia have a plus-16 goal difference over the five-game streak, equaling the best in any five-game span in MLS history (Atlanta United in September 2017).
– Seven of FC Cincinnati’s last nine MLS matches have ended in draws (W1 L1). Only three teams in MLS history have played eight draws in a span of 10 games: the Fire in 2011, the Galaxy in 2009 and Chivas USA in 2006.
– The Union have allowed just 15 goals this season, the fewest after 23 games of a season in MLS history. Philadelphia have not allowed more than one goal in 13 straight games, since a 2-2 draw at LAFC on May 7.