The Union are in first place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, and they have two games in hand on the two teams directly behind them.

Despite this advantage, coach Jim Curtin isn't approaching the next few games on the road as if the Union are playing with house money. With so much parity, Curtin said that the Union have to keep pushing in their next three games before having a 16-day break while the Copa America Tournament begins.

At 5-3-3 for 18 points, the Union are a point ahead of New York City FC and two ahead of the New York Red Bulls.

The Union visit Orlando SC (3-3-5) on Wednesday and Western Conference leader Colorado (8-2-3) on Saturday before hosting Columbus (2-4-5) on June 1 before their break.

"We are approaching it as a big three games that we want to set ourselves up nicely going into the break because these are games in hand on a lot of teams right now," Curtin said. "Yes, they are two tough ones on the road, but these are games we have in hand."

His message to his team was to take advantage of the games in hand to add to their lead.

"To get a little separation is critical," Curtin said. "We can't go in complacent that we are in a good spot because of how quickly the table can change."

The Union got some good news Monday when they found out that keeper Andre Blake can play both road games before joining Jamaica for Copa America training.

The Union are 2-0-3 in their last five games following Friday's 1-0 win over visiting D.C. United. And now the players have clearly received Curtin's message of not letting their foot off the accelerator.

"We know we need to keep improving and need to take advantage of the couple of games we have in hand right now," midfielder Brian Carroll said.

Wednesday will be past the one-third mark of the 34-game season, and Curtin said that his team, which is allowing just one goal per game, is starting to develop an identity that he likes. The Union's plus-4 goal differential is No. 1 in the Eastern Conference and third-best in MLS.

"We are starting to form an identity as a team that is very tough to break down defensively and is very good at home," Curtin said. The Union are 4-0-2 at home.

"Now we need to carry that onto the road in two very hostile places and two good teams in Orlando and Colorado," he said.

@sjnard