For a guy who grew up in Oreland and has been a devout Philadelphia sports fan all his life, Union manager Jim Curtin is quite good at being an optimist.
“I knew if we lost tonight it would be, ‘Typical Union,’ ” he said Sunday after a 2-1 loss to New York City FC in the regular-season finale. “I still see a team that is different. I see a team that put a lot into the nine months [of the regular season], set ourselves up to have our highest point total in the league, and I’m going to stand up for the players.”
Veteran midfielder Haris Medunjanin probably appreciated the sentiment. But when he stepped to the microphones in the Union’s locker room, he wasn’t nearly as polite.
“Everything was [at], like, 50 percent,” he said of the Union’s effort against NYCFC. “If you don’t play as disciplined as we always used to play, then every team can tear you apart. We need to learn from this, because in the playoffs, you don’t get chances. If you don’t score, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter against who you play.”
He spoke further on the subject a few minutes later.
“Everyone needs to work. We cannot have two, three players chilling and doing nothing,” he said. “If one player in our team doesn’t do their job, we are a bad team. If we don’t give 100 percent every game, then any team can beat you, home or away."
Medunjanin didn’t name names, but he insisted that tactical discipline should be one of the team’s main goals in the two weeks until the start of the playoffs.
“That’s the lesson,” he said. "To fight for each other, to be disciplined, and when you do that, then you can beat any team.”
There was a lack of discipline Sunday, especially when defending.
“When you go press, everybody needs to go press,” he said. “When we press, always somebody doesn’t go — somebody’s always in between, somebody’s shouting to other guys. We are not on the same page.”
Try as Curtin might to keep the mood positive, it’s a bit hard to do right now, with the Union having won just one of their last five games. At least there’s time to go back to work and try to get this team back on track, with the opening playoff game not until Oct. 20.
“The minority, 5% of all fan bases make the most negative noise, and the negative people get the loudest voice. If you’d like, you can continue to have that voice,” Curtin said. “Whatever your stats are, I can come up with other stats that would say that, you know, three of the last four years we were in the playoffs. Do we have to win a playoff game now? Yeah, we do. But you know, again, you can can spin it however you’d like.”