Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has stat that it’s a ‘crazy dream’ to be facing Club America in the famous Estadio Azteca on Thursday night for the first leg of the Leagues Cup semi final.
Curtin spoke prior to the match, praising the historic Mexican side and their talented roster.
“We know it’s an incredible opponent in Club America, with a ton of talent. To dream that we could eventually move on in this competition and play against the champions in Europe [at the Club World Cup]. That’s our goal. It sounds like a crazy dream, but we are here now,” Curtin said.
The Philadelphia Union head coach understands the pressure of the match as the comparisons and collaborations between Liga MX and MLS intensify. As the All-Star game approaches, all eyes are on Major League Soccer sides facing Mexican opponents.
“With such strong players and a great striker like [Roger] Martinez, everybody sees how good they are going forward. But what really stood out to me is just how good they are and strong they are, and stable, defensively,”
“For me the center back, [Sebastian] Caceres, can play anywhere in the world, and there’s a big reason why European clubs are looking at him to play center back. So they have a really strong team, great players. They’re very well-coached, very well organized.”
But despite history, Curtin made sure to clarify that his side is ready and prepared to face the Liga MX giants as they sit in fourth on the Eastern Conference table with 28 points in 19 matches.
“It’s a balance, right? We have to keep things loose for the guys, so we’ve had fun in training, we’ve kept them as relaxed as possible,” said Curtin. “But then we’ll also remind them that this is a big opportunity for them. When you play in a big game and you score a goal in a big game, for example, a lot of eyes come on you, and if you aspire to go to be a top player in Concacaf or be a top player in the world, playing and performing well in the biggest game is what gets you there.”
Curtin touched upon the idea of making mistakes during a match of this caliber, admitting the level of football intelligence in this game will be key.
“We’ll have to be very smart, very organized in how we approach the game. If you make mistakes in Azteca Stadium against Club America they punish you. So we have to be very disciplined, intelligent with our approach. And then survive the first 15 to 20 minutes, which is always most difficult at altitude, as you get your second wind,” finished Curtin.