It was curtains for Jim Curtin’s MLS Eastern Conference table-topping men as Philadelphia Union suffered a shock 4-0 reverse at Montreal Impact to hamper the visitors’ quest for the title.
But in fairness to Curtin he doesn’t seem to be a coach who is ready to panic after a setback — and, after all, second-placed Atlanta United also lost (4-3 defeat at LAFC) meaning Union are top on 39 points from 24 games. United, meanwhile, have got a game in hand over the current leaders and are three points adrift of them.
Curtin was keen to accentuate the positive after the loss on Saturday at Stade Saputo, in which Finnish flyer Lassi Lappalainen (in his first MLS match just 48 hours after joining Montreal Impact) bagged a brace. The deal was sealed with another double; this time the goals came from Nigerian striker Orji Okwonkwo, who is currently on loan from Italian outfit Bologna.
And Curtin said:
“We do have to stay a little bit positive, as hard as it is tonight to lose, and the way we lost hurts. We failed in a lot of areas in this game: coaches, players, everybody came up small.
“We just have to stop leaking goals. The way we’re giving them away is too easy. If teams earn it and make a great play, you can kind of tip your cap and say okay, I can live with that, but when we’re passing balls directly to them and it’s leading to breakaways in midfield, I have a tough time.”
Curtin will be acutely aware that he and his staff don’t have too long to put things right with the impending trip to third-placed DC United — complete with former England ace Wayne Rooney at their spearhead. But Rooney will hope to find his goal touch after missing out on netting last time of asking as DC United drew 0-0 with Chicago Fire.
Perhaps former Everton and Manchester United attacker Rooney is still trying to get his sharpness back after suffering from groin and shoulder injuries which meant he was forced to sit out the game before the draw with Chicago which was a disappointing 2-0 reverse at Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Rooney could soon be joined on the pitch by Jose Torres, an ex-America national side midfield ace currently on trial at the club. Coach Ben Olsen said:
“We’re still evaluating him — he has done fine. He seems like a lovely kid, and we know who he is as a player: He is definitely a connector, he has played at a high level for a decade, he has a lot of experience, and he’s Spanish-speaking, which is a good bridge for the locker room. So, there is a lot to like.”