CHESTER, Pa. -- The Union received a much-needed taste of the postseason in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium. Despite the loss, the club liked what it saw.
“This was a playoff game tonight,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “We talked about how our playoffs start tonight, and it’s going to feel the same exact way in New York City. It’s going to be very difficult to go there, and we have a playoff game right after that. It’s that time of year.”
Sunday was a playoff-style test against one of the league’s best teams, and the Union nearly passed. Controlling 66% of possession, the club dominated the first half but failed to find that finishing touch, eventually giving up a penalty kick to Kaku for the loss.
“We wanted to test ourselves against a top team in our league, a team that’s fighting for the Supporters Shield. I thought we were up for it, I thought we played some good soccer but just wasn’t our night in the end.”
With one match remaining, the Union could finish as high as third and as low as sixth, with the top two seeds filled by New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United. With 50 points, the Union are trailing No. 3 New York City FC by three but are tied with D.C. United and two points up on the Columbus Crew.
To put it simply. if the Union win next Sunday, they would claim the No. 3 seed and guarantee the club's first first-round home playoff game.
“We’re going to New York to beat New York City FC,” said Union captain Alejandro Bedoya. “We want a home playoff game really bad. It’s all up for grabs, anything can happen. Everything left to play for.”
But while home field is the goal, there was some hesitation. Curtin mentioned that the field was in bad shape, which was supported more forcefully by both Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin.
“I prefer to play away because it’s unbelievable that we play on this kind of field,” Medunjanin said. “It’s unbelievable. We’re a team that already achieved the playoffs, we play good soccer and to play on this kind of field is a shame.”
Bedoya felt the same.
“The field is terrible,” he said. “It pisses me off hearing there are high school games being played here after today. It’s a disaster. We’re a professional team getting ready for the playoffs and the field is in terrible shape and they’re just going to mess it up even more.”
Still, despite Talen Energy Field’s conditions, Curtin doesn’t want to settle on making the playoffs. He wants a home game.
“Obviously you want to host a game," he said. "You want to go to New York City and get a win and move up and keep a position where we have that home playoff game. We do control our own destiny, which is a good feeling to have."