The Union (0-4-2) are off to a historic start to their 2017 campaign, but not in a good way. Their current six-match winless streak is a club record and they stand as the only remaining MLS team without a win.
Coach Jim Curtin may be out of a job if the Union can’t find a way to muster a win against the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Impact (1-2-3), at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday.
“At a minimum, we have to bring that energy and passion,” Curtin said about Saturday’s match. “We have a good team coming in Montreal, and we have to find a way to get that positive result.”
Despite their record, the Impact were a win away from the MLS championship game last season, advancing to the Eastern Conference final where they lost 7-5 in aggregate to Toronto FC. They notched their first win of the season this past weekend against newcomers to the MLS, Atlanta United.
Everyone involved with the franchise is feeling pressure to win and defender Richie Marquez says the team needs to be tougher mentally to turn things around.
“You have to be mentally strong when it comes to these [droughts],” Marquez said. “You can’t just bring down the confidence, you can’t bring down the chemistry. That is a sign of weakness, and when you do that things will only get worse.”
Despite what Sporting Director Earnie Stewart has said publicly regarding Curtin’s future, fans and the media will continue to hammer Curtin if the team’s losing ways continue.
Before this past Friday’s 2-0 loss at home to New York City FC, Stewart told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman that the pressure being put on Curtin is “not from internally.” He went on to call Stewart a “brilliant people-manager” to the likes of U.S. soccer coaching legend Bruce Arena.
But results are what matters most. Union fans are not a patient bunch. There is no process to be trusting. For a team that ended the franchise’s playoff drought last season, this season has been a major step backward and positives are few and far between.
“You see the guys in the weight room, getting after it together,” Curtin said. “It’s a group that deserves three points because I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked, and now we have to go out on the field and fight for it.”
Saturday’s match is set for 1 p.m. and will air on 6ABC.