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Jim Curtin pre DC United

Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the game against DC United.

Saturday's game will be the first time the Union play a home game since June 24th, when they defeated Columbus Crew 1-0. Since then, they have had to endure three road games picking up two points in that run.

The Union's opponents at the weekend will present a difficult task. Despite defeating them in DC earlier this season, United have slowly picked up form. They have won 10 points over their last five fixtures and won 7-1 against Toronto last time out.

Curtin knows that his side cannot downplay the task at hand. He admitted that despite winning against DC earlier in the season, the hosts were perhaps the better side. The Union boss praised the job Hernan Losada has done to date and is fully aware of the aggressive style of play they will present his side on Saturday.

"We now shift our focus to a DC United team that is playing very well. Their coach has done a great job with them. They're very organised and disciplined, and they have belief right now. Obviously; coming off a 7-1 win and coming off some good results in friendlies that we've had an eye on.

"They're a team that's very relentless in their pursuit to win the ball. They run, they fight for every inch, and I enjoy watching them play."

Matt Freese, who is standing in for Andre Blake, was sent off in the draw against New York RB. Joe Bendik replaced Freese, and Curtin has made it very clear about who will be starting Saturday's game.

"Obviously, Joe [Bendik] has played a couple of hundred games in this league and is experienced. This is why we have him, and this is why we believe in him. He's been incredible for us in the locker room in a lot of ways. Now here's a chance in a big 90 minutes against a good DC United team for him to step in and do his job. I'm fully confident that he will."

Brazilian attacking midfielder, Ilsinho has not played a single minute this season due to injury, but there was some huge news regarding his fitness. Curtin confirmed that he is likely to be involved in some capacity against DC and could not hide his smile when announcing the news.

"Ilsinho played 25 [minutes] and had no real pain, so I think he will be able to contribute this weekend. Which in Subaru Park is always an exciting thing. We're happy to have him back in the team."

Anthony Fontana will remain in concussion protocol due to the concussion he picked up in the dramatic draw against Atlanta United. Jack de Vries has been in the protocol since mid-spring and does not appear to be coming out of it any time soon. Curtin was able to provide an insight into de Vries' situation.

"It's been long and probably incredibly boring for him. He's basically Lance Armstrong on the bike, and that's the extent of what he can do until he gets cleared. The head is a very serious thing, but very much unknown.

"We want to be cautious, and when the time is right, he will return to training. We trust the doctors, we trust the staff, and we hope to get him back as soon as possible."

Curtin also announced the rumours of Matej Oravec leaving the Union on loan to sign for FK Železiarne Podbrezová were true. It has been a strange period for Oravec, who never played in a competitive game for Philadelphia or the Union II. Despite his struggles, Curtin credited Oravec's hard work since joining the club.

"Matej [Oravec] was a true professional, and he worked very hard for the club and gave everything. He just wasn't able to crack into our 18 or 20 man roster often. We're always going to put the players that we think give us the best chance to win. It happens all the time in pro sports, where you don't get selected. In Matej's instance, that was the case, so we wish him all the best."

There was some brighter news earlier in the week as Ernst Tanner signed a contract extension. When asked about the new signing, the Union boss could not hide his delight at working with Tanner, and Curtin confirmed that he was ready to continue working with him in their attempts to take Philadelphia to greater heights.

"Ernst was a highly sought after candidate at a lot of top clubs in Europe this past offseason because of the success he brought to the Philadelphia Union. For him to choose to stay here is a big deal, and in our discussions that we have during the course of a season and the course of the past seasons, we both felt that we had more to give.

"That the project was still a very exciting one. We still have more trophies to win, more young kids that we wanted to develop and not just leave them. I love working with Ernst. He's been a great mentor and leader for me."

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