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Jim Curtin Preview New York Red Bulls

The Philadelphia Union travel to New York on Thursday to face their fierce rivals in the Red Bulls. The Union head into the game off the back of a frustrating loss in Nashville, whilst their hosts for Thursday's game are coming off a confidence-boosting win in Orlando.

Jim Curtin spoke to the media ahead of the game, and he realises just how big of a test his side will have if they are to come away from New York with a positive result.

"When you watch them play, they're very organised, very much together, and they're coming off a great result in Orlando against a strong team. They went on the road and got a very big three points. We recognise that they'll be confident, and they have a great team, one that we respect. We know the games against them are one or two play games here or there."

Heading into the game, there is one big selection decision for Curtin, as he is without his number one keeper for the foreseeable future. With Andre Blake representing Jamaica at the Gold Cup.

With the Union's number one out, it is time for a new hero to step in between the sticks and help Philadelphia get back on track. Curtin seemed like he had the decision made up in his head ahead of Thursday's fixture.

"The obvious one is Matt Freese. He will be called upon to play big minutes for us with Andre's [Blake's] absence. He and Joe Bendik will have a job to do for us. When you miss the best goalkeeper in the league, that's probably the biggest area. However, Matt's done this before and stepped up and won big games for us.

"We're just asking him to be himself and to do exactly what he's done in the USL and training every day. He's a great young goalkeeper, and it's a great opportunity for him."

Another player that will be away with Jamaica is forward Cory Burke. The Jamaican international became an important part of the Union attack this season and even scored the winner when the sides last met at Subaru Park.

With Burke absent for the time being, it is time for a familiar face to grab this opportunity by the horns and get back into scoring form.

Sergio Santos was the key man for the Union in the MLS Is Back Cup in 2020, scoring three times in four appearances, and he also scored eight times in the MLS as Philadelphia won their first-ever Supporters Shield.

Curtin will need that Santos down this important stretch of the season if the Union are to retain that crown, or at least be in a good position heading into the playoffs. The Union boss was full of praise for the Brazilian striker ahead of the New York game.

"He's a great striker and one that is always difficult for opponents to play against. He's only hit the back of the net once this season, but we recognise that he's going to be a guy that we need to get a lot out of in Cory's [Burke] absence.

"He will have a bigger part of the load over this next month where we will be missing Cory."

There was no change on the injury front for Curtin as he confirmed that two players were still unable to play.

"Jack [de Vries] and Anthony [Fontana] will both remain out in concussion protocol. Unfortunately, they continue to not pass the test and last steps to being able to return to playing fully. Anthony had a bit of a setback, which was unfortunate."

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