The Philadelphia Union played to a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on Tuesday night, a result good enough to send them to the CONCACAF Champion’s League semifinal with a 4-1 aggregate result over two legs.
It wasn’t an amazing performance by any stretch of the imagination, but they defended well, absorbed pressure, and then hit on a late counterattack to seal the deal.
They’ll now play the winner of the Portland Timbers/Club America series, which is insane to think about. Seven years ago, this Union team didn’t even have practice fields or a practice facility. They were stumbling and bumbling along, investing in a nascent academy program while finding little in the way of on-field success. Now we’re looking at a semifinal against, quite possibly, Mexico’s biggest team, with one leg played at the 80,000+ Estadio Azteca and the other leg played in front of a sold out Philly crowd, with COVID restrictions on sporting events being lifted entirely by August.
But the big story on Action News is manager Jim Curtin, who was arguing with opposing coach Gabriel Heinze on the sidelines, resulting in this confrontation after the game:
I can read lips Gabriel Heinze is mad that Jim Curtin never sent him one of those Union hoodies that he asked for pic.twitter.com/JNDemN6fdJ
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) May 5, 2021
Curtin explained this post game, saying that Heinze accused the Union of wasting time by faking injuries towards the end of the game.
He then went on to call Heinze a “sore loser” and an “asshole” –
Here’s #JimCurtin talking about the interaction of words with #AtlantaUnited HC #GabrielHeinze after the @PhilaUnion tie and advance to the semifinal round of the #Concachampions@69Deportes pic.twitter.com/ToWknWV8un
— Roberto Vinces 🇵🇪🇺🇸 (@VincesRoberto) May 5, 2021
“I’m proud of the group for advancing. Again, I said it; he’s an incredible coach, he’s an incredible player, but you can still be, also, a sore loser and be an asshole at the end of the game. I still think there’s a right way. I think you should shake hands like men after the game. He’ll probably have something to say now that I’ve said that. But I’m not going to sit here and just take it.”
I love it. We need more guys speaking their minds and calling it how they see it in MLS.
And whether or not Heinze is right, it’s hard to say. Sergio Santos was indeed pretty slow to come off the field in that instance. There were some slight time wasting tactics taking place towards the end of the game, but nothing egregious, and nothing that would be considered out of the ordinary in terms of common gamesmanship. Atlanta needed two goals, which wasn’t gonna happen. And the Union really aren’t a dirty team and don’t do a lot of flopping and faking and diving and stuff like that. It’s not something they do at a level anybody would deem concerning.
The thing about Heinze is that he’s a competitor in his own right. This guy played for Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid, Marseille, and Roma. I think it’s cool that he’s getting in Curtin’s face and saying what he thinks. Some foreign managers come over here and don’t give half a shit, just sitting on the bench and going through the motions before an inevitable return to Europe or somewhere else (see: Henry, Thierry). It’s a stepping stone for them. Heinze, meantime, is always on his feet and communicating with players and being demonstrative, so you can tell the guy really cares.
The passion on both sides is appreciated here, and maybe we have a new rivalry brewing.