Philadelphia Union fully focused on Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal


The Philadelphia Union are no stranger to playing significant matches inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Union's last matchup with Atlanta United resulted in their elimination from the 2019 postseason, a game in which the team's forward line was ravaged by an injury to Kacper Przybylko.

Philadelphia will face off with Atlanta United on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal. Fox Sports The Gambler will have pregame coverage at 7:30 with Jon Jansen and Joe Tansey and postgame coverage at 10 p.m. ET directly after the final whistle.

"We'll put everything we have into the game," Union manager Jim Curtin said on Monday. "The league gets put on hold right now because Champions League is the priority."

Atlanta United has gone through an overhaul since the last time the two sides met. Gabriel Heinze is now the club's manager and a new wave of South American talent has entered the squad alongside Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco.

"I think Barco is as fit as I've ever seen him in terms of the running and distance he is covering on the field both offensively and defensively," Curtin said "It has some familiar faces, but also some new faces. Their coach deserves a lot of credit for implementing a style and identity very quickly because it's very clear how they want to play and they are playing some really good soccer right now."

For Curtin, midfielder Santiago Sosa could be the most important addition in the Atlanta squad, and even one of the best across Major League Soccer.

"The more I watch him, the more I think he's going to be one of the best signings in the league," Curtin said of Sosa. "He is very impressive in his ability to control the tempo of the game, to take away the opponent's top player. He really jumps off the page when you look at all their games and analyze them."

Sosa, a deep-lying midfielder, will be matched up with the Union's No. 10 on Tuesday. Who starts in that position is up for discussion.

Jamiro Monteiro started the first four games of the season in that spot, but Anthony Fontana was given the reigns to the position in preseason.

Injuries up top forced Fontana further up the field for the first three games. He was benched in favor of Sergio Santos for Saturday's loss to Inter Miami. If Fontana re-enters the lineup, it will likely be in favor of Leon Flach, who occupied Monteiro's normal position on the side of the midfield diamond.

"We talked about it for this game. We still haven't fully decided yet," Curtin said. "I think both are really good options. Miro has proven to be a good guy that collects the ball in a deep spot and starts your buildup, but I also believe as you get him closer to the goal, I think he is a guy that if he played that position for 34 games, he'd get you 10 goals and 12 assists or somewhere in that vicinity. He's a high quality player. We're at our best when he is on the ball as much as possible.

"Anthony is still a guy in the run of play that we have to get on the ball more as well, whether it is as a sub or a starter. We all know how good he is around the goal. In terms of touching the ball and making an impact on the game, that maybe has not been as much at the striker or the 10," Curtin said.

The Union will be close to full strength for Tuesday's trip to Atlanta. Ilsinho is the only player listed on the injury report with a groin injury that forced him to exit Saturday's league match.