Philadelphia Union striker Kacper Przybylko said none of Jim Curtin’s squad will use tiredness as an excuse as they look to seal their playoff place.
Union sit second in the Eastern Conference after Przybylko’s penalty sealed a 1-0 win over Nashville SC on Saturday.
They should be all but assured of a place in the playoffs, but a win against Toronto FC on Wednesday would guarantee it.
“I think tiredness and pain is a not an excuse,” Przybylko said when asked how the Union had been affected by the fixture congestion as the regular season draws to a close.
“If you’re on the field, you have to commit for the entire 90 minutes plus additional time. That’s what we’re doing. I’m always running my (butt) off for the team, and the other guys are doing that for me and for everyone on the field. If you step on the field, you have to commit to it, and that’s what we did. This is our job, and tiredness is never an excuse.”
While Philadelphia are thinking about a postseason run, Toronto are about to bring a disappointing campaign to a close.
They sit 13th in the East, though did at least salvage a draw in a Canadian derby against CF Montreal last time out thanks to Jozy Altidore’s free-kick.
The striker has struggled with injuries over the last two years, but feels like he is playing without pain now.
“I just want to play. I missed the game. I’m just disappointed about how this year has gone, and you know, I’ll be the first guy to tell you it’s disappointing. But nobody is running away from anything,” he said.
“We take all the criticism on the chin and rightly so, but you know, there’s more here. I’m a firm believer in that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Toronto FC – Jacob Shaffelburg
Jacob Shaffelburg was in the thick of the action against Montreal. He had three shots, got two on target and played two key passes before going off in the 84th minute.
Philadelphia Union – Kacper Przybylko
Przybylko scored his 11th MLS goal of the season to seal the win over Nashville, and will be looking to keep up his form heading into the playoffs, should the Union get there, of course.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Union have won three of the last four meetings between the sides (L1), including winning the last two by a combined score of 8-0. Prior to the last four games, the Union had gone winless in their previous 11 matches against Toronto (D2 L9, including playoffs) dating back to the start of the 2015 season.
– Altidore’s goal at 94:59 to earn Toronto FC a point against CF Montreal on Saturday was the latest result-changing goal in the club’s MLS history. The previous latest was a Jordan Hamilton goal at 94:17 to earn the Reds a 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City in June 2019.
– Philadelphia has won just one of its last 12 away matches (D6 L5) dating back to the start of June, but that lone win came against the only team below Toronto in the Eastern Conference table, FC Cincinnati.
– Altidore’s late equalizer was the first direct free-kick goal scored by Toronto in over two years since Alejandro Pozuelo in early October 2019. From 2015 to 2019, Toronto scored 20 direct free-kick goals, 11 more than any other team in that time, though Sebastian Giovinco scored 15 of those.
– Przybylko’s penalty goal against Nashville was the 17th set-piece goal the Union have scored this season, tied with New York City FC and Seattle Sounders for most in MLS this season. The 17 set piece goals are the second-most Philadelphia has scored in a single season, netting 19 of them in the 2016 campaign.