Union's win at Montreal gives Jim Curtin a needed boost

The Union’s 2-0 win over the Impact in Montreal on Saturday was important for a lot of reasons, from ending a two-game losing streak to being the Union’s first road win in nearly a full year.

Jim Curtin added another angle in his postgame remarks: It came against a team the Union will fight all year for one of the Eastern Conference’s lower playoff spots.

“It’s important that the teams that are in and around us in the standings — whether it’s Montreal, New England, D.C. United, Columbus — we have to try to take as many points from those teams as possible,” Curtin said. “Obviously, Toronto, Atlanta, New York City and maybe the Red Bulls are going to run away a little bit.”

Toronto might not be there right now, still suffering from its Champions League hangover. But Atlanta and New York City certainly are.

“If we give maximum effort, we’re a handful to play against, but if we have letdowns and three or four guys have off nights, we’re going to get beat,” Curtin said. “We don’t have the margin for error that maybe some other teams do.”

The Union and Impact are right next to each other in the standings, and on Saturday, the Union jumped over the team they beat.

“You go in the locker room now, and there’s more belief,” Curtin said. “The guys have had some good performances on the road, but they’ve been sporadic, and I thought today we put together a full 90 minutes.”

Curtin especially praised striker Cory Burke, who scored his first MLS goal in his first MLS start.

“He held the ball up really well for us, was a pain in the butt for the centerbacks to deal with,” Curtin said. “Connected his passes, gave us some real energy.”

Burke’s debut was spoiled by his red card in the 58th minute, but the Jamaican’s day will be remembered more for his goal.

“I couldn’t wait for this day to come,” he said. “I got there and showed the coaches and everyone what I can do for the team going forward. As a striker, you’ve got to have the killer instinct, and to be there whenever the ball is there. You’ve got to reach for the defender and try to get something on it towards the goal, and 90 times out of 100, you know you’ve got to score it.”

Haris Medunjanin, scorer of the game-sealing goal, saluted defenders Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie for helping to secure the shutout. Both centerbacks are just 19 years old, and are products of the Union’s academy.

“Two guys who’ve just come into the league and shown that they are very good players,” Medunjanin said. “They looked very experienced in the back. We have more possession, and we can play more [of] our game, when they are in the back playing good games.”