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Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin on facing Lionel Messi: “We’re talking about the best player of all time.”

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When he put pen to paper on a new contract last month, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin wouldn't have been expecting to repay his management’s faith in him so quickly. After a dramatic quarter-final win over Club Querétaro, though, the former defender has now led the team into the Leagues Cup final four.

Having narrowly missed out on the 2022 MLS Cup - having lost on penalties in the final to Los Angeles FC - Curtin, who has been in charge since 2014, now has another chance to clinch silverware.

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Standing between his Union team and another final, though, is none other than Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF. Led by their newly-arrived Argentine maestro - who has scored eight goals in five games this summer - the Florida outfit have emerged as the favourites to win the tournament. 

Messi, who has been joined in Miami by his former Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, was once again on the scoresheet on Friday night as he scored his team’s fourth and final goal of the night.

Speaking after his team’s quarter-final win, which was clinched with a Chris Donovan winner in the 100th minute, Curtin was eager about the prospect of going up against the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“We look forward to hosting the greatest player in the history of the sport in our building. I think it will definitely be the loudest Subaru Park will ever be," he explained, while adding that he was expecting his team to step up their game for the match-up. 

In their three Leagues Cup knockout games so far, the team has won twice on penalties - against D.C. United and New York Red Bulls. On Friday, they struggled to close out the game against the tournament’s surprise package in Club Querétaro

For Curtin, the Union will need to make the most of their home advantage: "We're talking about the best player of all time coming here in the semifinal with a trophy on the line, a spot in the Champions League on the line. So it's a big game. I know our fans are gonna show up,”