Press Conference

Video and transcript of Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

On Brian Brown

When he first came in his head was spinning a bit; he’s not from the city part of Jamaica, he’s a country boy. I have a good relationship with Damani Ralph and we talked about getting him set up with a phone, a cell phone and all the things, and just staying in contact with him, letting him know where to be, what time to be, and arranging rides and things for him, so there’s an acclimation that’s going on. The universal language is when he’s on the field, that’s probably where he’s most comfortable right now, and he’s showing very well in all of the training sessions. I mentioned before, his quality in front of goal is very good, he’s not a guy that needs three or four chances to score, he just needs that one look and he arranges his feet and sets up and he can really hit a ball. He’s a guy we’re excited for. He’s young still, and there’s a process in learning how we want to play — the defensive side for him will be a challenge. But, I’ve told him to just put consistent days together, it’s not about a guy who’s good for five minutes in the training session, it’s about putting Monday through Friday, good days, consecutive days, back-to-back. He’s responded very well to that, he listens, He’s a good young player.

On how Brown will be inserted into the lineup

At a certain point you have to get thrown into the fire. Everyone’s first action in MLS, there’s always those questions — Is he ready, is he not ready — there’s always that tough learning curve. You get thrown out there and you either sink or swim. So, that’s coming for him. To be honest, it was close to happening in the 3-1 game; you’d like for that to have gone a different way, and the red card set things into a little bit of a — some craziness, we’ll just say. You would have liked to have gotten him in when there’s a lead, you know, comfortable, you like for it to be as comfortable as possible. But sometimes, maybe it’s tomorrow when it’s 0-0 against New York and he’s playing against Thierry Henry. This is MLS, and this is how quick things happen for you.

On New York

New York’s a handful, they have special players all over the field. Wright-Phillips is obviously on fire, everything he touches is going in the net. They give him good service, he scores a lot of his goals in tight, just good passes from Thierry. Look at the last game (video jumps forward)

…anybody to go outside the box and have the perfect game, we just want solid games from all of our guys, all 11 guys.

On the road ahead

Everyone says don’t look at the table, just focus on one game at a time and all the clichés. But you see a week where it’s now New York and Chicago — huge games, both of them. We’re going to have to do something that this club has never done this year, which is win three games in-a-row. That’s something that I’ve talked about with the group, we never as a club won three games in-a-row. You look at the schedule — I do look ahead — and I see nine games at home and six on the road, and I said to them at some point we’re going to have to go on a run. That’s a real run, not just win one here, lose one, win two, lose two. It can’t be that, it has to be a real upward movement now because we’ve dug a deep hole, and we have to get out of it. The only way you do that is putting consecutive results together.

On appealing Amobi Okugo’s red card

I had a good discussion yesterday, myself and Mike Sorber talked with Peter Walton, the head of officials. It was a good conversation. On all the calls — the three major talking points: the Cruz foul, straight red, obviously, he’s been suspended for that. That changes the game a heck of a lot; 11th minute, it would have been nice to be up a man, but you move on from it. The Lahoud one, there’s a little bit of a gray area, and then the Amobi one, the cursing. You talk to Peter and maybe there could have been better separation with Amobi and the ref, maybe the refs could have gotten out of there: in the heat of battle, a crazy 3-3 game, the whole situation could have been handled differently (audio cuts out for 18 seconds)

…But at the same time , you know, I think the ref could’ve maybe held off, and maybe just separated himself and ended the game and walked away.

Can Okugo’s red card be appealed?

I asked him the exact same question, is that appeal worthy. He said it would be a waste of time, to be honest, because it turns into “Well, he said this, and I said that” — it’s a he said, she said. There’s no video, there’s no audio of the confrontation, so it’s not something you’re going to win on appeal. It’s an expensive process as well, as you guys all know, so it’s not something that was deemed by our club worthy of an appeal, it’s more of a “Let’s keep our mouths shut after the game because, whether the refs are good, bad, or indifferent, it’s not going to change anything yelling at them after the game.

On the injury status of Austin Berry and Vincent Nogueira

They’re training full know, both of them, so they’re available for first selection tomorrow. I’m happy with how they’re progressing, and they’re guys who are good players in this league. They’ve done it already in this league, so, I’m excited to have them back, and have kind of, outside of (audio cuts out for 18 seconds)

…he’s held out. It usually evens itself out in the course of a long season, a 34-game year, the guys that usually deserve to be on the field are on the field. I’m a big believer the team picks itself. Training during the week, guys’ health, with different things — the team usually picks itself. So, again, he’s available for selection tomorrow.

Carlos Valdes update

Nothing new. It’s no secret that we would like to have Carlos with us here, he’s a world class player, he’s a center back that instantly is one of the top center backs in our league. So, he’s a guy that we’re still hoping to have back in a Union uniform. It’s taking a little longer than we had hoped, but we’re still cautiously optimistic that maybe we can get something done and come to an agreement and have him back here.

Unintelligible question

It’s a great question, it’s something that I address. For 80 minutes, I thought we played like men, we were tough, tough to play against, and then you have the 10 minutes. A lot of very good performances, though, on an individual basis, a lot of really, really strong performances. I won’t go through every guy, but a lot of positives (video skips ahead)

…overdue for a victory at home. The guys know that, they feel the pressure. It’s time to get a win.

(audio cuts out for 18 seconds)

…maybe not the most beautiful but it’s effective. You need that. Every championship team — and you can look back through MLS — they won a lot of games 1-0. So, those are the kind of ones at home that we need to do a better job with the goals that we concede. Gave up the silly one right after we scored, and then the penalty kick and all hell breaking lose at the end.

More of a comfortable feel. I thought the Open Cup game against New England was that type of win, that 2-0 where everyone comes in, does their job, and it feels comfortable. Sure, they have chances, that’s how our league is, it’s end-to-end, teams are going to get chances. But, a big save here or there, you get out of it with a shutout.

On Zach Pfeffer’s performance with the US U-20 MNT win over Chile in the NTC Invitational

We watched it, he was very good, obviously, a goal and an assist. The Chilean teams are always very, very strong at the young ages, they have very technical players, the game sets up very nicely.

For Zach, listen, he’s a guy that I’ve had since he was 16 years old, so I know what kind of quality he has. It’s just doing it day in and day out. You look at his performance last night and that’s the Zach we all know. I’ve had discussions with him and he knows this. I see a kid like Diego Fagundez and I see Zach in the same light as him, they’re similar players. Has Diego gotten more of a chance in gotten thrown out there? Absolutely. Zach’s a guy though, he even says, “Yeah, I agree, that’s the type of player I should be, I should be scoring goals in MLS in that wide spot and being dangerous.” People forget how young he is. The fact that he’s still with the U-20 national team to me makes me smile because it feels like he’s been on the Union for 10 years. But, he’s a a guy, again, great performance last night. We’re proud of him.

Follow-up question on appealing Okugo’s red card

I asked him on both things. So, even on the Lahoud — the dangerous kick — that was called violent conduct in the match report — “violent conduct” — which Peter Walton did not agree with that that was violent conduct, so, it’s one of those things where maybe it was a little harsh, the decision of the ref. Is it a second yellow card for Mike? Yeah, you could probably accept that, but to give him the straight red was — again I was asking the same questions you just asked me.

The language one, there’s a gray area because they can deem abusive language if it crosses a certain invisible line to be… I guess, basically, for lack of a better word, if you insult the guy just enough, he has a threshold where it’s too much. That’s where it’s tough. An example would be if I’m a construction worker and I’m outside, we talk differently than I would if I’m talking to a lawyer. You know what I mean? So, it’s — there are so many gray areas where it’s just like — it’s tough, it’s hard. I think the ref would probably maybe take that back and separate himself from the situation but, in the heat of the moment. I went up and asked him after he had already shown the red, you know, “if it’s dissent, dissent is a yellow card by definition, not a straight red. We’re all big boys, we’ve all been called names and different things, you could’ve maybe refrained from kicking the guy out.” It’s become very easy to get kicked out of a soccer game. I mean, you can take your shirt off in celebration, and be too close to a ball when you’re setting up a wall, and next thing you know you’re kicked out.

It’s like, managing the game, feel for the game, can always be a little better, but it’s such a tough thing to do. Our league’s hard to ref too. I’m not one of these guys who says, “Our players are super respectful of the referees,” ’cause they’re not. I don’t think we respect each other enough as players sometimes on the field. So, it’s hard to get it to the right point, it’s tough.

On Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke

Mike’s a guy that I respect a great deal. Our careers were similar in the positions we played, we both compete. He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for what he did last year as a young coach, winning the Supporters Shield, he’s done a great job coaching in the league. He’s a guy that I’m very familiar with, you talk to off the field a bunch. On the field, we used to have to cover each other on corner kicks so, there’s probably a lot of things that were said back then you can’t go into in a press conference, but I think we respect each other a great deal and, like I said, he’s done a great job. Fierce competitor, wants to win, he’s all about New York City. Similarly, I’m all about Philadelphia so, it’ll be good for us going head-to-head in again. When the whistle blows and the game starts, we’re competitors, but, afterwards, we shake hands and we’ve been in enough battles together against each other on the field to know what it’s like. We both want to win more than anyone in the room, that’s for sure.

How do you defend someone like Thierry Henry?

Good question, I wish I had an answer. He’s a guy who in the run of play will drift, he likes to drift into these wide spots and get the ball. He’ll actually, almost videogame style, drift all the way back to in the midfield and pick it up and then start dribbling and passing through your team. So, he’s a guy, it’s not a one-man job with him. I’m not going to sit here and say, “One guy, you’re responsible for Thierry;” so, it’s a team thing. He’s great at finding — in particular, he drifts out to the left a lot, and then he cuts in on that right foot where he can now either curl a shot to the far post and score, or he can set a guy up.

He’s special. I mean, I’m not telling you guys anything you don’t already know, Thierry Henry is a top player in the world, still. He’s a special guy, and obviously one we’ll be focused on. As he goes the Red Bulls go, so he’s guy coming off of a huge performance, and a guy that we have to, at least, slow down. He’s not a guy you stop completely for 90 minutes, it doesn’t happen — like Michael Jordan, you want to kind of limit him as best you can because you’re not going to be able to stop him completely. He’s a handful and, obviously, like I said, it’s a team thing. We’ll do our best to shut him down.


  1. So O’Neill did end up with a one game ban, can’t believe it wasn’t three.

    • I’m hoping Stoica gets a ban as well for blowing the call. But I have to wonder if Cruz’s penchant for spectacular crashes factored into the ref’s decision to pull only a yellow.

  2. John Ling says:

    I find myself liking Curtain more and more. Hopefully he can stay on as an assistant for the permanent coach without either one feeling “weird” about things.

    • Agreed. His straightforwardness is very refreshing.

    • i think that even if he doesn’t stay at the head he will stay on the staff. he has said a bunch of times that he doesn’t care if he is first second or third in charge as long he is coaching in philly and we are winning

  3. Since Noguiera and Berry are healthy, hoping BC doesn’t start & Fabinho sits (Williams moves over). Edu @ CDM & White Berry are CBs. Score first. Hold lead. Win.

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