Postgame: Union 4-2 San Jose

Photo and video: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference

Postgame interviews with Andrew Wenger, Ray Gaddis, Sheanon Williams and Amobi Okugo

Philadelphia Union postgame quotes

Jim Curtin

Opening statement

Alright before we get started, just a quick couple words on the game. A good first half. We scored a couple goals. I thought we had a get up 3-0. They come down and punish us and make it 2-1. Then had a chance to get up 3-1 — we miss it — and they come down and score, it’s 2-2. Credit to our guys for sticking with it and getting the result. Scoring four goals at home is always a positive, but all week we wanted to talk about shutouts and protecting this house and not giving up goals. Obviously Cronin hits a great goal, but still, we need to get to in this building, it needs to be calmer. We need to get out of here 1-0 or 2-0, 3-0, whatever it might be. But these end-to-end crazy games that go on that you see all over the league, it doesn’t hold up in the playoffs. So again, I don’t want it to be taken that I’m disappointed with the group but, at the same time, I think there’s another whole level we need to go to. Physically, intelligence wise, we fall asleep a couple of times on the goals. Silly plays. We give up two goals — obviously again, Cronin makes a great shot — but the three sequences before that we could have ended the play. It should be a nothing play. Again credit to our guys. Four goals at home. We’re happy with that and we’re happy with three points and that’s kind of the name of the game at this stage.

On Sebastien Le Toux’s recent form

His engine is a different level. The amount of ground he covers on the field is unbelievable. The defensive work that goes underappreciated  — when you think of Sebastien Le Toux nobody thinks defense. But, he’s been doing a ton of running that makes everyone else’s job easier. And then finishing in the box, one-touch finishing, he’s one of the best in our league. He’s been great, he’s in great form. He’s been leading off the field as well, which has been good with our group. So, I can’t say enough about how Seba is playing, we’re happy with him and we’re going to ride him all the way into the playoffs.

On Andrew Wenger showing his strength

It wasn’t on TV, but the Dallas Open Cup game, you saw a lot of the same things, those powerful runs. When he gets a head of steam going at a defender, he’s that combination of speed and power t– you don’t see it often. When he bangs it with an outside back, he doesn’t lose any speed, he’s strong as can be. He’s a special player who just needs confidence, and I think a night like tonight certainly gives a guy confidence. He’s really learned how to play the position. It’s been a little unique for him to be out wide on the wing but he’s starting to grasp some of the defensive responsibilities and that’s leading to his goals. Like I said, he was excellent tonight running at guys. He checks every box if you were to talk about a soccer player: He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he has very good feet. Around the goal he can smack a ball with his right and left foot as you saw tonight. He’s a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. I think you’re seeing the start of something. He’s a guy that needs to be challenged like the rest of the guys. I keep talking about this next level that we need to go to. You watch Seattle today, that’s a real team right now — they are flying — and we have them in the final here. That’s the benchmark for us right now, improving at every spot

On whether or not out wide is a good place for Wenger to play

Yeah, I think it’s a good place for him. He can play as a target forward too. We even talked about it, if Connor’s legs went, maybe you throw him up top and throw Danny out wide and Andrew kind of becomes the guy in the middle. He’s versatile. He’s good. We’ve heard all along, him growing up everybody said is he a center back, is he a midfielder, is he a forward? He’s a soccer player and he’s now grabbed that left side and he had a great game tonight.

On the decision to play Rais Mbolhi in goal

He got in this week and we had a conversation early on his first day. He had a good sharp day at training. He actually trained when we were off with our goalkeeping coach, with BJ Callahan. BJ told me he looked very sharp, sharper than the last time he was in before he went back to Paris. We talked early in the week. We talked in the middle of the week , and we made the ultimate decision yesterday. It was late, it was kind of down to the wire with him. He looked me in the eye and said, “I want to to play.” That’s enough for me and I thought he did a good job tonight.  He did a solid job. The save he made in traffic in the first half is a really tough save. That kept us going. He’s a world-class goalkeeper. He had a very good debut, the first of many wins. He chose the Philadelphia Union, he chose to come here. We believe in him and we chose him tonight.

On the importance of getting another goal right after San Jose equalized

Huge. Huge. There’s always that moment where you can feel sorry for yourself and say here we go again and we’re going to letlet another lead slip away at home. But credit to our guys. Sebastien puts a great ball in and a good, real hard run at the near post — which is something that we probably don’t do enough of — but Sheanon did a good job of getting on the end of that. I don’t even know, did they credit that to him? They did? Ok. Yeah, good run.

On what he told the team at halftime

I actually told them the first half wasn’t good enough. Everybody thought that we’d be very happy up 2-0. I didn’t think  we played great. I thought our possession was a little sloppy in the first half. The second half started again with more possession in their end. You’re going to have a team come at you when they’re down two goals. You’re going to get their best punches in the first ten minutes of the half. Talk about raising the bar, it should never get to 2-2. It should be comfortable, we should be able to to kill the game off. We need to do a better job of moments in the game to just swing the ball around the back with our defense band calm things down, find Vincent, and slow things down and just kind of possess the ball. It needs to improve but, at the same time, when we break on the counter, we’re a dangerous team right now. The first goal was a credit to that. The second one had a decent build up and then three and four. When we break we break with some real numbers, there’s a purpose behind it. Again, you can talk about possession, but I think all those stats, possession stats especially, get skewed, especially when there’s early goals in games, and a lot of different things. Thats a long, long discussion I can have on my thoughts on how they even keep the possession statistics — it’s not a clock, it’s total passes. Long discussion if you want to get into that with me.

On the Union’s identity or style

We don’t have an identity. I’m a big believer you don’t have an identity until you win something. We haven’t won anything. If we win an Open Cup and we make the playoffs and make a run, then we can start to talk about style, identity, and what we’re about, But right now we’re a blue collar, hard working team that, if everybody plays a good game, not a great game, we’ll get a result. If four guys don’t have a great game, we’ll lose to teams in MLS. We’re more Spurs than Miami Heat, you know what I mean? That’s kind of the way we go. Everybody has a role to do, everybody needs to do it. All these things get thrown out — style, and attractiveness –and every coach that gets hired now, “We’re going to play to play beautiful, free flowing, attractive attacking soccer,” and it’s like, do you watch Champions League, do you watch World Cup, do you watch MLS. These games are about men competing. Sure there’s moments of beauty and brilliance, and it looks nice, but the majority of the games, they don’t look like that, it’s a facade. Barcelona set a standard that known of us can keep up with. I think that everybody thinks you can just recreate that — that’s not possible.

On getting Rais Mbohli his debut before he leaves for international play

Yeah. I guess it weighed in a little bit. He knows he needs a game. It’s the most important thing to get a game after you’ve been away — the World Cup, obviously, he’s had a pretty long layoff . So, to get that first one, it has to come sometime. I thought he was sharp, he was ready. He gave up two goals but they were good goals, they were more defensive breakdowns than goalkeeping things. He is going to be going to African Cup of Nations. He’s Algeria’s No. 1 so he’ll play a big role in that, then we’ll need Zac to step up. So, again, it helps to be deep at every spot, goalkeepers included.

On Maurice Edu and Amobi Okugo partnering together

Off the field they’re very tight, they’re friends, and you could see on the field tonight there were some things they read off of each other, and they did some things well. They broke up a lot. I asked one of them to always be at least protecting our center backs. Sometimes they like to drift and get the ball, but it was pretty solid tonight from them, they broke up a lot, they started the attack. What I’d like to see a little better is one more advanced sometimes in possession for sure, but, again, the two goals we scored kind of dictate that we’ll fall back a little bit. So, I was happy with both their performances. They’ll win all the physical battles and they’ll get themselves forward in the box too. And they can each can score a goal from a deep spot. Didn’t get too many runs in the box tonight but we’re ok. Four goals, we’ll take that

Rais Mbolhi

On Union debut

I’m really happy to see this atmosphere of the fans and we won the three points, so I’m very happy today.

On the last 24 hours and whether you were going to play or not

Yeah, I didn’t know I was going to play tonight, but finally the coach told me that I was going to play.

On the conversations with coach

Yeah, as you know I had some trouble with my visa and after I had the little car accident, but finally I came back here and all good.

On the last couple of weeks

I thought it was only going to take a few days, I wasn’t expecting for it to take that long.

How did you feel out there today

It was really nice and the fans atmosphere. We got the win tonight, so I’m very happy.

On the last few days mentally

It was really difficult because as you know I came really late, but they told me that I had to play tonight, so I had to be focused.

Andrew Wenger

Do you see the standings and see what teams are above you and add any pressure

I suppose it does a little bit, but we know if we take care of business then we’re in a great spot. That’s all we can ask of ourselves.

On the upcoming home games

Yeah, it’s important, but as I was saying, it’s just one at a time. You just try and get as many clean sheets as possible and keep things rolling.

More comfortable playing wide left

Yeah, I like to be on the field and I can see the ball a little bit more out there, which is important, and I’m faced up to the goal when I have the ball, which is much nicer.

Is that something new to learn to dropping off and coming in? Do you have any experience playing that position in college?

Let’s be honest, I’ve played every position at one point, so you kind of have to recall it a little bit.

On Jim Curtin being impressed with you when you’re running at guys

Yeah, I’m enjoying it. It’s just me with the one-on-one battle. With the pass or shot, I’m trying to be a little bit more precise there at times. That’s where the challenge is.

On the first goal

Yeah, I actually wanted them to play me the ball much earlier. The ball built up and as soon as I saw Sebastien get his head up, I tried to peel off and so it was a simple pass and I didn’t have any other option than to hit it well.

San Jose Earthquakes postgame quotes

Mark Watson

On the game

Yeah it was a frustrating game. You go down 2 goals really early and I think that was their first two shots on goal. So you dug yourself a big hole, but I thought we showed a lot of character, spirit, and quality to come back from that. Obviously very disappointing once again to concede so early off a set piece so we got a tired, frustrated group right now. We just seem not to be doing the little things right now to get results in games.

On whether the team was physically tired after a long trip

I think physically it was a tough night for us. It’s not an excuse, everyone is used to travelling in this league. But, there’s some tired legs out there. But our guys fought through it, and like you said, we had a great response in the second half and just fell asleep on a wide free kick, which is just one of those little things you can’t do, especially after scoring a goal. That’s a very vulnerable time, those first few minutes after you score. So disappointing, but our guys kept working and I give them credit for that. But it’s disappointing to crawl your way back into a game and let it slip away so quickly.

On the importance of picking up points

Yeah, we know we have to pick up points now to get our way back in. It’s not an insurmountable gap but it’s getting to the point in the season where we need to start picking up some points. So it’s a disappointing night for us.

On the two goals

The first goal was just a great strike from Sam [Cronin]. We had some good possession and Sam got into a spot where their team had dropped off so much and you have to take your chances from there sometimes. And he hit it really well and the result of some good continued pressure. It was a good goal. And at that point, we felt good and we went on to get more. So to concede so quickly after that… it’s disappointing.

On whether Rais Mbolhi playing in goal was a factor

No we didn’t know. We knew they signed him, but we didn’t know anything about his availability. But I don’t think it factored into the game.

Jon Busch

On the night overall

Yeah, I mean if you look at the last four, five, six games, we’ve been giving up a lot of chances and a lot of quality chances. So it doesn’t get easy sometimes. It’s frustrating after a night like tonight. We got ourselves back in the game at 2-2 and within a couple minutes, we give up a goal off a free kick. Good ball by [Sebastian] Le Toux; he’s a good server, but we did so well to get ourselves back in it and to give up that one, and the fourth one was the breakaway. So it’s frustrating. It really is. When we’re giving up as many shots as we are. We’re giving up too many chances. You can only do so much.

On the third goal

It was a two-man wall and Le Toux was on the ball. Served a great, low ball around the outside of the wall and I was attacking it to scoop it up and Sheanon was there and it pinballs off one of them and ends up going over my shoulder. It’s a great ball by Le Toux — we know he strikes a great ball like that, but like I said, very disappointing because we did so much to get back into the game. We got ourselves to 2-2. And if we get through that, maybe we get a point out of that.

On whether or not they let up after tying the game

There shouldn’t be. We just did so much to get back in the game. I don’t know if it’s concentration or what, we just got to do what we cannot give up a third goal after getting back in the game. If it’s a mental thing, or what, but it’s not good enough.

On the standings

We’re not looking at the standings right now. We got some shit to figure out right now, you know? We felt good going into this game. We had a good day at training yesterday and we came out flat and put ourselves on the back foot right away. That’s happened too often this season. You dig yourself out of a hole and give it right back to them. It’s disappointing.

Chris Wondolowski

On losing the game after tying it

Yeah. We give up a soft free kick. Then bad marking, took a guy outside and he finished it.

On his goal

I saw Shea pick up the ball on the outside and I kind of drifted back post and he served in a great ball and I was able to finish it.

On early scoring chances

Yeah we had one chance early. We had another after they scored their second. Two very good chances. Actually, the first [Mbolhi] made a save. We had a good deal of possession but they had two good counterattacks and they finished both of them.

On adjustments made at halftime

I think we’re really sloppy with our passing and I think we just shored that up in the second half. And when we actually connect passes, we’re not a bad team.


  1. old soccer coach says:

    No one asked Curtin about Maidana?

  2. JC as prophet: it wasn’t good enough. Amobi – Mo pairing rescues both from backline duty . . . until you need a sub. How’s Sheanon? Carlos was dragging the last quarter.

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